Midwest/Americana type fun

Old Jun 14th, 2006, 06:17 PM
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Midwest/Americana type fun

A friend and I who are both well traveled are thinking of going for 5-6 days to "fly over country" as neither of us has really seen much of the midwest ( I did live in southern Ohio for 2 years but my kids were babies an I never got to go anywhere. I have also been to Chicago, Amish Country, and Rapid City. )

If we were to pick 2 cities what should they be? (St Louis? Kansas City? Des Moines? Milwaukee?) We aren't big partiers or shoppers; we like local color, people watching, mundane stuff like that. Maybe we should go to a state fair? We are hoping to find Music Man/Meet Me in St Lousi type ambience, LOL.
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Old Jun 14th, 2006, 08:14 PM
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Midwestliving.com has some travel info that might help you. You can bring up info by interest or by geographic area. I live in MO and unfortunately I have to admit it is generally not exciting travel country.

There is some pretty country along the MO River west of St Louis. There are several wineries in the Augusta-Hermann area. If you come to St Louis, a drive along Hwy 94 would take you to this area. The small town of Washington has a nice downtown area, and the very small town of Hermann is quaint and enjoyable to walk around, with several good restaurants, and a number of b&bs. Hwy 94 ends at Jefferson City, the state capitol, which actually has a nice downtown area with some interesting shops and good restaurants, and the Capital building is nice architecturally and interesting to tour.

Good luck......
aloha is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2006, 11:11 PM
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Wisconsin is a great place. I'd try doing a tour of the state, if possible in that time frame. Milwaukee is nice, but really, smaller towns like Madison (awesome terrific wonderful city!!), Eau Claire, Appleton, Wasau, just great smaller towns.
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 04:35 AM
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Vivi, my suggestion is not one particular city but a road trip encompassing many smaller towns. I cannot think of a better way to sample the midwest than that type of travel.

And I can think of two road trips in the midwest in particular:

Do the circle tour of Lake Michigan. You can fly into Chicago and rent a car. First drive through Indiana. The south side of Chicago and Lake County, Indiana aren't the most picturesque--and there is a huge construction project on the Dan Ryan Expressway on the SW side of Chicago--so you can get those out of the way as soon as possible.

However, once you get easterly from that point, you have a number of smaller towns dotted along the lake shore, especially when you go up into Michigan. (Look for Harbor Country online for the SW corner of Michigan.)

This is a great area, with lots of antique shops, art galleries, wineries, B&Bs in older homes. The Saugatuck-Douglas area particularly has a lot of art galleries. This could take as much time as you like, or as little.

Further north, you could stay at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, if you had the time and inclination.

Then go through the UP down into Wisconsin. Maybe stop in Milwaukee. And finish in Chicago.

You don't even have to take the entire circle tour if you are running out of time, because there is a ferry which you can take over to Wisconsin from Ludington, Michigan.

The second is a drive down the Great River Road along the Mississippi. You would probably need an open jaw to fly into Minneapolis-St. Paul area and out of another - perhaps St. Louis, depending on the amount of time you take along the river. If you do go on this route, one place I'd recommend for you to stay is Galena, Illinois in the NW corner of Illinois. A huge portion (something like 85%) of the town is on the National Register of Historic Places - lots of specialty shops, B&Bs in lovely older homes, a winery in the area, etc.

One thing you might consider is to take a look at the festivals happening in the area that you've decided on and see if it coincides with your travel plans. The state fairs may be too large for your plans, although they may offer more variety - but how about a county fair?

Maybe one of these suggestions may interest you.
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 05:37 AM
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If you take the suggestion for that Lake M. circle tour - do take that ferry from Ludington MI to Manitowoc WI, but then, drive north (2 hours) to Door County Wisconsin where a string of water-perched villages provide much for tourists to do but also retain their small-town flavor (people do LIVE in these places, after all!)And you'd be hard put to find a prettier place, anywhere. Town after well-kept town brimming with flowers and things to do; every single weekend brings its own festival/event. There are a number of places to take a day class so that you can have an opportunity to interact with locals, and not just the tourist community.

Whatever you choose - have a great time. How fortunate we are to have a country that offers so many diverse areas and opportunities!
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 05:49 AM
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I don't know when you're planning on going, but if you can hold off until late August or September, I don't think it's gets more Midwestern/Americana than a Big 10 football game on a fall afternoon. Or, if you're lucky enough to find one, high school homecoming night in a small town.
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 09:30 AM
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For goodness sake do not go to Des Moines. You'll never come back to the Midwest.

I would pick up the latest copy of Midwest Living, as was suggested earlier. It will tell you what's happening when and where. I grew up in Illinois, and agree that Wisconsin is fun, if you go at the right time.
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 10:51 AM
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LOL, Pappy, thanks for the Des Moines warning! The reason we were considering it was to go to the Iowa State Fair. Ahhhhhhh, deep friend Twinkies, LOL.

I sooooo appreciate all the advice so far. I have been all over the east coast multiple times, many trips to Europe, spent 6 years in Hawaii, have traveled extensively in the West and Southwest. The Midwest truly does intrigue me and my friend however our husbands think we are nuts, LOL. So this will be a ladies only trip!
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 11:05 AM
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You HAVE to get this book and read it while you plan -

American Pie: Slices of Life (and Pie) from Americas Back Roads

by Pascale Le Draoulec
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 12:43 PM
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I'd suggest flying RT to either O'Hare or Mitchell in Milwaukee. I'd plan a night or two in Madison with a tour of the Capitol, a walk down State Street and hanging out lakeside at UW's Memorial Union. Great restaurants and the best Farmer's Market in the US on Saturday mornings. Concerts on the Square in the summer on Tuesday nights.

Then, drive two hours to Galena, IL on the Mississippi for an even smaller town experience. Lots of history, great golf and some spas as well there. Spend a night there and then return to either Milwaukee or Chicago for one or two nights of fun.

A baseball game is a must. Wrigley in Chicago is a classic park, Miller Park in Milwaukee is underrated in my opinion, and the Madison Mallards games are a lot of fun. A baseball sidetrip from Galena would be to see where Field Of Dreams was filmed in Iowa. Lots of summer festivals in Chicago and Milwaukee has Summerfest.

I love St. Louis, too but the summer heat can be almost unbearable there.

Happy planning,

ChiDad is offline  
Old Jun 15th, 2006, 01:12 PM
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In what month will you travel? Evansville, Indiana has a terrific Fall Fstival, I think the second weekend of October. Near Evansville is New Harmony, the site of a failed utopian community.

Springfield, Illinois is nice. It has the Lincoln sites (including a new interactive museum) and nearby, a fantastic Frank Lloyd Wright house.
The Illinois State Fair is there, but unless things have changed, it's in August and likely to be 90 degrees with 90 percent humidity.

College towns are always nice...more entertainment and restaurant choices than you'd find in a non-college town the same size.
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