Round trip from Chicago

May 21st, 2014, 02:27 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 15
Round trip from Chicago

a friend of mine and I are planning our another trip to the United States. This time we've picked Chicago as a starting point.
So, we have some 16-17 days from mid-October till early November 2014.
We'd like to spend about 3-4 days in Chicago and make a trip by rented car to the neighboring cities/states. At the point we've worked out the following preliminary itinerary:
1 day - from Chicago to Cleveland
2 day - Cleveland. By the way, will the Rock'n'roll hall of Fame be interesting for those who are not big fans of clasic rock of 60-70's but are buffs of heavy music of 80's?
3 day - from Cleveland to Buffalo
4 day - hotel in Buffalo, trip from Buffalo to Niagara Falls and back
5 day - from Buffalo to Pittsburgh
6 day - from Pittsburgh to Columbus
7 day - Columbus
8 day - from Columbus to Indianapolis via Cincinnati(short tour through the city)
9 day - Indianapolis
10 day - from Indianapolis to Saint Louis
11 day - St. Louis
12 day - from St. Louis back to Chicago
13, 14, 15, 16 days - Chicago
The itinerary, as I said, is pretty raw and honestly I'm not sure it's the best possible one at all. We've never been midwest before and have very vague idea of the area. Suppose the nature in October must be great over there, right?
I (unlike my friend) have some qualms about St. Louis and Pittsburgh.. Maybe we should better visit Detroit instead? On the flip side I hear Detroit has fallen into decay recently and become not too safe city for tourists at all. True?
Also I've heard that Milwaukee offers the best beer in the USA. Is it worthwhile driving there almost 100 miles from Chicago to spend a night?
So, all in all, we still have more questions than answers concerning the journey)
The principal goal is to see as much of everything as possible and snag at least a couple of the NHL games)))
I'll appreciate a lot your advice/critics/suggestions on the subject.
Look forward to your feedback. Thank you.
P.S. Or maybe we better forget about Niagara Falls and head to Minnesota right from Chicago? (just occur to me looking at the map
Oleg1972 is offline  
May 21st, 2014, 03:16 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,934
You might want to take a deeper look at some of the cities that you have selected to see if there is something there that you are interested in. There is a thread about Pittsburgh that looked like there are some interesting things to do in the downtown area. To me Niagara Falls is a big carnival with the Falls. I could not see spending more than a few hours there.

I am from just outside Detroit. Detroit is safe as long as you have some common sense. Don't go down a back alley or into an obvious crack house, just as in any other city. Most are not near places you would go. The Henry is the Henry Ford Museum and is not in Detroit but nearby Dearborn. Great exhibits about history. There is The Detroit Institue of Arts and across the street is the Detroit Historical Museum. Motown has a museum. And of course you many be able to catch a Red Wing game.

I have never been to Columbus or Cleveland so I cannot comment on them.
gardendiva is offline  
May 21st, 2014, 04:05 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
A couple of notes about Niagara Falls:

Make sure you have a visa that allows multiple entries into the US since by far the most/best attractions are on the Canadian side - and missing it would to me ruin the trip

Note that you may not be able to take a car rented in the US into Canada - ask in advance if this is allowed and be sure the insurance is valid

Agree that I might not go to all of the places you have listed - but since you are so close head to Toronto which is a wonderful city (barely more than an hour from the Falls)
nytraveler is offline  
May 21st, 2014, 04:13 PM
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 33,871
If you cannot go all the way to Toronto you might consider the short and pretty drive up to Niagara-on-the-Lake which is a charming place to visit.
Dukey1 is offline  
May 21st, 2014, 04:20 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 15
Thank you gardendiva for your feedback. Ford museum sounds interesting. And Red Wings undoubtedly one of the most respected and oldest teams in the nhl and we'd love to see it in our own eyes. And since the situation over there is not that bad I guess we should get back to pondering over including Detroit in the journey. Thank you
Oleg1972 is offline  
May 21st, 2014, 04:26 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 15
Unfortunately we don't have no Canadian visas, so we even didn't plan to cross the border. Is there no sense just to see the waterfall from american side?
Oleg1972 is offline  
May 21st, 2014, 05:53 PM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,109
I don't believe you need to show passports or visas to ride in the Maid of the Mist boat.
Do check into this.
No need to spend much time there after the boat ride.
After you turn in the car in Chicago you could take a day trip on a Hiawatha train to Milwaukee. You can return the same day or come back on an early train the next day.
tomfuller is offline  
May 21st, 2014, 10:31 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 3,510
Milwaukee was THE beer city at one time, but now the name of the game is craft beers, microbreweries, and brewpubs. You will find these all over the map, sometimes in unexpected places. Microbreweries in Cleveland, Akron, and Columbus, Ohio, have received acclaim for their beers. While Chicago itself has some good beer, even Munster, Indiana(!) and Kalamazoo, Michigan(!!) have excellent breweries.

About the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, there are quite a few acts from the '80's in the Hall: Kiss, Black Sabbath, the Police, GunsNRoses, AC/DC, Aerosmith, etc., etc. Have a look at their website so you can decide for yourself whether it would interest you.
Dave_Ohio is offline  
May 22nd, 2014, 07:19 AM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 2,435
Oh dear. You've picked a tour of mostly industrial cities. So if that's what you enjoy doing, add Detroit and you'll be in heaven. However, for my taste (as a former resident of the Midwest), I'd try again. It's also see how your reference to starting in Minnesota fits in with the rest of this.

It would be better to tell us what you all enjoy doing besides driving and where you've been before in the United States. Do you want to see all cities? Do you want to see some leaf color--if so late October is pretty late for that in the Midwest. Do you want a mix of stuff?

As indicated in earlier comments, I would add Detroit to this for the Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in nearby Dearborn, the Art Museum, and maybe the Motown Museum to broaden your musical tastes. If you are sports fans in general and not just hockey fans, you MAY be able to get tickets to a college football game. University of Michigan in Ann Arbor has a huge stadium, and I understand that they've been having trouble selling tickets this year. College football is also played in Columbus, Ohio, and in many other college towns throughout the midwest.
dwdvagamundo is offline  
May 22nd, 2014, 07:26 AM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 2,435
A couple of other suggestions for things my wife and I have either done or would like to do:

1. Drive to Minneapolis then go down the Mississippi River to New Orleans and back (or drop the car and fly back). We've done that (although not on the same trip) and it's a blast.

2. Take Route 66 "from Chicago to L.A." (as the song goes). Then depending on the weather, you could come back across the Great Plains or on 1-10, or, again, drop the car and fly back. We've done the 1-10 part of this, and have talked about Route 66 for years but haven't done the whole thing.
dwdvagamundo is offline  
May 22nd, 2014, 07:32 AM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 3,510
"College football is also played in Columbus, Ohio..."
This may be the understatement of the year.
Dave_Ohio is offline  
May 22nd, 2014, 09:41 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 13,332
I love Chicago and am glad you have chosen to visit. However, most of the other cities you have on your itinerary are ones, quite frankly, that I avoid. They are industrial cities. After Chicago, there are so many other wonderful places to visit in the US. Minneapolis is a great place to visit. And there are lovely areas outside of Chicago and Minneapolis where you could go.
Add Madison and Door County ,WI for example. And from Chicago's airports you can access most of the US quite easily.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
May 22nd, 2014, 10:50 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,561
This is a Rust Belt itinerary and I'm not sure why you've chosen it nor why you've chosen that time of year considering the weather will be starting to get cold to nasty.


Detroit has not fallen into decay recently, it has been a dump for decades and is getting worse. St. Louis is also a pit.

Cleveland's most famous nickname is "the Mistake by the Lake" and is as well known for industrial disasters (the burning Cuyahoga River [inspiration for R.E.M. song Cuyahoga], the East Ohio Gas Co. explosion - see Don Robertson's The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread) as for anything else. The R&R HOF area is fine but it's still a rust belt city.

Buffalo is endeavoring to rebuild its downtown and obtain tech companies, but it's a Rust Belt town with shrinking population and brutal weather. Pittsburgh has lost momentum in its own renaissance too as shown by the lack of demand to go there and the excess capacity at its once very nice airport.

At least Madison and Minneapolis are nice. Kentucky has its Bourbon Trail and will have good fall colors.

And you cannot tell what city in the US has the "best" beer. The increasing numbers of microbreweries throughout the country has revolutionized the U.S. beer market and the notion that Milwaukee has the "best" beer in the US is nuts (it still produces Old Milwaukee, aka Old Swill, MGD 64, Pabst, Schlitz, Milwaukee's Best and other nationally marketed rubbish).
BigRuss is offline  
May 22nd, 2014, 01:22 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 15
First of all, I'd like to thank everybody who responded.
Friends, you really gave me food for thought, I guess we should rethink our itinerary.
So far I almost convinced to leave out Buffalo and Niagara Falls out of the trip. There's still a big temptation to visit Rock and Roll hall of Fame in Cleveland, but from what I understand there's the only attraction over there....
Will not go to St. Louis either...

what we enjoy besides driving... It looks like easy question but it's kind of hard to give exact answer. Nothing special actually - I like travelling in the USA cause it seems the country is made for travelling))) I've been so far to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, flew to Grand Canyon, been to a lot of places in Florida (including Key West, Miami, Tampa, Orlando, etc), NYC, Washington DC, Phila...
For instance, my friend is an avid angler (he'd love to do some fishing on Lake Erie or some other scenic lake). I'm more of an urban guy, I like cities, especially downtowns with skyscrapers and stuff.
We also don't plan going to any art museums, galleries, etc.
As for your suggestion of visiting a football game - unfortunatelly we even don't know the rules, moreover we're got used to another game called football)))
But being admirers of the NHL we certainly should catch 2-3 games.
As for driving all the way down to New Orleans - originally I came up with the idea, but my friend has turned it down flatly, said he wants only "taste the spirit of northern states" this time
As for taking Route 66 - I've already seen the pole "end of route 66" in Santa Monica, so I consider this path travelled)))) (just kidding). Maybe next time.
And I'm not sure I quite understood your words about the weather - are the trees gonna be already naked by November in the area?
So now I tend to alter the itinerary a lot and turn my eyes to the northwest of Chicago. Twin cities do appeal to me even though I know almost nothing about them so far.
Planning my previous american journeys I read Frommer's guides, but this time I failed to find any of them on the chosen cities (except for Chicago). Do someone know good travel guides on Midwest?

By the way, nobody said nothing about Indianapolis and Columbus. I've heard somewhere that Indianapolis is the second only to Washington DC in terms of monuments and memorials. It doesn't matter much for me but sounds nice)

I appreciate all your responses and look forward to getting more of them

thank you
Oleg1972 is offline  
May 22nd, 2014, 01:26 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 15
and how many days should one spend in Chicago itself to get to know the city well and see the most of its attractions? Do we need a car in Chicago or it's walkable city with good public transportation?
Oleg1972 is offline  
May 22nd, 2014, 01:59 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 3,510
Well thank you, BigRuss, for setting Oleg'72 straight on the Rust Belt! Perhaps it is best suited to just flying over.

I agree that the timing of the trip isn't great for the Great Lakes region. However, there are still many things to see and do. For example, since his friend likes to fish, he can go out with a guide to catch gigantic salmon or trout (steelhead) in the Niagara River. And he and his pal can take in NHL games in Chicago, Detroit, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Columbus, and/or St. Louis, depending on the schedules.
Dave_Ohio is offline  
May 22nd, 2014, 02:00 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 3,510
Oleg, you will not need a car to get around in most of Chicago.
Dave_Ohio is offline  
May 22nd, 2014, 03:11 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,456

I have been to all of those cities except for central Columbus and central Cleveland, but I've been very near to each of those too.

While Chicago is a fine and convenient starting/ending point, I just wonder if you could select for yourself a better set of cities in the same general-ish area.

It wasn't too long ago that I read that St. Louis (proper) had been named Most Dangerous City in America (by SOME measure) (and that surprised me, for East St. Louis (in a different state, even) is generally thought to be more dangerous).

(maybe there was a population limit on whatever I read??)

Anyway, I can respect your interest in visiting Cleveland, for the music, and maybe Buffalo, for Niagara Falls... Pittsburgh is decent enough, and Indianapolis is worth seeing.

Cincinnati is fine, too... but what if you went more to the south, and included Louisville... and perhaps Lexington... maybe Charleston, which is pretty.

The weather could be of considerable concern and perhaps it is for that reason that the southern alternatives might be nice.

Milwaukee, which is very near to Chicago is another preferable city.

Also, you might be moving your path right along too fast... when to see fewer cities, but spend perhaps two nights in each, might better suit you.

It sounds like hockey possibilities might be more important to you than it seems. For an added one, you might even consider Nashville, which is a 4-hour drive from Indianapolis, and is a more touristy city than are many of those on your original list.

You'd still have Chicago, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh as hockey possibilities, and you could add Nashville to those.

I just experimented with something along the lines of what I've suggested here... in the way of a mapped-out itinerary (using online mapping service) and seeing the following cities in order:

Chicago-Cleveland-Buffalo-Pittsburgh-Charleston-Nashville-Indianapolis-Chicago and found it to be a very reasonable 1840 miles and 27 hours of driving, just for those bare-bones stops (side trips extra).

That is next to nothing for somebody with two weeks. (I recall having once started and ended in Indianapolis, and driven 6000 miles in two weeks)

SO WHAT IF you contemplate spending 2 nights each in spots like Pittsburgh, Nashville (for hockey), and perhaps Indianapolis, (in addition to Chicago's 4 nights)?

Then maybe one night in spots like Buffalo, Charleston, and perhaps Louisville???

(just another consideration...)
NorthwestMale is offline  
May 22nd, 2014, 03:16 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,456
(I can't remember if I was trying/wanting to say "two", or "too"... in that first line) (so I can't even say if I used the wrong word)

(but I get credit for noticing it)
NorthwestMale is offline  
May 22nd, 2014, 03:16 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 15
Hello Dave, what time of the year is the best for the area? Is september better? I take it there's big difference in temperatures between september and late october, right? I don't want to be freezing there, cold weather is what we have more than enough in here where I live. At first we thought about going in September, but then changed our mind. But we still hoped it would be warm enough, we might have been mistaken. And yes, incessant rain and grey skies could spoil the impression... Need to think again...
Oleg1972 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:59 AM.