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The Ultimate Summer Road Trip List!

The Ultimate Guide to Summer Road Trips: Exploring States Near Wisconsin

Summer is the perfect time to hit the open road and explore the hidden gems just a drive away from Wisconsin. Whether you’re looking for scenic landscapes, vibrant cities, or peaceful retreats, the neighboring states have it all. Here’s your ultimate guide to planning a memorable summer road trip to some fantastic destinations near Wisconsin.

1. Minnesota: The Land of 10,000 Lakes

Destination: Minneapolis-St. Paul Highlights:

  • Minneapolis Sculpture Garden: Home to the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry.

  • Mall of America: The largest mall in the United States, offering more than just shopping.

  • Chain of Lakes: Enjoy boating, fishing, and beautiful trails.

Scenic Route: Take I-94 W for a direct route, or detour through the Great River Road for stunning views of the Mississippi River.

2. Illinois: The Prairie State

Destination: Chicago Highlights:

  • Millennium Park: Snap a photo at The Bean and enjoy free outdoor concerts.

  • Navy Pier: Experience rides, dining, and entertainment on the shoreline of Lake Michigan.

  • The Art Institute of Chicago: Explore an extensive collection of artwork from around the world.

Scenic Route: Drive down I-90 E and consider stopping at Rockford for its beautiful Anderson Japanese Gardens.

3. Michigan: The Great Lakes State

Destination: Upper Peninsula Highlights:

  • Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore: Marvel at the colorful sandstone cliffs along Lake Superior.

  • Tahquamenon Falls: Visit one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi.

  • Mackinac Island: Step back in time with horse-drawn carriages and historic sites.

Scenic Route: Follow US-41 N for picturesque views of forests and lakes, and make a stop in Marquette for a charming small-town experience.

4. Iowa: The Hawkeye State

Destination: Des Moines Highlights:

  • Pappajohn Sculpture Park: Discover a unique collection of modern sculptures.

  • Des Moines Art Center: Enjoy contemporary art exhibitions and beautiful architecture.

  • Iowa State Fair: If visiting in August, don’t miss the classic state fair experience.

Scenic Route: Travel on I-80 W, and consider a detour to the Amana Colonies, a group of settlements known for their rich German heritage and crafts.

5. Indiana: The Hoosier State

Destination: Indianapolis Highlights:

  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway: Home of the famous Indy 500.

  • White River State Park: An urban park with museums, gardens, and a zoo.

  • Broad Ripple Village: Explore this vibrant cultural district with boutiques and eateries.

Scenic Route: Take I-65 S, and make a stop in Lafayette to visit the historic Prophetstown State Park.

Tips for a Successful Road Trip

  • Plan Your Route: Use GPS and maps to plan your route, and be open to taking scenic detours.

  • Pack Smart: Bring essentials like snacks, water, a first aid kit, and a roadside emergency kit.

  • Stay Safe: Ensure your vehicle is in good condition, check tire pressure, and have a full tank of gas before starting.

  • Enjoy the Journey: Take breaks, enjoy the scenery, and make memories along the way.


Summer road trips are a fantastic way to explore the diverse landscapes and vibrant cultures of the states near Wisconsin. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a bit of both, these destinations offer something for everyone. So, gather your family or friends, pack your bags, and get ready to create unforgettable memories on the open road. Happy travels!



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