Looking to take a short and affordable road trip through the Midwest, but aren't sure where to make your stops? Well, then we've got the answers for you! We’ve compiled a list of the five must-see sites on any road tour and, even better, the majority of the stops are completely free to visit! (Well, besides the gas and snacks of course.) We’ve even put them in the best driving order for you, though feel free to go backward or mix them up in order to suit your needs.
1. Nashville, Indiana
The first stop on the list is the quaint, historic, and artsy town of Nashville Indiana. Not only will this place make you feel like you’re in an episode of Gilmore Girls, but it’s also very close to Brown County State Park and Yellowwood State Forest. Both offer camping and lodging as well as plenty of hiking and biking trails.
Brown County State Park also boasts guided horseback riding and a water park, while Yellowwood State Forest offers fishing and gold panning. However a permit is required for panning, so be sure to follow the law. No matter what you’re looking for this city has it all!
2. Oval Beach, Michigan
Looking for fantastic beach sunsets in landlocked Michigan? Then you’re in luck! Oval Beach lies on the eastern side of the Great Lake Michigan and is open for swimming, sunbathing, and long romantic walks on the dunes. The beach advertises itself as gay-friendly, which means it’s a happy place for all to enjoy together.
Another great perk is that it's not so far off from Huron-Manistee National Forests if you’re looking for more fun outdoor activities. In the off-season, the beach is free to enter, however, once you hit peak season you may have to pay a small fee for entry.
3. Starved Rock State Park, Illinois
Stop number three is a wilderness lover’s dream. The state park has activities such as hiking, fishing, and boating as well as cabins and lodgings for when you’re ready to bunk down. The area is also a historic landmark with many beautiful canyons, waterfalls, and scenic trails to get lost in and better yet, it’s free!
4. Cave Point County Park, Wisconsin
The fourth stop on the journey is perfect for a scenic picnic, but also has underwater caves and hiking trails to frolic on. Be careful of the limestone cliffs though! While they are beautiful, you should take care as there are some steep drop-offs in the area. Otherwise, feel free to enjoy your time and thank your wallet cause this place also has no entry fees.
5. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin
The last stop on the road trip is actually to a set of islands directly off the coast of Wisconsin. Don’t let this detour you though! There are easy transportation options to the island, but this will, of course, cost you a bit extra.
However, if you’re a boat or kayak enthusiast, then you can head there on your own! The island has many breathtaking caves and if you go in the winter, the lake should be frozen over enough that you can walk through them. Now, how’s that for fun and versatility!
Then check out our other suggestions for multi-stop tours in the US!
Looking for more great nature spots? Then check out our suggestions for the best hiking trails!