Ranking Hidden Travel Place Names in the Midwest – NBC Chicago
With a season of road trips and scenic destinations for many in the coming months, some travelers are looking to find unique places off the beaten path for a new experience.
For those looking for hidden destinations, the budget blog Cheapism has published a list of the best hidden vacation destinations in all 50 states.
While Chicago is known as a true summer tourist destination, those who already live in the area can take a look at several other options in the Midwest that offer a change of pace at the perfect time of year.
Here’s a look at the places in the Midwest that have been highlighted as places to check out this summer:
Illinois: The Wilderness of the Garden of the Gods
It can be a trip across the state for those in the Chicago area, but those who visit can be treated to sights that would make them doubt they’re still in Illinois.
The Garden of the Gods Wilderness area is enveloped in the sprawling 280,000-acre Shawnee National Forest, a protected forest that spans nine counties in southern Illinois.
In the forest, the Garden of the Gods Wilderness occupies just over 3,300 acres, known for its extensive exposure of gray sandstone.
Cheapism also recommends heading to nearby Murphysboro for a stop at Pat’s BBQ.
Indiana: Santa Claus
Known to some Chicagoans as the hometown of former Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, the quaint little town in southern Indiana offers a unique year-round vacation atmosphere that lives up to its name.
In addition to several Christmas-themed attractions, Santa Claus is also home to the Holiday World amusement park, drawing visitors from across the Midwest to Christmas, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas-themed sections. of Halloween.
Additionally, the town’s post office is the destination of thousands of letters to Santa Claus each year, and a giant Santa Claus in front of the building embraces the distinctive tradition.
A small town of just under 10,000 people, Fairfield superficially resembles several other small towns in the Midwest, though it’s this destination’s history that sets it apart as a unique place to visit.
Known as an “internationally acclaimed center of transcendental meditation”, Fairfield is home to Maharishi International University, founded as a home of “mindfulness-based education” by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1971, which has also gained attention for to be the guru of the Beach Boys. and the Beatles in the 1960s and 1970s.
Fairfield is located approximately 280 miles from Chicago in southeastern Iowa.
Michigan: Isle Royale National Park
In what is perhaps the hardest-to-reach destination on the entire list, Isle Royale emerges as a pristine, secluded sanctuary in Lake Superior between Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Almost entirely devoid of humans, visitors can see abundant wildlife and small islands with seemingly endless hiking options.
The park is the only national park to close entirely during the winter, due to dangerous conditions and security.
During the summer months, visitors can access the park by boat, seaplane and ferry.
Missouri: Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Located on the Lake of the Ozarks near the center of the state, Ha Ha Tonka State Park offers picturesque views of the scenery visitors have come to expect in Missouri.
The rolling rocks, caves, and cliffs overlooking the lake are certainly part of the park’s appeal, but visitors mostly come to see the castle-like ruins of Ha Ha Tonka, a stone mansion inspired by medieval European castles.
Along with the unique man-made view, visitors can soak up the sights of the natural bridges and explore the thick forests surrounding the lake.
Ohio: The Mohicans
A secluded treehouse getaway awaits at The Mohicans, inside the heavily forested Mohican State Park in the central part of the state.
Those looking for a nature-filled getaway with little worry from the outside world will find themselves at home here, with no hotel lobbies or hassle to deal with upon arrival.
Outside of tiny forest accommodations, visitors can mountain bike, hike, and camp around the sprawling state park.
Wisconsin: Islands of the Apostles
A collection of 22 Lake Superior islands off the northern Wisconsin coast are home to stunning sights no matter what time of year you visit.
While trips to northern Wisconsin are usually reserved for the summer, Cheapism recommends a winter visit to view the large ice caves that form on the islands.
In addition to sea and ice caves, visitors can expect to see wildlife on a trip to the Apostle Islands, especially black bears and a wide range of birds.
A full list of hidden Cheapism gems to discover can be found here.