Affordable American Travel: 5 Must-Sees in the Midwest
It’s road trip season, and Americans are off to destinations across the country. A new Bridgestone survey shows that 83 percent of Americans indicate that they take at least one road trip each summer, and most Americans are choosing road trips over other types of travel because of the flexibility and options that a road trip provides. If you are thinking about taking a road trip this summer, or even if you are traveling by another method but are planning to stop in the Midwest, there are some great places that you won’t want to miss. The locations mentioned in this article are fun and interesting, but unlike many expensive hotels or amusement parks, these locations are relatively affordable and absolutely worth seeing. So take a few minutes to peruse our list, and make sure you add at least one or two of these locations when you plan your road trip to the Midwest.
1. The Gateway Arch
Located in St. Louis, the Gateway Arch is a catenary curved arch that was created as monument to honor Thomas Jefferson and the pioneers; you may have heard of the arch as the “Gateway to the West.” The arch is 63 stories (192 meters, or 7,560 inches tall.) Even more amazing, the arch has a span of only 630 feet at ground level between the outer sides of the legs, but the arch itself weighs 17,246 tons, and is made from steel and concrete. A trip to the top of the arch will cost you just $10 per person (adults sixteen and older), or $5 for children three to fifteen. If you want to make a whole day of your trip, you can eat at the Arch View Café, or take a cruise. The arch is also located near many other interesting St. Louis attractions, including the Saint Louis Zoo and the Saint Louis Art Museum, both of which are free.
2. The Windy City
You can’t see all of Chicago, at least not without spending a lot of money, but there are many aspects of Chicago that you can see for a reasonable price. Millennium Park is beautiful on it’s own, but it is also a location for many free events, including concerts, exhibitions, family activities, and more. Chicago is also home to many incredible museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago and the the Museum of Contemporary Art. Most museums offer free admission days, but be sure to call ahead to check. Chicago also has a wide array of dining and other entertainment options, as well as fantastic theater productions, and many architecturally impressive buildings.
3. Mall of America
Obviously, if you wanted to, you could spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. But really, you could spend a lot of money wherever you go if you aren’t careful (and there’s no sales tax on clothing, so that will save you a little.) Forty million visitors stop by the mall each year, and 4 out of 10 visitors are tourists. The mall has several attractions in addition to the stores, so you are likely to find something for everyone in your group. The mall includes an aquarium, a theme park, a movie theater, a comedy club, miniature golf, and even a flight simulation center. Although the individual activities can add up, you will save money by going to one location where your entire group can have fun rather than driving all over to several different areas. Plus, you can determine just how much you want to spend.
4. Museums in Ohio
Ohio may not get touted as a top tourist area, or at least it might not come to your mind as quickly as Chicago or St. Louis, but Ohio has a lot to offer travelers. If you like music, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland is a great choice for tourists; it includes four theaters, seven floors of exhibits, and several interactive stations. Children eight and under are free with an adult, children 9-12 are $13, and adults pay $22.
Near Dayton, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is a thrilling see for veterans and non-veterans alike. Admission is free, and if that isn’t enough to entice you, the museum is the largest military aviation museum in the world, and is also the oldest. You will have to pay if you want to participate in a flight simulation or visit the digital 3D theatre, but the museum has many other interesting attractions to keep your attention for free.
5. It’s all about Indiana
Each state in the Midwest holds several worthy attractions, but Indiana has so many exciting opportunities that it’s tough to narrow it down. The Indianapolis Zoo and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are both huge attractions, although most people would probably argue that the ticket prices are expensive; it really depends on how desperately you want to go. If you consider that a ticket for the Total Adventure Package at the Zoo costs $27.20 for adults and $22.95 for children 2-12, but includes access to the whole zoo, and even the rides, it doesn’t seem like that much (and you can purchase Standard Admission Package tickets for less.)
Tickets to the Speedway depend on several factors, but again, you can customize your own trip. The Indianapolis Children’s Museum is also a popular place to visit, but Indiana also has several beautiful state parks, which if you choose to visit them, will save you a lot of money offer the more touristy attractions.
There are so many great places you can visit in the Midwest. This list is just to get you started. So grab your map (or GPS), and get started!