Best Midwest Family Vacations | Where to Go in 2024

Within the vast expanse of the Midwest, spanning 12 distinct states, there are numerous remarkable destinations that are surprisingly nearby. Instead of opting for air travel, why not embark on unforgettable family road trips to explore the finest Midwest family vacations? Here is our handpicked selection of beloved destinations in the Midwest.

Best Family Road Trips in the Midwest

There’s no question that Indiana has been a very road-trip-worthy state for our family to visit. Indiana is an unparalleled state and here are a few of our shining stars.

Indianapolis, The Circle City

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is the world’s largest children’s museum! A visit to this world-class museum offers a whole day of fun and activities for your entire family. From the always-changing exhibits celebrating pop culture, agriculture, and dinosaurs, to the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience®; you’ll want to come back again and again. A plethora of other museums and a zoo are cornerstones of this buzzing city. Foodie experiences, incredible parks, and natural areas are the icing on the cake for this destination.

Brown County, Indiana

About 1 hour from Indianapolis

Brown County is a popular weekend getaway and even great for an overnight stay! Families flock to this wooded paradise year-round, with the peak times being fall and summer. Stay at the beloved Brown County State Park Inn and enjoy the indoor water slides and pools, hike the trails, or visit the village-like town for shopping and eating.

Richmond, Indiana

About 1 hour from Indianapolis
Richmond is a beloved destination that offers adventure, enjoyment, and delectable cuisine all year round. Its close proximity to home makes it an ideal choice for an incredible day trip, while the abundance of kid-friendly activities in Richmond transforms it into the perfect weekend escape.

Photo courtesy of Visit South Bend Mishawaka

South Bend, Indiana

About 2 hours from Indianapolis

South Bend, also known as “The Bend”, is home to indoor and outdoor spaces your whole family will love adventuring through. There are so many things to do in South Bend, including Potawatomi Zoo and Park, East Race Waterway, hiking, fishing, biking and so much more! Immerse yourself in culinary experiences – no matter what type of food or beverage you love, you’ll find it here. South Bend and Mishawaka are home to dozens of fantastic locally-owned restaurants perfect for your whole family.

Corydon, Indiana

About 2 hours from Indianapolis

Caves, parks, history, and exploration are all on the horizon on your weekend road trip to Corydon, Indiana with kids. You’ll find historic sites and geological sites all within minutes of each other in Indiana’s former capital.

Fort Wayne, Indiana

About 2 hours from Indianapolis

If I went to Fort Wayne every summer for a visit, I would never run out of fun things to do or good places to eat. Fort Wayne has the heart of a small city and the amenities and fun of a big city. Your family will love the sports, the history, the museums, the airboat rides, and all of the fun that Fort Wayne has to offer year-round. There are a lot of family-friendly things to do in Fort Wayne.

Indiana Dunes

About 2 hours & 45 minutes from Indianapolis
A trip to the Indiana Dunes is a dream for Midwesterners looking for a beach vacation. The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is one of the National Parks in Indiana and one of the newest to be named a National Park. Families who love adventure and entertainment will love their stay on the south shore of Lake Michigan. There’s camping, a bed and breakfast stay, hiking, entertainment, good food, and so many fun opportunities. Check out our weekend itinerary, including where to eat, stay, and play.

French Lick, Indiana

About 2 hours & 15 minutes from Indianapolis

The gorgeous resorts and restaurants at French Lick are a blast for families who love history and a little bit of luxury. The outdoor adventures are perfect for active, fun-loving families. French Lick is a hot spot in the winter months for skiing, holiday fun, and indoor attractions; and an even hotter spot in the summer for outdoor fun, water adventures, and more!

Evansville, Indiana

About 3 hours from Indianapolis

Fun parks, indoor amusement centers, and a popular children’s museum that’s perfect for the preschool set are all “must-visits” when in Evansville. Visit the USS LST Memorial, take in a game at Bosse Field, or be transported to the Amazon at the Mesker Park Zoo & Botanical Gardens.

Santa Claus, Indiana

About 3 hours from Indianapolis

You may know this area as “Holiday World,” but Santa Claus, Indiana has a lot of history and beauty. Celebrations and festivals, shopping, and learning about the rich history of President Abraham Lincoln should also be on your list when you visit. Visit Santa Claus, Indiana in the summer for a fun warm-weather holiday, or visit Santa Claus, Indiana during the holidays for a memorable Christmas celebration full of fun traditions.

Jeffersonville, Indiana

About 3 hours from Indianapolis

Southern Indiana’s Clark & Floyd counties are where it’s at if you like seeing a huge fireworks show (Thunder Over Southern Indiana, annually in April), exploring parks, and learning about the Ohio River and its impact on the region. Kids love traversing the Big 4 Bridge that connects Indiana to Kentucky, visiting Schimpff’s Confectionery, and Candy Museum to try the famous red hots!

Ohio Road Trips

The Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio

About 4 hours from Indianapolis
If there’s one place in Ohio that I want to return to, it’s The Wilds in Cumberland. Think real-life Jurassic Park meets African safari. This trip is best suited for families with elementary-school-aged kids. Look for opportunities to camp or stay on-site.

Butler County, Ohio

Butler County, Ohio, located near Cincinnati, offers a range of fantastic family-friendly activities. It encompasses noteworthy sites such as Ohio’s Miami University, the picturesque Great Miami River, and Liberty Center—a versatile facility offering shopping, dining, and recreation options. Notable attractions like the Jungle Jim International Market and the Donut Trail add to Butler County’s appeal as a food lover’s paradise, catering to both children and adults. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Butler County with Kids, we’ve got the list.

Columbus, Ohio

About 3 hours from Indianapolis
Museums (including the world-famous COSI, the Center of Science and Industry), restaurants, and a botanical garden are just the beginning of the plans you’ll make when you visit Columbus, Ohio with Kids.

Dublin, Ohio

About 3 hours from Indianapolis

With easy access to all of the attractions in Columbus, Dublin, Ohio is a great place to stay, eat, and play. Small-town charm and Irish heritage create a special visit. Children will love the fairy trail (free to participate), the Secret Shake Society, and many other special offerings from local small businesses.

Port Clinton, Ohio

About 4 hours from Indianapolis
You’ll love the drive-thru safari wild animal park. Many families come here for other local attractions and because of its proximity to Cedar Point amusement park, indoor water parks, and other fun places to play.

Michigan Road Trips

Grand Rapids, Michigan

About 4 hours from Indianapolis
A visit to the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park will give you #GardenGoals. A zoo, a children’s museum, and the Henry Ford Museum all make Grand Rapids an incredible weekend away. If you love arts and culture, this is a great place for your family.

Petoskey, Michigan

About 7 hours from Indianapolis
A weekend getaway to Petoskey will give you water, outdoor fun, adventure, and family time. The views are breathtaking and the opportunities to try something new are around every corner.

Missouri Road Trips

St. Louis, Missouri

About 4 hours from Indianapolis
St. Louis is a super fun weekend getaway that’s popular with many families because of the number of free things to do, the wonderful food scene, and the never-ending itinerary of places to go. The recently opened St. Louis Aquarium is a whole entertainment district full of family fun in St. Louis. The City Museum, the Arch, the Zoo and so many other places make St. Louis one of the best Midwest family road trip destinations.

Illinois Road Trips

Alton, Illinois

About 4 hours from Indy
A trip to see where the great rivers meet is a testament to the power of our waterways. You’ll find scenic drives, outdoor fun, and plenty of places to explore.

Chicago, Illinois

About 3 hours from Indy

There’s never enough time to do everything that Chi-town has to offer! There are museums for days, a visit to Navy Pier, the American Girl Store, and pretty much eleventy-billion other family-friendly attractions.

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