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Top Five in Midwest Family Vacation Destinations
Whether you prefer the beauty of an urban skyline or a rugged mountain, the Midwest offers a family vacation destination for everyone. Take your pick from the entertainment of Branson, the sophistication of Chicago, or the wet and wild fun of the Wisconsin Dells. Take in the natural beauty at a Jellystone Campground and expand your family's horizons at Mt. Rushmore.
Just remember to keep your sense of humor when staying in small hotel rooms with your family as you encounter the best the vacation the Midwest has to offer!
Ozark Travel Tips - There are so many things to do around Branson. If you get tired of the glitz and glamour, consider some side trips. Mary Ann Powers at Ozark Travel Tips provides wonderful details and first hand knowledge of all things Ozark.
Branson Chamber of Commerce - Consult the chamber to get up to speed on all the area attractions, lodging, and seasonal celebrations. There's also a complete listing of all the shopping, including those in the Tanger Factory Outlet Center.
Branson, Missouri is one of the top place to visit in the Midwest with close to seven million visitors annually. Branson offers attractions and world-class entertainment for all ages, all in the gorgeous setting of the Ozark mountains. The flavor of Branson is wholesome. Shows are available for all ages and families will appreciate live performances in any of the city's 49 state-of-the-art theaters.
Families can enjoy a patriotic revue, listen to a cowboy poet reading, or take in one of the family-friendly variety shows. Magic and comedy share the stage with animals, acrobats, and special effects. Kids will love the dinner show at Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede restaurant where they'll see horses and stunt riders perform amazing tricks.
Don't miss the Titanic Museum - largest one of it's kind!
By the first week of November most of Branson gets into the Christmas spirit. Christmas in Branson includes plenty of holiday-themed music, sets, costumes and production numbers.
Silver Dollar City has been named the number one theme park in the world by the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions. This 50-acre, 1880s-themed park is set naturally into its surroundings and features more than 100 craftsmen demonstrating their skills. There are festivals going on from April through December including a Bluegrass & BBQ Festival, National Kids' Fest, and a Salute to the Great American Cowboy. The holiday music festival and light parade at Silver Dollar City was named one of the top 10 in the country by USA Today.
But wait, there's more. You can rent a boat and water ski on beautiful Table Rock lake, or spend some quality time in nature at Big Cedar Lodge. Save money for shopping because Branson boasts many outlet centers and the famous Bass Pro sporting goods super store.
Powder Keg roller coaster at Silver Dollar City
10 Best - You could make a whole vacation out of sampling the pizza in Chicago. Start with this review site that lets you know what people think of the pie at various restaurants. You also get price, location, and dress code information.
Top Chicago Attractions - Away.com provides more detail on all the top Chicago attractions. Find phone numbers and website links to everything mentioned in this article and more.
Famous Chicago Style Pizza
A Chicago vacation offers the finest in the arts and amusements. From the top of the Sears tower to the miles of paths along the shores of Lake Michigan, the family is sure to love the windy city.
The kids' favorite among Chicago's world-class museums is sure to be the Chicago Children's Museum at Navy Pier. Kids can experiment with inventions, reconstruct dinosaur bones, play on a make-believe schooner. The Field Museum comes in a close second with it's full size T-Rex and King Tut exhibits. At the Museum of Science and Industry the whole family can walk through a huge, working model of the human heart. Plan a trip to the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum on a Friday for special programs.
The John G. Shedd Aquarium and Oceanarium is the world's largest indoor aquarium. You can even walk through a simulated Amazon and observe the sea life there. The Brookfield Zoo is has been named one of the top ten family-friendly zoos by Child magazine.
Take in the city's amazing architecture, from the 110-story Sears Tower, which is the tallest in North America. Then get down on street level around the Loop to get up close and personal with sculptures by Picasso, Miro, and Chagall among other. If you're lucky you'll also catch a street performance of a group of bucket drummers.
Do not leave the city without sampling the deep-dish pizza. Chicago style pizza is like no other. You may even get kids to eat their spinach when it's piled on one of these culinary works of art!
Street Bucket Drummers
Jellystone Camp Resorts - Search for parks in your area with a handy interactive tool that lets you find parks based on the amenities you want. There are also wonderful tips to help less experienced campers get into the spirit. Learn about making the most of traveling with grandkids and planning a family reunions too.
Kaboose Camping Guide - Kaboose has put together an exhaustive guide for family camping. It includes games and crafts, recipes, and safety tips along with enough checklists to keep the planner in you happy for days. Not your average camping article!
Jellystone Campground Parks
Anyone who grew up with Yogi and Boo Boo will get a huge kick out of introducing these lovable characters to their kids at a Jellystone campground park. These parks are located throughout the Midwest and have become the favorite destination for many families. In addition to the joys of camping, Jellystone parks offer waterslides, pools, and bike trails. There's also the chance to get involved in sports like volleyball and mini-golf. In the evening, families enjoy quality time around the campfire, or at the movies!
The Warrens, Wisconsin Jellystone Park is one of the finest Resort Camps in the United States with a 50,000 sq. ft. Indoor Water Resort, and different styles of lodging to suit many tastes and budgets. Generally, the parks offer tent camping, RV sites, and cabin rentals.
Parks are franchises, independently owned and operated throughout the Midwest, so you'll want to check out the Jellystone main website and do a little homework on which park is best for you because the amenities will vary. Midwest park locations include Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Missouri.
Yogi Bear, Cindy Bear, and Boo Boo make daily visits to campers. If you're lucky, you may even get tapped to play Yogi or Cindy!
Yogi Bear Visits Campers Daily
Circus World Museum
Wisconsin Dells on the Wisconsin River is known as the waterpark capital of the world. There are several outdoor and indoor waterparks to choose from, as well as more than twenty waterpark resorts!
The indoor waterparks help contribute to the year round family fun at this Midwest vacation destination, but there's more to the Dells. The fall color in the Dells is spectacular and the area has plenty of campgrounds where you can experience the colorful change of season up close.
Cruise boats and the amphibious vehicles called Ducks take you on scenic tours to see the Wisconsin River rock formations. Afterwards, go to the International Crane Foundation, a wildlife preserve where you can see all 15 living species of cranes. There's no other spot on earth where you can see all these birds in one place.
Nearby Baraboo is home to the Circus World Museum, which boasts the world's largest collection of one-of-a-kind antique circus wagons. There are 50 wagons, some in the process of restoration. You can even watch as craftsmen toil away at reviving these treasures of American history.
There are arts-a-plenty in the Dells as well. Landscape photographer, H.H. Bennett is considered among the top 10 of the 19th century. He introduced the world to stop-action photography and you can see some of it at his studio on the Dells' boardwalk. Architecture aficionados can visit the Frank Lloyd Wright's Seth Peterson Cottage, the only home Wright designed that is available for rent to the public.
For pure entertainment, check out the Tommy Bartlett Show, a water ski extravaganza that is one of the longest running live outdoor entertainment shows in the country.
"Best of the Midwest" according to AAA
Just in case you need more convincing: Check out this article where the AAA Midwest Traveler magazine named Wisconsin is the best state to go on vacation.
Wisconsin Dells Official Website - This is a nice website that has a lot of factual information about the Dells area, but doesn't overwhelm you with ads. You can also plan your trip from the site and they've got nice bonus features including a waterpark essentials checklist.
Noah's Ark - The largest waterpark in the country with 45 waterslides, 2 wave pools, kiddie water playgrounds and more. Plus you get rides, mini-golf, shopping, and a dive-in theater. It's a multi-day park, and good news: 2nd day tickets are half price when purchased at the same time as the first.
What is your favorite place to state while in the Midwest?
South Dakota: Black Hills, Badlands, and Mount Rushmore
South Dakota is home to amazing natural beauty as well as attractions to please any family. Perhaps the best-known landmark is Mount Rushmore, but there is so much more to see. Families can learn about the history of the Great Plains at various memorials and state parks. Kids and adults alike can explore caves, canyons, and hiking trails.
The Black Hills region of South Dakota is home to five national parks and memorials. The Mount Rushmore National Monument boasts 60-foot faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt, carved into the granite of Mount Rushmore. The monument is best viewed in the light from sunrise to ten o'clock in the morning. You'll want to consult the calendar of events to find out if there are any special programs going on during your visit.
Make time to learn investigate history at the Journey Museum where you'll hear the scientific explanation of fossils and geology as well as the Lakota Sioux mythology of the origins of the Plains. One of the most popular exhibits is a hologram of a Native American woman telling her story in a tepee. Talk about bringing history to life!
Visit the Crazy Horse Memorial, which is expected to be the world's largest mountain carving when it is complete. They even project a laser show onto the five-story stone. Next, head to Custer State Park to see over 1,500 head of buffalo. The first Monday in October they have a buffalo roundup, but you'll need to make your plans many months in advance.
Wind Cave National Park has the fourth-longest cave in America. Explore a bit of its 120 miles of mapped passages. Mammoth skeletons are the main attraction at the indoor Mammoth Site in Hot Springs. From June 1st - August 15th the Junior Paleontologist Excavation lets kids ages 4 to 13 dig for fossil replicas, but space is limited so make reservations for this activity. A drive through the 244,000-acre Badlands National Park gets you a glimpse at bison, pronghorn, and bighorn sheep. And don't forget the wonders of Theodore Roosevelt National Park; this park is one of the lesser known paces to visit in the Midwest!
Travel South Dakota - With so many options in South Dakota, this website is helpful in putting it all together. Plan your route and accommodations on this hand all-in-one site. It's well put-together and has "hot deals" advertised as well.
South Dakota History - A family vacation to South Dakota can be so much more than recreation. Wikipedia is a great jumping off point if you and your family want to delve into the rich history of this region and the people who have lived there. Get kids engaged in learning while having fun!
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