people jumping into a lake

Midwest Summer Activities Guide

Explore the best of the midwest this summer!

As Minnesotans, we know summer in the Midwest is special and unlike any other part of the country. From rugged terrains, deep blue lakes, to roving plains, the Midwest comes alive in the summer time. Uncover the hidden gems this season and discover all this region offers. See some of our fav activities and try some out!

The Midwest Summer Hit List:

  • Go on a Road trip
  • Visit a Lake
  • Take a Hike
  • Travel to a National or State Park
  • See live music

  1. Go to the Lake
    Whether it’s the Great Lakes (some of the largest, deepest, and lushest lakes in the world are in our backyard!) or just your neighborhood lake, getting some food, blankets, and friends to gather at a lake is always the right thing to do in the summer. 
  2. Chicago
    The windy city is the nation’s 3rd largest city, and the largest in the midwest. Chicago comes alive in the summertime with amazing music (multiple festivals from Pitchfork to Lollapalooza), incredible food, and adventures; from Navy Pier to street fests and the best lakeside beaches along Lake Michigan. 
  3. Wisconsin Islands
    The Madeline and Apostle Islands in Lake Superior have long and rich histories with the Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) peoples, and are sites of astounding beauty, with water activities, camping, cabins and more abound. Don’t go to the coasts this summer for island hopping- head up to Wisconsin!
  4. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan
    Michigan’s UP is a criminally underrated region of the country; with majestic forests, prospering wildlife and access to multiple great lakes, it’s a great jumping off point for going off the beaten path.  
  5. National Parks
    Midwestern National parks offer a diversity of experiences for the adventurous traveler. Badlands National Park in South Dakota offers canyons and open grasslands, while the Indiana Dunes provides wetlands and sand dunes. There really isn’t a wrong way to go- pick a park and get moving! 
  1. North Shore Drive
    Head to Northern Minnesota and blast Bob Dylan while driving around Lake Superior’s scenic, cinematic coast. 
  2. Route 66
    The most iconic road trip in the country starts in Chicago, Illinois! See much of the midwest and the southwest on this highway that runs from Chicago to Los Angeles. 
  3. Visit a Museum
    Unbeknownst to some, the midwest has some of the very best museum collections in the country. Whether it’s Hutchinson, Kansas’s Cosmosphere (which has the largest collection of Russian space artifacts outside of Russia), the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis, Missouri, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio or the Art Institute of Chicago, there are many opportunities for exploration and enrichment. 
  4. Explore a River
    Take a boat (or a tube if you’re feeling fun) down one of the region’s many rivers. The Mississippi, Missouri, Wabash, Ohio and Illinois rivers all offer a number of summertime activities from kayaking, fishing, and pebble throwing. Check them out!

Get your road trip Jams started

Check out our recipes, coffee history and more at The Sunnyside!

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