$1000 8 Day Midwest Roadtrip – and Make It Memorable

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Many of us start to wonder about the great outdoors when spring begins to change to summer. If you are looking for more fun this summer, then make sure it will be one of your best summer ever by getting away from the mundane. This year is definitely a year to go for a change of scenery. The midwest roadtrip is one of those great getaways!

Midwest Roadtrip

How to Take a Midwest Roadtrip for Cheap

If you’re one who wants to see more of the United States but you don’t want to fly, the great American road trip is a fun way to enjoy time together. 

Here are some fun tips to help make a week-long road trip for only around $1000.

  • Enjoy outdoor free, local concerts for extra fun
  • Keep restaurant trips to once a day (I love a good roadside sandwich for lunch)
  • Visit lakes and river fronts for picnics
  • Camp out to save more money (I’ve slept in the back of my SUV with the kids and it’s actually fun)
  • Utilize free breakfast when possible (continental here I come!)
  • Average under $100/night for hotels (or yurts – which are epic)
  • Locals can always tell you where to find more fun and free spots to visit

Are you ready for that adventure?

Here is a recommended midwest roadtrip itinerary that is full of adventure, without breaking the bank. And don’t forget to bring along your best camera. Check these 15 Basic Camera Accessories that you might find helpful especially if you are a beginner.

Your starting point should be the closest point to your current location, but for mid-point sake, we will start out in Illinois

Day 1 of your Midwest Roadtrip

  • Champaign-Urbana offers small city life with affordable Bed and Breakfast options.
  • If you are not into the B&B scene, consider Hampton Inn for free breakfast before visiting Hessel Park for a brunch picnic and a visit to the University of Illinois.
  • A visit to the Busey Woods trail is a fun hike that will allow a family to see the great outdoors, even on a muggy day. Located in Crystal Lake Park, Busey Woods features 59-acres of native woodland with a raised boardwalk to view the birdlife & wildflowers. With an area of wood cover and natural wildlife, consider bug and sun protection.

This day is close to free plus your picnic groceries before heading into your hotel for around $100. 

Day 2

Awake early, grab your free breakfast, and drive north! Bypass the expensive city life and venture into Wisconsin.

  • Bayside, Wisconsin is your first stop. Bayside features small-town life but a wonderful Lake Michigan lakeshore. The Schlitz Audubon Nature Center is home to trails. There are also eagles to be seen for those interested. The observation tower is above the tree line and gestures great views. There is a lot to do and see, and on a hot summer day, don’t miss out on Lake Michigan fun! Grab a quick lunch at their inexpensive nearby in Mequon or Fox Point
  • Before evening, take the scenic route US43 along the lake and book early for hotels well under $80 for the night in Manitowoc or Two Rivers. If the hotel doesn’t feature free breakfast, grab a drive-through breakfast in the morning to save money and enjoy it at Point Beach State Park

Day 3

  • If you’re a Green Bay Packer fan, this can be your big spend day at Lambeau Field ($15/adult, $9-12 for kids) Otherwise, spend today driving north into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
  • Drive late if you did visit Green Bay, otherwise, find your way to Baraga, MI.

Day 4 and 5

  • Located on Keweenaw Bay, inexpensive hotels right on Lake Michigan is your spot to shine. This will be your base for the next 2 days. Inexpensive Sweet Rolls at the Hilltop ($8) are sharing size and very filling.
  • Head into L’Anse for their waterfront park if you want to spend your day at the beach.  They also have free music some evenings as well.
  • If you want more hiking, Michigan’s highest point, Mount Arvon is located nearby.
  • Afterward, head to Pointe Abbaye for an evening picnic and watch the sunset. Splurge for Irene’s Pizza ($20) or have dinner at the Lakeside Inn. 
  • In the morning head toward Houghton and visit lakeside parks if you have kids. Then see waterfalls like Manganese, Silver, and the Hungarian Falls. Additional, waterfalls are plentiful.
  • The views from Copper Harbor’s Brockway Mountain are not to be missed. Have lunch at The Library, which may be more expensive, at any of the small shops like the Suomi Cafe (Gordon Ramsey was sighted here!) located along Lake Superior. 

Don’t miss out on an evening and sunsets! If you can time it and get lucky, you may just catch the Northern Lights!

Head back to Baraga, hit the casino if you feel lucky, but limit yourself to stay within budget. Otherwise, an evening at the Drive Inn restaurant (under $10) and fun on the lake is what summer memories are made of!

Day 6

  • Awake early, grab a coffee, and head to Marquette and then Munising, where you’ll spend a little more today for a visit to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. A beautiful 43 Miles long, this lakeshore is a national treasure.
  • Offset some of the costs by grabbing a picnic lunch and opting for lodging in the Grand Marais area instead of Munising. You’ll spend an evening with a blacklight searching for Yooperlite rocks, and enjoying the sandy beaches and endless water that makes you wonder where the salt is!
  • Head south toward Gulliver and see the Lake Michigan lakeshore from another vantage point. Small cabins are plentiful in this area and sometimes you can get a one open night inexpensive at the last minute. If they don’t have available spots head to Naubinway or St Ignace for the evening, keeping your stay to under $100 to stay in budget. 

Day 7

  • From St Ignace, head to Mackinac Island ($30/person) on the ferry for a day trip, splurging for some fudge of course! Grab some groceries as you head south toward the sand dunes located south of Traverse City. Climb the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes and enjoy a mid-priced dinner watching the sunset.

Inexpensive hotels are more difficult to find here so we recommend booking a cabin early on for under $40 with the Michigan State Park system. Yurts and Teepees are also available at some parks.

Ending into day 8 Midwest Roadtrip

Head south into Indiana, deciding between more dunes (it depends on the weather!) or checking out Amish in Shipshewana and Middlebury.

Now, don’t expect to get an Amish quilt and stay in budget. But you can get a buggy tour and a home-style meal and stay within budget. 

Enjoy the summer with more of the great outdoors, and seeing what the midwest has to offer.

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