Planning to take a Midwest spring break this year? This guide has the top Midwest spring break destinations to plan an epic trip in 2024.
From world-class destinations like urban Chicago to smaller cities like Milwaukee, the Midwest isn’t always mid.
Explore waterfalls in underrated state parks and small towns along Lake Michigan. Check a national park (or two!) off your list!
There are tons of Midwest spring break destinations for every budget. Beaches, bustling cities, and national parks bring variety to the table for everyone.
From someone who was born and raised in the Midwest, I can confirm that there are tons of places to get off the beaten path.
It might not have the dramatic mountainous landscape of the West Coast, but the Midwest is worthy of a visit.
The best part is that many of the Midwest spring break destinations in this guide can be combined for an epic road trip.
Table of Contents
Midwest Spring Destinations: Illinois
Weather: The average high temperature for spring in Chicago is 56℉ and the average low temperature for spring in Chicago is 43℉.
Chicago’s spring weather is cold in March but warms up in April and May.
Chicago is an international icon. Known as one of the best metropolitan cities in the United States, it certainly lives up to the hype!
From the turquoise waters of Lake Michigan to its famous skyline, Chicago is one of the best Midwest spring break destinations. It also makes for an amazing girls weekend!
One of the best spring activities in Chicago is to explore the beautiful flower blooms throughout the city.
Check out the annual tulip bloom on Michigan Avenue between shopping and exploring, or the annual cherry blossoms in Jackson Park. Other great stops for flowers include Ping Tom Memorial Park and Lurie Garden in Millennium Park.
Other top things to do in Chicago include exploring the museums, classic neighborhoods, and of course, eating deep-dish pizza.
If you’re in town during opening weekend, head to Wrigley Field to enjoy a classic Chicago Cubs baseball game!
Begin your planning with this 4 day Chicago Itinerary.
Stay: The Drake Hotel is highly acclaimed in Chicago.
Starved Rock State Park
Weather: The average high temperature for spring near Starved Rock is 62℉ and the average low temperature for spring near Starved Rock is 40℉.
Temperatures are significantly warmer in May.
The Midwest is known to be relatively flat, but Starved Rock immediately challenges this! With cascading waterfalls through sandstone valleys, visitors take on a whole new side of the Midwest.
Spring is one of the best times to visit Starved Rock!
The waterfalls in Starved Rock are created from rainfall. Spring is known as one of the rainiest seasons in the Midwest, so this time of year provides the best chance of seeing flowing waterfalls through the canyons.
Starved Rock visitors have their choice of adventure! Some of the best things to do in Starved Rock are hiking, walking, chasing waterfalls, and camping.
Kayak rentals are available beginning in May. Guided boat tours are available through the Starved Rock Lodge.
I recommend flying into O’Hare or Midway International Airport in Chicago and renting a car to take a road trip to Starved Rock. Starved Rock is conveniently located a 1.5-hour drive from Chicago.
There is no entrance or parking fee for Starved Rock State Park.
Tip: Visit Matthiessen State Park on the way back to Chicago. It is a lesser-known state park only 10 minutes away!
Stay: Starved Rock Lodge is located inside of the state park. It provides both cabin and hotel room options.
Matthiessen State Park
Weather: The average high temperature for spring near Matthiessen is 61℉ and the average low temperature for spring near Matthiessen is 38℉.
The next Midwest state park is only 10 minutes away from Starved Rock!
Matthiesen is a less crowded alternative to Starved Rock. It’s a hidden gem, and most Starved Rock visitors don’t know that it is here.
Matthiessen provides similar natural features to Starved Rock but with fewer crowds! Some of the best things to do at Matthiessen State Park are hiking, mountain biking, and picnicking.
Its similar geographic features to Starved Rock create an interesting comparison. Visitors love the dramatic canyons and unique rock formations.
Grab a map online before beginning your journey. There is no entrance fee for Matthiessen State Park.
Stay: Kishauwau Cabins
Midwest Spring Break Destinations: Michigan
Weather: The average high temperature for spring in Holland is 57℉ and the average low temperature for spring in Holland is 38℉.
The most magical time to visit Holland Michigan is in the spring!
Holland is by far one of the best Midwest spring break destinations and also serves as one of the most unique. Among windmills and unique architecture, visitors feel like they have stepped into Europe.
I highly recommend visiting during the annual Holland Tulip Festival if it fits your spring break schedule. Tulip Time began in 1929. Celebrating its 95th year of operation in 2024, visitors are in store for a Midwest treasure!
Perhaps the most iconic photography spot in Holland is Windmill Island Gardens.
The incredible tulip beds surrounding a ginormous windmill made me feel like I stepped into Europe. Smaller windmills, shops with European architecture, and a merry-go-round are other features of the island.
Holland is also home to the only Dutch Windmill operating in the United States!
Nelis’ Dutch Village is an alternative place for iconic European photography architecture. The theme park features a wooden shoe factory and cheese-making.
Aside from unique Dutch architecture and activities, Holland is also an adorable town featuring restaurants, adorable shops, and so much charm.
Its proximity to Lake Michigan also makes throwing a beach day or two into your spring break doable! Neighboring towns worthy of a visit include Saugatuck, Douglas, and Grand Rapids.
Stay: The Dunes Resort is a highly rated budget accommodation in Holland, Michigan.
Weather: March: 20-35℉, April: 31-47℉
Lake Superior tends to insulate Pictured Rocks from the wintry chills you might expect in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
March and April still have freezing temperatures, with March experiencing decent snowfall. By April, snow is light and the days are becoming warmer.
When I visited Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for the first time, I was blown away by the many beautiful waterfalls, and lake beaches. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore was a favorite, and my first trip won’t be my last.
While the weather tends to warm in April, March at Pictured Rocks offers a chance to view dramatic ice curtains that form when icicles cling to the unusually shaped rocks that give the park its name.
Only one park road is plowed for snow removal. If you want to explore off the main road while it’s snowy, plan to snowmobile, cross-country ski, or snowshoe.
The required entrance pass costs $20 per car. Since Pictured Rocks is part of the National Park System, America the Beautiful passes are accepted.
This is the annual national park pass that covers entry costs into all national parks for one year.
Stay: The Holiday Inn Express Munising Lakeview has views of Lake Superior and an indoor pool. It’s a solid pick a couple of miles from the park entrance.
Contributed by Lindsey of Queer Adventurers
Weather: The average high temperature for spring in New Buffalo is 56℉ and the average low temperature for spring in New Buffalo is 40℉.
New Buffalo is a quaint, vacation town featuring beautiful beaches, lowkey nightlife, and local wineries.
It is a popular weekend destination for Chicago locals! Best known for relaxing, visitors enjoy the beach lifestyle of this small town.
My favorite thing to do on my New Buffalo vacation was taking a sunset cruise. The ship departs 15 minutes outside of New Buffalo in neighboring Michigan City. I loved the incredible photography opportunities of red sailboats floating by the Michigan City Lighthouse!
Note: This isn’t the best option for travelers who experience motion sickness.
One of the most famous restaurants in New Buffalo is Stray Dog. The regulars swear by it!
New Buffalo is 1 hour and 15 minutes by car outside of Chicago. Public transportation from Chicago to New Buffalo is easy! There is a direct Amtrak Train out of Chicago’s Union Station stopping directly in Downtown New Buffalo.
I recommend combining a trip to New Buffalo with neighboring small towns, Indiana Dunes, or Chicago.
Tip: This is a one-hour time zone difference from Chicago! Neighboring Michigan towns like Union Pier are on Chicago time, so if you are planning activities in different towns, keep this in mind!
Stay: Blue Heron Inn is a highly-rated budget accommodation.
Midwest Spring Break Destinations: Wisconsin
Devils Lake State Park
Weather: The average high temperature for spring in Devil’s Lake is 50℉ and the average low temperature for spring in Devil’s Lake is 30℉.
Devil’s Lake is a beautiful gem in the Midwest. Many Midwest locals are not even aware of the breathtaking scenery just around the corner!
Some of the best activities at Devil’s Lake include hiking, camping, boating, and hanging out at the beach.
There are two beaches in the state park. One is located on the South Shore and one at the other side of the lake on the North Shore.
My favorite activity at Devil’s Lake is rock climbing! Known to provide some of the best climbing routes in the Midwest, its unique quartzite rock formations make for an unforgettable climbing experience.
Safety tip: If you have never rock climbed before, hire a professional guide. Utilize the Mountain Project website for climbing routes and always inspect the routes for safety upon arrival before climbing.
Devil’s Lake requires a parking permit. Daily parking permits can be purchased online or upon arrival at a self-registration station or ticket booth.
This will depend on available options at your parking lot. The daily admission sticker costs $8 for vehicles with a Wisconsin license plate and $11 for vehicles with an outside-of-state license plate.
Devil’s Lake is great to combine with a trip to Madison, Wisconsin. They are located one hour apart.
Stay: Pinehaven of Baraboo
Weather: The average high temperature for spring in Milwaukee is 50℉ and the average low temperature for spring in Milwaukee is 39℉.
Urban Milwaukee is one of the best Midwest spring break destinations! Only one hour from bustling Chicago, Milwaukee makes for a great trip in its own right.
There are plenty of amazing things to do in Milwaukee each spring. Stroll the lakefront, play pickleball at the brand-new courts, or take a walk through one of the many parks. Mitchell Park is known for its beautiful domes.
If it’s a rainy day, head indoors to one of the city’s top museums. These include the Milwaukee Art Museum, Pabst Mansion, and Milwaukee Public Museum.
Head to the Third Ward District for a bite to eat. There are tons of restaurant options, and my personal favorite- Milwaukee Public Market. It’s no Pike Place in Seattle, but it’s absolutely worth the visit.
I LOVE a good market and the sampling of local cuisines from small businesses. Parking at the public market is paid. You can alternatively find free or metered street parking outside of the market.
Stay: The Knickerbocker On The Lake
Midwest Spring Break Destinations: Minnesota
Weather: The average high temperatures are 49°F in March and 64°F in April, with average lows of 32°F and 44°F.
Minneapolis offers plenty of indoor and outdoor locations for all ages, making it one of the best Midwest spring break destinations!
One spot that Minneapolis is known for is the Mall of America, the largest mall in the U.S. with over 500 stores, a 7-acre indoor amusement park (Nickelodeon Universe), mini-golf, and a movie theater.
Mill City Museum and the Science Museum of Minnesota are also great indoor options for a rainy day.
When the weather is nice, get outside! Explore beautiful scenery like Minnehaha Regional Park.
Consider renting a bike or taking a walk to explore the sandstone bluffs and 53ft cascading waterfall!
Other beautiful green spaces for a spring adventure in Minneapolis include Boom Island Park and Lyndale Park Rose Garden.
Stay: Great Wolf Lodge
Contributed by Devon of Say Yes To The Trip
Midwest Spring Break Destinations: National Parks
Weather: The average high temperature for spring in Indiana Dunes is 58℉ and the average low temperature for spring in Indiana Dunes is 40℉.
Indiana Dunes National Park is one of the newest national parks in the United States!
It is conveniently located one hour outside of Chicago. This makes Indiana Dunes a great road trip to combine with other top destinations in the Midwest.
Visitors are in store for amazing hiking along incredible Indiana Dunes Trails, such as the 3 Dunes Challenge and Dune Succession Trail
Discover biodiversity like pine cones in towering trees above and unique views from high atop dunes overlooking Lake Michigan.
Indiana Dunes National Park requires a $35 entrance fee, or you can enter for free with the America The Beautiful annual national parks pass.
After visiting the park, consider exploring neighboring Beverly Shores and Union Pier.
Beverly Shores is home to the Century of Progress Homes from Chicago’s 1933 World’s World’s Fair making a great stop for history buffs. Union Pier features a charming lighthouse, a huge beach, and more.
Stay: Spring House Inn is one of the closest hotels to Indiana Dunes National Park.
Location: South Dakota
Weather: Average high is 47℉, low is 26℉ in March.
It is possible to experience snow, wind, or sunshine so be prepared!
One of the most underrated national parks in the US, Badlands National Park in South Dakota is unlike any other. This makes it one of the best Midwest spring break destinations!
The landscape is surreal and otherworldly, with rugged canyons, towering spires, and colorful rock formations. It’s a great spring break destination and one of the best national parks for kids.
The best way to see Badlands National Park’s variety of stunning scenery is to drive “the loop” which is South Dakota Highway 240 from Interstate 90.
It’s 39 miles and has 16 scenic overlooks. Each overlook offers spectacular scenery. A few like Panorama Point and Pinnacles Overlook have larger parking lots with plenty of space and ADA-friendly parking.
One unique thing about Badlands National Park is that it’s an open-hike park, which means it’s entirely free to explore.
There are designated hiking trails but you can also explore on foot on your own adventure. The Notch Trail is one of the most popular trails in the park and can be a bit challenging, including ladders.
On the flip side, The Window Trail is a flat, accessible boardwalk to an overlook.
To visit Badlands National Park, you could see the highlights in a day. You’ll need a car for the region, and a private vehicle fee is $30 unless you have the America the Beautiful annual parks pass, in which case it’s included.
You could spend a week exploring the area fully, including nearby Custer State Park and Mount Rushmore.
Stay: Rapid City, South Dakota is the closest area with a lot of hotel options, and is located about an hour west of the park.
I recommend Cambria Hotel Rapid City or Hampton Inn & Suites Rapid City, which are both near the east edge of town, and closer to the park.
Recommended by Nikki of Inspired Routes
Weather: Highs around 70ºF and lows around 40ºF
Branson, Missouri does not feature a national park! However, it deserves an honorable mention in this category due to its stunning location in the Ozark Mountains.
Outdoor adventures include hiking, kayaking, and exploring caverns deep underground! Some of the most popular places to go hiking include Waterfall Trail and Table Rock State Park.
City lovers will enjoy the frequent festivals and shows with amazing foods, fun concerts, and unique entertainment.
One of the best things to do near Branson is Silver Dollar City. This is not your average theme park. Sure, it has roller coasters, but it doesn’t just appeal to thrill-seekers. History buffs will enjoy the artistic displays. Craftsmen demonstrate historical arts such as basket weaving, glass blowing, and candle making.
There are plenty of other things to do in the Branson area. Some highlights include Sight & Sound Theater, Dolly Parton’s Stampede, Ripley’s Believe-it-or-Not, and Fritz’s Adventure. You’ll also find an abundance of mini-golf, go-karts, bumper boats, and helicopter rides.
Stay: Table Rock Resorts at Indian Point
Recommended by Janae of Adventures With TuckNae
If you are planning a Midwest spring break, we hope this destination guide helps inspire you! The Midwest offers charming small towns, Great Lakes beaches, and unique cities.
Send us a message if you have more great ideas to add to this list, or if you would like to share your Midwest stories!