7 Things to Know about Planning for Family Vacation in the Midwest

Planning the ultimate family vacation may not be as difficult as most people may think. Yet, to achieve the best results possible, it usually takes time, effort, and a certain amount of dedication. Specifically, if you want to plan a trip that will not only be fun and exciting but also enriching for the entire family. With that being said, here are 7 things that you need to know about planning the ultimate Midwest family vacation.

Mackinac Island, Michigan
Mackinac Island, located in Michigan, is a unique vacation destination that offers a variety of accommodations. Unlike other tourist spots, there are no chain hotels on the island. Instead, visitors can choose from over 1,600 rooms in a range of charming and historic hotels, resorts, B&Bs, condominiums, cottages, and homes. Many of these accommodations have been owned by families for generations, dating back to the island’s early days as a summer getaway. The timeless charm and genteel hospitality of Mackinac Island’s historic places to stay continue to enchant visitors to this day.

1. Start with a checklist

To get started on the right road, you may want to consider developing your own checklist. A checklist is essential for a number of different reasons, including becoming a very useful tool to track and check off things that have been done and completed by a specific time frame. In fact, here are some of the key benefits of using a checklist in the planning stage.

  • Helps to Identify and document things that need to be done
  • Helps with writing down tasks in manageable pieces
  • Ensures everything that needs to be done is efficient and productive throughout the entire process
  • Keeps the organizers from missing the smallest details
Shedd Aquarium
Located in Chicago, the Shedd Aquarium is a beloved destination for animal lovers and families alike. With over 32,000 animals and 1,500 species, it boasts the most diverse aquatic collection in the world. Visitors rave about the experience, recommending at least three hours to fully explore the exhibits and enjoy the interactive activities. Whether you’re traveling with kids or just looking for a fun day out, the Shedd Aquarium is a must-see attraction.

All of these things and more are some of the key reasons why a checklist is not a luxury but a necessity in getting things done. It is also important to note that a checklist can be a friendly reminder and will help to keep people completing essential things on time. The design and the elements on the checklist will determine how much information is actually needed or required.

2. Make a Determination of where to go with your family

Selecting the best destination for a family vacation can be very difficult, especially when there are so many different great family vacation in the Midwest options to make your selections from these days online. Also, because there are so many different things to consider, you may need to do quite a bit of research prior to making a final determination.

Great Lakes Children's Museum
The Great Lakes Children’s Museum offers a fun and educational experience for both children and adults. With hands-on and interactive exhibits, visitors are encouraged to explore and learn through play. While the space may be small, it is perfect for toddlers to spend a couple of hours. The museum also takes Covid protocols seriously, with thorough sanitization between uses and the option to request sanitized toys at the front desk. Popular exhibits include the water table, helicopter, ball wall, and climbing structures. Visitors can even take home a new book from the little free library outside. Overall, the Great Lakes Children’s Museum is a great destination for families looking for a fun and safe outing.

To that end, here are some of the top questions that you may want to ask your family about the places that they prefer.

Waterfalls in Hocking Hills
Hocking Hills State Park, situated in Southeastern Ohio, is a State Park that has gained national and international recognition for its stunning natural beauty. The park boasts towering cliffs, breathtaking waterfalls, and deep, hemlock-shaded gorges that are a sight to behold in every season. From wildflowers in the spring to vibrant foliage in the fall, hikers and nature enthusiasts can enjoy the park’s awe-inspiring beauty year-round. The park features seven major hiking areas, including Ash Cave, Old Man’s Cave, Rock House, Conkle’s Hollow, Cedar Falls, Cantwell Cliffs, and Whispering Cave Trail. These areas offer a unique experience for visitors, and the park is open year-round from dawn to dusk. Hocking Hills State Park also offers hiking trails at Wayne National Forest, Clear Creek Metro Parks, Lake Hope State Park, Vinton County Park District’s Moonville Tunnel, and Hocking College’s Robbins Crossing, as well as the Athens Hock-Hocking Adena Rail Trail bikeway.

Each of these questions will help to determine where all of the family, including the kids would like to go. You need to look for places that accommodate both the small kids and the older adults. This means you may need to get quite a bit of extra input as you start reserving hotels and making other necessary family vacations Midwest arrangements. For example, if the family would like to spend time in nature, go to the spa, and dine out at night, these reservations may need to be made as early as possible to avoid any unnecessary problems.

3. Choose the Right Activities for the Entire Family

As you make your plans, you need to make sure that you are choosing a place and venue that is convenient for all involved. Unfortunately, this can be a huge problem for families that have a diversity of ages in the group or someone with special fitness needs that must be considered.

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Located on Wrigley Drive, Riviera Beach is a public beach in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin that offers easy access to the Geneva Lake Shore Path, the Lake Geneva Library, and the Riviera Ballroom. It is also within walking distance of downtown restaurants and shops. While the beach is small, it is open to the public during the summer months and can get crowded on holidays. The $10 entry fee may seem steep, but it’s worth spending as much time as possible to make the most of your visit. For a less crowded experience, consider going after 3pm when the weather is still hot but some of the crowd has dispersed. While Lake Michigan beaches may be better, Riviera Beach is still a good option for a day of fun in the sun.

Actually, whatever the situation or make-up of the group, at some point in time, the group will need to meet in the middle. For example, sometimes the older kids may want to go to places that require a lot of walking. While the extra walking may be good for most people’s health, some family members may not be able to keep up with a large crowd. Therefore, before setting up tours, hikes, and other things that require each person to be completely physically fit, these factors must be taken into consideration. For example, if someone in the family has a broken foot, a long walking tour with the family may not be the best activity.

On the other hand, if you decide to go on a Midwest family vacation tour with the entire group, special accommodations for the person with the broken foot will need to be made in advance. By making plans in advance, no one will be left out of the activities that you plan for the family.

4. Set a Reasonable budget and Plan Accordingly

Another big part of planning the perfect Midwest family vacation is setting a budget that you can work within. By establishing a specific budgeted amount before you start making your plans, you will have an opportunity to determine what you can and cannot actually afford.

Also, when you set the amount that you are able and willing to spend, you can create a budget for all of the expenses that you anticipate. Here are some common 5 examples of the cost that you can expect to pay on your vacation today:

Hilltop Resorts and Campgrounds
Hilltop Resorts is the perfect destination for those seeking a unique blend of luxury resort amenities and natural camping experiences. Nestled in a serene and peaceful environment, this resort offers a range of accommodation options, including cabins, RV camping, glamping, and traditional camping. Located near Lake Logan, Hilltop Resorts provides easy access to Hocking Hills and nearby attractions. Whether you want to relax in a cozy cabin, park your RV, or enjoy the great outdoors in a glamping or tent site, this resort has something for everyone. Come and experience the breathtaking beauty of Hocking Hills at Hilltop Resorts!

4.1. Hotel Accommodation Expenses

One of the first things that many people like to consider is the cost of their hotel accommodations. In fact, if you know which hotels are in the city that you are visiting, you can select the ones with the best accommodations and the price that goes along with it. Because you will be traveling with your family, you may save money by placing more than one person in a room. Or, if you choose to do so, everyone can make their hotel accommodations as a single person. Either way, the cost of the hotel accommodations that you make can be controlled by looking for specials online, talking with a travel agent, and the like. For example, you may want to check out package deals that consist of transportation and hotel rates included together.

You may also save money by choosing hotel accommodations that serve breakfast as a part of the regular hotel bill. To get the best deals possible, you should several sites online for the pricing that you need and prefer.

4.2. Transportation Costs

In addition to thinking about the cost of your family’s hotel arrangements, you need to make sure that your transportation cost is covered, too. It really does not matter if you are traveling by car, bus, train, or airplane, you need to assess these costs and gather a number that will fit the budget that you have allocated. For example, if your family is going to travel by rental car, you need to factor in the price of renting and the reasonable amount of gas that’s required to get from one destination to the next. Otherwise, if you are traveling by air, you need to consider the total cost of airline tickets for each member as one total sum.

4.3. Cost of Food & Beverages

Supplying meals for your family can be quite expensive, especially while you are away in different cities and towns. Therefore, this is also a cost that you must consider as you design your family Midwest vacations budget. You need to account for both the meals of children and adults since they are usually different in many restaurants across the nation. For instance, one of the goals and objectives of keeping down the cost is to think about what saves money but also allows everyone to enjoy good-tasting and healthy meals.

To be successful in this area, you may want to do a thorough job of researching the places that you will be traveling through. Here are some tips that can assist you with saving on the cost.

4.4. Price of Excursions & Entertainment

Another essential part of creating the best family Midwest vacations budget is setting aside enough funds for tours, theme parks, theatres, beaches, surfing, hiking, and other ways of entertaining the family. These costs will be determined by the activities that everyone is expecting to do while away from home.

In some cases, the activities may be free after entering into a theme park with a paid ticket. Other activities may be completely free if it involves the use of a public park, beach, or other facilities that everyone uses daily. Whatever the case or circumstances, you need to know the current pricing of the following in advance:

  • Cost of tickets or bookings for everyone involved
  • Cost of museums
  • Prices of clothing, shoes, and other things worn to participate in activities like soccer and bowling safely

4.5. Cost of Souvenirs

Science Museum of Minnesota
The Science Museum of Minnesota offers a range of experiences, from a quick hour-long visit to a full day of exploration. For those visiting for the first time, we suggest setting aside at least two hours to fully immerse yourself in the exhibits, and an additional hour if you plan to catch a film at the Omnitheater. Families with young children ages 3-6 may find the Minnesota Children’s Museum more suitable, as it is specifically designed for their age group. However, if you have children of mixed ages or simply want to visit the Science Museum, there are plenty of exhibits and activities that will engage and educate younger visitors.

When touring different places and shopping around, some people enjoy buying souvenirs for themselves, their family, or their friends. It is also important to note that some souvenirs are quite costly to purchase, specifically when it is dependent on the rarity and quality of the souvenirs that people find. This means the prices can vary greatly from one vacation spot to the next. Therefore, if you want to get the biggest bang for your buck, you need to know exactly how much should be budgeted for these things.

Additionally, if you are traveling by plane and not by car, you need to take this into consideration. Specifically, if you do not want to pay huge unexpected expenses for the souvenirs that you carry on board the plane. For instance, if everyone on your midwest vacations for families excursion is traveling by plane, they may be required to pay more for the extra weight that they carry back with them on the plane.

On the other hand, if you are traveling by car, all you may need is enough room and space in the car to take these extra things with you. Either way, you need to prepare in advance to buy and carry your souvenirs back from the best Midwest family vacation spots that you find.

5. Start Saving for Your Vacation Expenses: Prepare Your Finances in Advance

Now that you have created a budget that identifies what the family vacation expenses will be, you may need to start saving money for your trip in advance.

Saving is often an essential part of the planning process since it influences how well and smoothly things will turn out. For instance, if you start planning and saving early, it will be much easier to buy the things that are needed for your vacation. You can also pay for the best airline tickets and hotel accommodations when you are making arrangements.

Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Mall of America, located in Bloomington, Minnesota, opened its doors in 1992 and has since become the largest mall in the United States, the largest in the Western Hemisphere, and the eleventh largest in the world. With over 520 stores, 60 restaurants, and a variety of attractions such as Nickelodeon Universe theme park, SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium, and The Escape Game, the Mall of America is a top tourist destination, attracting roughly 40 million visitors annually. Conveniently located just 15 minutes from downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, and with easy access via the Metro Blue Line Light rail train or free shuttles from nearly 50 Bloomington hotels, the Mall of America is a must-visit shopping and entertainment complex. Plus, shoppers can enjoy the added bonus of no sales tax on clothing or shoes!

You should also be realistic about how much can be saved comfortably before that scheduled date. Also, since family trips normally include several adults and teens that can contribute financially to your vacation savings account, everyone involved should be familiar with the goals and objectives of your financial plans.

Additionally, as you save for your trip, you may want to take advantage of all types of different insider tips for the best family vacations. Fortunately, there is a wealth of information online that can help you to save money on your travels. For instance, you should check out beaches and resorts that offer layaway programs, especially those that allow their guests to fund their vacation activities over a period of time. These programs give family members a way to cover the cost of virtually everything that is needed, including the family’s entertainment (i.e. water parks, tours) food, restaurants, and special treats and meals for kids (i.e. cotton candy, ice cream, mac, and cheese and much more).

Wilderness Resort, Wisconsin
Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells is the ultimate destination for waterpark enthusiasts and families looking for a fun-filled vacation. With over 600 acres of land, the resort boasts four indoor and four outdoor waterparks, as well as a variety of attractions, arcades, a golf course, spa, and numerous dining options. Guests can choose from a range of accommodations, including hotel rooms, villas, condominiums, and even five-bedroom cabins. The waterparks are included with your stay, making it an excellent value for families. The resort is well-maintained, and the staff is friendly and accommodating. Highly recommended for a memorable vacation experience.

6. Consider Small Kids When Purchasing Airline Tickets on Your family vacations Midwest Excursion

Madison Children's Museum
Madison Children’s Museum is a beloved destination for families seeking fun and educational activities. After a temporary closure due to the pandemic, the museum has reopened with safety measures in place, including online reservations for specific time slots. Visitors can once again enjoy the museum’s unique exhibits, such as the giant bluegill named Seymore, the Wildernest bone bridge, and rooftop chickens. The museum offers a variety of interactive experiences for children of all ages, including Possible-opolis for ages 6 and up, the four-season Rooftop Ramble with animals and gardens, and the Wildernest, a global village made with natural, local materials for kids.

When you are making travel arrangements for both adults and small kids, it is highly recommended that direct flights are scheduled. Instead of booking flights that require long layovers, direct flights are the preferred arrangements that need to be made.

This is primarily because small children tend to be restless and have little patience. Also, some terminals in airports are not baby-friendly (i.e. – equipped with nursing rooms or toddler play spaces). Therefore, small kids may be confined into small spaces that make it difficult for them to travel comfortably for extended periods of time.

7. Start packing the Family Early

The task of packing can be a huge undertaking for all involved. In fact, if everyone in the family does not start early enough, the entire trip can be compromised by one of the adults or children not taking this part of the process seriously. This is especially true for those of you who will be traveling hundreds of miles away from home. Therefore, it is important to devise a plan that can be used by every family member that will be traveling with the group.

With that being said, here are a few basic tips that can make this part of the process simple and painless for all involved.

  • Create a list of the things that the kids will need, particularly those things that cannot be left behind, including medications that kids may take regularly.
  • Gather enough clothing items that will cover the days that you will be away
  • Buy all toiletries in quantities that make it simple to carry
  • Do not overpack. Large pieces of luggage filled to the brim can make it difficult to travel through large airport terminals crowded with other travelers.
  • Leave enough room in their luggage for shopping sprees, souvenirs, and the like.
  • Check out sites that cover smart packing tips (i.e. purchase small lightweight carry-on luggage).

To avoid last minute delays, you need to make sure that you start early. Create a list of things that will be needed by each child. Get the older kids involved with all of your packing needs.


Getting ready for a family vacation in the Midwest can be a challenging experience for every family member. From making sure the family has the finances to enjoy their vacation comfortably away from home to deciding the best places in the Midwest to tour, there is a lot that needs to be done.

Whatever the case or situation, one of the best ways to get started is to devise a sound plan. The plan that you create should factor in a wide diversity of essential things, including establishing a budget for all future traveling expenses, saving money to pay for the family vacation, choosing the best travel accommodations for both kids and adults and packing early to avoid leaving essential critical items. The main goal and objective of creating a family vacation plan are to ensure everyone has a good time without encountering or experiencing any unnecessary problems.

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