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Cultural vacation destinations in the Midwest and Great Lakes region

When vacationing with your family, look for destinations that offer cultural experiences, historic landmarks and educational opportunities. In the Midwestern United States, numerous cities feature cultural attractions and historic sites that your family will enjoy. Check out one of these cultural vacation destinations in the Midwest and Great Lakes region.

Little girl in Chicago

1Chicago, ILlinois

The largest city in the Midwest, Chicago offers diverse cultural attractions and recreational activities for your family. Chicago is home to world-famous museums, must-see parks and piers, and other historic destinations.

Start your visit at the Chicago History Museum, where you can learn about the city’s past. The museum features numerous interactive exhibits and hands-on displays that both children and adults will love.

The Art Institute of Chicago should also be on your itinerary. This museum welcomes nearly 1.5 million visitors each year and houses more than 260,000 pieces of art.

While in Chicago, you can also visit Navy Pier, Shedd Aquarium, Lincoln Park Zoo and the Museum of Science and Industry. Adler Planetarium, Legoland Discovery Center and Willis-Sears Tower Skydeck. And for kids who love dinosaurs, don’t miss the Field Museum of Natural History — home to Sue, the world’s largest, most complete T-Rex.

Learn more about Chicago in the SheKnows CityGuide >>

2Detroit, MIchigan

Detroit is the birthplace of American automobiles and Motown music. The city offers plenty of cultural attractions, historical tours and recreational activities that your family will enjoy. Though sometimes Detroit gets a bum rap, the city should certainly be on your destination list when visiting the Midwest United States.

Start your Detroit vacation by visiting the Ford Piquette Plant — birthplace of the Model T. From there, head to the Motown Historical Museum. The one-time studio is now an amazing place where you can learn about some of Motown’s favorite icons including the Temptations and Stevie Wonder.

The Detroit Science Center offers fun, hands-on experiences that children of all ages will love. The museum features an IMAX theater and planetarium, as well as a Kids’ Lab where children can create fun with chemistry.

A visit to Detroit wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Henry Ford museum. Located in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, the Henry Ford is the country’s largest indoor-outdoor history museum complex. The Henry Ford is home to an assortment of famous houses, machinery, automobiles, locomotives, aircrafts, pop culture items, exhibits and much more. From an Oscar Mayer Wienermobile to a 10-person bicycle, from the limousine that JFK was riding in when he was assassinated to the bus on which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, The Henry Ford offers an opportunity to see some of the most historic machines and vehicles in the country. Also take your family on the Ford Rouge Factory Tour for a first-hand look at a modern, working automobile factory.

Discover more about Detroit in the SheKnows CityGuide >>

3St. Louis, Missouri

When visiting the Midwest, don’t overlook a trip to St. Louis. The Gateway Arch is probably the most notable landmark in St. Louis, but the city has plenty of other cultural attractions and historical spots for your family to explore.

The Saint Louis Science Center offers free admission and plenty of hands-on activities and exhibits. Kids can use real lab equipment in the Life Science Lab, experience out-of-this-world adventures in the Challenger Learning Center, and take part in interactive experience in the Discovery Room. Families will also enjoy the space show at the planetarium or one of the shows at the OMNIMAX Theater. For families who love trains, head to the Museum of Transportation, which features more than 70 locomotives and numerous displays of aircraft, fire engines, trolleys, buses, cars and other vehicles.

And don’t think that The Gateway Arch is simply for photo ops in front of it. You can take the tram (elevator) to the observation deck at the 630-foot tall arch to enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the city.

While in St. Louis, also visit Union Station, once the busiest passenger rail terminal in the world. Younger children will love the Magic House (children’s museum) while older kids will appreciate St. Louis’ Laumeier Sculpture Park.

Find out more about St. Louis in the SheKnows CityGuide >>

Check out these other top cultural vacation destinations for families >>

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