back to articles | June 27, 2022 | Greg Thibodeau

Categories: Useful Automotive Information

16 Summer Road Trip Adventures to Experience in the Midwest

The Midwest is often associated with rolling plains but this area of the country includes mountains, lush forests, rivers, and the great lakes. There is much to see and what better way to view it than from the road.


The Midwest is often associated with rolling plains. While that is true for some areas, the landscape is much more varied. This area of the country includes mountains, lush forests, rivers, and the great lakes. There is much to see and what better way to view it than from the road. Here are 16 midwest road trips you should consider taking this summer.

1. Hocking Hills Scenic Byway, Ohio

The Hocking Hills Scenic Byway traverses 26 miles among the hills of southeastern Ohio. This midwest road trip is full of scenic beauty along winding roads. Breathtaking sights await among the valleys, waterfalls, bridges, cliffs, and gorges. There are plenty of opportunities to get out of the car and stretch your legs on forest paths or make a pit stop at one of the historically significant sights along the way.

2. The Ohio River Scenic Byway, Indiana

The Ohio River can be enjoyed from a few states but the drive along the southern portion in Indiana is particularly serene. Lush green forests and rolling farmland await you on this midwest road trip. Roll down the window and let the beauty of this region calm and soothe your soul. When you’re ready for a pit stop, stretch your legs at a local farmer’s market or rent a canoe and check out the views from the water.

3. Edge of the Wilderness National Scenic Byway, Minnesota

Submerse yourself in nature on the Edge of the Wilderness National Scenic Byway and let the sublime take your breath away. This dramatic drive is predominantly thick lush forest and picturesque lakes. If you’re not ready to leave, turn your road trip into a weekend getaway at one of the campgrounds, cabins, or resorts. Don’t forget to check out the Judy Garland Museum and childhood home at Grand Rapids.

4. Highway 61, Minnesota

Driving on Minnesota state highway 61 will take you along the shore of spectacular Lake Superior. This scenic drive is perfect for rolling down the windows and enjoying refreshing summer breezes through your hair. Shimmering waters, beaches, cliffs, and lighthouses turn this midwest road trip into a proper coastal drive. Make a pitstop at Split Rock Lighthouse and Palisade Head for photo ops.

5. Door County Coastal Byway, Wisconsin

This unbelievable midwest road trip explores 66 miles of Wisconsin's Door Peninsula. The winding roads twist and turn through deep forests full of serene beauty and wildlife. The rest of the drive is mainly views of Lake Michigan and shoreside towns and villages nestled in the countryside. These communities will charm you and you won’t be able to resist making a few pit stops along the way.

6. Great River Road, Wisconsin

The Great River Road is not just one road but a whole collection of them running along the Mississippi River through 10 states. Undoubtedly driving the entirety of the Great River Road would be a fantastic experience but if that’s too much to take on, explorers may want to trim this midwest road trip down to size and focus on the Wisconsin part of the journey. This 250 mile trek along the curves of the Mississippi river is full of stellar views and culinary delights. Make a pit stop at the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder who penned the Little House on the Prairie books.

7. Spoon River Valley Scenic Drive, Illinois

The drive along the picturesque Spoon River valley is one of the most scenic routes to take on your midwest road trip. There are over one hundred miles of roads surrounded by thick forests and plentiful river views. Stop and explore some of the villages and historic sites along the way. There is plenty to do and much to see.

8. Route 66 Chicago to St. Louis, Illinois

The iconic Route 66 is a must see for any driving enthusiast. For a midwest road trip the route between Chicago and St. Louis is a particularly pleasant drive. These two cities alone offer plenty to see and if you want to properly explore the stops between them this 4 and a half hour drive can easily turn into a weekend getaway.

9. Lincoln Heritage Scenic Byway, Kentucky

American history enthusiasts will appreciate this midwest road trip. The Lincoln Heritage Scenic Byway is a drive through the past. Scattered throughout the rural landscape are a series of stops involving Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. Take breaks from your scenic drive at stops such as the Lincoln Museum or the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln.

10. Midland Trail, West Virginia

The Midland Trail, or old U.S. Road 60, is one of the oldest routes in the United States. This midwest road trip sweeps across 119 miles of forest and river views. There are charming towns along the way where road weary travelers can stretch their legs. Purchase local arts and crafts, visit historic sites, or hit the trails and biking paths.

11. Flint Hills National Scenic Byway, Kansas

The Flint Hills National Scenic Byway is 47 miles of panoramic tallgrass prairie vistas. The rolling hills and open sky of this midwest road trip are ideal for enjoying majestic summer sunsets. This drive shows off the cowboy history splendor of central Kansas with historic stops such as the Old Cowboy Jail and the Kaw Mission State Historic Site and Museum.

12. Great River Road, Iowa

The Great River Road which runs along the Mississippi River is such a spectacular midwest road trip that it’s on our list twice! This part of the scenic route can take you all the way from Iowa’s northern border to the southern end. On this drive you will see quaint small towns nestled among forests with the backdrop of the river.

13. Wichita Mountains Scenic Byway, Oklahoma

The Wichita Mountains Scenic Byway has a bit of something for everyone. Flat prairie lands and rocky lowlands offer a striking contrast against mountain peaks of the Wichita Mountains. Drive slowly on this midwest road trip and see if you can spot some of the wildlife in this area. Be on the lookout for deer as well as bison among others.

14. U.S. Route 2 Lake Michigan Scenic Highway, Michigan

To begin this midwest road trip you will need to cross the Mackinac Bridge connecting the Upper and Lower peninsulas of the state of Michigan. While driving north into the town of St. Ignace over this 5 mile bridge you will be treated to spectacular views with Lake Michigan to the west and Lake Huron to the east. Continue your trip west towards the town of Manistique and keep your eyes open for incredible views of the great lakes.

15. Chan Sansan Scenic Backway, North Dakota

The 35 mile drive along the Chan Sansan Scenic Backway isn’t a particularly long one but it’s full of fantastic views and historic pit stops. As you cruise along on this midwest road trip, enjoy the James River Valley in all its glory. Stop at the Grand Rapids Museum and the Memorial Park Museum while you’re in the area.

16. Needles Highway, South Dakota

This short midwest road trip is little more than 14 miles long but it is a one of a kind drive. The natural rock formations in this part of the world are unlike anything else. The tall, narrow rocks reach high up into the sky like needles set on end giving this road its name. You will also be delighted by open meadows and spruce forests on this scenic route.

The vastness of the American midwest calls for a reliable car. Is yours up to the task? If you’re in need of a new vehicle our auto loan tools can help. Visit MyAutoLoan and find out what kind of car financing you can get.