29 September 2016
This 13-day self-drive tour is a wonderful way to see the beautiful US states of Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Indiana. As well as the famous Great Lakes, this part of the Midwest is also home to historic houses, picturesque small towns and the vibrant city of Chicago, the starting and finishing point of your tour.
Your road trip begins as you arrive at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, collect your car and proceed to your hotel. Chicago is famous for its towering skyline and rich musical heritage – fans of jazz and blues are in for a treat here. You can't visit Chicago with out taking in the Willis Tower, still better known as The Sears Tower, once the tallest building in the world. Take the elevator to the 103rd-floor skydeck to enjoy the panoramic views of Lake Michigan, the city and suburbs and, on a clear day, all the way to Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. You may like to visit the Art Institute of Chicago, home to one of the most diverse art collections in the world, including the world's largest group of Monet paintings, as well as Millennium Park, where you can see a huge stainless-steel sculpture by Anish Kapoor.
You have a full day to continue exploring Chicago today. You may like to make the short drive to the suburb of Oak Park, home to the world's largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed buildings and houses. Also worth a visit is Navy Pier, where you'll find an IMAX theatre, a grand ballroom and an enormous Ferris wheel. For delicious food, as well as fascinating cultural experience, head to Chinatown or Little Italy, while this evening you'll want to head out to one of the many lounges to enjoy some live music.
This morning you'll drive into Wisconsin, stopping briefly at its capital, Madison, before continuing to Spring Green. Here, you may like to visit Taliesin, the home of Frank Lloyd Wright, before continuing to House on the Rock, home to an inn and resort as well as The Attraction, filled with an astonishing range of eclectic collections, with everything from doll houses to the world’s largest indoor carousel. You'll stay overnight here.
This morning you'll head west, taking a scenic route along the Mississippi, through numerous small towns where you may like to stop to browse the antique shops and enjoy a slice of home-made cherry pie. Today's destination is Minneapolis, where you may like to visit the Frederick R Weisman Art Museum, the Guthrie Theater, Minnehaha Park, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. If you enjoy shopping, at nearby Bloomington you'll find Mall of the Americas, the world’s largest shopping centre, with 400 shops, 50 restaurants and bars, a cinema and Camp Snoopy, the largest roofed theme park in the United States.
This morning you'll drive on the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway, a system of scenic trails and roadways that loop around the city, then continue on to the shores of Lake Superior and Duluth. Here you can visit the Great Lakes Aquarium, North America's only all-freshwater aquarium, to learn more about Lake Superior, its surrounding habitats and its wildlife. You may also like to take an optional tour of Glensheen Historic Estate, an early 20th-century mansion which resembles a 17th-century English castle, with period furniture and stunning formal gardens. In the evening, don't miss the chance to take a boat excursion or dinner cruise on Lake Superior.
This morning you'll depart for Ashland, stopping en route at the Apostle Island National Lakeshore to enjoy the windswept beaches and cliffs. From Ashland you can choose to visit Madeline Island, the largest island of the Apostle Islands archipelago and the only one with a year-round population. Here you can soak up the laidback atmosphere, relax on Big Bay Beach and perhaps enjoy a round of golf.
This morning you'll head for the Keweenaw Peninsula, taking the Brockway Mountain Drive, which offers spectacular views of the surrounding valleys and forests. At Hunter’s Point Park you may like to take the hiking trail that extends from the marina to the tip of the Point, winding in and out of little coves along the lake. You may like to visit Fort Wilkins Historic State Park, a restored 1844 military outpost and lighthouse where you can see re-enactments of the history of the Keweenaw Peninsula fort. You'll then head along Lake Superior to Marquette, visiting the rugged Presque Isle Park to enjoy the views of Lake Superior, and perhaps visit the Marquette Maritime Museum to learn more about the fishing and freighting industries.
This morning you'll drive to Munising and take a scenic lake cruise to the colourful Pictured Rocks, which stretch for about 15 miles along Lake Superior. Near Newberry, you'll visit the beautiful waterfalls of Tahquamenon Falls State Park, then head to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at the historic Whitefish Point Light Station. You'll then drive through Saint Ignace to catch the ferry to the resort island of Mackinac, leaving your vehicle at the ferry terminal as cars are not allowed on the island.
Mackinac Island is essentially a living Victorian theme park, with all transport by horse and buggy, on bicycle or on foot. Here you can explore historic Fort Mackinac, shop for homemade fudge in the bustling downtown area or just relax at the historic Grand Hotel.
This morning you'll return from Mackinac Island by ferry, pass through Saint Ignace and continue into Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. You'll stop at Petoskey, a picturesque resort overlooking Lake Michigan, to take in the views and browse the boutiques, before continuing to Traverse City. Here you'll visit the beautiful Sleeping Bear Dunes, as well as the Grand Traverse Lighthouse, which has guided ships through the northern entrance to the Manitou Passage for 150 years. At Grand Traverse Bay you can see schooners, sloops and frigates, including historical replicas of 18th- and 19th-century ships, and you may like to take a dockside tour.
You'll leave Traverse City this morning and travel towards Holland, driving alongside beautiful Lake Michigan. In buzzing downtown Holland you'll find excellent shopping and dining, as well as creative arts venues.
This morning you'll head to Indiana’s Amish Country for a complete change of pace. Stop at a welcoming Amish-style inns to enjoy a hearty meal, and head to the farmstead shops for Amish crafts, furniture and food. You'll then continue to Nappanee, where you can stroll around the bakeries, restaurants and antique shops of the downtown area, with its 19th-century storefronts.
This morning you'll leave Nappanee and return to Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) for your onward flight.
Standard fr £1347pp
Superior fr £1764pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated