With 2020 fast approaching, we’re thinking on to what adventures are in store for the year ahead.
And there’s no greater adventure than a trip to the Great Lakes region in the USA.
The Great Lakes USA region consists of some of America’s most exciting states – Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin– and has incredible natural scenery, stunning beaches, a wide range of activities and some really great cities.
Whether you’re a couple planning a road trip around the Midwest, a multi-generational family embarking on the holiday of a lifetime, or a solo traveller looking to explore and make new friends, this area’s unique and diverse landscape has countless activities and experiences to discover.
The five lakes – Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario – appear like inland seas, with stretches of sandy beaches and lighthouses perched on craggy coves. The lakes are a beautiful backdrop to outdoor activities such as kayaking, diving, sailing and fishing. The waters and forested wilderness provide a haven for a wide variety of wildlife, from moose, deer and migratory birds to bears and eagles. There’s also a swathe of offshore islands to explore, if you want to feel a million miles away from the bustling city.
If urban life is more your thing, a trip to one of the region’s cities provides plenty to see and do.
Chicago has a stand-out skyline of modern skyscrapers, and is the place to head for amazing architecture, superb art, first-class shopping and a buzzing nightlife. The Blues Capital of the World is the ideal starting point to explore the wealth of attractions in Illinois that open up and reveal the American way of life. For example, the renowned Route 66 starts here. Cruise down The Mother Road and see famous sites such as the Pontiac Mural on your way to Springfield, the state capital and the home to a tribute to one of America’s most famous presidents: the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
Milwaukee has a long brewing tradition and is perfect for beer fans, but also comes complete with interesting museums and sandy beaches. It's also home to the world’s only Harley-Davidson Museum.
Detroit, Michigan, is the birthplace of the Motown sound and home to the Motown Museum, Hitsville USA. From the second you walk through the front door, you’ll be greeted with the voices of Motown and you will stand in the actual recording studio used by some of Motown's greatest ever artists, including Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, The Supremes, Jackson 5, Diana Ross and many more.
Along with its rich musical heritage, Detroit has long been recognized as the historic heart of the American automotive industry, thanks to Henry Ford, who invented and produced the Ford Model T in the city. The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation is now one of the most popular attractions in the USA. It tells the American story through the automotive, design and innovation industries in a fun and interactive way.
From all-star sports experiences to world-class arts and culture, visitors can experience the passion, creativity and authenticity of Cleveland. Home to the world’s largest collection of rock and roll artifacts at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, visitors can pay homage to music’s masters with the Power of Rock Experience, which provides a front-row seat to performances from 25 years of Induction Ceremonies. Become a rock & roll star at The Garage in the museum, where you can play, mix and record your own hits.
Cleveland also has an abundance of arts and cultural experiences, both traditional and contemporary. From the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra to the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Tri-C JazzFest where you can dance the night away to live performances under the world’s largest outdoor chandelier. Its lake-front location is home to 55,000 acres of parkland, which includes the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, one of the most-visited national parks in the USA. Visitors can also enjoy over 300 miles of trails, eight golf courses, eight lake-front parks and a 183-acre zoo that make up the Cleveland Metroparks.
Bloomington in Minnesota has the largest indoor shopping and entertainment centre, Mall of America, with more than 520 stores and tax-free shopping on clothes and shoes. Minnesota is also the birthplace of Bob Dylan and you can tour Paisley Park, Prince’s home and recording studio. Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania is the birthplace of Andy Warhol and the museum is a treasure trove of his iconic images.
A foodie’s dream
There’s no chance of visitors going hungry in the region, as big-city, gourmet restaurants vie with traditional, all American establishments – some on the legendary Route 66 – for their custom. The deep-pan pizza was created in Chicago, farm-to-table food and craft beers and wineries are everywhere and Wisconsin (America’s Dairyland) is home to a world-champion cheese and has pizza farms, where you can eat freshly-made pizza in the open-air.
In Austin, Minnesota, there are 17 restaurants that serve Spam, a beer trail in Grand Rapids has over 80 stopping off points and Indiana has a Pie Trail, where sweet puddings can sampled in 23 different places. Traverse City in Michigan is known as the Cherry Capital of the World, with an annual Cherry Festival that celebrates the fruit with an eight day party! Cleveland has a great dining scene with award-winning chefs that are producing exciting and inventive dishes.
Sports fans need look no further than the Great Lakes USA for their fill of the action – from fabulous golf courses, including Whistling Straits which hosts the 2020 Ryder Cup, to packed stadiums with successful NFL teams; from World Series-winning baseball teams to ice hockey giants; and from NBA champion basketball teams to football clubs that are gathering in popularity.
How to get there
This heartland of America offers fly-drive holidays and exciting city breaks, with 16 daily flights into the region from the UK and Ireland. The main gateways are Chicago, the start of the iconic Route 66, Minneapolis Saint-Paul in Minnesota and Detroit, Michigan.
You can also cruise the region with Victory Cruise Lines. The Great Lakes USA region is ideal for small ship cruising, with major cities such as Chicago and Detroit, fishing ports, surfing beaches and historic lighthouses, highways and car-free islands to be explored. Two identical 202-passenger ships will tour the lakes’ seaways, harbours and remote ports from May to October 2020. For more info:www.victorycruises.com
And get ready for your big adventure…
Lauren is deputy editor at woman&home.com in the UK and became a journalist mainly because she enjoys being nosy. With a background in features journalism, Lauren has worked on the woman&home brand for four years. Before woman&home Lauren worked across a variety of women's lifestyle titles, including GoodTo, Woman's Own, and Woman magazine. After starting out working for a local paper in Yorkshire, her journalism career took her to Bristol where she hunted out stories for national papers and magazines at Medavia news agency, before landing a job in London working as a lifestyle assistant.
Lauren loves helping people share their stories, bringing experiences to life online, honing her interview techniques with everyone from authors to celebrities, headteachers to local heroes. As well as having a good nose for a story, Lauren has a passion for the English language and years of experience optimizing digital content to reach the widest audience possible. During her time at w&h, Lauren has worked on big brand campaigns like the Amazing Women Awards and assisted in developing w&h expert-approved Buyer's Guides—the place to go if you're looking to splash out on an important purchase and want some trusted advice. In addition to her journalism career, Lauren also has a background in copywriting for prestigious brands such as Inhabit Hotel, eco-development K'in in Tulum, social enterprise The Goldfinger Factory and leading London architect Holland Harvey, using language in all its glorious forms, from detailed guidebooks to snappy social content.
A big fan of adventure, Lauren is also a keen travel writer and loves sharing tips on where to find the best places to eat, drink, and be merry off the beaten track. Lauren has written a series of travel guides for London hotels and loves sharing her insights into a destination's cultural and culinary offerings. If you need a recommendation on any UK destination, she's more than happy to help. At the weekend, you'll usually find her hanging out with her pet cat (or anyone else's pet she can get her hands on), escaping to the countryside, or devouring a good book.
Follow her adventures @laurenkatehughes
LinkedIn: Lauren Kate Hughes
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