The Best 7 Day Midwest Hidden Gems Road Trip (2024)

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Want to know how to have the best Midwest hidden gems road trip adventure in just one week? We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know!

The Midwest is one of the least visited places in the United States, with North Dakota seeing the second least amount of tourists behind Alaska, only having been visited by 15 percent of Americans according to YouGov.

But despite its reputation as a “flyover” region, the Midwest is filled with surprises and delights for adventurous travelers.

It’s right next door to Appalachia, after all, and anyone who knows anything about American lore knows that things can get a bit uncanny down that way.

midwest road trip map route
Image Courtesy of Google Maps

The Best 7 Day Midwest Hidden Gems Road Trip Adventure

Road trips are a fantastic way to explore this vast expanse, which is home to stunning natural beauty, charming towns, and iconic landmarks.

And if you’re looking for something beyond the usual tourist spots, try out this route that’s jam-packed with wild, wacky, and downright weird places to visit in the Midwest.

With the help of our friends at Liberty Plugins, let’s explore these hidden gems in the Midwest.

Day 1: Cincinnati, Ohio

Start your road trip in Cincinnati, Ohio, where you can explore the city’s unique architecture, art scene, and food culture.

Check out the American Sign Museum, which showcases the history of America through the evolution of signage, including some world famous neon signs.

American Sign Museum - Cincinnati, Ohio

Then head over to the other side of the river to visit the Vent Haven Museum, which is dedicated to the art and history of ventriloquism.

The museum is home to over 900 ventriloquist dummies, props, and memorabilia, making it the only museum of its kind in the world.

And if you’re in the mood for something spooky, take a tour of the Cincinnati Music Hall, which is said to be haunted by the ghosts of former performers and patrons.

You can also take a stroll through the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, which explores the stories of the brave men and women who risked everything to escape slavery and find freedom.

I went on a field trip here in middle school and it’s a very well done museum.

Don’t forget to grab a bite at the famous Graeter’s Ice Cream, which has been serving up handcrafted, French pot ice cream since 1870.

I highly recommend trying the Buckeye Blitz.

Graeter's Ice Cream

Check out our full day trip itinerary to Cincinnati for more ideas of the best things to do in Cincinnati.

Where To Stay In Cincinnati: Homewood Suites By Hilton Cincinnati-Downtown

We love to stay in Hilton properties as much as possible when we’re road tripping.

Sticking with one brand, joining their loyalty rewards programs, and working your way up to the higher tiers of membership will save you money in the long run while traveling.

It comes with many perks too like free room upgrades, discounted stays, free stays when you earn enough points, and even premium parking spaces.

? Click Here To Book Your Stay At Homewood Suites By Hilton Cincinnati-Downtown Today!

Day 2: Louisville, Kentucky

Drive about two hours south to Louisville, Kentucky, where you can visit the Waverly Hills Sanatorium, a former tuberculosis hospital that’s said to be one of the most haunted places in the world.

Take a guided tour of the hospital and learn about its dark history and paranormal activity.

Afterwards, head to the Muhammad Ali Center, a museum dedicated to the legendary boxer and humanitarian.

Then enjoy dinner at the iconic Brown Hotel, which is famous for its “Hot Brown” sandwich.

Afterwards, you can visit the Mega Cavern, an underground adventure park that offers zipline tours, bike trails, and an aerial ropes course.

Or, if you’re feeling brave, take a tour of the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, where you can see how baseball bats are made and hold a bat used by Babe Ruth himself.

Louisville, Kentucky

Where To Stay In Louisville: The Grady

While we love to stick to one brand when traveling, it’s hard to pass up a historic boutique hotel that is unique to the area you’re visiting.

So in this case, when you’re in Louisville we recommend checking out The Grady.

? Click Here To Book Your Stay At The Grady Today!

Day 3: St. Louis, Missouri

Travel about four hours west to St. Louis, Missouri, where you can visit the City Museum, an interactive art installation that’s part playground, part museum, and part funhouse.

Climb through a human-sized hamster wheel, slide down a 10-story slide, and explore secret passageways and tunnels.

Afterward, take a stroll through Forest Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country, and visit the St. Louis Art Museum, which features a collection of over 34,000 works of art.

If you’re looking for an unusual culinary experience, be sure to check out the Gateway Arch National Park’s Riverfront Eats food trucks, which serve up a variety of tasty dishes from local vendors.

And if you’re a beer lover, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, where you can take a tour of the historic brewery and learn about the brewing process while sampling some of their signature beers.

Check out our itinerary for a day trip to Gateway Arch National Park, including other fun things (and foods) in St. Louis.

Gateway Arch National Park - Saint Louis, Missouri

Where To Stay In St. Louis: Hilton St. Louis At The Ballpark

Like I said before, we love our Hilton hotels.

This one is centrally located downtown to just about everything you could want to do in St. Louis.

? Click Here To Book Your Stay At Hilton St. Louis At The Ballpark Today!

Day 4: Omaha, Nebraska

Drive about five hours northwest to Omaha, Nebraska, where you can explore the Old Market district, a historic area filled with unique shops, restaurants, and galleries.

Visit the Joslyn Art Museum, which features works from artists like Monet, Renoir, and Degas, and take a guided tour of the Omaha Union Station, a beautiful Beaux-Arts building that now houses a museum and event space.

The Durham Museum, housed in Union Station, offers a glimpse into Omaha’s history, with exhibits on everything from the city’s pioneer days to its railroad past.

Afterwards, head to the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, which spans the Missouri River and offers stunning views of the city skyline.

Omaha, Nebraska

Where To Stay In Omaha: Magnolia Hotel Omaha

Magnolia Hotel Omaha is an upscale, boutique 1920s era hotel.

It’s a beautiful hotel that is worth checking out when you’re in Omaha.

? Click Here To Book Your Stay At Magnolia Hotel Omaha Today!

Day 5: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Travel about six hours north to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where you can visit the American Swedish Institute, a historic mansion turned museum that celebrates the history and culture of Sweden and Swedish-Americans.

Explore the galleries, gardens, and historic buildings on the institute’s campus, and enjoy lunch at the institute’s cafe, which serves traditional Swedish fare.

Travelers who own any type of electric or electrified vehicle will be delighted to find that Minnesota’s EV charging infrastructure is among the best in the Midwest, with over 500 dedicated EV charging stations spread across the state.

With the ability to charge up at public charging stations throughout the state, drivers of BEVs or PHEVs with a range extender can easily explore Minneapolis and its surrounding areas.

Afterward, take a stroll through the Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center, which features over 40 works of modern and contemporary art, including the iconic “Spoonbridge and Cherry” sculpture.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Where To Stay In Minneapolis: Country Inn & Suites By Radissan, Bloomington at Mall of America

I highly recommend this hotel because it is the closest to the Mall of America, which is an absolute must-do when you’re in the Minneapolis area.

? Click Here To Book Your Stay At Country Inn & Suites By Radissan, Bloomington at Mall of America Today!

Day 6: Traverse City, Michigan

Drive about six hours east to Traverse City, Michigan, where you can explore the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a stunning area of sand dunes, forests, and beaches along the shores of Lake Michigan.

Take a scenic drive on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, which offers incredible views of the dunes and lake, and hike the Empire Bluff Trail for even more breathtaking scenery.

End your day with dinner at one of Traverse City’s many farm-to-table restaurants, which serve fresh and delicious local cuisine.

Traverse City, Michigan

Where To Stay In Traverse City: Park Place Hotel

The Park Place Hotel in Traverse City is centrally located in downtown and is in walking distance to many of the city’s restaurants and attractions.

? Click Here To Book Your Stay At Park Place Hotel Today!

Day 7: Detroit, Michigan

Travel about four hours south to Detroit, Michigan, where you can explore the city’s rich history, music scene, and art culture.

Visit the Motown Museum, which celebrates the legendary record label and the artists who recorded there.

Then take a guided tour of the Henry Ford Museum, which showcases American history and innovation.

End your road trip with dinner at one of Detroit’s many new and exciting restaurants, which offer everything from classic Coney Island hot dogs to gourmet fusion cuisine.

Detroit, Michigan

Where To Stay In Detroit: Aloft Detroit At David Whitney

This historic hotel is absolutely stunning.

I recommend this place in Detroit for the history and architecture of the building itself.

Aloft hotels are also a great brand that is known for catering to a more trendy, chic, young audience.

I attended a conference at one in Tampa and loved it.

? Click Here To Book Your Stay At Aloft Detroit At David Whitney Today!

Conclusion: The Best 7 Day Midwest Road Trip Adventure

The Midwest offers a range of off-the-beaten-path destinations that are well worth a visit.

From charming towns to beautiful natural areas, this region has something for everyone.

Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a history buff, or simply seeking a unique travel experience, the Midwest has plenty of hidden gems to explore.

A Midwest road trip adventure is a great way to see places around the US that are a little bit off the beaten path.

If you’ve never been to any of these places, there’s way more to do here than you think!