The Midwest region of the United States often gets a bad rap. The weather can change quickly, sometimes transitioning from blue skies to thunderstorms, to snow storms all in one day, and people often say the midwest is “boring” “dull”, or “that there’s “nothing to do”, but I’m here to change that perception. Below are 20 fantastic Midwest luxury travel destinations for discerning travelers that have just as much to offer in the way of arts, culture, fantastic food and drink, nightlife, and outdoor activities, as any other major U.S. city.
Bay Harbor, MI
This beautiful lakeside town is one of Northern Michigan’s premiere resort towns. Find everything from a yacht marina to clothing stores and fine dining, plus one of the top 500 resorts in the world, The Inn at Bay Harbor, which is a world class retreat on the shores of Little Traverse Bay.
Bay View, MI
This small, lakeside community is full of idyllic, colorful cottages that overlook Little Traverse Bay, and is the most historic summer community in the nation.
Carmel is a charming, well-to-do small town just outside of Indianapolis. A lovely blend of quaint countryside and beautiful art, Carmel is a lovely place to visit in the midwest, particularly if you’re able to catch a show at The Palladium, their beautiful, $180 million dollar state of the art performance hall that has welcomed famous musical acts from around the world.
Cedar Point Amusement Park (Sandusky, OH)
Cedar Point is one of the largest amusement parks in the world, and until last year was home to the tallest rollercoaster in the world. Located right on Lake Erie, this amusement park has exciting rollercoasters like the Millennium Force and Top Thrill dragster for the biggest of dare devils, as well as a family friendly water park.
Known as “Charlevoix the Beautiful”, this small Northern Michigan town is a lovely lakeside retreat. Explore the arts and culture of Northern Michigan, head out on gorgeous Lake Charlevoix, or take the ferry to stunning nearby Beaver Island to feel as though you’ve been transported to another world of pristine waters and beautiful swatches of forest. If you feel like stepping back in time, visit Michigan’s most stunning castle, Castle Farms, and take a walk through gardens inspired by European castle gardens.
One of the United States’ major cities, Chicago is home to the finest food, drink, performances, shopping, art, and architecture in the midwest. Explore the Magnificent Mile to shop high fashion designers, soak in luxurious tranquility at AIRE Ancient Baths, or head to one of the city’s more than 100 museums. As of 2020, the Windy City boasts 25 Michelin Starred restaurants, including the city’s highest rated, 3 Michelin Star restaurant Alinea.
Visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, The Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, or any other number of attractions in this classic midwest luxury travel destination, the perfect weekend trip from Columbus, Indianapolis, or Cincinnati.
Enjoy a dinner at M. Miranova or The Refectory, Columbus’ finest dining establishments, and then head to Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus Museum of Art, or a local winery. Enjoy a stay at Le Méridien Columbus Luxury Hotel’s Deluxe Executive Suite, the most elegant hotel room in Columbus.
Detroit aka The Motor City, located along the Canadian–American border, is home of some of the most incredible architecture, art, and small businesses in the entire state. Explore the Detroit Institute of Arts, home of one of the largest collections of art by Monet, Picasso, van Gogh, and more in the nation, or head to the Detroit Zoo to see one of America’s most ecologically conscious zoos (as well as a lion that was given to a Detroit mayor by the Emir (King) of Qatar!) Visit during the North American International Auto Show to explore everything auto from futuristic concept cars to classic, one-of-a-kind vehicles, and then head to the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory and Botanical Garden to get in touch with nature.
French Lick West Baden, IN
French Lick West Baden is a fascinating town in Southern Indiana that was once one of the most sought after vacation destinations in North America for the well-to-do. After the Great Depression set the town, and most of the United States, down a path to near ruin, the town was revitalized and is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, attracting visitors from around the world to marvel at some of the most impressive architecture in the nation, like West Baden Springs Hotel, as well as the area’s incredible natural beauty. This area is one of the midwest’s best kept secrets, and one of the most interesting cities to visit in all of Indiana.
Grand Haven, MI
This laid back beach town in Western Michigan is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Michigan. Visit the Grand Haven South Pierhead Inner Light, walk the boardwalk along the lakeshore while enjoying an organic snow cone from one of the snow cone shacks along the walk, and visit the beautiful Grand Haven State Park for hiking, biking, swimming, and so much more.
Grand Rapids, MI
Grand Rapids, MI is the art and beer capital of the midwest, and is home of the world’s largest art competition, Art Prize. More than a dozen incredible museums, an abundance of festivals, pop-up restaurants, and proximity to Lake Michigan, as well as more breweries per capita than just about any other U.S. city, Grand Rapids is a wonderful place to spend a weekend, or longer. If you’re craving a taste of nature, head to Frederik Meijer Gardens’ Japanese garden to walk about a garden that expertly replicated from gardens in Japan.
Harbor Springs, MI
Arguably the best place to sail out of in Northern Michigan, Harbor Springs is a quaint little town with great food and even better views, plus gorgeous lakeside hiking and biking trails. Visit the Tunnel of Trees in the fall for truly spectacular color displays. Catch the UGotta Regatta each July for the midwest’s most exciting sailboat race.
Holland was settled by Dutch migrants in 1847, and has been a miniature Netherlands ever since, complete with the authentic, imported De Zwaan windmill. Holland, MI is home to the annual Tulip Time Festival, where more than 5 million European tulips bloom each spring in early May, which is an incredible sight to behold. Read more about Tulip Time Festival & the events that occur each year in this guide to the festival. Read this guide all about 5 of Michigan’s Most Incredible Flower Festivals.
The arts capital of the midwest, Indianapolis is a fun, vibrant midwest luxury travel destination with lots of vegan and gluten free dining options, an energetic nightlife and music scene, and wonderful outdoor activities. Enjoy the world-famous hospitality of one of the Conrad Indianapolis Hotel’s incredible art-inspired suites for the ultimate luxury Indy experience.
Kelleys Island, OH
Kelleys Island sits within sight of Cedar Point Amusement Park on Lake Erie. A fantastic place for camping, biking, hiking, and boating on Lake Erie, the island offers more to do for families than most Midwest luxury travel destinations.
My very favorite place in Michigan, and my favorite out of the 20 Midwest luxury travel destinations, this island doesn’t allow cars or motorized vehicles (save for the island’s ambulance and fire truck). Bike, walk, or ride a horse around this beautiful piece of historic land that overlooks the Mackinac Bridge and the crystal clear, vibrant blue waters of the Straits of Mackinac. The best time of year to visit the island, in my personal opinion is during the Lilac Festival each June, when all of the flowers on the island are in full bloom. Stay at Grand Hotel’s Masco Cottage to experience the epitome of luxury in Michigan. Read this guide to 5 of Michigan’s Most Incredible Flower Festivals.
My hometown is famous for its fossilized coral, Petoskey Stones, which are the state rock. This gorgeous town has beautiful stretches of pristine, white sand beaches, massive sand dunes, breathtaking natural springs and woodland hiking paths that transport hikers to a sylvan wonderland. Visit the Petoskey State Park to see all of these things, plus the “Million Dollar Sunsets” the city is known for the world over.
Famous the world over for its abundance of juicy, red cherries and cherry derived culinary specialities, Traverse City is one of the midwest’s premiere wine producing regions, and boasts beautiful beaches along Lake Michigan, as well as a thriving art, cinema, and music scene. Visit nearby Torch Lake, Leland fishing village, or Point Betsie Lighthouse for the perfect week in the Traverse City area.
This small town is home to Hotel Walloon, one of the most luxurious hotels in the state. Get away from it all, enjoy drinks on Walloon Lake, or take in the natural beauty of the north by spending an evening or two in this charming village. Walloon Lake is the coziest of all of these fantastic Midwest luxury travel destinations.
Which Midwest luxury travel destinations are your favorite? Have you visited any of the Midwest luxury travel destinations on this list? Which would you add that you didn’t see here? Let me know in the comments below, and I just might add your recommendations!
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Door County, Lake Geneva, Elkhart Lake, and Brainerd Lakes!
All of these places look so beautiful! Indiana is such a beautiful place and Holland, Michigan is a fun place to visit! I read another post from you about that town two years ago for Tulip Town and it was so helpful in planning our first visit to the area!
Wow there are so many cute places to visit! I haven’t heard of most of these! Cedar Point has been on my list for a while – I loveee rollercoasters!
my dad is from the midwest, and I have been to Chicago, but you’ve got me convinced to add a few more destinations to our Midwest travel bucket list! thanks as always for sharing, Annie!
I totally want to explore the midwest more! Michigan is definitely at the top of my list, and these photos are fantastic!
So many cool sounding places I’ve never heard of! I’m bookmarking this for my next trip!
Have not ventured to the midwest, but now considering making it out there someday! Sounds like plenty of great options, and way more to do than I originally thought! xoxo, Sarah
My husband and I have actually been looking into potentially moving to the Midwest in the future, and it’s fun to read articles like this that give me more to be excited about if that comes to pass. I love a “boring” life at home, but traveling to fun and unique places is a way to make the boring even more enjoyable when I come back to it. Thanks for sharing!
Aside from Chicago, I haven’t done much traveling in the Midwest, but these look amazing. These spots in Michigan look gorgeous and I’ve always wanted to go to Cedar Point, it looks like so much fun! I honestly wouldn’t think there’s this much to do in the Midwest, but you’ve changed my mind, it seems like a really fun place!
I’m definitely making a list. I need to get out and travel again soon!
Ooo. This list is very interesting! I definitely would love to visit Chicago and Michigan!
Such a helpful resource! Glad you put it together. You’re right – midwest gets a bad rap.
Megan Rushing says
So many places I haven’t heard of. Great list.
Audrey Klein says
Love all the suggestions here. I live in Cleveland and wish there’s more luxury attractions and food scenes!