13 Best Midwest Spring Break Destinations in 2024

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It’s time to think about an epic Midwest Spring Break Destination! If you’re wondering where to take the kids in 2024, this list of 13 small towns and larger cities across the Midwest will be sure to inspire your next family-friendly getaway, for spring break or otherwise.

midwest spring break destinations chicago millenium park (1)

13 Last Minute Best Midwest Spring Break Destinations

The weather in the Midwest can swing from delightful to frightful in the span of one spring day. It’s anyone’s best guess as to what kind of weather you’ll get when you stick to the Midwest during Spring Break. And honestly, you might get to enjoy spring, summer, winter, and fall – all in the same day!

For those of us in the Midwest, Spring Break is traditionally considered a time to escape winter and head somewhere warm. But you don’t have to leave the Midwest for Spring Break, because there are a lot of fun things to do in here!

When considering a Midwest destination, I recommend choosing somewhere that has a good mix of indoor and outdoor fun. And you’re in luck, because there are a lot of options, many more than the few I am presenting here!

Sometimes, you don’t have to travel far from home to find world class fun. These destination ideas offer many opportunities for exploration and plenty of fun things your family will enjoy! Best of all, most of them are located within a six hour drive of Eastern Iowa. With a good good mix of indoor and outdoor family-friendly fun, you’ll be sure to find a spring break destination to delight your family, even if the weather doesn’t fully cooperate.

st louis arch & courthouse

Our Top Choice for a Midwest Spring Break in 2024

The vibrant city of St. Louis has many star attractions that your family will love! Ranked seventh in the country for the Best Weekend Getaways in the Midwest, St. Louis is my top pick for Spring Break 2024 in the Midwest!

St. Louis, Missouri –

Not only is mild weather a reasonable expectation, but you’ll be able to explore many free attractions, a US National Park, take in three different professional sports games, and so much more!

You will find many reasons to head St. Louis for Spring Break!

  • The Gateway Arch National Park and the Westward Expansion Museum
  • Union Station
  • City Museum
  • Forest Park – many free attractions for budget friendly fun
  • St. Louis Zoo – free to visit the St. Louis!
  • St. Louis Cardinals MLB game – 2024 home opener is April 4
  • St. Louis Blues NHL – last home game for 2024 is April 17
  • St. Louis City Professional Soccer – 2024 season starts February 24 in St. Louis
  • Eat Imo’s Pizza for a real taste of St. Louis

If you’d like to stay in a convenient downtown location inside a National Historic Landmark, we highly recommend the St. Louis Union Station Hotel. With beautiful appointed rooms in a historic train station, you’ll find lots of love about this St. Louis hotel. Make sure to watch their hourly laser light shows, even if you stay somewhere else.

We also think Drury Hotels are great for families and there are several in the St. Louis area including one downtown at Union Station.

Read 19 reasons St. Louis is our #1 Midwest Spring Break destination!

Midwest Spring Break Destinations in Indiana

I was surprised to learn how many amazing things there are to do in Indiana during trips in 2023 to both Hendricks County and Hamilton County – suburbs of the greater Indianapolis area. Not only do these counties have an amazing food scene, but they also offer so many activities for kids of all ages – including tweens and teens.

Hamilton County Courthouse

Indianapolis, Indiana –

Your family will love a lot about spring break in the greater Indianapolis area. At just about five hours from Eastern Iowa, the distance is doable and the attractions are fun!

What we also really love about visiting the greater Indianapolis area of Hendricks County or Hamilton County in the spring of 2024 is the potential to see the upcoming solar eclipse! If your spring break includes the date of April 8, you will want to be in the path of totality, and the Indianapolis area is a winner winner!

Beyond that, greater Indianapolis area offers a taste of city life, rural life in Hendricks County and a good appreciate for the arts in Hamilton County. Here are more things your family can look forward to on an Indiana Spring Break:

  • Indianapolis Zoo, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
  • Conner Prairie: Indiana’s Living History Museum – 2024 season opens March 26
  • Get outside by Exploring the Monon Trail and McCloud Nature Park
  • Love on rescue animals at Oinking Acres Farm Rescue & Sanctuary
  • Family Friendly Improv at Red Curb Comedy
  • Zipling and horseback rides at Strawtown Koteewi Park or Natural Valley Ranch

If you want to stay in Indianapolis, we recommend the staying at the Crowne Plaza Indianapolis in one of their authentic Pullman Train Car guest rooms!

If you’re looking for accommodations for large families or groups, check out these two vacation rental houses at Natural Valley Ranch – The Cabin and the Cottage. These multi-bedroom houses are perfect for large families or groups seeking a country adventure.

Midwest Spring Break Destinations in Iowa

fenelon elevator

Dubuque, Iowa – 

Located just north of the Quad Cities along the Mississippi River, Dubuque has a lot of fun things your kids will enjoy over their Spring Break. From eating, to art, to museums, and learning about the river, here are a few things we think you will love in Dubuque!

We recommend staying at Grand Harbor Resort for water park access! Make sure to check out this post for more information about all of the fun things to do in Dubuque, Iowa.

pella iowa information windwill

Pella, Iowa –

You don’t have to go far for a taste of Europe in the Midwest! Pella, located 30 minutes from Des Moines, is a bit like stepping into a Dutch fairy tale. It’s fun to visit during Christmas or for the beautiful Pella Tulip Time festival in May, but there are a lot of things you could do there during a spring break visit as well!

  • Visit the Pella Historical Village
  • Tour Wyatt Earp’s boyhood home
  • Eat a Dutch letter cookie at one of the local Dutch bakeries
  • Take a tour of the working windmill
  • Try traditional Dutch food like Stamppot and Oliebollen

We stayed at the Grand Stay Hotel and Suites just a bit out of town. The Amsterdam Hotel is located right in the heart of Pella off the Molengracht Plaza, if you’re looking for a boutique hotel in downtown Pella. Make sure to read this post about all the fun things to do in Pella, Iowa.

walnut grove pioneer village collage

Quad Cities, Iowa – 

Another Iowa River town, the Quad Cities is actually a collection of cities spanning Iowa and Illinois. I head to the Quad Cities a couple times a month to go to Costco, so going there would be considered a stay-cation or an everyday activity for my family. But there are a lot of neat things your family will enjoy about the Quad Cities, especially if you’ve never been there before!

Don’t forget to try a Happy Joe’s taco pizza and Whitey’s ice cream if you visit the Quad Cities! Because it’s so close, we’ve not actually stayed in a hotel in the Quad Cities, but if I were to stay there, I would check out the Hotel Blackhawk in the downtown area.

Midwest Spring Break Destinations in Illinois

chicago art statue

Chicago, Illinois – 

Chicago has long been our go-to city when we need a cultured, urban experience. Located only three hours from Eastern Iowa, Chicago is an amazing city to explore. For a really fun treat, take Amtrak from Galesburg to Chicago and make your way around the city on public transportation. Here some of our favorite places to explore in Chicago:

  • The Bean
  • Chicago Field Museum
  • Cubs game at Wrigley Stadium
  • Sky Deck at Willis Tower
  • Architecture boat tour
  • Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, make sure to buy the extra ticket for the German U-Boat tour experience!!
  • Chicago Museum of Art, find the original American Gothic painting by Iowa artist, Grant Wood
  • Lunch at the SafeHouse Chicago, a fun spy bar that you need a secret password to enter!

Save money with a Chicago CityPASS if you plan to hit the museums! We enjoy staying at one of the Embassy Suites when we visit Chicago with our kids. Their make your own omelet station is one of our kids’ favorite vacation breakfasts, and they have free happy hour for the grown ups too. Win-win!

Midwest Spring Break Destinations in Missouri

kansas city plaza horse carriage ride (1)

Kansas City, Missouri – 

A five hour drive from Eastern Iowa. Kansas City is another great spring break destination because of its many attractions and events. The city has a variety of museums, including the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Money Museum, which are both free to visit. Kansas City spans both Missouri and Kansas so if you’ll find twice the number of things to do! Here are some of our favorite things to do in Kansas City

Our kids really enjoyed staying at the Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas, if you’re looking for hotel recommendations! Learn more about things to do in Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas in these posts by Little Family Adventure. If you’re looking for delicious restaurants in Kansas City, Ks, here you go!

Springfield, Missouri Area – 

At 6 1/2 hours away, Springfield, Missouri is a little bit further than some of the other destinations on this list, but we still recommend considering this town! You can probably expect Spring Break temps in the high 50s or 60s, which I consider reasonable for indoor or outdoor activities if the sun is shining. Here are some things to do Springfield and the surrounding area:

We stayed the Drury Inn in Springfield and really liked their free dinner, free breakfast, and free happy hour! For more information about family-friendly fun in the Springfield, Mo area, read this post!

Midwest Spring Break Destinations in Minnesota

7 Best Family Friendly Indoor Activities in the Twin Cities - Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul

Minneapolis-St Paul, Minnesota

With average temperatures in the 40s in March in Minneapolis-St. Paul, you will most likely want to seek out indoor activities for Spring Break. Lucky for you, there are a lot of fun indoor activities your family will enjoy in the Minneapolis area!

  • Mall of America – from delicious food to world class shopping to an indoor amusement park, your family will really enjoy spending some time at the Mall of America! Plan to spend at least two days at the Mall of America if you want to do all of things.
  • One of our favorite activities at the Mall of America was doing an Escape Room – make sure to check out The Escape Game and save the world!
  • Can-Can Wonderland – whimsical indoor miniature gold course with amazing food! They’re open Thursday – Sunday and I highly recommend a visit!
  • Science Museum Minnesota – located along the river in St. Paul
  • Mill City Museum – Bank of America and Merrill Lynch card holders get one FREE admission on the first full weekend of every month
  • Walker Art Center – your art lovers will really enjoy this art museum in downtown Minneapolis and teens get free admission every single day!

If you’re looking for a family-friendly hotel, our family really enjoyed the Best Western Plus located a quick walk from the Mall of America. A more upscale option is staying at the Radisson Blu in the Mall. There’s also a Great Wolf Lodge located very near the Mall of America too!

Midwest Spring Break Destinations in Nebraska

Omaha Weekend

Omaha, Nebraska

You’ll find Omaha is a quick 4 hour drive west across Iowa. We generally pass right through on our way somewhere, but it’s definitely worth stopping in Omaha! From a world class zoo (with very warm indoor areas) to a vibrant downtown and food scene, and lots of fun, interactive museums your kids will enjoy – I highly recommend spending a few days here!

Learn more about what to do in Omaha in this post!

Midwest Spring Break Destinations in Wisconsin

winter wonderland door county in winter

Door County, Wisconsin

A 6 1/2 hour drive from Eastern Iowa, Door County is a beautiful spot along the Green Bay and Lake Michigan that you have to visit – preferably in each season.

Most people head there in the summer, but there are plenty of things to do in the spring as well. And it’s a less crowded time to visit! This is the one place I would wish for cold weather because there are so many fun winter activities to do in Door County! A few things your family will enjoy doing in Door County include:

The Landing Resort has suites perfect for families, walking trails, and an indoor pool. Ot, stay the The Dörr for a more upscale experience.

Read this post on What to Do in Door County in the Winter for more vacation inspiration!

white sand beaches gulf shores alabama

Five Non-Midwest Spring Break Destinations

Huntsville, Alabama – I’ve been to Huntsville several times now and always leave more impressed than I was. If you have a kid interested in NASA and STEM – this is definitely the city for you. But there is a lot more to do than just that too!

Gulf Shores / Orange Beach, Alabama – the closest, and some say the most beautiful, beach to Iowa has a lot of fun things to do! Also read, 29 Family-Friendly Things to do at Gulf State Park (+where to eat, where to stay!)

Colorado – Colorado is amazing for skiing (check out our favorite affordable family-friendly ski resort!) and we really enjoy visiting Denver and Colorado Springs too! We also enjoy taking the overnight Amtrak train to Denver instead of driving. A super fun way to get to your spring break destination!

Panama City Beach Florida – well, Florida is just iconic spring break, isn’t it? We also love visiting friends in the Bradenton/Sarasota area and find lots of fun things to do there besides being beach bums.

I hope this post inspires you to seek out a new adventure! Where's your favorite place to spend spring break? 

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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