Traditional Family car trip
May 11, 2009 10:13 PM   Subscribe

Taking our 5 & 7 year old daughters by car to Lincoln, Nebraska and back from Boston, stopping off in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Anything along the way we shouldn't miss?

We're pretty well versed and traveled East of the Ohio river, but know the mid-west not a bit. Any "must-sees" for a young audience between PA and Nebraska?

Thanks in advance.

Great lodgings also appreciated.
posted by Rafaelloello to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The worlds largest ball of postage stamps is in Boys Town NE, just a little outside of Omaha. I'd stop in.
posted by jessamyn at 10:24 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Are you taking 90 for any part of the time, specifically through Ohio? Stop off in Sandusky for a day at Cedar Point, which is an incredible amusement/roller coaster park. My brother and cousins and I have been enjoying it since we were kids -- while they won't be on the giant coasters, there's plenty there for a 5 and 7 year old to have fun with.
posted by olinerd at 3:26 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Or, if you are headed through Cincinatti, you could stop at King's Island.
posted by billtron at 4:29 AM on May 12, 2009

It might be worthwhile to at least do a drive-through of Chicago. If you stay on 80, you see nothing. I would highly recommend taking a Lake Shore Drive detour. If you are feeling terribly adventurous, stay on 90 and take the route 41 exit and follow that up through the city. Then head back down and take 55-S to meet up with 80.
posted by gjc at 4:47 AM on May 12, 2009

Seconding Chicago. Also, if your passports are in order (the parents need them, but the kids just need birth certificates) there's always Niagara Falls.
posted by Johnny Assay at 5:17 AM on May 12, 2009

The Museum at the Wright Patterson Airforce Base is pretty cool. Giant City Park in southern Illinois for some great trails that kids can handle.
posted by nax at 5:34 AM on May 12, 2009

If you're taking I-90 - make a detour around Hudson/Catskill, NY and visit Olana, the former home of Hudson River School artist Frederic Church built in the 1880's. It's an amazing view overlooking the most majestic part of the Hudson River and it's some incredible architecture - kid friendly also. Bring a picnic and bug spray.
posted by debbbie at 5:37 AM on May 12, 2009

Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo is pretty cool and worth a stop if you have time. It's right off the interstate.
posted by Atom12 at 5:42 AM on May 12, 2009

Niagara Falls. They will love it.
posted by Flood at 5:42 AM on May 12, 2009

Best answer: Ok - some ideas

Erie = Presque Isle Park -- beautiful park on a peninsula that extends into Lake Erie

Cleveland = Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or science museum next door...

West of that are a couple of islands out in the lake...Kelley's Island has these awesome glacial groves where the continental glaciers carved out the rock -- plus it is a ferry ride too for those not as into rocks as me :)

Near Gary Indiana - Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Olney Illinois -- this has been on my list for a little while, but I have yet to make it -- but then I like strange things. This town has a sustained population of albino squirrels...see

If you go there from Fort Wayne, then you miss Chicago...but you do get to hit St. Louis. There of course is the arch, but also a very good zoo and many other things to do there.

West of there is the Katy Trail -- a long (200+ miles!) of trail along hte Missouri that follows Lewis and Clarks path. It is a rails to trails initiative that is beautiful if you want a day out of the car!

Another idea to keep kids excited is a treasure hunt for geocaches along the way. This would need a gps to be accomplished, but is a great fun thing for kids (of all ages!) and could be done all along your trip when you need a quick break from the car and to stretch your legs. There is also a version that is less populated and does not require a gps...called letterboxing.

Ok - I am now excited about my next trip west to the Lincoln has been a while since I have been back and I really should find the time to roadtrip that direction! Now to stop procrastinating and get back to work!
posted by rvrlvr at 5:47 AM on May 12, 2009

Seconding gjc. If you have the time, why not stay overnight in Chicago and see one of the museums? The Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, and the Chicago Children's Museum at Navy Pier are all perfect for youngsters. Even just a walk down the lakefront would be pretty neat.

When are you going on this trip? If you decide to see Chicago during late June/early July, be aware of Taste of Chicago. It's fun, but there will be crowds and street-closings that make it inconvenient to travel around the Loop via car.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:06 AM on May 12, 2009

Seconding the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE - home of the largest aquarium between Chicago and California (with a really cool tunnel that allows you to walk through the shark reef while they swim all around you). Also home to the largest indoor rainforest and largest geodesic dome structure. All of these things are at the front of the zoo so you can pop in and see them without having to walk all over. The zoo is right off of I-80 as well. They also recently installed a ski-lift-style "Skyfari" ride where you can see the animals from above. There's an IMAX theater as well.

The Strategic Air and Space Museum is AWESOME. Exit 426 between LIncoln and Omaha. I take visitors there and they can't believe that something like this exists in rural Neb. Exit 426 is also home to a drive-through animal park (with White Buffalo) and the beautiful Mahoney State Park (which has a nice restaraunt overlooking the Platte River, pony rides, paddleboat rides, crafts, hiking, fishing, etc.)
posted by Ostara at 7:12 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thirding the Strategic Air/Space Museum. Also in the vicinity, USSTRATCOM used to have tours (but sadly, no longer).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:42 AM on May 12, 2009

The world's largest ball of paint. It is in Alexandria Indiana, just north of Indianapolis.You can even paint a layer yourselves.
The Indianapolis Childrens Museum is also very cool.
posted by Gungho at 8:16 AM on May 12, 2009

I would suggest visiting the Nebraska State Capital building in Lincoln. My wife were there last week during our drive from Pittsburgh to Laramie, Wyoming.

The building itself is very cool in that the architecture is different from other capital buildings because it doesn't mimic the federalist style of the US capital building. Also, there is quite a bit of great artwork (especially mosaics) on the inside. Take the public tour on the second floor to learn the most. Don't miss out on the chance to see the nation's only unicameral state government in action!

In addition, the Iowa State Capital building in Des Moines, also right off I-80, is pretty cool as well. Yeah, me and my wife are total nerds.
posted by elder18 at 9:36 AM on May 12, 2009

St. Louis is probably too far south for you, but the Gateway Arch is mighty memorable, especially the ratcheting ride to the top. St. Louis also has a good zoo; the Magic House, a children's museum; and the City Museum, which defies description.
posted by underthehat at 10:58 AM on May 12, 2009

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