“Road Trippin’ Across the Midwest”

Presented by Alison Henderson

For the rest of the summer, we’ll be Road Trippin’ Across the USA, visiting a different region of the country each week. Today we’ll travel to just a few of the many interesting places to see in the Midwest.


Our first stop is at City Museum in St. Louis, Missouri. This museum is an old factory that has been transformed into a maze of amazement! There are tunnels and slides and stairs and more tunnels. Be prepared to do a lot of climbing and walking. There are also collections of everything from old arcade machines to butterflies to architectural tiles. You can spend hours here and not see everything. This is one of the few museums we have gone to more than once.


Our next stop is Hutchinson, Kansas. Hutchinson is in the middle of nowhere, but there are two interesting museums in the same town. The Cosmosphere is a branch of the Smithsonian, and exhibits the Apollo 13 command module. Stractaca, formerly known as the Kansas Underground Salt Museum, takes you 650 feet below ground for a tram tour through an old salt mine to view the mining process from decades ago.

Next we’ll move on to Nebraska. Our favorite site in Nebraska was Carhenge. It is set up like Stonehenge in England, but with old cars. It’s a great place to take a break from riding to walk around outside for a while.


Of course the most famous attraction in South Dakota is Mount Rushmore. It is one of the few places in the country that was as amazing in person as I imagined it would be. It took 14 years and 400 workers to complete this sculpture of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt. It is impressive from up close and far away.

Another fun attraction in South Dakota is the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. Farmers from all over the state donate produce each year for the murals on the outside made from corn, grains, and grasses. The exhibits inside are all about corn as well.

The Hjemkomst Center is located in Moorhead, Minnesota. It houses replicas of a ninth-century Viking ship and a medieval Norwegian wood stave church. The wood working details on both are worth the stop.

When you go to Chicago, Illinois, one of the best ways to see the city is on one of their architectural boat tours. Your tour guide will take you through the city on the Chicago River, where you learn the history of various downtown buildings as you cruise down the river.

Another cruise that our family enjoyed was at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising, Michigan. Located on the south shore of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the area is known for its colorful cliffs and unusual sandstone formations.

My absolute favorite museum in the whole country is also located in Michigan. The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village are located in Dearborn, Michigan, close to Detroit. The indoor exhibits are in the Henry Ford Museum. It houses items from history, such as the chair Lincoln was shot in and the bus Rosa Parks rode in. There are items that show how technology has progressed, such as old steam engines, tractors, and cars. You can also see items that show what everyday life was like in our homes, such as old sewing machines, kitchen appliances, and radios. There is even an example of housing that never quite took off – the Dymaxion house.

Greenfield Village just outside leads you down a lovely lane with buildings such as an old one-room schoolhouse, old farmhouses from different eras, and an old grist mill. And over there is the Wright Brothers bicycle shop. If you’re there at just the right time, you might even run into the Wright Brothers themselves! Just down the street is one of Thomas Edison’s laboratories. He came to the grand opening in 1929 and recreated his first successful lightbulb experiment. Greenfield Village has a little bit of history for everyone.

If you have family members that love airplanes, then you need to visit the largest military aviation museum in the world. The last place on our tour today is the National Museum of the Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. You can view aircraft from all eras there. I especially enjoy touring some of the old Air Force One planes used by past presidents.

I hope you enjoyed our tour of the Midwest. There is much more to see than we have seen today, but maybe our tour will get you interested in traveling to this region. Researching the area you are traveling to and choosing attractions that appeal to your family will make your trip fun for everyone! You can watch our Road Trippin’ Across the USA! – The Midwest! video on the Dade County 4-H Facebook page or on our new Dade County GA 4-H YouTube channel. A new video is posted each Monday at 11:00 a.m. Eastern.