Travel this year looks a lot different than it has any time in our life time. While hopping on a plane may not be what you want to do – that doesn’t mean you don’t want to get out of the house like before. Chances are you may have been inside way too long at this point anyhow.
One of the safest things you can do as far as travel is concerned is take a road trip, and even camping is a great way to keep to your small group and family. If you are going to try to camp, you might want to bring some solar powered accessories with you. Regardless, the open road can take you to a lot of fun places – and thankfully the Midwest has a lot of them to offer. With Americana sitting just off the side of the road – there are a lot of things that you’ll only find in the Midwest, and some you just shouldn’t miss!
Stand in Three States at The Three Corners
As you are driving around different states there are multiple places the states meet along the way. But it’s not often that you find a place where several states meet in one spot. In Fremont, Indiana you will find a small placard on a rock and a metal M stamped into the ground about 100 yards south. This is the location where three states meet, and you can park your car and stand there. The Three Corners is where the states of Indiana, Michigan and Ohio meet.
The actual mark in the road is in the pavement before the road turns back to a country dirt road. Since it is a well travel road, you may have to clean it off to find it under a pile of dirt – but don’t worry, it isn’t a major road and you should be able to get pictures before other cars go through.
Step Back in History at the Gateway Arch
Just out of downtown St. Louis, the Arch will be looming in your view. The Gateway Arch is iconic and you see it from the highway for miles away. But experiencing it first hand is something else completely. Standing over 600 feet, it stands over the city and the park surrounding it.
With a newer entrance facing the downtown St Louis area, you are brought into a beautiful atrium with large windows bringing in the nature surrounding the space. The entrance atrium has an information area and the security area that you must go through.
Step into the past, experience a bit of history at the museum or enjoy the city around you from the top. It’s a great stop with an educational twist for both kids and adults.
For more information and different tour packages visit the Gate Way Arch website.
Visit the Field where They Filmed A League of Their Own
When A League of Their Own hit theaters it was a hit. The movie about an all women’s team that not only broke records but won hearts while their husbands were away at war. There are lines from the movie that we quote to this day, but the 1992 movie wasn’t filmed filmed all on a lot and a make believe place. Instead, the baseball field where the film was shot can be visited still today.
The movie is about the Rockford Peaches, a team based out of Illinois, but the Peaches in the movie actually play at League Stadium a baseball stadium in Huntingburg, Indiana. Originally built in 1894, League Stadium is the home of the Dubois County Bombers of the collegiate summer Prospect League and formerly the Dubois County Dragons of the independent Frontier League.
The entrance of League Stadium is actually through a public park, and when you first arrive at the Stadium you will find painted sayings from the movie as well as a large fence around it. The fence is there during the off season to help preserve the stadium. However, we did find that at the far end of the parking lot, the gates weren’t just unlocked – but open. As well as the inner gates. While we’re not sure if this is the usual case, but it seems that the field is open for fans to explore with respect.
Check Out the Oldest Santa Statue
Santa Claus, Indiana is home of the original Santa Claus Post Office where letters from children from all over the world still arrive yearly. You can take a stop in to visit this post office, mail your own letter or see some of the ones that have been come in over the years. On the same property is also home to one of the oldest Santa Claus statues as well as a church and the Santa Claus museum. There is no charge to visit the post office but the museum does ask for donation if you choose to tour it.
A great find at the Santa Claus museum and a stocking stuffer idea is grabbing Santa Dollars! They aren’t the sale coupons stores offer, but actually dollar bills with Santa’s face on them! They are actual currency if you need to spend them, the Santa face can be removed – but as a keep sake they’re priceless.
The World’s Largest Mail Box (and other Items)
Off of I-70 is the small town of Casey, Illinois, which is not home to one of the World’s Largest things, but eight total. This small cross roads town has the iconic downtown area filled with small shops and businesses but throughout the downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods you can find some truly remarkable things.
The cities first World’s Largest item was the Mailbox in 2015 (which you can actually go inside of), an idea of resident Jim Bolin. It has grown to include the World’s Largest rocking chair, wind chimes, pitch fork and eight others scattered throughout the area. With this small town starting to gain some interest from tourists, they’ve started to create some other larger than life items throughout the city as well.
Uranus – Is Out of This World
Right off of old Route 66, and sitting on Highway Z, Uranus, Missouri started as a tourist trap with a play on the city’s name. Stop off at the Uranus Fudge Factory and find candy and moonshine with punny names. Be greeted as you enter by shop workers yelling “Welcome to Uranus” and leave to “Thanks for Picking Uranus!” The stop is worth the laughs alone.
Besides instagram worthy photo opportunities, Uranus offers guests a place to shop, a place eat, an escape room, pool hall, a bar, a museum an even the World’s Largest Belt Buckle. There is something for everyone and gives you something to laugh and a couple hours of a good time.
Go for the laugh and the photos, and find one of your new stop offs if you’re heading down I-44 and traveling through the area. It may just become the butt of your jokes for months to come.
Follow the Yellow Brick Road to The Wizard of Oz Garden
Follow the yellow brick road to a succulent and annual book display of the Wizard of Oz. And surround yourself with bronze statues of the characters from the story. Built as part of the 80th anniversary of the release of The Wizard of Oz, the exhibit is now a fixture in the city.
Why would this installation be in Holland, Michigan? L. Frank Baum actually wrote the bulk of the Wizard of Oz while he was at his home in the area and some characters were based on locals he met during his stay. This nod to Western Michigan and the fantasy world he created from it inspired the installation which will be permanent to view long after the anniversary has passed.
Visit Johnny Appleseed’s Grave
Johnny Appleseed may just seem like someone you learned about in your classes growing up – but the man behind the story was not only real but made a significant difference in the landscape we have today. Known as a horticultural nomad, he brought apple trees to different states throughout the midwest. And his final resting place, is on a small hill in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
The location of the grave isn’t as easy to find as you would think, it’s often marked on a map as being inside Johnny Appleseed park, the mapping software will take you to a camp ground and a park that is full of sports fields and you will most likely be confused trying to find the grave. As you go down Parnell Road, just past the park you’ll see a smaller (and not as well maintained) single road path. It will take you to a looping road on the top of a hill that is where the grave actually is. With a small memorial and history of John Chapman, the grave is easy to find once you are on the right road.
If you by chance miss the small road leading to the grave, you can easily walk up the hill from the parking lot of the Colosseum – of course if there is no event happening there.
Saint Meinrad Archabbey Takes Your To Another Place and Time
In southern Indiana, you can actually not only visit an active Monastery, but tour it for free. Lead by one of the active brothers that live and works on the property, you will learn more about how Saint Meinrad came to be, it’s current purpose and the beautiful architecture that hides behind every corner and the meaning of each piece. The Monastery looks like it’s from another time, or should be nestled in the hills in a small town in Europe.
Saint Meinrad Archabbey was established and the city formed around the church and surrounding area. Currently home to over eighty different Benedictine monks, they also have a school over a hundred different students training to be spiritual leaders as well. The compound includes the school, a hospital facility, dining areas and more. Providing for the needs of the residents and students of Saint Meinrad. The active population of the Monastery and school currently equates to about a quarter of the town of the same name.
The Geode Grotto is Other Worldly
The Geode Grotto in Jasper, Indiana is a place you will want to stop off at. Pictures don’t do it justice and to experience it is something else completely. Constructed over ten years on the site of a former handball court on the grounds of the Providence Home, the Geode Grotto was the idea of Father Phillip Ottavi, an Italian immigrant who was inspired by religious grottoes in Europe. This religious destination is beautiful, tranquil and just the right amount of weird you’re going to want to visit.