The Perfect Midwest Road Trip Loop (What To See & Do) with Asobolife

Published on December 17th, 2021

With wide open roads, welcoming communities, and a plethora of family friendly activities, the American Midwest provides the perfect environment for RV road trips. During our travels across the United States, we spent a month traveling and exploring the Midwest region and came away loving every day and every stop of our journey. 

In this post, we want to give some ideas of what there is to see, do, and eat on a scenic loop drive around the Midwest. And though there are plenty of national and state parks here in this part of the country that we could write about, we will be setting those aside to focus more on food and culture!

So if you’re looking for some unique activities and sights throughout the Midwest, keep reading below.

1. Grab Some BBQ & Brew In Kansas City

Kick start your Midwest tour in Kansas City to get your fix of some of the country’s best BBQ and beer.

Plate of BBQ ribs and toast

Seriously, no trip to Kansas City is complete without stopping by Joe’s Kansas City BBQ for lunch. We understand that practically every corner of the United States prides itself in how they prepare their meats, but wait until you’ve tasted the slow-cooked meats of KC before you pass judgment. But no BBQ is complete here in the city without lathering your ribs and pulled pork in Kansas City’s signature array of thick and sweet, molasses-based sauces. The acidic, sweet tang from the vinegar and molasses leaves a satisfying aftertaste like no other.

Outside building of Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que restaurant

And just as delicious as the BBQ, is the experience of eating at the original Joe’s, which is located inside a tiny neighborhood gas station with the decor seemingly stuck in the 1950s. Come stand in line with other local KC urbanites as you wait for Joe’s doors to open.

Sampler glasses of different craft beers

After your fill, drop in on Boulevard Brewery, and pick up a sampler of their signature craft beers. The beers are great, but the views from the upper porch overlooking the city are just as fabulous.

Where to sleep? Before the sun goes down, drive out to Camp Branch Campgrounds to enjoy peace and tranquility by Smithville Lake, just north of the city. 

2. Tour The Iowa State Capitol In Des Moines

You may be forgiven if you didn’t know, but Iowa’s State Capitol building is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful state capitols in the United States. And since it’s just a short 3-hour drive from Kansas City, Des Moines is the logical next step in any Midwest road trip.

Inside of Iowa State Capitol building chambers

Constructed in 1886, Iowa’s State Capitol is the only five-domed state capitol in the US. And the building’s construction spared no expense.

As you walk through the Iowa legislative building, you’ll notice complicated paintwork, ornate wood carvings, and delicate marble inlay. Here’s an impressive fact; there are over 29 different types of marble used all over the State Capitol, both domestic and imported.

It’s difficult to put into words just how stunning this building is. So let us show you with these pictures below.

Painting inside chambers of Iowa State Capitol building
Inside of Iowa State Capitol building lobby
Inside domed ceiling of Iowa State Capitol Building

To properly see the Iowa State Capitol, an organized tour is required. Luckily, regular daily tours are provided on-site, free of charge. Either sign up at the front desk when you arrive or reserve your spot by visiting the Iowa Legislature website.

Spiral staircase inside Iowa State Capitol building

Where to sleep? For a real Midwest experience, pull into the Iowa State Fair Campground, just east of Des Moines. The fairground sits higher up in altitude and so the air, thankfully, gets cooler at night.

3. Get Back To Farming Roots In Wisconsin

After your stop in Des Moines, continue north into Wisconsin.

Iowa may have their potatoes and Nebraska might have their corn, but Wisconsin is, without a doubt, the cheese capital of America. And few do cheese better in Wisconsin than the Marieke Gouda Farm.

A native of the Netherlands, Marieke Penterman emigrated to Wisconsin and set out to perfect the authentic Dutch Gouda cheese right here in America’s heartland. And with over 23 cheese flavors to choose from, you’re bound to find one (or a few!) that you’ll love.

Dairy cows at a Gouda farm in Wisconsin

Not only can you purchase cheese right on site, but the Marieke farm provides good old-fashioned family fun with guided tours through the entire estate. From how the cows are taken care of and fed, to the milking process, and eventually, how each gouda roll is handcrafted, you and your children are sure to have a fantastic time and even learn a thing or two about how these delicious cheeses are made!

And at the end of the tour, you’re guided to the gift shop where you can sample any of the cheeses on display before picking out your favorite souvenirs.

Wheels of gouda cheese

Where to sleep? Just 5 miles west of the Marieke farm, grab a campsite at the Campman County Park campgrounds.

4. Circumnavigate Michigan’s Mackinac Island On Two Wheels

Leave your RV at the lovely Tiki RV Park in St. Igance, MI and take the ferry over to Mackinac Island, Michigan’s idyllic get-away island filled with history and family fun activities. No cars are allowed on this island and getting around involves either your own two feet, catching a horse carriage, or by bicycle.

Start your morning by circumnavigating the island on an easy 8.2 mile paved road. There’s plenty of stopping points where you can learn about Mackinac’s wartime history, Native American culture, and photogenic environmental beauty. We suggest bringing a packed lunch to eat along the coastline!

When you get back into town, indulge on Mackinac’s most famous finger food: fudge! Even if you don’t have a sweet tooth, watching the fudge-making process is a fascinating experience and each of the shops welcome visitors to come in and sample all the different flavors. Did you know that at the height of the season, over 10,000 pounds of fudge is made every single day?

Check out Mackinac’s own website to plan ahead and learn about all that there is to do.

5. Experience Authentic Chicago Blues

Round out your midwest tour with a stop in Chicago.

Woman stands outside United State Pizza Museum in Chicago

Once you’ve had your fill of the Windy City’s famous deep-dish pizza (no stop in Chicago is complete without it), head over to Buddy Guy’s Legends to experience some of the country’s most authentic Blues music. Buddy Guy is a Chicago music icon and a blues legend in the industry. So when you listen to blues music at Buddy’s club, you know you’re listening to the best of the best.

Every night, from Wednesday to Sunday, live events are scheduled at the famous blues club. Ensure you have a table by reserving online, tickets go fast. Otherwise it’s standing room only.

Band playing at Buddy Guys Blues Club in Chicago

Finding RV campgrounds for larger rigs can be challenging in urban areas, but we recommend staying at this KOA campground, just 55 miles from the city. A commuter train station is nearby, making a day trip to Chicago pleasant and convenient.

Artistic drawing of the anatomy of a Chicago deep dish pizza

We Hope You Enjoyed Reading!

Throughout our travels in the US, driving across the Midwest was one of our most memorable experiences. The diversity of the experiences, the wide open landscapes, and the famous Midwest hospitality made this region of the country incredibly special for us.

If you have any questions about creating your own Midwest itinerary, feel free to contact us below.

How To Contact Us

For more campervan living tips, check out our blog:

We also love getting mail! For any questions or comments, please send us an email at [email protected].

Or for more on our current Pan-American road trip to Argentina visit us on Instagram: @asobolife.

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