Chicago and Cincinnati are both large and exciting urban cities. This area of the Midwest is in the Great Lakes region and offers many opportunities to not only visit the Great Lakes but to also see many other natural and historical sites. Your road trip from Chicago to Cincinnati is not a very long one, but it is one that will take you close by some National Park Service sites. Indiana Sand Dunes National Park is next to Chicago on Lake Michigan, and the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park is in Dayton, OH, close to Cincinnati.
Indiana Sand Dunes National Park
Indiana Sand Dunes National Park makes for a great way to jump-start your Chicago to Cincinnati road trip. This unique park on the shores of Lake Michigan features tall sand dunes that can reach upwards of 200 feet in elevation and has many other habitats as well. You can see diverse environs throughout the park, such as bogs, marshes, woods, prairies, beaches, and rivers. This is a favored location for bird-watching enthusiasts, and there are more than 50 miles of hiking trails. The park lies along 10 miles of shoreline on Lake Michigan, and you can easily partake in all the boating, swimming, and fishing activities available. While at the park, you can also visit a number of National Natural Landmarks.
Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park
Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park is dedicated to the memories of Orville and Wilbur Wright as well as Paul Laurence Dunbar. The Wright brothers are famous for their inventions and achievements in the fields of aviation and most particularly for their historic test flight of the "Wright Flyer" powered aircraft at Kitty Hawk, NC, in 1903. Paul Laurence Dunbar is a well-known poet who was the son of former slaves and was a close friend of the Wright family. Many of his most popular poems used common African American dialects of the day.
There are five National Historic Landmarks and a National Register Historic District on-site. These include the 1905 Wright Flyer III, the Wright Cycle Company Building, Hoover Block, Huffman Prairie Flying Field, Hawthorn Hill, and the Paul Laurence Dunbar State Memorial. The Wright Cycle Company Building and Hoover Block housed the various business interests of the Wrights, such as printing and bicycle manufacturing. Huffman Prairie Flying Field includes the flight paths and plans of the Wrights. The 1905 Wright Flyer III was the third powered aircraft developed by the brothers in 1905, and Hawthorne Hill was the personal residence of Orville Wright.
Starved Rock State Park
Starved Rock State Park offers 13 miles of hiking trails that meander along canyons, forests, cliffsides, and waterfalls. The park is located on the Illinois River, which is just a few miles southwest of Chicago. Visitors can take advantage of fishing opportunities in all seasons and ice fish in the winter, and there are plenty of boating activities you can enjoy in all seasons. There are also equestrian trails.
Shades State Park
Shades State Park in Indiana is a popular family destination that features several beautiful waterfalls. Visitors can hike, bike, fish, and boat on Sugar Creek. There are many natural overlooks that provide great views of the landscapes, and amenities include an amphitheater and a playground. The 470-acre Pine Hills Nature Preserve is located inside the park and is home to the Devil's Backbone, a 100-foot-tall stone bridge with a walking trail.
Versailles State Park
Versailles State Park is the second-largest state park in Indiana and has a great deal of natural and historical significance. There are numerous fossils left from an ancient sea, and this area was the site of many Civil War actions as well. During the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps worked on various projects inside the park, and the park now has a CCC commemorative statue that was erected in 2010. You can fish, swim and boat on the lake, hike on the nature trails, and bike on the mountain biking trails. There are 20 miles of equestrian trails and a scenic overlook above the dam. The nearby city of Versailles has lots of fun seasonal activities, including the Versailles Pumpkin Show that takes place at the end of September each year.
The Navy Pier is an iconic landmark in Chicago that is comprised of a 3,300-foot-long pier that extends outward over Lake Michigan. It has an overall area of more than 50 acres and is home to gardens, parks, shops, restaurants, exhibits and other types of attractions. The most recognizable attraction is the Centennial Wheel, a 200-foot-high Ferris wheel.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
Everyone is sure to have a blast at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis regardless of age. It is the largest museum of its type in the world, and it features five levels of stimulating and immersive fun. The Fireworks of Glass is a sculpture that hangs in the middle of the atrium, and there is an antique carousel on the top floor. You will see dinosaur fossils, cultural exhibits, movie props, North America's largest water clock and other exciting objects and spaces.
The Skystar Wheel is located in downtown Cincinnati and is 15 stories high. Each ride lasts about 10 to 15 minutes and features climate-controlled gondolas. Riders will see the Cincinnati skyline, the Smale Riverfront Park and the JA Roebling suspension bridge, all from an exhilarating height above the city. Your ride is especially exciting at night.
The city of Lafayette is home to Purdue University, and fans can enjoy attending exciting athletic games throughout the year. Visitors can take a dive down the slides at the Prophetstown State Park Aquatic Center and view the butterflies in the Butterfly Sculpture Garden at the Columbian Park Zoo. The Battle of Tippecanoe took place here at the Tippecanoe Battlefield in 1811. AOK Campground is located in Lafayette and is only a few minutes from the town itself. If you need to use a nearby dump station, there are many available options in the Lafayette area.
Indianapolis is the capital and largest city in Indiana and the second-largest city in the Midwestern U.S. The city is known for the numerous sporting events it hosts throughout the year, with perhaps the most notable being the Indianapolis 500. While in the city, you can visit some of the many historical and cultural museums, have fun at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, experience the past at the Connor Prairie Interactive History and Park, and stroll through any one of the myriad recreational parks. You can try your hand at old-fashioned duckpin bowling and tour the 64-acre Indianapolis Zoo. Lake Haven Retreat offers plenty of family-friendly amenities and is very close to Indianapolis, and there are also several dump station locations nearby.
Shelbyville is a small town in Indiana that runs alongside the Big and Little Blue rivers. There is a river walk of 4.5 miles of paved trails by the riverfront and an additional 16 miles of trails that surround the city. While here, you should set aside time to visit Meltzer Woods and see some of the oldest forested areas in the state. You can also visit Grover Center and see exhibits like The Streets of Old Shelby, which is a life-size replica of a typical 1900-1910 village of Indiana, or the History of the Railroad in Shelby County, which is a diorama with running model trains. Hidden Paradise Campground is a few miles south of Shelbyville and is close to Flat Rock River. There are also ample choices for dump stations.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Chicago to Cincinnati, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Chicago or Cincinnati.