If you love the water, then a Detroit to Omaha road trip is perfect for you. You can play at Indiana Sand Dunes National Park or have fun on the water at many of the other lakes found in the state parks along this route. You can also find great art to explore, especially when you stop at the Art Institute of Chicago. History will come alive as you tick off the miles on this adventure.
Indiana Sand Dunes National Park
Indiana Sand Dunes National Park hugs 15 miles of Lake Michigan’s shoreline near Porter, Indiana. You can have fun playing in the sand on the beaches and clean off by taking a cool swim in the lake. A lifeguard is on duty during the summer on West Beach. Except for West Beach during the summer, you can hand-launch a canoe from any of the park’s beaches. This park features 37 miles of biking trails and 50 miles of hiking trails. Annually, volunteers and rangers lead more than 400 guided walks and talks at this park. You may also want to plan your Detroit to Omaha RV road trip so that it coincides with this park’s Outdoor Adventure Festival that happens in early October.
Illinois Beach State Park
When your road trip from Detroit to Omaha gets close to Hammond, Illinois, take Interstate 90 and 94 north to reach Illinois Beach State Park near Zion, Illinois. This location is the only remaining beach ridge shoreline in Illinois. Over 650 plants have been recorded at this park near Lake Michigan’s shores. This park is divided into north and south units and offers great swimming, boating, and fishing. Bring a blanket or use one of their tables to enjoy a picnic. There are many miles of hiking trails where you can spot various birds and other animals.
Starved Rock State Park
Starved Rock State Park is spread over 18 canyons on the banks of the Illinois River. Hike along the 13 well-marked trails running through the canyons at this park near Oglesby, Illinois. These trails are especially popular in the springtime due to the runoff created by the melting snow, creating gorgeous waterfalls in each of the canyons. Paddlewheel boat rides are available at the west end of this park, or you can rent a canoe and create your own course of an adventure. During the winter months, this park is a fantastic place to go hunting for waterfowl and deer. Many come to this park to enjoy the fine dining at its restaurant located within a historic lodge. If your road trip from Detroit to Omaha happens during the winter, stop here to watch the bald eagles with the increasingly popular Bald Eagle Watch Weekend. You can also go ice climbing in three of the canyons in this park, and cross-country skiing is very popular here. Starved Rock is a fantastic place to go on a historic trolley tour regardless of the season.
Mississippi Palisades State Park
When you get to Rock Island, Illinois, head north about 66 miles along the Mississippi River's scenic shores to reach Mississippi Palisades State Park near Savanna, Illinois. A total of 15 miles of hiking trails divided into five segments run through this park. The trails at the north end of this park offer stunning views of the river from bluffs located high above it. The trails in the south part are flatter and are a great place to see plants and wildlife. This spot is a fantastic place to go on a fishing expedition for catfish and carp. Bouldering is allowed in three areas of this park. In the winter, enjoy ice fishing from the pier. You can also go cross-country skiing and sledding. On the weekend before Thanksgiving, you can go hunting for deer in Mississippi Palisades State Park.
Rock Creek State Park
Rock Creek State Park near Kellogg, Iowa, is a terrific spot to stop and play on the lake. Whether you are taking a refreshing dive into Rock Creek Lake or fishing for bass and bluegill along 15 miles of lake shoreline, the stop will be worth your while! Rent a boat from the park’s vendor to explore the lake or relax with a fishing pole dangling in the water. This park’s trails are used for hiking, biking, and horseback riding when the weather is warm. Once the snow falls, this is a cool place to go cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.
Lake Anita State Park
Make sure to put Lake Anita State Park near Anita, Iowa, on your road trip itinerary from Detroit to Omaha. Use the two boat ramps to launch your vessel to fish for walleye, channel catfish, and bass. The four-mile path leading around the lake is a great place to go for a hike or enjoy a bike ride. There is also a short nature trail with interpretative signs teaching you more about this park’s plants. Enjoy a picnic in one of the seven picnic shelters, with most offering fantastic views of the lake. If you're stopping here over a weekend, don't miss out on the campground's movie nights that take place on Saturdays.
The Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago has captivated its visitors since it opened in 1879. You can see many outstanding works of art spread across this museum’s 11 curated departments, including Grant Wood's "American Gothic" and Pablo Picasso's "The Old Guitarist."
National Pearl Museum
Stop in Muscatine, Iowa, to visit the National Pearl Museum. You will discover how 1.5 million pearl buttons were made at the factory in the early 1900s, and you'll have the opportunity to follow the process of making these buttons from clamming through the button cutting. Learn about the immigrants who came to Muscatine to work in the factories and the strike that ended it all.
Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum
Take the opportunity to explore the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum at West Branch, Iowa. Stroll through the gallery that chronologically presents the life of the 38th president of the United States. Many displays have an artistic flair, such as the 16-foot red world map containing 57 brass sheaves of wheat showing the countries where President Hoover led the U.S. government to feed hungry people.
Living History Farm
Stop at the Living History Farm in Urbandale, Iowa, to explore the history of agriculture. This location is divided into two parts by Interstate 80, in which you'll have the chance at an old fashioned cart ride to transport you between the two areas. Start your visit on the east side of the interstate by going back in time and touring the 1700s Ioway farm, which showcases the Ioway Native Americans' farming efforts. Then, tour the 1850 Pioneer Farm and the 1900 Horse Powered Farm. The cart ride will then transport you to the 1875 town of Walnut Grove for a tour. Depending on the season, you will see various farm chores being completed using different historically accurate farming techniques.
Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha is often voted the best zoo in America. This facility contains the largest cat complex in North America, the world's largest nocturnal exhibit, and an indoor swamp. It also includes the largest glazed geodesic dome in the world. This zoo is accessible year-round, as many of the exhibits are located indoors, including the extensive rainforest and desert!
Battle Creek, Michigan
Battle Creek is best known as the place where cereal was invented, but that's not the only exciting thing Battle Creek has to offer! You can find many things to do in this community after breakfast, for example, you can stroll through the Historic Adventist Village, Leila Arboretum, and Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary. Battle Creek campgrounds like Fort Custer Recreation Area, Tri-Lake Trail Campground, and Pine Lake Resort are terrific places to stay. RV dump stations in Battle Creek are available at the Elks Lodge, Rockey's Campground, Eaton County 4-H Fairgrounds, and other Michigan locations.
Gary is the home of the famed Jackson 5, so allow yourself a throwback to the late 60s and crank the upbeat tunes while you visit this community. Go on a driving tour to see more than 26 buildings and districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Gary campground options include Lakeshore Camp Resort, Dunewood Campground, and Emerald Trails Campground. Find Gary RV dump stations at the Flying J Travel Plaza, Pilot Travel Center, and Love’s Travel Stop.
Des Moines, Iowa
Take a tour of the capitol with its gold dome when visiting Des Moines, Iowa. You can find many other things to do, including visiting Pappajohn Sculpture Park, the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, and the State Historical Museum. Fantastic campground options in Des Moines include the Iowa State Fairgrounds, Sleepy Hollow RV Park & Campground, and Des Moines West KOA Holiday. Des Moines RV dump stations can be found at Walnut Woods State Park, Thomas Mitchell Park, and Marion County Park.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Detroit to Omaha, 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 Detroit or Omaha.