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November 9, 2015

Places We Wish We Went During Our Great Lakes Road Trip

The Great Lakes region of the Midwestern United States is so jam-packed with fun activities that sadly we weren’t able to get to all of them on our road trip. But we’ll be back. Here are some of our top picks for places we’re going to visit next time.

Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio – Oak Park, Illinois

Just west of Chicago is the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park, Illinois. It’s here that Wright honed his Prairie style that revolutionized architecture. And, as you can probably guess, his house and studio is an architectural marvel. To see the results of Wright’s work in that studio, after our guided tour we’re going to walk through the neighborhood, which has the most Wright-designed residences of any place in the world.

Pullman State Historic Site – Chicago, Illinois

Developed in the 1880s, what’s now the Pullman State Historic Site in Chicago was one of the United States’ first planned industrial communities: Homes, shops and schools were all built to benefit workers of the Pullman Company, which made railroad cars. Today it’s a historic site where we can tour the former factory and hotel and learn about living in the early industrial age.

West Loop neighborhood – Chicago, Illinois

In a city full of neighborhoods that exude character, Chicago’s West Loop is one of the most dynamic of late. As factories have shuttered there, restaurants, residences, and retailers have taken their places. At the Randolph Street Market, we’re going to shop for new fashions or old antiques. Then we’ll head back to the Chicago French Market for a delicious takeout meal from vendors who represent the best of what Chicago has to offer.

The 606 Path – Chicago, Illinois

An elevated 4.4-kilometer trail on what had been an abandoned rail line, we’re excited to take in Chicago’s new 606 Path. It combines both the natural (200 plant species) and man-made (murals from local artists). Whether we walk or run, we’ll be sure to take a break at one of the six parks on the path. 

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park – Grand Rapids, Michigan

We could make a visit to Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan, its own vacation. Spread across its 64 hectares are a tropical conservatory, five indoor theme gardens, outdoor gardens, nature trails and a sculpture collection. With works from Joan Miró, Ai Weiwei and Auguste Rodin, the only problem will be deciding what to see first.

Zingerman’s Delicatessen – Ann Arbor, Michigan

Many college towns in the United States are renowned for their good, affordable restaurants. Located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, almost 70 kilometers west of Detroit and home to the University of Michigan, Zingerman’s Deli is such a spot. We’re already drooling over a sandwich called Who’s Greenberg Anyway: corned beef with chopped liver, leaf lettuce and Russian dressing on double-baked, hand-sliced Jewish rye bread.

Ford Rogue Factory Tour – Dearborn, Michigan

While we made it to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, on our Great Lakes road trip, we didn’t have time to visit an actual working factory. That’ll change when we go back. At the Ford Rogue Factory Tour, also in Dearborn, less than 14 kilometers from downtown Detroit, we’ll get to see Ford F-150 pickup trucks go from an empty shell to a full tested vehicle ready for the market.

West Side Market – Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio’s West Side Market isn’t just a great place to eat. It’s also a piece of history as it’s the city’s oldest publicly owned market. Right now it’s home to more than 100 vendors who sell meats, vegetables, cheeses, candy and other foods. While it’ll be insightful to see how locals shop for their food, it’ll be tough to do so without eating. Thankfully we’ll be able to grab a bite at one of the 10 vendors that sells prepared foods like falafel, bratwurst and tamales.

Playhouse Square – Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio’s Playhouse Square hosts more than 1,000 events each year, so finding a concert or show that’s of interest shouldn’t be hard for us. Regardless of what we settle on, the 90-minute free tour of the lobbies, auditoriums and backstage areas is a must.

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens – Columbus, Ohio

On its 36 hectares, Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Columbus, Ohio, offers botanical gardens, a conservatory and a Victorian-style glass greenhouse that we’re eager to stroll. The conservatory alone contains more than 400 species of plants in Himalayan mountain, rainforest and desert biomes, as well as a Pacific island water garden.

Check out the highlights of our Great Lakes road trip.

Got some extra time in Cleveland, Ohio, and love music? Visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

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