Short Weekend Road Trips
Chicago to Milwaukee
Hug Lake Michigan for Free Jellybeans
The Route (99 miles)
For a leisurely and scenic drive with views of forest preserves and Lake Michigan beaches and lighthouses, steer clear of I-94. Take US-41 instead to Wisconsin and continue along Sheridan Road to Milwaukee; you'll be able to pass through Pleasant Prairie, Kenosha, and Racine where you can stop for lunch or local shopping. Get the Map
About 45 miles north of Chicago, look for the Gold Pyramid house, its moat, and impressive lawn ornament: a 50-foot statue of Ramses II. The 17,000-square foot private residence is modeled after the Pyramid of Giza, and tours requests are accepted through the attraction's website. A little further on, the charming lakefront town of Pleasant Prairie offers unique attractions like the Jelly Belly Visitor Center, where you can enjoy a free warehouse tour and stock up on snacks at the Jelly Belly Snack Bar, and the Pleasant Prairie Premium Outlets, a shopper’s paradise with savings up to 60 percent off retail prices. There’s plenty to do once you arrive in Milwaukee. Beyond touring the city's many breweries and brewpubs, guests can get a taste of local culture at a Brewers baseball game at Miller Park (tickets from $5.50) or visit the Milwaukee Art Museum, which in 2001 opened a $110-million expansion designed by world-renowned architect Santiago Calatrava. Summerfest, an 11-day music festival held along Milwaukee’s lakefront at Henry Maier Festival Park, returns in full force this season (June 26-30, July 2-7). Milwaukee Museum Mile on the city's east side kicks off in May with discounts at five museums.
Stay the Night
The Aloft Milwaukee has 160 rooms, each with nine-foot ceilings, platform beds, and free Wi-Fi. Plus, if you pay the regular rate for one night, you'll get 40 percent off your second night through December 2013. From $189/night.
Kansas City to Lake of the Ozarks, MO
Motor from Midwest Metropolis to Man-Made Lake
The Route (163 miles)
From Kansas City, take I-71 to Harrisonville, then SR-7 to Lake of the Ozarks. Although the route starts out with the flat farmland you might expect from the Midwest, the closer you get to the Lake of the Ozarks, the more exciting the terrain. Fields give way to trees as the road gradually begins to wind. Keep an eye out for strange town names along the way – you'll pass both Peculiar and Tightwad. Get the Map
Make your first stop in historic downtown Clinton, where you can grab lunch before doing a bit of antiquing. Stretch your legs on a mile or two of the Katy Trail, which begins (or ends, depending where you’re coming from) in Clinton. The nation's longest rail corridor turned hiking and biking trail follows along tallgrass prairies teeming with meadowlark and killdeer. Later, the man-made Lake of the Ozarks, with a shoreline longer than the coast of California, offers endless opportunities for boating, fishing, hiking, and camping, as well as a healthy host of restaurants and shops. Time your trip so you can enjoy some of Missouri's more peculiar annual events, like the Testicle Festival on June 1 (a day of deep-frying turkey testicles, celebrated with dancing and carnivals in Olean) or the Magic Dragon Street Meet Nationals car show from May 3-5.
Stay the Night
Although not located on the lakefront, the Inn at Harbour Ridge in Osage Beach is a delightful five-room B&B with modern furnishings, at a price point that won’t break the bank. Rates from $149/night.