Midwest Vacations with Teens?

Updated on July 11, 2019
T.H. asks from Beverly Hills, CA
11 answers

We were thinking of taking the kids to Branson this year for vacation. We both went when we were kids and I remember it being a little cheesy but maybe that was just the places we went. Kids really want to go to the lake but we won't have room to bring like Kayaks and such with us. Any recommendations on places to go? It doesn't have to be Branson either but just somewhere in the midwest. We have a 15 year old boy a 12 year old girl and a 6 year old boy. They travel pretty well in the car so not worried about it being a long trip. Also considered Colorado Springs but the cog train is under construction so I think we will wait a year with that. Help me plan mamas!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

I should have added. We will be in Kansas visiting my folks and wanted to take the kids somewhere Midwest. Growing up there I guess the endless cornfields never bothered me like they do some others. We love the lake but dont' have a boat and I am not sure if I could drive one if we rented one but I'm sure my husband could figure it out. Thanks for the tips.

Featured Answers


answers from Washington DC on

You can go to the lake and rent kayaks.

South Dakota is great! As is Wyoming. You can visit Mount Rushmore and go play in the lake near there. The Devil's Tower (where Close Encounters of the 3rd kind was shot). There is much to do.

Denver still has two ski slopes open in July!!

6 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Springfield on

I've been to Branson many times, and I have never thought of it as cheesy. We'll be going again this summer. We're going to spend 2 days at Silver Dollar City. We're going to see Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede (saw that show once before ... fabulous!) We'll probably just spend some time at the pool and maybe play some putt putt.

If you want to go out on the lake, there are several places where you can rent a kayak or canoe. I would never think of bringing my own. It would cost more to transport it than it would to rent it for an hour or two.

I live in central Illinois, and there are lots of "touristy" things to do in Missouri and Illinois. It really depends on what types of things you enjoy doing. We've done trips to Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago. I enjoy living in a smaller community and going to larger cities for vacations. I love museums and Major League Baseball games (Go, Cubs, Go!), so I tend to think of my vacations in terms of those types of attractions. If I was planning to go to California, I'd plan my dates around when the Cubs would be in town!!!

So, what types of things do you enjoy doing? There are lakes and boat rentals everywhere, so that part is easy.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

If you're really from California? There is a TON to do there.

I've NEVER known a person that MUST bring a kayak to a lake. There are plenty of places that rent out kayaks.

If the kids want the lake? Your family will most likely have more fun at the lake than somewhere else.

However, there's a LOT to do in Branson. I'd show them what all there is to do there.

Good luck in your decision.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I'm from the midwest (Iowa.) I'm not sure why you'd drive all the way from California to stare at cornfields all day but okay...
I've never been to Branson so can't comment on that. If I were doing a "midwest" vacation I would probably go to Chicago. You can stop at plenty of small towns along the way. I think Colorado (Denver, Boulder) or Wyoming would be cool but maybe that's not quite the "middle" America experience you're looking for?
The southwest is pretty interesting too, Arizona and New Mexico, really interesting country and lots of history.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Not sure where you'll be in KS but KC is tons of fun! There's a lot to do! There are lakes not far from the KC Metro (Blue Springs, Lawrence, etc) that you can rent boats, kayaks, etc. Plus you can take advantage of the city stuff as well. We also did rafting in southern Missouri on the Eagle River and it was really fun.

Branson is fun, but I definitely think it's cheesy. There is a new ride at Silver Dollar City that looks extreme if you're into that but most of the stuff there is like go carts, ice cream shops, and dinner theatre. We love Dixie Stampede but I'm just not sure teens would love it if they've never been.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Have you thought of Lake Tahoe in CA/NV?

Much closer and absolutely stunning in the summer. So much to do on and around the lake boating, horse back riding, mountain biking, rafting, parasailing. You get that old time lumber Midwest vibe but so much to do in a beautiful location amongst the trees.

I’ve been to Branson and lived throughout the Midwest. Branson in the summer would be awfully hot and a bit of a let down compared to Lake Tahoe with crystal blue waters.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

How about Durango? You can raft. You can inner tube. You can go to the children's museum. You can camp.You can ride the train and go to the train museum. You can see a show like a live old western show. There are great restaurants and chocolate shops. There are many beautiful hikes. Good luck deciding!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i'm trying to wrap my head around NOT going to the lake because you aren't bringing your own kayaks.

i never once took kayaks to lakes with us. not in all the years i was child raising.

and yet we had many many delightful lake visits.

if kayaks are the only reason to go to a lake, can't you just rent a couple?

when i hear 'midwest vacation' i get a mental visual of staring at endless cornfields. but i'm sure there are more fun things to do.

like go to a lake.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

You could drive to the midwest...and then keep going and drive to New York City! NYC has fun activities for all ages (you said "teens" but you only mention having one teen, plus a 12-year-old and a 6-year-old). In NYC you can rent kayaks on either river, Hudson or East (if renting kayaks has become a planned part of your trip).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

We rent kayaks and other equipment when we get to the lake...so have fun at the lake. Google it and make reservations if you can so the equipment is available.



answers from New York on

Not to be trivial - but you aren't traveling with "teens" - you have one teenager, one tween, and one young child. Whole different ballgame than if you were traveling with say a 14, 15, and 16 year old.

The drama will lie more in finding things that spans across all these age groups/interests vs. where you will actually go, in my opinion.

I live in the Midwest and have my whole life. I've never been to Branson myself, nor even considered vacationing there since it really seems to be geared towards tourist and I don't consider that to be a good time and often the expense way exceeds the value.

If the kids have their heart set on a lake type destination, I'd focus on that over cheesy tourist traps. There are TONS of campgrounds in MN and WI that rent cabins/mobile homes on lakes and have lots to do for all age groups - scavenger hunts, movies at night outside, even have pools and boats/kayaks/paddle boats to rent. Get a couple of fishing licenses for you and hubby (usually kids under 16 don't need one), and your kids will remember the trip for years to come.

Good luck!

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions