Do you just love the Great Outdoors? Then you’ll just love the Great Lakes states.
From glorious waterfalls and rugged canyons in Illinois to intriguing caverns and caves in Ohio, from fabulous fishing in Wisconsin to scenic bike trails in Michigan and wonderful wildlife in Minnesota, the Great Lakes states area is a world of outdoor discovery.
Fancy a wander through some terrific scenery in Illinois? Then, head for the Starved Rock State Park in Utica, which overlooks the Illinois River and has rushing waterfalls, towering trees and awe-inspiring canyons. Two million visitors a year explore its scenic trails and enjoy the panoramic views from tall bluffs.
For outdoor fun in the Big City, make for Navy Pier on Chicago’s lakefront and take a ride on the sky-high Ferris wheel, dine out on a cruise boat, or watch a performance at the outdoor Skyline Stage. Or hit the road – the Route 66 road, that is – to explore the many attractions, museums and restaurants on the US’s iconic ‘Mother Road’
There are more than 1,300 miles of bike trails across Michigan, so if you’d love to spend time in summer pedalling past lakes and streams, through lush forests or over gentle hills, this is the state for you!
Leave it until the autumn and in Harbor Springs, on Little Traverse Bay, Lake Michigan, you can revel in the amazing ‘fall’ foliage as well as explore the dense woodlands, rolling landscapes and pristine beaches of the area. Prefer a flatter surface? The greater Holland area – near the eastern shore of Lake Michigan on Lake Macatawa – has more than 125 miles of paved bike paths, including a 20-mile ride along the lakeshore that ends in Grand Haven.
Wherever you go in Minnesota you can bank on seeing some wildlife. Head to some of the state’s parks, forests or designated wildlife areas and the chances are you’ll see native species such as loons, bald eagles, moose or bears. There are more than 1,400 designated wildlife areas in Minnesota, countless birding trails and many wildlife refuges, so there is no shortage of opportunities for visitors to see animals in their natural habitat. Twitchers should check out the likes of north-western Minnesota’s Pine to Prairie or Audubon’s Minnesota River Valley birding trails, while northern Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Duluth’s Superior National Forest offer a variety of wildlife, from moose, deer and foxes to bobcats and more than 240 species of birds.
Of the countless caves in Ohio there are none more spectacular than those at Ohio Caverns in West Liberty, where exquisite, crystal-white stalactite and stalagmite formations – and a constant temperature of 54F (12C) – lure visitors and locals alike. An hour south-east of Columbus – in Hocking County, near Logan – Hocking Hills State Park offers breathtaking scenery, with cliffs, waterfalls … and more caves. Spectacular natural features there include Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave, Rock House, Cantwell Cliffs and Cedar Falls. Ohio’s Amish Country also gives an opportunity to get out and about, experience a very-different lifestyle, and tour tranquil nature trails.
When it comes to fishing in Wisconsin – a freshwater fishing paradise – the statistics are overwhelming. More than 72 million fish a year are caught in the state’s 15,000 inland lakes and 42,000 miles of streams and rivers! The state offers more opportunities for reeling-in more species of fish than anywhere else in the Midwest – it has, for example, more than 3,500 miles of Class I trout streams. The best places to fish? Take your pick from Lake Geneva in south-east Wisconsin, the nine lakes of the Eagle River Chain in northern Wisconsin, and Lake Mendota in the Madison Chain of Lakes, Dane County.