Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan are the land of plenty. Plenty of space. Plenty of weight on the locals. Plenty of cheese on the french fries. Plenty of everything. We started in Minneapolis, home of the Mall of America, the largest mall in the country. You can walk for hours and not see everything. I know. We tried. There is a theme park in the center, a movie theatre, spas, hundreds of shops and dozens of restaurants. Anything you want you can find at Mall of America, except your car. You’re going to lose your car. My god, where is the car?
Minnesota: Lakes, Malls and Snow
Minneapolis has a great free zoo in Como Park, out on the east side. Check out the Como Park Conservatory. You can donate at the entrance if you want to, or don’t. I don’t care. But we always tried to drop a few bucks in the pot because damn do they do a good job with the animals at Como. They have a free-range sloth in the greenhouse area, and there are meerkats all over the place right inside the entrance. They have larger animals, too, but for me the greenhouse always won out. Such a lovely spot to come, especially in the colder months. Which, in Minnesota, are about 10 months of the year.
If you’re anybody at all worth knowing than you live on Lake Minnetonka. We don’t, because we’re not worth knowing, but we have friends on the lake. Experiencing how the elite live is a joy and a curse. It’s such a delight to experience, but then you have to zip up your suitcase and go back to the cheap motels with holes in the bedding and curly hairs in the sheets. You can get a taste of the rich life by strolling around the quaint villages that ring the lake, or driving down the mansion-lined streets. There are several open access points to the lake. You can even check out Prince’s house, which is nearby.
Wisconsin: Land of Cheese and Roller Coasters
Wisconsin is famous for cheese, but also for the Wisconsin Dells, which house a bunch of theme parks. Here you can ride all manner of rollercoaster or spinning tea cup. There are decent resorts and it’s near enough to an airport that you don’t have a long drive after landing. The prices are reasonable in the off season, and a bit extreme in summer. If you ever wanted to learn an Eastern European language, many of the staff at the Wisconsin Dells resorts and theme parks are there on summer work visas.
We didn’t spend much time in Wisconsin because it wasn’t theme park season. Instead, we sort of transited the state, and our hearts thank us for avoiding the artery-blocking cuisine.
Michigan: The Mosquito’s Playground
Michigan is for nature lovers. If you don’t love nature, don’t bother congesting the freeways and airports, it won’t be the place for you. The best thing to do in Michigan is get outside. Detroit has a lot to offer, as does Ann Arbor, but your best bet is to get into the woods, enjoy the lakes, go on an ATV ride or rent snowmobiles if it’s winter. Just get yourself geared up and get outside.
With the launch of the Pure Michigan tourism campaign, RV, ATV, boat and snowmobile enthusiasts from around America started to explore the bounty of Michigan. This was great for the economy but bad for those of us who were already outside enjoying the peace and quiet. Nothing says hike faster than having a group of loud tourists behind you in the peaceful forrest.
I have so much more to say about Michigan. I’ll do a whole post on the Upper Peninsula soon, so stay tuned.
We have done a lot of US road tripping, check out more on the Road Trip page.