Road Trip: Next Stop, The Central US

With the arrival of spring just around the corner, the season of road trips is fast approaching. Summer time is the quintessential time for long and “bucket list” worthy road trips, but there are a few places worth driving to see if you only have a weekend. We’ve compiled a short list of places to go and some tips for along the way. Get ready to pack your bags, set your GPS, and check out a few of these “must sees” for a Central US road trip:

Mermet Springs

Scuba diving.
Scuba diving. Flickr: Heath Alseike / CC BY 2.0

When tourists travel to Illinois, it’s usually to check out Chicago, but did you know that you can scuba dive in freshwater in IL? Mermet Springs, located in Vienna, Illinois is a fun stop for the whole family. Divers can check out treasures underwater including an airplane and an apparent petting zoo. You may just have to check it out to see what lives there on a Central US road trip.

House on the Rock

House on the Rock. Central US road trip
House on the Rock. Flickr: niXerKG / CC BY-NC 2.0

If you have an appreciation for the odd and awe-inspiring, a visit to this landmark in Spring Green, Wisconsin should be added to your list. The House on the Rock was built by Alex Jordan and was opened to the public in 1960.

This popular tourist destination is a Japanese-style home built on top of a rock and borrows many features from Frank Lloyd Wright. Inside, you will find the world’s largest carousel, a 200 ft sea creature, a Rube Goldberg machine, and rooms full of one-of-a-kind treasures. While you’re in Spring Green, stop by and see Wright’s Taliesin.

Jeffers Petroglyphs

Jeffers Petroglyphs. Central US road trip
Jeffers Petroglyphs. Flickr: bhs128 / CC BY-SA 2.0

Interested in a little ancient history? Head west to the small rural community of Comfrey, MN and check out the 160-acre historic site which features carvings into the Red Rock Ridge. Although the date of these carvings is a bit of a mystery, it’s believed that most of them were created between 3000 BC and 1700 AD.

The Grotto of Redemption

Grotto of Redemption. Central US road trip
Grotto of Redemption. Flickr: Laura Bernhardt / CC BY-ND 2.0

We hear a lot about the “Seven Wonders of the World,” but ever wonder what’s considered the Eighth? Travel South to West Bend, Iowa to see The Grotto of Redemption, which some call “The Eighth Wonder of the World.” The religious shrine was built by a priest in 1912 and took 42 years to construct. You don’t need to have any religious affiliation to appreciate the intricate handiwork or the largest collection of gemstones in one place.

A Few Central US Road Trip Safety Tips

Central US Road trip, Valley of Fire, Nevada
Road trip in the Valley of Fire, Nevada: Flickr: Nameless_1 / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Whether you’re traveling to a destination in the heart of a big city or to a “hidden gem” in the middle of nowhere, it’s likely that you’ll need to take a busy interstate to get there. On busy highways, in particular, you need to know how to share the road with all types of vehicles, including big rigs. Here are a few tips to consider when traveling in unknown and busy places:

  • Always check out GPS before you start driving
  • Keep a safe distance from large trucks and stay out of their blind spots
  • Ditch distractions (no texting and driving)
  • Take breaks when you get tired to prevent drowsy driving
  • Have a season-appropriate emergency kit in your car

About Landon B

I enjoy traveling to destinations across the US in my free time. I enjoy places that have lots of outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and ziplining.

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