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  1. #1

    Default A month tour: Chicago, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South & North Dacota, Chicago in July?

    Hello,

    I'm new to this forum and also know very little about travel options in nothern part of Midwest. I checked several earlier threads that seemed related. There is lots of good information but I couldn't find exactly what we're looking for.

    I'm flying in to Chicago and meeting my travel buddy around the end of June. I've been in Chicago once and we've have made a southwards tour to Memphis and Nashville. Now our plan is to spend about a month exploring places we haven't been at in Wisconsin, Minnesota, South and North Dacota.

    Of course, we'll spend some days (at the both ends of the tour) in Chicago too. My friend is quite familiar with American highlights of the city, the only information we might need are Lithuanian shops, restaurants, museums, monuments, exhibitions etc. I know it's strange to ask for Lithuanian points of interest arriving to US but I have personal reasons for that. I know there is a great Lithuanian restaurant in Pier Union but it's on the opposite direction from where we'll go.

    As for Wisconsin, Minnesota, South and North Dacota, we'd really appreciate all possible help, suggestions regarding driving tour through these states.

    • Best routes- most interesting but also not too difficult to drive?
    • What's the situation with rest areas in these states? I know in some states/areas it's quite a long ride till you find one.
    • Most worthy or worthless places to visit and spend time at?
    • Hotels or camping?
    • Places to eat? (Being an American, my friend is used to any cuisine available in US, I would rather prefer less spicy (hot) dishes and no raw meats/fish.)
    • Car emergency services, repair shops?
    • Any Lithuanian places of interest/ restaurants etc (in Chicago as well)?


    Well, anything you would think we might need to know. Thank you.
    Last edited by USvisitor; 11-08-2011 at 10:55 AM. Reason: style and spelling mistakes

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Tucson, AZ
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    7,915

    Default At Home on the Road

    Sveiki atvyke! Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Much of the upper Midwest was settled by immigrants from the Baltic Sea area, so it should not come as a surprise that there are pockets of current residents who hail from every country in that region, including Vilnius' Sister City Madison WI, and Minnesota. Now, while those aren't restaurants per se, they should certainly be able to direct you to some 'local' cuisine.

    As for other highpoints in the general area you'll be driving through, they somewhat depend on how far afield you're willing to go. But a good loop through those states might include Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, the many lakes of Minnesota's north country, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Badlands National Park, and one or more of the National Wildlife Refuges along the Mississippi.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 11-08-2011 at 04:20 PM. Reason: Fixed Link

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    2,300

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by USvisitor View Post
    [LIST][*]Best routes- most interesting but also not too difficult to drive?
    The best route is actually the one you WANT to take. I'd get a good map of these states, or an atlas, and see what looks interesting. It may help you plan your route this way.


    What's the situation with rest areas in these states? I know in some states/areas it's quite a long ride till you find one.
    Many states are going through financial woes, and some of them have closed down a few rest areas in the hopes of saving money on maintenance and repair. At one time, the interstate builders tried to have rest areas about an hour apart. Now they aren't always quite that close together, but exits with amenities are usually numerous. You can always use a fast food place for their restroom facilities, though it's polite to purchase a drink or something.

    Most worthy or worthless places to visit and spend time at?
    AZBuck made several suggestions that I totally agree with. A lot of folks really enjoy Wisconsin Dells, while others feel it's very touristy. It depends on your taste. In Chicago, there are MANY wonderful museums - the Art Institute, Museum of Science & Industry (MY favorite!), the Natural History Museum, Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium, and more. I could spend several weeks visiting Chicago, as I'd also try the Museum of Broadcasting that's new there.

    Hotels or camping?
    Once again, your call. Are you comfortable with tent camping? It also means hauling a little bit more equipment!

    Car emergency services, repair shops?
    I heartily recommend having AAA membership, or a similar ERS (Emergency Road Service) membership. It's a great peace-of-mind. They have recommended repair shops. Otherwise, if we have car troubles, we ask locally who is good. Dealerships are usually decent but expensive.

    Let us know if we can help further!


    Donna

  4. #4

    Default

    Madison is Vilnius' sister city? WoW1 Really? I didn't know that. I Thought all Lithuanians in that area have settled in Chicago and the area. Good to know I'll be able to find some "local" stuff further West. Putting Madison and Minnesota on my list. Thank you.
    Thanks for other links too.

  5. #5

    Default

    Thanks for your comments Donna.

    I don't have much experience camping but I liked it when I did. I'm thinking it would be a nice way to spend some nights while somewhere in "wild" nature. Not all month though. I would certainly miss hot shower or bath :-)

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    As for other highpoints in the general area you'll be driving through, they somewhat depend on how far afield you're willing to go.
    AZBuck
    Well, we don't have such a clear plan as I saw other posters giving in this forum but if we had already made our detailed itinerrary would we need to ask for ideas?

    We usually start planning early and I usually spend lots of time browsing internet and searching information for our vacation trips. Sure I'll do same thing for this trip too. Your forum is the place where my research starts this time.

    There is a good advice-"if you need directions ask the local or more experienced person". That's what I am doing here. I bookmarked pages you gave links to and I hope to get more constructive and informative replies, same as yours, so that we could pick out of them what we want.

    I have one more question:

    My friend suggested to go even further and see Glacier National park. He says it's a must if we drive that far west. Considering the fact that I live in Lithuania and he lives in Virginia it may certainly be the only time we are driving in that area. Is that doable? As I said- we will have about a month for all travelling with our base city being Chicago but only he will do all the driving. I do have driver's licence in Lithuania (valid in European Union) but I doubt it would be valid in US, would it?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    10,890

    Default not quite

    Quote Originally Posted by USvisitor View Post
    I do have driver's licence in Lithuania (valid in European Union) but I doubt it would be valid in US, would it?
    Your Lithuanian License is perfectly valid in the US. However, you may want to get an international drivers permit, which provides a translation of your license.

    Well, we don't have such a clear plan as I saw other posters giving in this forum but if we had already made our detailed itinerrary would we need to ask for ideas?
    Absolutely! In fact the more you know, the more we can help. There are millions of places you can visit, just in the handful of states you want to see. The more places that you've determined that are "must stops" for you, the more we know about what you are interested in, and where you'll be spending your time, and thus can recommend similar ideas in the areas you'll be visiting.

    This forum can certainly help you find ideas, as can the other articles you've been looking at, but when it comes to getting information on this or any forum, specifics are very good.
    My friend suggested to go even further and see Glacier National park. He says it's a must if we drive that far west.
    You can certainly get there within a month long trip from Chicago. However, if you're going there, then you might also give some serious consideration to Yellowstone and Grand Teton. However, both of those places are a full day drive west of the edge of the Dakotas (and a full day drive from each other.) and really start getting into much more of the West/Rocky Mountain region than the Upper Midwest, which you'd listed as your focus. Doing a trip that loops out to those places would likely be a very different kind of trip than one where you focus on exploring just WI, MN, and the Dakotas. I'm certainly not saying one is better than the other, because that depends upon how you like to travel and what you want to get out of the trip.

  8. #8

    Default

    Thank you Midwest Michael,

    your comment is great as always (I noticed your constructive style while reading other topics).

    I'll check about international drivers permit. Gootr to know I can be useful during the long drive. Sure I should start from some minor roads with little traffic :-) Some US roads are too crazy for me, not to talk about the cities! That's one reason I was aking about best routes, meaning ways by that- driving conditions. I don't think one can decide about that just looking at the road atlas as I was told above.

    Now back to the drawing board as people say.

    I love the idea of getting more of the mountains... I know we have quite a lot of time but distances are BIG too.

    We'd probably leave aside Yellowstone because it's easier doable from San Francisco, and we certainly will go to CA once more one day. So, there are 2 out of 3 left- Glacier NP and Grand Teton. Both are breathtaking as far as I know. I'd really love to visit both... This would mean quite a stright trip through states I mentioed innitially... Am I correct?

  9. #9

    Default

    I don't know how I happened to post same twice. Where is the "delete" button in this forum?
    Last edited by USvisitor; 11-09-2011 at 05:15 AM. Reason: double post

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
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    8,357

    Default Yellowstone/Yosemite ?

    We'd probably leave aside Yellowstone because it's easier doable from San Francisco, and we certainly will go to CA once more one day. So, there are 2 out of 3 left- Glacier NP and Grand Teton. Both are breathtaking as far as I know. I'd really love to visit both...
    I think you are getting your 'Yellowstone NP' mixed up with 'Yosemite NP'. From Glacier to the Tetons would put you right in the Yellowstone area.

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