Highlights From Our Great Lakes Road Trip
Encompassing parts of the United States’ Northeast and Midwest, the Great Lakes region is named after the five massive lakes in the area: Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, Lake Ontario and Lake Superior. But it also could be called great because of the amount of fun opportunities it offered us, from watching a baseball game in the country’s third-largest city to exploring wilderness to visiting the childhood home of the King of Pop.
Harley-Davidson Museum – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
From this iconic company’s first motorcycle—Serial Number One, essentially a bicycle with a motor attached to the center of the frame—to its latest release, which goes a lot faster (and roars a lot louder), Milwaukee’s Harley-Davidson Museum took us down the road of Harley history. One of the highlights was the special exhibit on “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” that even had the 1990 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy Arnold Schwarzenegger rode in the movie.
Wrigley Field – Chicago, Illinois
We saw the Chicago Cubs play their cross-town rivals, the White Sox, in front of an energetic crowd at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. Opened in 1914, this ballpark is the second-oldest Major League Baseball stadium in the United States. It still has its original hand-operated scoreboard, and ivy grows on the walls—in the field of play. Our seats offered a great view of the game, but the fans who bought tickets to watch the games from the roofs of nearby apartment buildings looked like they were having a lot of fun, too.
Science and Industry Museum – Chicago, Illinois
Located on the shore of Lake Michigan, Chicago’s Science and Industry Museum let us learn about science by playing. We could descend into a mineshaft, steer a tractor, navigate through a 167-square-meter mirror maze, take the wheel of a 19th-century tall ship, simulate docking a rocket at the International Station and even challenge a robot in tic-tac-toe.
Michael Jackson’s Childhood Home – Gary, Indiana
Before he captivated audiences around the world with his Moonwalk, Michael Jackson was just a small child toddling around his family home 50 kilometers southeast of Chicago in Gary, Indiana. We were amazed to see that the future inhabitant of Neverland Ranch started his life in a much more modest ranch. The memorial plaque out front commemorates the pop superstar that we lost too young.
Rosy Mound Walk – Grand Haven, Michigan
A nice change of pace from the big city of Chicago, at Rosy Mound Walk in Grand Haven, Michigan (162 kilometers due east of Milwaukee across Lake Michigan), we took a walk through the beautiful dunes, woods and waterfront. For a spectacular view, we climbed a long set of stairs to the Dune Overlook, where we looked out over the dunes, white pine trees, the beach and Lake Michigan.
The Henry Ford Museum – Dearborn, Michigan
Fittingly for our road trip, we stopped at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Dedicated to the creator of the Model T automobile, its exhibits covered cars and their influence on American and world culture. We spent much of our afternoon here in Greenfield Village, where visitors can see inventor Thomas Edison’s lab, visit the courthouse where former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln practiced and ride around in a real Model T.
Motown Museum – Detroit, Michigan
We got chills—and maybe a little rhythm—when we stood in the Motown Museum’s Studio A, the exact spot where performers like The Supremes, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder recorded many of their early classics. Located in Detroit, Michigan, in the former office of the legendary recording company, we learned how Berry Gordy used an $800 loan from his family to revolutionize the entertainment industry.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum – Cleveland, Ohio
Another stop on our Great Lakes road trip was right on theme, because from Motown came rock and roll. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, celebrates all that’s great—and outrageous—about rock music. From a Les Paul electric guitar that helped launch the genre to Bob Marley’s handwritten lyrics, the hall of fame’s exhibits are a must for every rock fan. Don’t miss all the ridiculous outfits.
Topiary Park – Columbus, Ohio
Just under 230 kilometers southwest of Cleveland, Topiary Park in Columbus, Ohio, is the living sculptural interpretation of Georges Seurat’s famous painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte” (the one made with all the dots). Seriously. It has 54 people, eight boats, three dogs, a cat and a monkey—each made from a yew tree. We didn’t count. That tally is on the park’s website.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway – Indianapolis, Indiana
After learning about the invention of the automobile and exploring the roads of the Great Lakes region, it was time to see what cars are capable of. At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana, we rode along for three laps in a real NASCAR stock car that reached nearly 275 km/h. If we could have done our road trip at those speeds, it would have been a much different trip.
See Chicago through the eyes of film director Andrew Davis.