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Top Midwestern Camping Trip Ideas: Part 1

A Midwestern summer can incorporate just about everything a summer of fun should. Lakes for swimming and fishing, woodlands for hiking and beaches for sun and sand, plus plenty of other heartland fun. Let’s dive into what a vacation can be when you camp with us in the Midwest!

First off, as this is an adventure in two parts, we will focus on three of the six Midwest states with campgrounds: Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin (next month is Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky). All the campgrounds are close to cities and their attractions, but far enough away that you get the feel of camping in the country; they have great onsite amenities but are also close to outdoor fun in the area; and they all offer something different so if you travel around the Midwest camping with Thousand Trails this summer, every campground is a new adventure.

Starved Rock State Park, IL

Illinois: There are two campgrounds here (Thousand Trails Pine Country in Belvidere and O’Connell’s RV Campground in Amboy) and plenty to see in the Land of Lincoln. President Ronald Reagan’s boyhood home in Dixon is less than 20 minutes from O’Connell’s and Starved Rock State Park is about 40 miles away. If you’re camping between June 30 and July 4, don’t miss Dixon’s annual Petunia Festival, which features a carnival, a parade, live music, and food. Near Belvidere, there’s the Boone County Museum of History and Belvidere Park which has waterfalls and hiking trails. Anderson Japanese Garden, a beautiful and serene 12-acre garden, is about 30 miles away (it’s also just an hour from Amboy). Belvidere is about 70 miles from Chicago and all its attractions including Millennium Park and the Bean, the Museum of Science and Industry and the Shedd Aquarium, as well as the beautiful walking/biking path, and the beaches along Lake Michigan.

Indiana: All four campgrounds in Indiana would be great choices for an Indiana summer getaway. Both Thousand Trails Horseshoe Lakes (Clinton) and Thousand Trails Indian Lakes (Batesville) are within an hour or so from Indianapolis where highlights include the Indianapolis Zoo, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum for all things Indy 500! Lakeside Campground in New Carlisle is a great place to camp for water and fishing fun thanks to the beautiful Hudson Lake which is right onsite. Play some horseshoes, catch a sunset, and enjoy this serene spot. Indian Creek Distillery is a small-batch whiskey distillery nearby and the Honey Creek Fire Museum is an interesting family-run museum that has 19th century fire fighting gear on display. If you want to explore Amish Country in Shipshewana, book a cabin or cottage rental at Twin Mills Campground in Howe and you’re less than 20 minutes from the Amish must-sees, which could include the Shipshewana Auction and Flea Market held every Tuesday and Wednesday from May through September, Heritage Ridge Creamery with all kinds of delicious cheese, and the Barn Quilt Trail to see 20 hand-painted quilt murals throughout the area.

Thousand Trails Indian Lakes – Batesville, IN

Wisconsin: A total of nine fabulous campgrounds can be found in Wisconsin and they cover all of Wisconsin’s favorite destinations. Near the Wisconsin Dells, the choice is Arrowhead (Wisconsin Dells) or Yukon Trails (Lyndon Station). Both are conveniently located to the Dells attractions including waterparks, the iconic Duck rides, and the Downtown Dells shops, museums, and eateries. Visiting Baraboo is another option with the Driftless Glen Distillery, Circus World Museum and Devil’s Lake State Park. Yukon Trails also recently added tiny house container rental units for a unique and sustainable getaway option! Outside of Madison, there are two campgrounds located in Milton – Blackhawk and Lakeland. Wisconsin’s capital city is less than 40 miles away and Madison attractions include Olbrich Botanical Gardens, the Henry Vilas Zoo, the Chazen Museum of Art, and the Memorial Union Terrace on the campus of the University of Wisconsin. Milton itself has several wineries and the Milton House Museum. F is for Fremont and fishing as our campground in Fremont resides in the “White Bass Capital of the World.” As they say, when in Rome…so why not tour a cheese factory in Wisconsin. The Union Star Cheese Factory in Fremont offers tours ( and is worth a visit. The Hearthstone Historic House Museum in nearby Appleton is the first house in the U.S. to be powered by hydroelectricity. If you want to explore Door County, make Tranquil Timbers your camp choice. Definitely plan to check out Peninsula State Park for biking, hiking, and birding. Other don’t miss Door County experiences include a fish boil, a visit to a cherry orchard, art galleries and the goats on the roof at Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant in Sister Bay. Lake of the Woods is a beautiful wooded campground in Wautoma with all the amenities, plus fishing opportunities onsite. Great cabin rentals make this the perfect Central Wisconsin camping spot. Plymouth Rock (Plymouth) has three pools as well as a lake for great onsite fishing. There are plenty of rental options, too, with cottages and cabins for your glamping fun. Antiquing, a local brewery, and outdoor adventure are nearby and for those with a need for speed – the Richard Petty Driving Experience is here. Rounding up the Wisconsin camping choices is Neshonoc Lakeside in West Salem. And, it is lakeside, with plenty of amenities and great rental cabins. Nearby LaCrosse River Trail is great for biking and nature views.

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