My Outdoorsy Midwest USA Bucketlist

This winter (last winter, now) instead of making a yearly state to-do list, I decided to just make a bigger state bucket list.  Then I decided to turn this into a little series.  I wanted to do specific states that I spend a lot of time in, want to spend a lot of time in, or am close to a lot. 

I also wanted to do more general regional bucket lists for all the other things I want to do, which is a lot.  They are all pretty outdoor focused with a few non-outdoorsy things, too.

Next up in this little series is my good ‘ol Midwest bucket list!  Of course, I already did Minnesota and Wisconsin separately so you won’t find them on this list, but you will find the rest of what I’m considering the Midwest.  This is the best midwest bucket list for outdoor lovers, for sure.

As I do things and write posts for them, I’ll update this to link back to those.  If I do something and don’t have a post, I’ll just cross it out. 

I would like to do one a month with 12 total.  These bucket lists are partially to help me keep track of things, but also to inspire you to get out there, too.   

Bucket list posts


Illinois bucket list

  • Explore the Shawnee National Forest
  • Visit the Art Institute of Chicago
  • See The Bean in Millenium Park
  • Visit Starved Rock State Park
  • Visit Cave-in-Rock State Park
  • See the Cahokia Mounds
  • Stand on the Skydeck in Chicago
  • Drive the beginning of Route 66
  • Visit the Navy Pier
  • Go diving at Mermet Springs
  • Go kayaking in Chicago
  • Visit the Field Museum of Natural History
  • Explore the Garden of the Gods
  • Hike in the Mississippi Palisades State Park
  • Visit Dixon Springs State Park
  • Enjoy the views at Castle Rock State Park
  • Visit Giant City State Park
  • Explore Matthiessen State Park
  • Explore Apple River Canyon
  • Visit Waterfall Glen
  • See the Bald Cypress trees in the Cache River Natural Area
indiana dunes national park

Indiana bucket list

  • Visit Indiana Dunes National Park
  • Explore Chain O’ Lakes State Park
  • Visit Patoka Lake
  • Explore Shakamak State Park
  • Visit Clifty Falls State Park
  • Visit McCormick’s Creek State Park
  • Explore Turkey Run State Park
  • Hike the Knobstone Trail of Fun
  • Explore Pokagon State Park
  • Hike Low Gap Trail
  • Hike part of the Hemlock Cliffs Natural Scenic Trail
  • See the “Big Peach” near Bruceville
  • See the giant popcorn box at the Jasper Gift Basket and Popcorn Company
  • See the giant sneakers at the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame
  • See the world’s largest ball of paint in Alexandria
  • See the leaves change on the hills of Brown County
  • Go to the Indiana State Fair

Iowa bucket list

  • Explore Wildcat Den State Park
  • Hike the Crows Nest Loop at Ledges State Park
  • Visit Effigy Mounds National Monument
  • See the bridges of Madison County
  • Hike the Wabash Trace Nature Trail
  • Explore Backbone State Park
  • Explore the Maquoketa Caves State Park
  • Visit Pikes Peak State Park
  • Hike in Waubonsie State Park
  • Go canoeing or kayaking on the Iowa River
  • Go for a hot air balloon ride during the National Balloon Classic in Indianola
  • Ride the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad
  • Enjoy the springs in Decorah
  • Drive the Loess Hills Scenic Byway
  • Hike in Preparation Canyon
  • See the American Gothic House
  • Walk the crookedest street in the world in Burlington
  • Stay in a yurt at Clear Lake
  • Go to the Des Moines Arts Festival

Kansas bucket list

  • Hike in the Flint Hills
  • Visit Tallgrass National Prairie
  • Visit the Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge
  • Explore Mushroom Rock State Park
  • Visit the Kansas Badlands at Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park
  • See the Cuartelejo Pueblo ruins
  • Visit Wilson State Park
  • Drive the Flint Hills Scenic Byway
  • Hike the Konza Prairie
  • Visit the Garden of Eden
  • See the Kansas Barbed Wire Museum
  • See the World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things
  • Try some BBQ
  • Visit Rock City Park
  • Visit Oz Museum
  • Go stormchasing
  • See the Monument Rocks
  • See the world’s largest hand-painted Czech Egg
  • Visit Truckhenge
  • Visit the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge

Missouri bucket list

  • Visit Onondaga Cave State Park
  • Have BBQ in Kansas City
  • Visit St. Louis’s City museum
  • Hike part of the Ozark Trail
  • Visit Gateway Arch National Park
  • Explore JohnsonShut-Ins State Park
  • Enjoy Big Spring
  • Visit Castlewood State Park
  • See the Elephant Rocks
  • Explore Grand Gulf State Park
  • Relax at Lake of the Ozarks
  • Hike Ha Ha Tonka State Park
  • Climb Hughes Mountain
  • See the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art
  • Visit the Parkville Nature Sanctuary
  • Explore Hawn State Park
  • Explore the Redwoods Recreation Area
  • Hike in the Paddy Creek Wilderness
  • Explore thee Crifty Creek Natural Area
  • Go diving in the Bonne Terre Mines
  • See Fantastic Caverns
  • See Marvel Cave
  • See Meramec Caverns
  • See Crooked Creek Falls in the Ouachita National Forest
  • See Rocky Falls near Eminence
  • Visit the Welch Spring Hospital Ruins
  • Drive part of Route 66
  • Drive the Southwest Missouri Corner
  • Do a wine country tour
  • Drive the Rolla-Salem Loop
  • Drive the Glade Top Trail
  • Drive the Missouri leg of the Great River Road
  • Drive Blue Buck Knob Scenic Byway
Isle Royale Michigan
Photo by Tony Webster Flickr

Michigan bucket list

  • Visit Isle Royale National Park
  • Camp on Grand Island
  • Explore Mackinaw Island
  • Visit Tahquamenon Falls State Park
  • Explore Hartwick Pines State Park
  • Explore Ludington State Park
  • Hike Saugatuck Dunes State Park
  • Visit Muskegon State Park
  • Explore Maybury State Park
  • Visit the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
  • Relax on the beach at Van Buren State Park
  • Explore Hartwick Pines State Park
  • Go swimming at Holland State Park
  • Hike part of the Iron Belle Trail
  • Visit Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
  • Hike the Big Carp River Trail
  • Visit Warren Dunes State Park
  • Hike the Au Sable River Foot Trail
  • See the tulips in Holland
  • Visit Holland
  • Try doughnuts and cider at Franklin Cider Mill
  • Drive across the Mackinac Bridge
  • Stargaze at Headlands International Dark Sky park
  • Attend Electric Forest
  • Go to Hell
  • Attend the National Cherry Festival
  • Visit the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
  • Climb the Big Sable Point Lighthouse
  • Drive M-22
  • Look for Petoskey Stones
  • Drive the Tunnel of Trees on M-119
  • See the ice caves on Lake Superior
  • Drive the River Road Scenic Byway

Nebraska bucket list

  • Visit the Ashfall Fossil Beds
  • Paddle on the Niobrara River
  • See Carhenge
  • See Chimney Rock
  • Bike the Cowboy Trail
  • Visit the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge
  • Explore Indian Cave State Park
  • See the Sandhill Crane migration
  • Visit Scotts Bluff National Monument
  • Explore Smith Falls State Park
  • Visit the Oglala National Grassland
  • Visit Toadstool Geologic park
  • Take an airboat tour on the Platte River
  • Visit Agate Fossil Beds National Monument

North Dakota bucket list

  • Visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park
  • Hike part of the North Country National Scenic Trail
  • Climb White Butte
  • See the petrified forest in the Western North Dakota Badlands
  • Drive the Chan Sansan Scenic Byway
  • Drive the Enchanted Highway
  • See the world’s largest manmade turtle
  • Visit On-A-Slant Indian Village
  • Visit Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge
  • Explore Lewis and Clark State Park
  • Go kayaking on the Missouri River
  • Visit the Plains Art Museum
  • Explore Little Missouri State Park
  • Drive the Sheyenne River Valley Scenic Byway
  • Drive Killdeer Mountain Four Bears Scenic Byway
  • Visit Lake Metigoshe State Park
  • Visit Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge

Oklahoma bucket list

  • Drive the Talimena National Scenic Byway
  • Go to the Poteau Balloon Festival
  • Try BBQ at Burn Co Barbecue in Tulsa (some of the best in the state)
  • Visit the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
  • Visit Alabaster Caverns State Park
  • Go to the Azalea Festival in Muskogee
  • See Turner Falls
  • Drive part of Route 66
  • Go to Pops Soda Ranch
  • Hike up Mt. Scott
  • Visit Little Sahara
  • Visit the Blue Hole in Salina
  • Dig for crystals at the Great Salt Plains
  • Take a float trip down the Illinois River
  • See the Spiro Mounds
  • Explore McGee Creek State Park
  • Visit Roman Nose State Park
  • Visit Chickasaw National Recreation Area
  • Explore Robbers Cave State Park
  • Visit Heavener Runestone Park
Photo by Ken Lund Flickr

Ohio bucket list

  • Visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park
  • Go to the Summer Moon Festival
  • Visit Hocking Hills State Park
  • Visit the Hopewell Culture National Historic Park
  • Explore (or backpack) Wayne National Forest
  • Visit Maumee Bay State Park
  • Visit Salt Fork State Park
  • Explore John Bryan State Park
  • Take the ferry to Kelleys Island State Park
  • Hike in Tar Hollow State Park
  • Relax in Punderson State Park
  • Drive the Ohio River Scenic Byway
  • Drive the Amish Country Scenic Byway
  • Drive the Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Byway
  • Drive the Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail
  • Drive the Hocking Hills Scenic Byway
  • Go to Cedar Point
  • See the Great Serpent Mount
  • Explore the Ohio Caverns
badlands national park south dakota

South Dakota bucket list

Have you done any of these?  Which ones?  Anything I should add to my Midwest bucket list?

4 thoughts on “My Outdoorsy Midwest USA Bucketlist

  1. While in St. Louis, You should also visit the #1 Zoo, in the country for free!!! See the Wild Bird Sanctuary, The Shaw Butterfly house, The Missouri Botanical Gardens, the Scott Joplin House, see the new St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station and ride the Ferris Wheel, Check out the latest exhibit at the St. Louis Science Center, which is also free, and buy some fresh farm produce from the historic Soulard Market and then head up to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery for a tour and tasting, oh, did I mention that it is free too!!! Can you tell where I live!!! Don’t forget to visit all of St. Louis’s Forest Park sites all of which are free and top notch. Then head over to the Hill Neighbor hood for some local Toasted Ravioli. a St. Louis original. Then drive over to the Illinois side of the Mississippi river to visit Historic Alton, drive up the River Road and stop by some local Grafton Wineries. You can spend a week in St. Louis never run out of things to do and spend less than you could imagine!! St. Louis where the journey is just the beginning.

    1. Oh my goodness, thank you so much for all these suggestions! It sounds like I’ll have to make a trip there sometime!

    1. That’s awesome! I feel like I should go with my mom because she loves wizard of Oz!

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