13 Best Midwest Family Resorts
A digital detox is more than just a luxury in the current digital world, where nomophobia is more common than not, and social media validation shapes characters.
Even though it may seem more difficult than it is to take a break from busy schedules, phones, and computers, it is possible if you choose to spend a few days in one of the many scenic lake resorts in the Midwest. This is where you can reconnect with each other (not just on Instagram) and live life at a slower pace.
Weeks by the lake have long been a cherished and wildly popular American pastime, from summer camps to summer vacations.
What’s not to love about bonfire nights, refreshing swims, nature’s peaceful sounds, countless hiking trails, or just evenings spent sitting and reflecting on the wonders of life while taking in the various colors the setting sun paints in the sky?
So, if you’re looking for a gorgeous location to escape the heat and indulge in some much-needed relaxation, or if family bonding time is what you’re after, the exquisite lake resorts in the Midwest region are great.
Time appears to slow down at the various lake resorts that populate these coastlines, from Minnesota’s 10,000+ lakes to the spotless beaches of the nation’s Third Coast.
So put your phones and laptops away, gather the family, and prepare to take a break from your busy lives. Head on to any of the resorts in this list of what I consider to be the best Midwest family resorts, where “social” is more than just a prefix for “media” and “old school” doesn’t mean “outdated”!
- The Abbey Resort — Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Because of the many luxurious lakefront estates in the vicinity, Geneva is renowned as the “Newport of the Midwest.” Lake Geneva isn’t just for the residents of those houses, so its opulence doesn’t necessarily extend to the tourists here.
At Abbey Resort, Lake, there are various family-friendly activities. This Midwest getaway resort has its sole directly-located-on-the-lakeshore offering, making trips perfect for everyone in the family, from children to adults.
Perfectly situated alongside the Geneva Lakeshore Path, the resort is a 21-mile walkway that surrounds the lake and takes you to the front doors of estates owned by America’s “who’s who.”
You could also take advantage of the many family-friendly activities offered by the resort, such as the sailing school, planned activities through the Rainbow Point program, virtual reality games, an arcade, paddleboard, and bike rentals, swimming in both indoor and outdoor pools (one of which is just for kids), or taking a stroll along the resort’s marina. All of these activities can keep your kids entertained for hours.
Additionally, the resort provides child programs, babysitting, and cribs, securing its place on every Midwest list of family-friendly resorts.
Not feeling like being outside?
It’s fortunate for you that the resort’s family rooms and villas all come with flat-screen TVs, stylish bathrooms, and free Wi-Fi.
Don’t want to go outside, but also don’t want to stay inside all day?
Luckily for you, the resort has excellent family restaurant options, including the Waterfront Restaurant and Bar for casual dining, the Fontana Grill for elegant dinners and some excellent Saturday night prime ribs, and the Gazebo Grille, a seasonal restaurant.
Feeling none of the above?
Treat yourself to a spa treatment at the resort.
2. Big Cedar Lodge — Ridgedale, Missouri
This premium resort on Table Rock Lake, owned by Johnny Morris, the creator of Bass Pro Shops, offers 60,000 acres of “family-friendly” and “laid-back vacation” combined.
The resort’s 100 fishing docks and comparable design, as well as its location just half an hour from Morris’ first bait shop, are likely to appeal to fishing enthusiasts.
If fishing isn’t your thing, don’t worry, the big property is a paradise of the lake and outdoor recreational pleasures, including horseback riding, kayaking, hiking, and water skiing, to mention a few.
You might also want to take a trip to Branson, which is known as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” where there are more than 50 theaters and a ton of live acts, including comedy, country music, and Osmon Family reunions.
For days of self-indulgence, visit the resort’s elegant spa or unwind in one of the 3 lodges’ luxurious hotel rooms and log cabins.
- The Homestead — Glen Arbor, Michigan
One of Northern Michigan’s top attractions for Midwest family vacations is The Homestead.
The Homestead provides visiting families postcard-worthy views and tranquil beaches thanks to its magnificent stretch of Lake Michigan’s oceanfront and close access to the 35 miles of exquisite coastline at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
Enroll your children in the resort’s super fun kids’ club for some time away from them, and you and your partner may indulge in a romantic massage at the spa or a special dinner at one of the four restaurants on the property.
You may also arrange a trip to Traverse City, which is close by and is known as the “Cherry Capital” of the country and where the National Cherry Festival is held.
The festival, which takes place every July, is a fun event for the whole family that includes cherry-pitting and pie-eating competitions.
Traverse is also home to some of the top vineyards and microbreweries in the country.
- Oak Cove Resort — Lawrence, Michigan
The Oak Cove Resort is a proud traditional South Michigan paradise where “laid back” is the keyword. It is another family-friendly ace in “The Great Lakes State’s sleeve.”
The Oak Cover, one of the best family resorts in the Midwest, is located about two hours east of Chicago. It features an arcade, pinball machine, jukebox, and a no-TV rule for some undisturbed family time (but don’t worry, they still have free Wi-Fi).
Given the resort’s canoes, game room, water sports, paddleboats, bikes, kayaks, and heated pool, you will realize that you don’t miss the technology after all.
You can also go to the nearby town Paw Paw for its lovely vineyards.
The friendly owners and longtime hosts, Susan and Bob Wojcik, are responsible for Oak Cove’s success.
Susan creates a weekly menu to showcase the local products that are served for breakfast and dinner, which are both included as part of the hotel cost (the hotel is all-inclusive).
Fill yourselves with homemade pies and jams created with fruits from the area.
One of the best resorts in the Midwest, Oak Cove has on-site family rooms, cottages with kitchenettes, an off-site farmhouse, and a coach house with 9 rooms that can accommodate about 80 guests.
- White Birch Lodge — Elk Rapids, Michigan
For those who enjoy water sports, the White Birch Lodge is the place to go. This Northern Michigan family resort offers a nearly unmatched selection of water sports, from tubing and sailing to kayaking and paddleboarding.
Wakeboarding and water skiing lessons make it even better and are available every day for the entire family, making water sports a family activity.
The resort uses a tiered accommodation system with rooms to accommodate all preferences and family sizes!
Several lodging options are available, including smaller cabins and condos with multiple bedrooms.
Meals are either served at the beachfront terrace or the dining hall in the lodge at the 40-acre all-inclusive resort.
With its super-fun array of complimentary daily kids’ activities organized by the staff (most of them are in college), the White Birch will have no trouble keeping the little ones entertained.
These include arts and crafts sessions, scavenger hunts, soccer, basketball, and volleyball.
Visit the tennis court or play some shuffleboard and horseshoe for more family entertainment.
The weekly water ski variety show organized by their employees is a popular tradition at the White Birch Lodge, with a 2-tier, 5-person pyramid-on-skis as the show-stopper.
One thing to keep in mind is that booking a stay here requires at least a one-week vacation.
I don’t think there’s anything to complain about, given everything the lodge has to offer.
6. Madden’s on Gull Lake — Brainerd, Minnesota
Travel 130 miles north of the Twin Cities to the Madden’s on Gull Lake in “The Gopher State” for bright days filled with nonstop fun and peaceful evenings full of stories and the aroma of cooking s’mores over the fire.
The Madden family owns and operates this classic resort, which features two miles of beautiful beachfront and a variety of water sports like tubing, wakeboarding, water skiing, and a pontoon boat tour for nature lovers.
The lake’s half-mile beach is the ideal place to unwind and take in the scenery for some solitude.
There are plenty of things to keep you busy and ensure that there is never a dull moment for you. Additionally, there is a daily kids’ program (Adventure Cove) offered on-site to make sure that your children won’t be bored.
The program, which is available to children between the ages of 4 and 12, is included in the resort’s fee and is packed with activities that the kids will enjoy from sunset until dawn.
With big-screen movie nights and enjoyable activities like Bingo to increase the friendly competition, there are just as many indoor gaming options as there are outside ones.
The resort has a world-class spa, 5 on-site restaurants, and 287 luxurious lodging options spread among hotels, villas, and cottages since they fully understand that it is impossible to entirely wean yourself off the joys of the city.
So it should come as no surprise that Madden’s is on my list of the best family resorts in the Midwest.
- Grand View Lodge — Nisswa, Minnesota
With its stuffed moose head and antler chandeliers, the Grand View Lodge perfectly captures the “feels” of a hunting lodge.
Located around two hours from the Twin Cities, the Grand View Lodge provides not only horseback riding and pontoon boat rentals but also top-notch spa services, free Wi-Fi, and cable TV. Don’t be missed by the stuffed animal decor into believing that this is another Schrute farm!
Sit back and relax on the whitewashed Adirondack chairs and take in the picture-perfect views of the lake and the resort’s manicured lawn, or get some exercise on the tennis court and golf course.
The resort also has an excellent kids’ club and an indoor pool with a waterslide.
The Grand View Lodge, which has been in the Cote family since 1937, combines 200 modern lodge rooms, townhouses, and cottages with old furniture and photographs to create a timeless space.
The lodge’s inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places only serves to increase its attraction and makes it the Midwest’s most distinctive vacation destination, combining entertainment and historical significance.
- Osthoff Resort — Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
The Osthoff Resort at Elkhart Lake, which is only a short drive from Milwaukee, is a refuge of pristine waters and rustic beauty.
Although the wonderful people of Elkhart Lake live a life of simple pleasures, this isn’t always the case in this resort with its Victorian aesthetic.
A renowned spa and a Nascar racetrack (Road American) featuring competitions, vintage-car exhibits, and a specialized driving school are both located near Osthoff.
The resort also houses the L’ecole de la Maison culinary school, which is open to both adults and children and is obviously French and, therefore, classy. Although, the culinary school requires an additional fee.
The resort has water skiing activities, hiking and biking routes (at the nearby Kettle Moraine State Park), or the option to rent your boat for those who want something less fancy.
The on-site lakefront patio bar and restaurant is another great place to spend many summer weekends.
- The Beacons of Minocqua — Minocqua, Wisconsin
The best place to experience the real North Woods is in the northern town of Minocqua. Complete with your private cottage hidden away in the forest on the shores of a stunning lake.
The 13-acre Beacons resort in the Midwest is a sanctuary of peace that maintains its solitude and privacy without sacrificing its proximity to the town.
Minocqua is full of things that are great for families and has many places close by, such as Thirsty Whale, which hosts monthly fish fries on the porch on Fridays, ice creams shops that provide retro sundaes, or the free water ski performances put on by the Min-Aqua Bats every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday night.
Scheer’s Lumberjack Show is also certain to thrill the entire family.
The resort offers 81 rooms, and visitors can engage in a variety of activities there, including horseshoes, volleyball, swimming in the outdoor pool, telling ghost stories over a bonfire, and watching movies under the stars. Bike, boat, and canoe rentals are also available.
Families can choose between one, two, or three-bedroom condominiums, a cottage, a studio, or log cabins for lodging; the majority of them feature big bathrooms, bedrooms, internet connection, and a private balcony with stunning lake views, televisions, a fully-equipped kitchen, and fireplaces.
- Thousand Hills Resort and Golf Club
The Thousand Hills Resort is a fantastic option when it comes to Midwest family vacation ideas because it is only a short distance from the Branson strip and only 15 minutes from Silver Dollar City.
Suites, condos, and stand-alone cabins are just a few of the different types of accommodations the resort offers, all of which are dispersed around the large property’s various buildings.
Every type of lodging has various bedrooms, a free Wi-Fi connection, and a fully functional kitchen.
Along with the 18-hole golf course, several outdoor pools, indoor pools, and sports courts are available for some family fun.
In Branson, you can also visit the surrounding theme parks and water parks.
You can enjoy a quiet family movie night in your room with a DVD from the hotel’s library. It’s a perfect way to unwind after a long day of fun at the resort.
The hotel also offers cribs by request.
- TownePlace Suites Bowling Green
The TownePlace is an all-suite hotel that is a fantastic choice for a family vacation, especially if you have a college student. The National Corvette Museum, Mammoth Cave, Lost River Cave, and Western Kentucky University are all nearby.
It is an inclusive family resort as it is also pet-friendly. The guests are allowed one pet per room for an additional fee.
Aside from Bowling Green, the resort’s indoor pool, complete with pool deck seats and pool towels, makes it a fantastic choice for families.
Families can choose from several lodging options, including studios (equipped with a king-sized bed and sleeper sofa or two queen beds) and one- or two-bedroom suites (the former features a queen-sized bed and a sleeper sofa, while the latter features a sleeper sofa and a queen-sized bed in each bedroom).
Each suite has a fully working kitchen with a refrigerator, microwave, stovetop, dishwasher, and free Wi-Fi.
Visitors can take advantage of free breakfast every day of their stay.
- Chestnut Mountain Ski Resort — Illinois
Of course, if you’re thinking about skiing, the Midwest isn’t the first place that you would think of; if it is, it’s at best a mere afterthought.
It makes sense considering ski resorts like Vail or Aspen.
But don’t let this make you disregard the Chestnut Mountain Ski Resort!
The Chestnut is open all year for tourists and has a beautiful location overlooking Mississippi. It is in the winter months when you will fall in love with it.
The Chestnut is a fantastic choice for a ski family holiday in the Midwest, thanks to its reasonably steep 475-foot drop, 7-acre terrain park that offers individual and group training for learners of all ages, and 19 excellent courses from bunny to black diamond.
The Chestnut Resort, built in 1959, still has a retro aesthetic despite having modern amenities.
The ski-in/ski-out lodge has a posh restaurant and bar with floor-to-ceiling views of Mississippi below. It is remote but near town.
The resort’s ski area is only a 15-minute drive from Galena, which is known for its Victorian architecture, lively streets, cute shops, and exquisite restaurants. This only serves to sweeten the deal.
Thanks to the resort’s available skiing lessons, you may introduce the kids to skiing as early as age 4.
- Great Wolf Lodge — Sandusky
With its 271 guestrooms, an indoor water park with water slides, a lazy river, splash attractions, an outdoor swimming pool, a variety of kid-friendly activities, and a ton of other family-friendly entertainment (it’s even a non-smoking hotel), the Great Wolf Lodge at Sandusky, one of the 14 Great Wolf offerings around the United States, leaves families obsessed.
Various kid-friendly activities are available daily at the lodge, including the Great Clock Tower Show, the MagiQuest adventure, and Story Time.
Families can make use of complimentary Pack n’ Play cribs (albeit they are first-come, first-served), as well as free Wi-Fi, while children can have fun too with the resort’s kids’ program and game area.
Even more activities, such as the Wolf Walk Trek, Creation Station, and Cub Club, as well as the seasonal Snowland and Howl-o-ween, can be enjoyed there.
Regarding accommodations, visitors can pick from a variety of suites, including family suites, double queen suites, queen sofa suites, family fireplace suites, wolf den suites, whirlpool fireplace suites, KidCabin suites, loft fireplace suites, and royal bear suites.
All accommodations include coffeemakers, microwaves, refrigerators, flat-screen TVs, complimentary Wi-Fi, and water park passes for each guest.
Additionally, the hotel provides children’s essentials, including Suave Kids 2-in-1 Shampoo, Scooops Body Wash, and Boogie wipes.
With so many eating options at the Great Wolf Lodge, some of which even have kid-friendly menus, visitors are loaded with choices.
For their unique, delicious offerings, visit Dunkin Donuts, Gitchigoomie Grill, Hungry as a Wolf, Buckets Incredible Craveables, and Beat Paw Sweets and Eats.
Ready to Go!
Even though this isn’t a comprehensive list, I think the resorts included here are some of the greatest family-friendly resorts in the Midwest. These resorts may add a whole new level of fun to any Midwest family vacation.
From the youngest to the oldest guests, these resorts have something for everyone – including pets!
Bear these in mind when making travel plans for the best Midwest family vacation.