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America's heartland travel guide and family vacation ideas in red states
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Blaze News original: 7 red-state vacation ideas across America's heartland that embrace conservative family values

This travel guide presents family vacation ideas for seven red-state destinations offering a unique glimpse into the heart and soul of conservative America.

Embarking on a vacation through America's heartland promises a tapestry of fulfilling experiences that honor the core of conservative family values and traditions. These red-state travel treasures offer a rich array of soul-enriching experiences that will not only provide cherished memories that will last a lifetime but also strengthen the loving bonds with your family members.

Setting out on a journey through America's heartland ensures a captivating blend of varying landscapes, cultures, and heritage. These red-state travel destinations offer something for everyone. Whether you're in search of thrilling outdoor adventures, cultural immersion, or a peaceful retreat in a charming small town, America's heartland welcomes you with a dream getaway.

The travel guide for America's heartland provides vacation ideas from iconic American landmarks to discovering hidden gems that are off the beaten path. Each travel destination in these seven red states offers a unique glimpse into the heart and soul of conservative America.

Join us as we explore seven red-state travel destinations across America's heartland that embrace conservative family values.

Dubuque, Iowa

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Chartered in 1837, Dubuque stands as Iowa's oldest city and is steeped in history. There is a wealth of well-preserved architecture, historic sites, museums, and landmarks that offer glimpses into its rich past.

  • Diamond Jo Casino: Test your luck at this lively casino offering a range of gaming options alongside live entertainment and dining venues.
  • Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens: Take a leisurely stroll through meticulously landscaped gardens featuring a collection of plants, flowers, and sculptures, including the serene Japanese Garden and the enchanting Hosta Glade.
  • Dubuque Star Brewery: Delve into the rich history of this historic brewery that was founded by the Rhomberg family in 1898. The five-story brick brewery offers guided tours, where you'll learn about the brewing process and savor samples of locally crafted beers.
  • Dubuque Farmers' Market: Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the farmers' market, featuring fresh produce, handmade crafts, and delectable local treats while enjoying live music.
  • Fenelon Place Elevator: Experience the thrill of riding the world's shortest, steepest scenic railway to the bluff's peak for breathtaking tristate views overlooking the Mississippi River and downtown Dubuque.
  • "Field of Dreams": Roughly 25 miles west of Dubuque is the iconic cornfield baseball park movie site from the 1989 film "Field of Dreams," starring Kevin Costner.
  • Eagle Point Park: Indulge in picnics, hiking, and scenic panoramic vistas overlooking the majestic Mississippi River from this charming park nestled atop a bluff.
  • Historic District: Step back in time as you wander through Dubuque's well-preserved historic district, showcasing exquisite 19th-century architecture, including Victorian homes, churches, and other architectural landmarks.
  • Mississippi River cruises: Embark on a memorable cruise along the majestic Mississippi River aboard one of Dubuque's riverboats, offering scenic sightseeing, delightful dining experiences, and themed cruises.
  • National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium: Immerse yourself in the history, culture, and wildlife of the Mississippi River region through captivating exhibits and freshwater habitats teeming with marine life.
  • Riverwalk: Enjoy a leisurely walk along the scenic Riverwalk, tracing the Mississippi River through downtown Dubuque and offering picturesque views of the river, bridges, and historic landmarks.

Put-in-Bay, Ohio

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Put-in-Bay is a historic village in Ohio that sits on South Bass Island — an idyllic retreat located in Lake Erie. Put-in-Bay boasts a rich history, especially its significance during the War of 1812. In 1813, the Battle of Lake Erie was a pivotal naval engagement during the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain. Americans dealt a huge blow to the British by winning the battle, asserting dominance in the Great Lakes, and capturing a pivotal and strategic supply route.

  • Aquatic Visitors Center: Families can get a hands-on education about beautiful Lake Erie and its unique ecosystem.
  • Beer Barrel Saloon: This tavern boasts the world's longest bar, which is 405 feet and 10 inches long.
  • Butterfly House at Perry's Cave: This alluring walk-through greenhouse is home to hundreds of colorful butterflies from around the world. The beautiful butterfly habitat is part of the Perry's Cave Family Fun Center, which also features a cave, gemstone mining, and mini-golf.
  • Heineman's Winery: Established in 1888, it's the oldest family-owned and operated winery in Ohio. Visitors can tour the winery and explore the nearby Crystal Cave.
  • Island hopping: Visitors can take ferries or charter boats to venture out and explore neighboring islands like Middle Bass Island and Kelleys Island.
  • Lake Erie Islands Historical Society Museum: This cultural institution showcases exhibits and artifacts that highlight the rich history and heritage of the Lake Erie Islands region. The Lake Erie Islands Historical Society Museum displays maritime history, local wildlife, and significance of the islands during the War of 1812.
  • Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial: This commemoratory monument is the world's tallest Doric column. This 352-foot-high structure pays tribute to Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry's decisive naval victory at the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. There is also an observation deck providing fantastic views of Lake Erie and the surrounding islands.
  • South Bass Island State Park: This scenic recreational retreat offers natural beauty, birdwatching, camping, fishing, swimming, and picnicking.

Red River Gorge, Kentucky

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Outdoor activity enthusiasts will find no shortage of endeavors in Red River Gorge, Kentucky. The area offers several physical activities, such as world-class rock climbing, kayaking, hiking, biking, and zip-lining. The region is rich in history and was explored by legendary American frontiersman Daniel Boone in the late 18th century.

  • Daniel Boone National Forest: This woodland area spans more than 708,000 acres across 21 counties in Eastern Kentucky, touts over 600 miles of trails to two federally recognized wildernesses, and has more than 250 recreation sites. The Daniel Boone National Forest encompasses much of the Red River Gorge area, and is a wonderful location for hiking, biking, camping, climbing, kayaking, and wildlife observation.
  • Kick up your heels at a hoedown: The Natural Bridge Resort Park offers a jubilant hoedown every Saturday in the summer that has been happening for nearly 50 years. The festive event features family fun for all ages with traditional Appalachian music, line dancing, square dancing, polkas, clogging, and a community celebration.
  • Kentucky Reptile Zoo: This unique experience offers families the opportunity to see over 80 species of reptiles, including venomous snakes, lizards, and turtles. There are hands-on educational lessons, including venom extraction demonstrations.
  • Scenic drives: The Red River Gorge Scenic Byway and the Nada Tunnel provide incredible sights of the rugged terrain and forested landscapes.
  • Skylift at Natural Bridge: Travel enthusiasts can take in awe-inspiring and sweeping views of the Natural Bridge State Resort Park and the Red River Gorge Geological Area by taking the Skylift to the top. The Natural Bridge is a magnificent, natural sandstone arch that spans an impressive 78 feet and is over 65 feet high. Hikers can also take advantage of the natural beauty of Henson's Arch Trail.
  • The gorge underground: Undertake an aquatic adventure unlike any other. Kayak your way through a 100-year-old flooded limestone to discover the secrets of the Gorge Underground. Paddle through the darkness of the Gorge Grotto in an underground guided tour.
  • Zip-line through the gorge: Soar up to 300 feet off the ground on five different zip lines that stretch 1,900 feet.

The Black Hills, South Dakota

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Nestled in the heart of the American Midwest, the Black Hills of South Dakota beckon travelers to relish an environment of natural wonders, patriotic points of interest, and historic landmarks. History buffs, nature enthusiasts, bikers, and outdoor adventurers will all find something to pique their interest in the picturesque Black Hills.

  • Badlands National Park: Roughly 70 miles from the Black Hills is the dramatic geological landscape of the Badlands National Park. Striking rock formations, rugged peaks, and deep gorges await curious travelers. Visitors can embark on hiking, nature-watching, and even get a glimpse into the prehistoric past by exploring fossil beds containing remnants of saber-toothed cats and ancient rhinoceri.
  • Black Hills National Forest: This 1.2-million-acre forest offers recreational activities, such as hiking, biking, fishing, and camping amid stunning natural surroundings.
  • Crazy Horse Memorial: Learn about Native American culture and history at this memorial for the great Oglala Lakota leader. The monument is being carved out of Thunderhead Mountain, which is 6,532 feet above sea level. The sculpture was started in 1948 and is the world's largest mountain carving in progress. Once completed, the finished sculpture of Lakota Warrior Crazy Horse upon his steed will be 563 feet high and 641 feet long.
  • Custer State Park: Named after Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer, this gigantic park stretches over 71,000 acres. The park is also a nature preserve with bison, elk, and prairie dogs.
  • Evans Plunge and the Mammoth Site: Splash in hot springs and gawk at prehistoric mammoths by taking a trip to Hot Springs, South Dakota. Float in the spring-fed warm natural mineral water of Evans Plunge — a hot spring that stays a toasty 87 degrees year-round. The Mammoth Site brings you back to prehistoric times with the fossils of 61 young mammoths and other Ice Age animals preserved in a sinkhole.
  • Historic Deadwood: The Wild West lives in this Gold Rush town featuring well-preserved casinos, shops, restaurants, and saloons. The infamous frontier ghosts of Deadwood's yesteryear — such as Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane — still haunt the charming town. Deadwood offers travelers museums, cultural events, and historical reenactments.
  • Mount Rushmore National Memorial: Admire the natural splendor of the must-see monuments dedicated to American icons. Set 5,725 feet above sea level on Mount Rushmore sits the 60-foot-tall granite heads of four United States presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. During the summer months, there is an inspirational 45-minute show focusing on the presidents, patriotism, and the nation's history. The program is followed by the lighting of the memorial.
  • Sturgis Motorcycle Rally: Every August, hundreds of thousands of bikers make the pilgrimage to Sturgis for one of the world's largest motorcycle rallies. The biker celebration features motorcycle shows, races, live music concerts, and other entertainment activities.

Traverse City, Michigan

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A splendid summer vacation for the entire family is available to those who travel to Traverse City, Michigan. Set along the shores of Lake Michigan's Grand Traverse Bay, this charming getaway boasts scenic seascapes and cultural richness.

  • Downtown Traverse City: The downtown area offers art galleries, cafes, farm-to-table dining, museums, parks, shopping, and theaters.
  • Great Lakes beaches: Near Traverse City are several sandy shores to relax, including Clinch Park Beach, Bryant Park Beach, West End Beach, East Bay Park, and Old Mission Peninsula.
  • Mission Point Lighthouse: A historic lighthouse located on the Old Mission Peninsula presents awe-inspiring views of Lake Michigan. Mission Point Lighthouse was built in 1870 to help ships navigate through Grand Traverse Bay and Lake Michigan. There is a museum featuring exhibits on maritime history.
  • National Cherry Festival: The area is renowned as the cherry capital of the world. To celebrate, there is a National Cherry Festival in Traverse City every July. There are cherry-themed food tastings, cherry pit-spitting contests, pie-eating contests, farmers markets, air shows, farm tours, and parades.
  • Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore: This unique locale was named the "Most Beautiful Place in America" by ABC’s Good Morning America in 2011. Spanning more than 35 miles on Lake Michigan's eastern coastline, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore features verdant forests, crystal-clear lakes, and unique flora and fauna. Hikers are treated to approximately 100 miles of natural trails to explore.

Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri

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Lake of the Ozarks offers visitors a myriad of different activities and attractions for the best summer vacation. Situated in the northern part of the Ozarks in central Missouri, this vacation spot offers something for everyone — including boating, golfing, shopping, fishing, water sports, and hiking. There are challenging golf courses, waterparks, amusement parks, majestic natural parks, and world-class entertainment.

  • Branson, Missouri: A two-hour car ride will get you to Branson, Missouri. Known as the "Live Entertainment Capital of the World," Branson showcases a variety of entertainment options such as live music, magic shows, impersonators, and equestrian acts. There is also a museum dedicated to the Titanic ship.
  • Bagnell Dam Strip: This historic district is known for its boutique shops, restaurants, lively entertainment, and serene views of the lake.
  • Big Surf Waterpark: A family-friendly waterpark featuring exhilarating water slides, wave pools, lazy rivers, and surf lessons.
  • Caves and caverns: Nearby attractions like Bridal Cave and Jacob's Cave offer guided tours through stunning underground formations.
  • Golf courses: There are several golf courses in the Lake of the Ozarks area. These golf courses greet golfers of all skill levels and feature scenic views of Missouri, challenging layouts, and 27 holes of championship golf designed by Arnold Palmer at the Osage National Golf Resort.
  • Ha Ha Tonka State Park: This natural park captivates travelers with scenic hiking trails, natural bridges, sinkholes, and castle ruins.
  • Lake of the Ozarks State Park: Missouri's largest state park boasts sandy beaches, hiking trails, horseback riding, picnic areas, boat rentals, campgrounds, and lantern-lit tours of the Ozark Caverns.
  • Ozarks Amphitheater: This outdoor concert venue nestled amid the scenic splendor of the Ozark Mountains hosts a variety of top-notch live music performances and events throughout the year.
  • Silver Dollar City: This Branson-based amusement park celebrates the 1880s Ozark Mountain culture. The theme park touts thrilling rides, live entertainment, and interactive attractions.

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

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"Wisconsin" is derived from the Native American word meaning "dark rushing waters," and "Dells" is an anglicized version of the French word "dalles," which means "layers of flat rock." Wisconsin Dells is renowned for its unique geological structures and distinctive rock formations created by glacial activity thousands of years ago along the Wisconsin River. Wisconsin Dells is an ideal destination for families seeking a memorable vacation filled with thrilling attractions for travelers of all ages.

Waterparks: Wisconsin Dells is known as the "Waterpark Capital of the World," featuring exciting water slides, lazy rivers, and wave pools. You can visit the Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park, Kalahari Resorts, and Noah's Ark Waterpark — the largest waterpark in the United States.

Natural attractions: Wisconsin Dells boasts a myriad of stunning natural attractions. Take a boat or paddle on a kayak through the Dells of the Wisconsin River. Witches Gulch is a narrow, winding canyon that is accessible by boat. Visitors can go hiking, fishing, and camping at Mirror Lake State Park or go rock climbing at Devil's Lake State Park. Visitors can take a horse-drawn carriage tour of Lost Canyon — the deepest and longest land canyon in Wisconsin. A segment of this long-distance hiking trail passes near Wisconsin Dells, providing an opportunity to explore glacial landscapes and enjoy scenic vistas of the region’s natural beauty.

Family-friendly activities: Kids can feed and pet various deer species at the Wisconsin Deer Park. Learn about the history of the circus by exploring exhibits at the Circus World Museum. The Tommy Bartlett Exploratory is an interactive science museum that offers a hands-on learning experience for visitors of all ages with more than 175 interactive exhibits about physics, astronomy, and robotics. Wild Fun Zone is an indoor amusement park with arcade games, laser tag, and mini-golf.

Original Wisconsin Ducks: This tourist attraction offers the largest fleet of authentic World War II-era amphibious duck vehicles in the nation. Travelers are treated to one-of-a-kind sightseeing adventure tours of land and water spanning the Wisconsin River, Dell Creek, Lake Delton, and miles of wilderness trails.

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Paul Sacca

Paul Sacca

Paul Sacca is a staff writer for Blaze News.
@Paul_Sacca →