Summer Road Trips: Midwestern Wine Trails

The call of the open road is as booming as ever. As far as domestic leisure travel is concerned, more Americans are opting to go by way of the automobile. Whether it’s due to the flexibility of packing heavy and stopping at will along the way or the nostalgia of highway getaways, road trips are back! The Summer Road Trips series offers destinations for the perfect American road trip.

The popularity of artisan beverages has led to an explosion of wineries across the country in recent years. While California is still the king of wine production here in the States, there are plenty of wine trails in the Midwest that can give you the Sonoma experience in the Heartland.

Lake Erie Trail (Ohio)

The moderating lake effect has made the region from Toledo to Buffalo a prime wine-growing spot since the 19th century. Visitors can enjoy a covered bridge driving tour across northern Ohio while stopping in at a variety of wineries, from the giant Debonné Vineyards to the quaint yet acclaimed Markko Vineyard.

Markko Vineyard

Door County Trail (Wisconsin)

In Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan peninsula, eight wineries make up the Door County Wine Trail that takes visitors through the “Cape Cod of the Midwest.” Boasting the same latitudinal planes as the wine regions of Burgundy and Bordeaux, Door County’s established wine scene offers traditional varietals as well as sweet fruit wines to accommodate every palate. Visitors can be sure to stay active and entertained given the peninsula’s reputation for hospitality.

House and a light house
Canal Station Lighthouse, Photo by Greg Tally

Uplands Trail (Indiana)

Since the 1960s, winemaking on the plateau of south central Indiana has taken off. The Uplands Trail, stretching from Brown County to Bloomington to French Lick, features the nationally ranked Oliver Winery and Vineyards, a destination for fruit wines like Apple Pie, Cherry Cobbler, and Blueberry Moscato. The historic West Baden Springs and the Hoosier National Forest provide sundry excursions for this route.

A vinyard at sunset
Oliver Winery’s Creekbend Vineyard

Shawnee Hills Trail (Illinois)

Eleven wineries sit in the Shawnee Hills of southern Illinois, where limestone and sandstone formations tower over the rolling hills of a burgeoning wine industry. In 25 miles, the trail passes through small towns and the Shawnee National Forest, boasting quaint B&Bs, fall color, and — of course — wine. Blue Sky Vineyard offers a Tuscan setting and estate-grown vino, and Von Jakob houses a brewery as well as a winery.

Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods in Shawnee National Forest

Hermann Trail (Missouri)

Along the Missouri River, six family-owned wineries make up the Hermann Trail near the German town of Hermann. The Adam Puchta Winery bills itself as the oldest continuously-owned family winery in the country; the current owner is a seventh generation winemaker. Two miles north of Hermann is the Katy Trail, the nation’s longest rails-to-trails project at 240 miles.

Photo of Harmann, Missouri. Shows streets, homes, and trees
Hermann, Missouri, Photo by Dave Keiser

Glacial Hills Trail (Kansas)

Outside of Topeka and Lawrence, four family-owned wineries take advantage of the rich prairie soil created by receding glaciers in the area. A quiet Kansas getaway can include an affordable stay at the Crescent Moon Winery or Jefferson Hill Vineyards, and a day boating or hiking at nearby Perry Lake.

Lake side
Crescent Moon Winery

Loess Hills Trail (Iowa)

The silty hills of western Iowa were formed by sand-blown deposits toward the end of the last ice age. While loess soil is common in North America, nowhere is it deeper than in this special grape-growing region. All nine of the trail’s participating wineries commit to sustainable practices for producing wine from the delicate soils of the region. The Loess Hills Scenic Byway twists up through the unique landscape and past the wine destinations.

Green hills and woods
Photo by Billy Bluejay


Viking lore is at the heart of the Skål Crawl in lake-rich central Minnesota. The short trail includes a winery, a brewery, and a whiskey distillery near historic Alexandria. Small groups can imbibe Minnesotan beverages and visit Big Ole, the tallest Viking statue in North America, and the Runestone Museum, a tribute to the mythological Scandinavian history of Minnesota.

Skål Crawl logo

Summer Road Trips: Unplugged Travel

The call of the open road is as booming as ever. As far as domestic leisure travel is concerned, more Americans are opting to go by way of the automobile. Whether it’s due to the flexibility of packing heavy and stopping at will along the way or the nostalgia of highway getaways, road trips are back! In this series, we offer destinations for the perfect American road trip.

Nowadays, the best way to recharge is to unplug. Stow away your tech devices and grab a paper map to make the most of your road trip. Here are some U.S. destinations where going off-grid is in.


Red Rock Ranch

Bridger-Teton National Forest, U.S. Forest Service

Your cell phone won’t receive a signal at this dude ranch in the Bridger-Teton National Forest near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. With private cabins, horseback riding, fly fishing, and square dancing, an all-inclusive getaway at the western retreat is a great way to leave your worries — and e-mail notifications — behind.


Out’n’About Treesort

Photo by Nicolás Boullosa

Stay in a real-life themed treehouse at this bed and breakfast near the Oregon-California border. Families, couples, and solo travelers can enjoy hiking in nearby Siskiyou National Forest, where waterfalls and the northernmost natural redwoods meet the Pacific coast. The “treesort” also offers a zipline tour of its grounds as well as horseback rides and river rafting.


Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold

Photo by Ryan Stanton

This ornate palace was built by untrained devotees of Krishna consciousness in the 1970s in New Vrindaban, West Virginia. The history of the palace and its founders is rife with scandalous intrigue, but the community has worked to clean up its reputation in recent years and attract the spiritually curious to its cow-and-peacock-filled grounds. The palace lodge warns of a “fairly weak and sometimes unreliable” Wi-Fi signal, but guests can enjoy vegetarian dining and seasonal celebrations and retreats app-free.


Maine Windjammer Cruise


Sailing with Maine Windjammer Cruises guarantees a unique vacation aboard a completely wind-powered historic schooner around the islands of Maine. Each cruise is unpredictable since the route depends on weather and wind direction, but you’re sure to experience the surrounding harbor seals and gulls on spruce-covered islands and a signature lobster bake. The company has been taking passengers around the Maine islands since 1936. They didn’t need an iPad to do it then, and you don’t need one for it now.


Camp Wandawega


A stay at this Wisconsin camp is like travelling back in time to the summer camp of your childhood — without the rules and counselors. Like a Wes Anderson film set, Camp Wandawega is meticulously designed and furnished with vintage wares, from the canoes on Lake Wandawega to the hardcover books lining each cabin. There are plenty of activities available, like archery, volleyball, cycling, and evening campfires, and the retro feel might make you forget laptops exist.


Big Bend

Photo by Blair Pittman, 1973

Between the Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park in West Texas is Terlingua, a ghost town. Throughout the region are limitless opportunities for hiking, camping, and exploring the mountainous desert terrain. In Terlingua, visitors are encouraged to check out the abandoned mining town before trying the chili at Starlight Theatre. In November, the “Superbowl of chili cook-offs” takes place in Terlingua.


Hot Springs, Virginia


The first hotel was built on the site of the town’s natural hot springs in 1766. Since then, The Homestead — now The Omni Homestead Resort — has hosted 23 presidents to relax in the property’s restorative baths. Unfortunately, the Jefferson Pools — the local favorite bathhouse that Thomas Jefferson reportedly visited in 1818 — have been closed due to structural issues, but the mineral-rich, crystal clear waters are said to have been used by Native Americans for more than 9,000 years.