Exhilarating Midwest Outdoor Adventures to Try This Summer

Crank up the fun as a family with these exciting experiences worth the drive.

When it comes to summer, outdoor adventures might be something that fits on everyone’s list. We tried out some of the adventurous excursions in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota and Nebraska so you’ll know what to expect.

Looking for more travel ideas? Check out our favorite Midwest destinations to visit with kids.

Looking for more kid-friendly activities? Check out our summer fun family guide!

Whitewater rafting in South Bend, Indiana

Get a taste of class 2 whitewater rafting close to home at East Race Waterway in South Bend, Indiana. Open mid-June until early September, this urban adventure might be just the adrenaline rush your family is looking for.

Ride high in Silver Lake Sand Dunes, Michigan

Soaring sand dunes and sugar sand beaches lure families to the Silver Lake Sand Dunes area of Michigan. Off-road in an ATV or UTV for a rush your kids won’t forget. Or, leave the driving to Mac Wood’s Dune Rides and sit back with a smile spread across your face as they take you on a wild ride. Afterward, get out on the water in a boat, WaveRunner or paddleboard rental from Wave Club Water Sports.

Paintball and airsoft park in Alton, Illinois

Near St. Louis in Alton, Illinois, you’ll find Bing Field, the ultimate paintball and airsoft park. Perfect for older kids and birthday parties, experience an epic battle akin to a real-life video game.

Tank down the river in North Platte, Nebraska

Found only in Nebraska, tanking is a fun spin on river floating that involves a round, buoyant livestock watering tank and up to eight of your favorite friends and family. Relax and float down the river, listening to tunes and taking in the scenery. Dusty Trails offers tanks with benches and room for a cooler. You can also go horseback riding, kayaking or canoeing.

Sleep in a floating tent in Troy, Ohio

Camping becomes even more memorable when you sleep in an inflatable, floating tent. Float Troy in Troy, Ohio, offers the only floating tent experience open to the public. Up to two adults and two kids can spend the night per tent on the Miami River late June through early September.

Ride torpedoes and launch humans on East Silent Lake, Minnesota

East Silent Lake Resort in Dent, Minnesota, offers a wholesome, family-friendly escape. Summer means tween activities like riding torpedoes through the water and launching friends and family members into the lake off a giant inflatable. Little kids love the water slide and classic summer games like balloon toss and sack races.

Wakeboard, swim and boat in Crystal Lake, Illinois

The 32-acre, next-generation Quarry Cable Park is in Crystal Lake. Wakeboard over jumps, then hang out lakeside at restaurant, play sand volleyball or baggo and listen to live music. Part of Three Oaks Recreation Park, you can also swim and rent boats at the marina.

Kiteboard and wind wing on southern Lake Michigan

Kids ages 8-12 can experience ultimate thrills kiteboarding or wind winging with Stoke Riders, in St. Joseph, Michigan. Certified instructors provide exhilarating, safety-focused lessons around southern Lake Michigan on windy days.

Parasail over Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan

Aerial views of aquamarine waters can be all yours as you float above Traverse City with Traverse Bay Parasail. A gentle, yet refreshing experience, you’ll walk away with beautiful pictures of your family with joy written all over their faces.

Zip down an alpine slide in Thompsonville, Michigan

Michigan’s only alpine coaster is the 1,700-foot Crystal Coaster at Crystal Mountain Resort. Dips and turns make the slide a laugh fest. Other summer activities include disc golf, bike riding, swimming, climbing, archery, pickleball, laser tag and more.

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Cortney Fries
Cortney Fries
An award-winning travel journalist, Cortney Fries (pronounced "freeze") has been writing about family travel for over a decade. She knows that parents planning trips are looking for all members to have fun and make lasting memories. Cortney believes that you should definitely try anything that makes you slightly nervous.


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