How we planned our American Midwest road trip

How we planned our American Midwest road trip on Falcondale Life. A route from Minneapolis to Nebraska and Iowa taking in the Trout Trail cycle route and the Spam Museum. A more unusual American holiday for a family.We had two aims on our family trip to the USA and planned everything around them. The first aim (and the whole point, really) was to see my brother and family in New York state, a 5 hour drive north of New York. The second aim was to see the total eclipse on Monday 21st August and we had a choice of locations for that. We had been saving KLM/Delta frequent flyer points for the last ten years to do this trip, so our travel was always going to be dictated by the airline route map.

We flew into New York and it seemed a good opportunity to see the city for a few days. Then we rented a car in Manhattan on a one-way arrangement to drive up to see my brother’s family. They’re not far from Niagara Falls so of course we didn’t want to miss a chance to see that too. We dropped the car at Buffalo Niagara airport, and the one-way charge wasn’t too expensive as it’s still within New York state.

Midwest road trip on Falcondale life blog. Open road, USA.

Picking a Midwest Location

From there we had choices. The eclipse ran on a line through Oregon in the north west, through many Midwest states down to South Carolina in the south east. Good options included Wyoming for country and Nashville for culture. However there was a high risk of cloud in Nashville, and Wyoming had sky high prices. Oregon was too far many other places had higher risk of cloud. We picked Nebraska in the Midwest, which we could reach in a six hour drive from the Delta airlines hub of Minneapolis. M was quite keen to show us the Mall of America which he has been to before.

Airline Booking Tricks

We booked our return flight to the UK to start in Niagara (Buffalo airport) and it was routed via Minneapolis as the big Delta airlines hub. We simply stopped our return journey for ten days in Minneapolis before continuing back to the UK. It meant that on paper we had one inbound and one outbound journey which made it cheaper. Otherwise we would have had to pay extra for our internal flight from Buffalo to Minneapolis. I should point out that it was the KLM desk at Schipol who thought up this booking arrangement, and very clever of them too!

How we planned our American Midwest road trip on Falcondale Life. A route from Minneapolis to Nebraska and Iowa taking in the Trout Trail cycle route and the Spam Museum. Total eclipse.

We flew from Buffalo to Minneapolis on the Saturday before the eclipse, hired a car and drove six hours south and west to Lincoln, Nebraska. That was a long day! Everyone managed a nap in the car at some point so we survived alright. We had one free day, then the eclipse day, then checked out. With only six nights left in the USA and plans to visit Mall of America, we didn’t have time to go far.

Finding the Caboose

I began to research Midwest tourist attractions and national parks in the area between Nebraska and Minneapolis. I didn’t find a lot but I did discover that Iowa is renowned for its leisure bike paths. We love a family bike ride on our holidays so I researched a few routes and checked they had bike rental locally. Then I searched Airbnb for accommodation nearby. That’s when I found this absolute gem.

How we planned our American Midwest road trip on Falcondale Life. A route from Minneapolis to Nebraska and Iowa taking in the Trout Trail cycle route and the Spam Museum.

This is a “Caboose” or an American railway guard’s carriage. It’s been converted into holiday accommodation on a farm near Decorah, Iowa. To me, this is peak Airbnb. It’s a vacation rental which is just not run-of-the-mill. Also, my husband and daughters love railways and are making an elaborate N-gauge model at home. The beds were so comfortable, the details were original, the fittings were high quality. Outside, wild west ponies cantered in front of the sunset as we watched from the deck. We landed on our feet with this one and took the opportunity to relax and read books.

How we planned our American Midwest road trip on Falcondale Life. A route from Minneapolis to Nebraska and Iowa taking in the Trout Trail cycle route and the Spam Museum. Wild west ponies.

Trout Trail Bike Path

We did cycle the Trout Trail around Decorah and it was a slightly tricky route. Despite the name we rarely saw the river and it’s a very hilly trail with some sharp and fast corners. It is an especially laid track with some good benches and a few picnic spots. The wildlife was colourful, we definitely needed bug spray and the crickets were deafening. The best sights were the bald eagles, deer, huge butterflies the size of our hands, 15mm long ants, caterpillars the size of my thumb and a red and orange snake (perhaps a garter snake). I failed to get photos of the scampering and swooping wildlife but the wild flower meadows were abundant and beautiful. For $20 per bike I think it was an expensive day out, but a unique experience.

How we planned our American Midwest road trip on Falcondale Life. A route from Minneapolis to Nebraska and Iowa taking in the Trout Trail cycle route and the Spam Museum. How we planned our American Midwest road trip on Falcondale Life. A route from Minneapolis to Nebraska and Iowa taking in the Trout Trail cycle route and the Spam Museum. Wild flower meadow in Iowa.

Spam Museum

After three nights in the Caboose we drove up to Minneapolis for our last three nights in the Midwest and a chance to tour the Mall of America. It was a two and a half hour trip and we stopped on the way to see the Spam Museum. There are some museums for odd things in this world and I am certain that the Spam Museum is one of the most slick, glitzy and entertaining. It’s free to enter and we amused ourselves there for a good hour. I think the pictures speak for themselves. It’s just a pity we couldn’t bring some unusual Spam flavours home to the UK, but customs rules forbid it.

How we planned our American Midwest road trip on Falcondale Life. A route from Minneapolis to Nebraska and Iowa taking in the Trout Trail cycle route and the Spam Museum. How we planned our American Midwest road trip on Falcondale Life. A route from Minneapolis to Nebraska and Iowa taking in the Trout Trail cycle route and the Spam Museum.

More Midwest Ideas

Researching the Midwest region of the USA led me to find things that most British people don’t normally visit. If you yearn for a more unusual trip to the USA perhaps also consider these places which we couldn’t fit in for time: Mount Rushmore in South Dakota; Rapid City for cowboys and hoedowns; the northern Wisconsin coast on lake Superior for boating; Okoboji for a relaxing Lakeside resort with facilities and nearby theme park; the covered bridges of Madison County in Iowa; the Wisconsin Dells for family waterpark resorts; Car Henge (like Stonehenge but made of cars) and the covered wagon destination of Scott’s Bluff in western Nebraska. And don’t forget that Minnesota is the state of ten thousand lakes, so all the water sports are covered!

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18 Comments

  1. 25th September 2017 / 11:54 am

    Wow what a trip! I bet that took some planning but totally worth it. I need to be more organised about our trips!

    • 1st October 2017 / 11:13 pm

      Some of the accommodation was booked quite last minute after a mix-up but we got there in the end 🙂

  2. 23rd September 2017 / 12:00 pm

    I’ve always wanted to do a road trip across the US. The Spam Museum looks awesome!

    • 1st October 2017 / 11:13 pm

      It’s a big country – we only saw a little really!

  3. 23rd September 2017 / 10:05 am

    The SPAM museum/play centre looks hilarious! Great tips on planning and looks like a fab holiday x

    • 23rd September 2017 / 11:12 am

      They’ve got some Monty Python spamalot tributes going on too, very amusing!

  4. 23rd September 2017 / 8:41 am

    I would love to do an American road trip! The caboose looks amazing – would never have thought of staying in one 🙂

  5. 22nd September 2017 / 4:36 pm

    Wow what an amazing trip for you all. The Spam Museum looks like so much fun, what a shame you couldn’t bring any back!

  6. 22nd September 2017 / 1:37 pm

    Omg that’s some trip! We did Memphis and Nashville for our honeymoon a few years back and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
    I’m really jealous of your tip by the way !!!

    • 1st October 2017 / 11:20 pm

      Memphis and Nashville would be full of cultural delights, how fabulous.

  7. 22nd September 2017 / 12:58 pm

    Amazing! I’ve always dreamed of doing an American road trip and an adventure around the mid west looks like so much fun!

    • 22nd September 2017 / 1:02 pm

      There’s such a lot we couldn’t see, it’s a big country!

  8. 22nd September 2017 / 12:45 pm

    First off, I couldn’t even read your title before feeling insanely jealous! Wow! Loved every bit of reading that, so envious! Absolutely love unusual places to stay and we would love that caboose!

    • 22nd September 2017 / 1:01 pm

      Glad it grabbed your interest – it’s off the main tourist trails but we managed to find some fun stuff.

  9. Melanie
    22nd September 2017 / 8:25 am

    I always find planning my holidays a big stress so I really liked reading how you narrowed down the options to plan yours and how you went about it. After all it is always good to remind ourselves you can’t see everything! Sounds a fantastic trip. Fancy an American road trip myself!

    • 22nd September 2017 / 10:43 am

      Thank you, it was a bit annoying to have a long list of things we couldn’t do, but then America is a very big country. Once we decided that relaxation was a valid way to spend time, we felt more chilled about booking things!

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