This was a really fun road trip as there’s a great mix of things to see and do for families of all sizes and ages. As of the date of this writing, you only need a Passport Card to drive to Canada. So, you can save some money by getting Passport Cards for the kids instead of full passports.
Day One: Depart for Springfield,Il with final destination being Toledo,OH
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Milage from Springfield,Il to Toledo: 417 miles or 6.5 hours
Day Two: Depart Toledo, OH for Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Milage from Toledo to Niagara Falls: 293 Miles or 5 hours ( not too bad, right?)
We stayed at the Marriott Niagara Falls and it was AMAZING!
After check-in, we went straight to the Hornblower Cruise area to get our tickets for a close-up view of the falls. This is such a must and our boys loved it! Prepare to get wet so make sure to protect phones and other electronic items. Tip: I brought along a large zip-loc freezer bag in which to place our phones.
We enjoyed walking around Niagara Falls the rest of the day and evening.
Day Three: Wake up for breakfast, get a morning look at the Falls and then head to Mackinac Island, MI
Note: We stayed the night in St. Ignace,MI, but you may decide to go ahead and take the ferry and stay the night on the island.
Milage from Niagara Falls, Ontario to Mackinac Island,MI: 532 miles or 8.5 ( I promise it is totally worth it!)
Frankenmuth is called Michigan’s “Little Bavaria”. For lunch, we ate at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant, which was not only a fun atmosphere but more importantly, it was good food. There are lots of shops within the immediate vicinity, including the world famous Bronner’s Christmas Store.
Day Four: Take a ferry from St. Ignace to Mackinac Island,MI.
Mackinac Island is truly magical. No cars are allowed on the island; only horses, and in the winter snowmobiles. You can also rent bicycles and get around the island that way as well. To have a day with no car noise pollution, no honking horns or being stuck at a stoplight is amazing! The island is full of cute stores, restaurants and, of course, their famous fudge is available at a few different fudge shops. Note that all of the “taxis” on the island are truly horsepower-based as well. A stay or visit to the Grand Hotel is a must!
After taking the ferry back to St. Ignace, we headed down the Western Coast of Michigan toward South Bend,IN.
Milage from St. Ignace to South Bend,IN: 365 miles or 7.5 hours ( yes, you will make it to South Bend late. However, you are now a full-fledged road warrior and can do this!)
Stops: Holland,Michigan ( a beautiful area of Michigan and, if you’re there in the Spring, you can see the Tulip Festival).
Day 5: Depart South Bend, IN to Hannibal,MO
Mileage: 370 miles or 5.5 hours
Stop off: Mark Twain boyhood home and museum
The Mark Twain boyhood home and museum is really neat. You can visit Mark Twain’s Boyhood Home (a National Historic Landmark), Becky Thatcher’s House, Huckleberry Finn House, J.M. Clemens (Justice of the Peace Office), Interpretive Center and the Museum Gallery for one ticket Price. There are interactive exhibits and memorabilia. Hannibal hosts quite a few festivals and concerts throughout the year. Definitely take the time and check it out.
Day 6: Hannibal,MO to Boonville, MO
Mileage: 104 miles or 2.5 hours
If you make reservations ahead of time, you can visit the Anheuser-Busch Warm Springs Ranch. This is the home of the Budweiser Clydesdales. For 2019, guided tours are available from March-November. You can take a photo with a Clydesdale, have a Budweiser Beer ( for those over 21 of course) and see the 1903 beer wagon ( Note: The tour is ADA compliant and accessible for the disabled – all paths are flat, level and paved).
This road trip covers a lot of ground. While it may even seem overly ambitious, it’s well worth the energy. Our boys loved this trip and were excited to tell their friends about it. Being able to see Niagara Falls in person was awe-inspiring , to say the least. Showing our boys Mark Twain’s home was a joy for us and it even inspired our oldest to read more of Twain’s writings. Ever since I watched Somewhere in Time as a teenager ( if you haven’t seen it, find it and DVR it), I have dreamt of going to Mackinac Island (and it was everything that I hoped it would be and more).
We love everything history and were super excited to start our trip with visiting Abraham Lincoln’s home. Great news for families… visiting the site and even the tour of the home is free. Just be sure to arrive early and reserve your time for the home tour.