Back Roads of USA Midwest Road Trip

Back Roads of USA

Midwest Road Trip

Back Roads of USA – Quaint Charm and Style

Back Roads of USA

©Exploramum and Explorason – Hals Garage has a traditional charm

Today we have a terrible wet weather as we drive on the back roads of the USA, but we hope to drive through some little quaint towns. We use the GPS on ‘avoid motorways’. We have a great map book from a friend, and decide that today is ‘Funny names of towns day’ and we are off on a hunt. We are looking forward to jogging our minds through this fun-filled single parent family adventure. Just as it is said by luxury travel experts, if you are traveling with kids, try and make them feel like they are part of the journey. It is for this reason that I always try to ensure that whatever we do is something that both of us will enjoy.

Remember it is freezing, and my son is seven, so he understandably refuses to leave the vehicle to help with photographs. Some are taken through the window of the car.


Back Roads of USA

©Exploramum and Explorason – Assumption

Our first town is ‘Assumption’ on our back roads of USA journey.

We drive onto a few really back lane roads. We find this cute little garage.


Back Roads of USA

©Exploramum and Explorason – Prattville

Our next town is ‘Prattville’. We often call people “prats”, so we like this one.


Back Roads of USA

©Exploramum and Explorason – Frontier

The weather is getting really terrible this day and I think we have hit the wild frontier.  Next is ‘Frontier’ the town so maybe this is where that saying came from?

Bicycle Barn

Back Roads of USA

©Exploramum and Explorason – decorated bicycle barn

We love this barn. It is covered in bicycles and license plates etc. There is way more on the fence and in the yard. I would so have loved to take a peek inside. We do love the unusual and as we collect USA license plates this is of interest to us too.

This is the kind of place you discover when you drive the Back Roads of USA Midwest Road Trip!


Back Roads of USA

©Exploramum and Explorason – Frogeye Montgomery

Next town is ‘Montgomery’. Not so unusual, but it is commonly known as Frogeye.

We head into Montgomery and talk to the post office lady. She sends us to a small township of Camden.

I want ‘Amish’ townships again as I miss them from our time in Pennsylvania. These are different styles of Amish and are also some Mennonites.

We see ‘wagon surfing’ for the boys, and also kids screaming along at a great speed on an open seat pulled by a Shetland pony having so much fun.


Back Roads of USA

©Exploramum and Explorason – Camden – Wagon surfing – no hands

We have been told the main street of Camden has an Amish Bakery.

We couldn’t find that, but we found this one at the side of the farm. This was like heaven. We talked with the dad, and then slowly – one by one some of the eleven kids came out. They do the chores and the baking. They have their own school here at the farm.  I could see the girls sewing. The bakery was so cheap, and the food variety was incredible.

Back Roads of USA

©Exploramum and Explorason – Wonderful Amish family bakery

We drive off with a box full of food to take for Christmas – smells so good!


Back Roads of USA

©Exploramum and Explorason – Lovely lake area

We go via more lakes – it is so pretty, and quiet.  What an amazing discovery and so tranquil.  Back Roads of USA Midwest Road Trip is proving to be a good one today for us.

12 Painted Days Of Christmas

Back Roads of USA

©Exploramum and Explorason – 12 Days of Christmas

We head into a little town I could have stayed at. It has its own version of ’12 days of Christmas’ in the park made up with paintings. It has a fab looking Italian Restaurant – I can smell it.

Explorason enjoys the playground, and then I realize the distance we are yet to cover with our driving. We jump back in the car and head off on our road trip again



Back Roads of USA

©Exploramum and Explorason – Amish Horse and Wagon

We drive towards Shipshewana, Indiana and seem to be crossing borders which we like. We count countries as we travel but in the USA we count states too.

The wagons are different for the Amish from Pennsylvania. The ladies wear bonnets and dress with more style.

Back Roads of USA

©Exploramum and Explorason – Hardware car park or should I say Buggy park!

Visitor Center Shipshewana

The Shipshewana Visitor Center has free yummy roasted coffee and it also has Christmas decorations that can be made for free by the children who enter here. My son loves this and he also hears about an Amish Toy store.  He makes a stack of decorations and we pile them into the car. I think Christmas is special when children make the decorations so I am really happy as his Mum.

Back Roads of USA

©Exploramum and Explorason -Shipshewana Visitor Centre

Amish Shipshewana Hardware

We head off and spend 1 hour in an Amish Hardware – it has so much fun stuff inside and I know – a different place to shop on vacation. Inside it has external house decorations and we are fascinated. All the Amish places are decorated with a metal star on their barns and houses and I want to buy one.  Yeah – I get it at the hardware store and it has a tag explaining about it too! We will post it back to Australia in our next box of goodies.

Owl Toymaker

giant baseball and bat

©Exploramum and Explorason – we find a big baseball bat and ball somewhere along the way

We then go to the Owl Toymaker. We drive along some Country Lanes again for this. His workshop – all wooden toys made here –  is next to the house. My son gets a great tricky box with a spider and he keeps this with him for months as his new favorite trick toy.  It is fun, simple and non-technical.


Back Roads of USA

©Exploramum and Explorason – ‘elephant ears’ Washing

I love seeing the washing all flapping in the breeze and the way the trousers are all hung with the big pockets out like elephant ears.

License Plates

We then go to a vehicle wrecking yard – these are the places you can visit when you have a hire car – things you can’t do on a tour. We want to add to our collection of license plates. He gives us 4 for free and wants no money – yeah! He was so friendly and nice and rings his brother for directions to assist us too.

His brother then tells us where to head for a covered bridge.

Covered Bridges

Back Roads of USA

©Exploramum and Explorason – Covered Bridges

I love covered bridges since my first trip to the USA when I was 21 and discovered on the west coast.

We then find the oldest and longest covered bridge – I think this only for Michigan. We are weaving in and out of states. My son likes to pretend he is driving.

Lil’ Louie’s Pizza

Back Roads of USA

©Exploramum and Explorason – Lil’ Louie’s Pizza

We find a great pizza place with the same name as my son and soon we are tucking into it as we drive and the car smells like a pizza shop – perfect on this winters day on the Back Roads of USA Midwest Road Trip.


Back Roads of USA

©Exploramum and Explorason – My son trying to have his hand and body in two different states.

Now we head to find a motel in Indiana by the lakes. But we are sent back to Michigan for the night.  Gosh, that was a quick trip!



©Exploramum and Explorason – time to relax in New Buffalo

We find a great little motel in New Buffalo which has a kitchenette area, and the managing lady brings my son and me hot chocolates to the room.  I am quite over chain hotels as they lack character and charm.  It’s nice as it parking right out the front which is great when its this cold.

Jimmy’s Bar ‘N’ Grille

There’s a great Bar ‘N’ Grille named Jimmy’s with a fireplace right across the road which means I get a rest from driving. Here at Jimmy’s Bar and Grille where wine is half price on Wednesdays – yeah! We head there and chat with a few nice locals and it is lovely to have a glass of wine sitting in the lounge chair by the fire.  It feels quite glorious really and has quite a lot of style to the place.

I learn from the locals that very few people in the Midwest travel. Don’t bother asking them what there is to be seen in the next town or even which town you can go to from there as they have no idea because they don’t explore much – well so I am told anyway. Most of the locals (I’m told) take highways if they need to go somewhere. Otherwise, they remain in the area and very few do travel.

Snow Storm Ahead

We are warned tonight that tomorrow has a huge snow storm categorized as a blizzard. Schools and shops are closing for the day – yipes.

So we head off early and I jump on the internet. A myriad of Facebook messages is there from concerned friends in America. I decide to take the hire car back a day early. I actually never book hotels online as I have had such a bad run in the past. However, I find a super special offer in the nick of time. I better get there fast.

We have to drive to Chicago to meet our Wisconsin friends tomorrow.  I am an Australian that doesn’t have a lot of snow driving skills.  Let’s see what happens!

Questions and Comments

  • What do you make of our adventurous trip to Midwest  Chicago?
  • What are your experiences from Midwest USA?
  • Do share your comments with us below.

2 thoughts on “Back Roads of USA Midwest Road Trip

  1. I have enjoyed your blog so far but have to say as an Indiana resident, a “Hoosier,” that we DO love to travel all over Indiana! We love visiting museums and really enjoy camping at State parks all over Indiana. 🙂 This year my inlaws found an awesome place to camp at Shipshewana that we hope to stay at next year. So glad you visited our fun state!

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