Interstate 90 (AKA I-90), is a coast-to-coast, transcontinental freeway, and it just so happens to be America's longest Interstate Highway. Unless you've only traveled around the southern portion of America, you've probably hopped on and off I-90 at some point, whether you boarded around Boston, Chicago or Seattle. I-90 is a whopping 3,020 miles long, after all! In the east, I-90 begins right by Boston's Logan Airport, passes through the Continental Divide by Butte, Montana and ends in Seattle, near Safeco and CenturyLink Field. Whether you're taking it all the way or just for a few miles, these are a few of the best I-90 road trip stops.
If you're starting in Boston, there are loads of places to check out from the New England Aquarium, to Faneuil Hall (where you can choose from dozens of different food vendors for a taste of Boston), to the Freedom Trail and Museum of Science. As for hotels in Boston, the Liberty Hotel is a former jail with tons of subtle nods to the building's past.
From Boston, stop at Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, MA where you can literally step back in time to the 1830s. What separates this outdoor living history museum is that it happens to be the Northeast's largest living history museum. Here you can experience what life was like in the late-1700s to mid-1800s. There are over 40 original buildings, and the staff is always in costume, and focused on 100% authenticity. The best time to visit to avoid crowds is spring, and fall. In fact, autumn is the perfect time to visit to get gorgeous photos while the village is blanketed in stunning fall foliage. BONUS: If you happen to visit during Thanksgiving, they have an out-of-this-world buffet.
Six Flags New England is a pretty remarkable amusement park because it actually dates back to 1870, and has the distinction of being the oldest Six Flags park. The park is spread out across 235 acres and when you buy a pass to the park, you get to go to the waterpark as well. When you go be sure to ride the Thunderbolt, a wooden roller coaster that's been in operation since 1941. It's not exactly a quick stop off the highway, but it's an incredibly fun way to spend a day!
Next stop off I-90 is "the world’s smallest church." Sitting atop a tiny wooden platform off Sconondoa Road in Oneida, the nondenominational Cross Island Chapel is absolutely adorable. The 3' by 6' church was built in 1989, and today sits on top of a small dock, smack dab in the middle of the pond. It's available for meditation and special occasions.
From the "World's Smallest Church" to the Jell-O Gallery Museum in Le Roy, NY! Even if you're not a fan of Jell-O, every road trip needs a weird, offbeat museum detour. Here you can learn everything you ever wanted to (or never wanted to) learn about jell-o, for just $4.50 in admission. Then, while in Le Roy, eat at Smokin' Eagle for some delicious barbecue before hopping back on the highway.
Then head to Orchard Park, NY to see the Eternal Flame Falls. This is a pretty phenomenal natural wonder and a visit is worth the detour off I-90. Park at Chestnut Ridge Road and prepare for a short, 15-minute hike to the falls. You'll start to smell a rotten egg-type odor (the result of the natural gas that causes the flame) the closer you get to the tiered falls, which cascade around 30 feet. Here you'll notice a small grotto inside of which is a flame, about 4-8" high, ignited by the natural gas emitted from the spring. It's really an amazing natural wonder.
As you take the interstate through Willoughby, why not take a walk on the spooky side? The Willoughby Ghost Walk tours operate from June through October and provide guided walking tours of downtown Willoughby. You'll learn all about the haunted history of the town, including the legends of strange phenomena that have been reported over the years. The tour covers 12 blocks and lasts just under two hours.
If you're a fan of Superman (especially the comics), then make the pilgrimage to the home of Jerry Siegal, the creator of Superman. Outside the home you can see a sign and the iconic Superman logo commemorating the home's previous owner. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster came up with the idea of a hero with superpowers in 1933. Both boys were lived on the same street and were from immigrant Jewish families. The current owners of the home where Superman was "born" are quite friendly to people on Superman pilgrimages, and scattered throughout the property is superman memorabilia.
If you're a fan of the movie "A Christmas Story" then it's essential that you stop at the house where the film was shot... even if it's the middle of summer! It's located on West 11th Street in Cleveland and tours are offered. They even encourage you to touch the exhibits, and even recreate your favorite scenes for photos. The tour can run you around an hour, so if you have the time it's almost as good as actually being in the movie.
If you're staying the night in Cleveland, there are quite a few great hotel options. The Glidden House is an incredibly 1910 mansion-turned-B&B, and the Hyatt Regency at The Arcade features a killer location. As for food, try Lucky's Cafe or Melt.
If you enjoyed Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts, then take a detour off I-90 to Avon, Ohio's Olde Avon Village. Here you can walk back in time and see what life was like in the mid-1800s. There are shops, homes and pretty much everything else you could want in an authentic 19th century village. Then it's back to the 21st century and back on the road!
When you're ready to stretch your legs again, stop at Pokagon State Park, near Angola, Indiana. The name for the park comes from Leopold and Simon Pokagon, the last two leaders of the Potawatomi tribe. If you're looking to spend the night in Indiana, you should check into the Potawatomi Inn, a pretty popular Midwest resort lodge. Throughout the park you'll find beautiful stone and log structures, wide open fields and meadows, rolling hills and even wetlands.
Detour off I-90 to Washington Park Beach in Michigan City, IN and visit the Michigan City Lighthouse or take a walk on the boardwalk. There's also a seven acre zoo just across the street from the beach, and playgrounds for little ones. The park is open from 6am to 10pm, and costs $2 during the weekday and $5 on weekends. There's also loads of parking!
If you love Saturday Night Live, or just really dig improv comedy, then you need to visit the mecca of improv: The Second City in Chicago. This is where the best SNL cast members got their start.
TIP: If you purchase tickets through the Second City website you can usually get a great deal on a restaurant nearby at the same time. Dinner and a show in Chicago: The perfect night out on the town!
And if you want a hotel in Chicago, the options are almost endless. Hotel Lincoln, Hotel Monaco, Hotel Burnham... take your pick! They're all great.
As you head out of Chicago, visit Legoland Discovery Center in Schaumurg, IL. There are over 3 million lego bricks here and you can easily spend the day exploring with kids. Keep in mind that Legoland is a kids attraction, and all adults must be accompanied by a child. If you happen to have a kid around, though, it's a can't-miss stop!
If you're road tripping during summer and fall, you'll absolutely want to visit Goebbert's Pumpkin Patch in Pingree Grove. There's so much to do, especially during autumn, from a pumpkin-eating dinosaur, to a hay bale maze, and basically every other fall-themed outdoor activity you can think of. Oh, and the puppet show is absolutely adorable.
TIP: Go during the week to avoid the massive weekend fall crowds. And don't forget to stop at the cafe and gift shop!
I-90 then makes its way into Wisconsin! Lake Kegonsa State Park is considered "one of the best-kept secrets of southern Wisconsin." This state park features a 3,200-acre lake, woodlands, a swimming beach, fishing, a boat launch and campground. There are tons of hiking trails and picnic places in case you just wanted to get some fresh air and soak up a little sun!
If you're still in the mood for some more offbeat adventuring, head to the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin. This town was where the Ringling Bros. Circus was founded in 1884 by five brothers. In fact, they named the city the "winter quarters" for the circus, Ringlingville. Several buildings were built along the Baraboo River between 1897 and 1918, and today they make up America's "largest surviving group of original circus structures." Here you can see memorabilia and learn all about circus history, which is actually pretty interesting.
And if you want a good book to read on the road, Katherine Dunn's "Geek Love", will definitely get you in the mood to fully enjoy your time at the Circus World Museum.
From clowns to witches...over in Wisconsin Dells, skip the water parks (did you know that Wisconsin Dells has more waterslides per capita than anywhere else in the world?) and head to the Witches Gulch. It's like something out of Lord of the Rings! Admission to get in is just $5 and it's an absolutely breathtaking geological wonder. The Gulch is a slot canyon that surrounded by lush woodland. It's pet-friendly and definitely worth a visit if you're in the area.
And if you do actually want in on the waterpark action at the Water Park Capital of the World, we love the quirky offerings at Kalahari Resort!
If you're still in the mood for some outdoor fun, your next stop along the highway is Mill Bluff State Park near Camp Douglas, Wisconsin. This state park has beautiful, towering bluffs, swimming areas, a campground and plenty of places to hike or relax after a long day of driving.
Depending on the time of year you decide to drive I-90, it's important to note that weather can affect your journey. Snow and high winds will plague you from Minnesota to Montana, especially in the winter. Snow plows do a pretty good job, but if there's a storm, you could get stuck, so be prepared before setting out for this trip. Also, keep in mind that between Rapid City and the Black Hills, you'll be at an exceptionally high elevation, which means it's a bit more colder in this area. Pack accordingly, depending on the time of year. In fact, during deep winter, you can expect sub-zero temperatures across South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. Remember your anti-freeze, snow tires, and don't let yourself run low on gas.