The Group Travel Leader
Published December 09, 2016
Some of the country’s most exciting and iconic travel experiences await church groups visiting America’s Heartland.
From the Skydeck in Chicago to the Brickyard in Indianapolis and Minnesota’s famous Mall of America, cities and towns throughout the American Midwest are home to attractions and activities that any traveler will want to experience. Whether you have been there a dozen times or have never been there, stopping to visit these places is an essential part of touring Heartland destinations.
Although there were dozens of attractions from which to choose, we have highlighted a must-see one from each Midwestern state that offers great group experiences. Plan to include some of these stops on your itinerary the next time you travel through America’s Heartland.
Field of Dreams
Now celebrating 25 years, the film “Field of Dreams” touched millions of viewers with its whimsical tale of a farmer who plows down part of his crop to build a baseball field. Many fans still visit the century-old Lansing farm in Dyersville where filming took place, which preserves the movie set right down to the tall rows of corn in the background. Admission to the property is free, though guests can purchase a variety of baseball memorabilia at the gift shop, such as ball caps, posters, jerseys and baseball cards.
Must see: Fans and baseball lovers can hit a few balls on the field and leave saying they played on the field of dreams.
Special group experience: On some summer nights, a “ghost” team performs for visitors’ entertainment, emerging from the cornfield like the ghosts in the movie.
Visitors can view up to four states from the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower, which reigned as the world’s tallest building for nearly 25 years. In addition to the hair-raising view from Skydeck’s glass platform, the attraction also features a short film on Chicago’s architectural history, interactive exhibits and several restaurants. Skydeck is open 365 days per year, including Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
Must see: Stand 1,353 feet above the ground on the Ledge, which comprises several glass boxes that extend 4.3 feet from the building.
Special group experience: Groups are encouraged to save 53 percent on tickets with a Chicago City Pass, which includes admission to Skydeck as well as four other key Chicago attractions. Motorcoach parking is free.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosts some of the most prominent races on the planet, including the Indianapolis 500, the Brickyard 400 and the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. At the world’s largest spectator facility, visitors can take advantage of the 250,000 outdoor seats or lounge in the legendary Panasonic Pagoda, a nine-tier tower designed in the style of a Japanese pagoda.
Must see: One of the speedway’s most famous features is the 36-inch-wide strip of brick marking the finish line, a final remnant of the 3.2 million paving bricks that originally covered the track as well as the namesake for the Brickyard 400. “Kissing the bricks” is a racing champion tradition.
Special group experience: Groups can take a narrated bus-ride around the 2.5-mile track, hosted by a staff member from the Hall of Fame Museum.