New Ranking Names Hidden Gem Travel Destinations Across the Midwest

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With a season of road trips and scenery-filled destinations ahead for many in the coming months, some travelers are looking to find unique places off the beaten path for a new experience.

For those looking for some hidden destinations, budget blog Cheapism has released a list of the best hidden gem vacation destinations in all 50 states.

While Chicago is known as a bona fide summer tourist destination, those who already live in the area can take a look at several other options in the Midwest that offer a change of pace at the perfect time of year.

Here's a look at what Midwestern spots were highlighted as places to check out this summer:

Illinois: Garden of the Gods Wilderness

It may be a trip to the opposite end of the state for those in the Chicago area, but those who visit can feast their eyes on sights that would make them doubt that they are still in Illinois.

The Garden of the Gods Wilderness area is wrapped inside the expansive 280,000-acre Shawnee National Forest, a protected forest spanning across nine southern Illinois counties.

Within the forest, the Garden of the Gods Wilderness occupies just over 3,300 acres, known for its expansive exposure of grey sandstone.

Cheapism also recommends heading to nearby Murphysboro for a pit-stop at Pat's BBQ.

Indiana: Santa Claus

Known to some Chicagoans as the hometown of former Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, the quaint small town in southern Indiana brings a unique year-round holiday atmosphere, staying true to its name.

On top of several Christmas-themed attractions, Santa Claus is also home to the Holiday World amusement park, attracting visitors from across the Midwest in sections themed for Christmas, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Halloween.

Additionally, the town's post office is the destination of thousands of letters addressed to Santa Claus each year, and a giant Santa in front of the building embraces the distinctive tradition.

Iowa: Fairfield

A small town of just under 10,000, Fairfield superficially appears to be just like several other small towns that can be found across the Midwest, though it is this destination's history that sets it apart as a unique place to visit.

Known as an "internationally renowned center of transcendental meditation," Fairfield is home to Maharishi International University, founded as a home of "consciousness-based education" by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1971, who also garnered attention for being the guru of The Beach Boys and The Beatles during the 1960s and 1970s.

Fairfield is located approximately 280 miles away from Chicago in southeast Iowa.

Michigan: Isle Royale National Park

In what is perhaps the most difficult destination to get to on the entire list, Isle Royale appears as a pristine, isolated sanctuary in Lake Superior between Michigan's upper peninsula and Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Nearly entirely devoid of humans, visitors can see plenty of wildlife and small islands with seemingly endless hiking options.

The park is the only national park to entirely close during the winter, owing to treacherous conditions and safety.

During the summer months, visitors can access the park via boat, floatplane and ferry.

Missouri: Ha Ha Tonka State Park

Located on the Lake of the Ozarks near the center of the state, Ha Ha Tonka State Park offers picturesque views of landscape visitors would expect out of Missouri.

Rolling rocks, caves and bluffs overlooking the lake are certainly part of the draw to the park, but visitors mostly come for a look at the castle-like ruins of Ha Ha Tonka, a stone mansion that was modeled after medieval European castles.

On top of the unique man-made sight, visitors can soak in the views on natural bridges and explore the thick forests surrounding the lake.

Ohio: The Mohicans

A remote treehouse escape awaits at The Mohicans inside the largely-forested Mohican State Park in the central part of the state.

Those looking for a nature-filled getaway with littler bother from the outside world will find themselves at home here, with no hotel lobbies or hassles to deal with upon arrival.

Outside of the tiny accommodations in the forest, visitors can take part in mountain biking, hiking and camping around the vast state park.

Wisconsin: Apostle Islands

A collection of 22 islands in Lake Superior off the northern coast of Wisconsin is home to stunning sights no matter what time of the year you visit.

While trips to northern Wisconsin are typically saved for summertime, Cheapism recommends a winter visit to witness the large ice caves that form on the islands.

In addition the sea and ice caves, visitors can expect to see wildlife on a trip to the Apostle Islands, particularly black bears and a wide range of birds.

A full list of Cheapism's hidden gems to check out can be found here.

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