As you go from our nation’s capital to Duluth in the state of Minnesota, you’ll travel through Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. With this many states on your road trip itinerary from Washington to Duluth, you’ll have a wealth of options to choose from for both fun, stimulating activities and solemn, contemplative excursions. Enjoy the beautiful wooded areas, state and national parks, historical sites, and exciting cosmopolitan cities you will get to see, and combine urban pursuits with the call of the wild to make this journey your own.
Shenandoah National Park
As you travel on Interstate 70 at the beginning of your journey, you’ll reach the highway’s intersection with Interstate 81. You’ll want to turn south there and travel about an hour to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. The items on your to-do list could include stopping at scenic overlooks on the famed Skyline Drive set on the spine of the Blue Ridge Mountains, hiking one of the many park trails, going horseback riding, rock climbing, fishing, and attending a free stargazing presentation.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
The only national park in Ohio, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is conveniently right on your Washington, D.C., to Duluth road trip route. Winding down the middle of the park, which is located in the area between the cities of Cleveland and Akron, is the Cuyahoga River, popular with kayakers and canoers. Other fun park activities include taking a scenic ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, biking along the Ohio and Erie Canal towpath trail, and hiking to one of the park’s waterfalls or to the sandstone cliffs known as The Ledges.
Indiana Sand Dunes National Park
Located in Indiana, along Lake Michigan’s southern shore, Indiana Sand Dunes National Park features 15,000 acres filled with wetlands, prairies, and forestland. The sand dunes that give the park its name are located along the 15 miles of lake shoreline, so of course, there are beach strolls, swimming, fishing, and water sports at this park. There’s also birdwatching, hiking, and the chance to see model homes from the 1933 World’s Fair.
Kooser State Park
In the eastern foothills of Laurel Mountain Summit, near Somerset, Pennsylvania, is Kooser State Park. It boasts a trout stream, hiking trails, and picnic shelters amid the beauty of its 250 acres of forestland. It also attracts cross-country skiers because its 2,600-foot elevation means that it gets a good amount of snowfall during the winter.
Findley State Park
Once a state forest, Findley State Park in Wellington, Ohio, offers a 93-acre lake with two boat ramps. Kayak and canoe rentals are available. So is fishing for crappie, largemouth bass, and bluegill. There’s a swimming beach, two 18-hole disc golf courses, trails for hiking and others for mountain biking, and even a storybook-themed trail for little visitors.
Potato Creek State Park
Potato Creek State Park in North Liberty, Indiana, about 20 minutes from South Bend, has everything an outdoor enthusiast could wish for. There are trails for hiking and biking, opportunities for bird-watching, an equestrian day-use area, volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, and picnic grounds. But the star of the park is 327-acre Worster Lake. With fishing boats, canoes, paddleboats, and kayaks available for rent, you’ll have lots of choices for ways to spend your day out on the water.
Brunet Island State Park
Brunet Island State Park in Cornell, Wisconsin, is located on an island where the Fisher River and Chippewa River join up. Surrounded by channels and lagoons are hiking trails, a picnic area, and a swimming beach. You can rent canoes and kayaks and check out loaner fishing equipment for use at the two fishing piers. There are also several biking trails, and come winter, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing become quite popular at this park.
Just 40 minutes off Interstate 70 as you travel through Maryland is Gettysburg, a not-to-be-missed experience on your Washington, D.C., to Duluth road trip. First-time visitors are encouraged to start at the Museum and Visitor Center before proceeding to the actual battlefield, the site of the historic 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. Tours can be self-led, but there are many other options including booking a guided bus, bike, horseback, Segway, or walking tour. Beyond the battlefield, the area is rich in historical sites, but you don’t need to be a Civil War buff to enjoy yourself. There other types of places to visit, like nature centers, craft breweries, antique shops, and fruit orchards.
Historic Canal Experience
At Providence Metropark in Providence, Ohio, about a half-hour from Toledo, you can travel back in time to the days that mule-drawn boats traveled along towpaths on the Erie Canal. Board the canal boat and listen as tour guides dressed in 19th-century garb describe life in the 1870s while the boat glides past a working water-powered grist mill and through a functioning limestone canal lock.
National Studebaker Museum
This museum, which is dedicated to the iconic car brand, is located in South Bend, Indiana. That’s appropriate, considering that Studebaker was founded here as a blacksmith shop in 1852. Exhibits feature the largest collection in the world of U.S. Presidential Carriages, including the one that carried Abraham Lincoln to the theater the night he was assassinated, and a collection of classic Studebaker models, such as the 1963 Avanti, the 1956 Packard Predictor, the 1935 President convertible, the 1933 Silver Arrow, and the ahead-of-its-time 1911 Electric Coupe. Kids will love the Super Service Center, where they can play at being junior mechanics performing auto maintenance tasks like tire rotations.
Anderson Japanese Gardens
Inspired by the design of the Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon, these stunning gardens were created in 1978 on a 12-acre property bisected by Spring Creek in Rockford, Illinois. As you walk along the meandering paths, you’ll see waterfalls, streams, ponds filled with koi, and structures evoking 16th-century architecture. If you’d like to attend the tai chi, meditation, and yoga classes held at the gardens, be sure to contact the staff ahead of time as advance registration is sometimes required.
Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home
Our 40th president, Ronald Reagan, grew up in Dixon, Illinois, and on your Washington, D.C., to Duluth RV road trip, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit his boyhood home, now a museum that offers guided tours. The actual structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but it’s the town’s formative influence on Ronald Reagan that is of real significance.
You can immerse yourself in culture here in Steel City, as Pittsburgh was once known, by visiting the Andy Warhol Museum, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, or the Senator John Heinz History Center — the latter has a collection of items from “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” that kids will love. Learn about the steel industry and Pittsburgh’s history on a blast furnace tour. Nothing tops the vistas from the observation deck reached by the Duquesne Incline, a 140-year-old incline car. You’ll have a tough time deciding where to camp here as there are plenty of RV parks in the area as well as dump stations.
You don’t want to pass through Cleveland without visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Located in the city’s downtown, it’s six floors of exhibits honoring music entertainers from Elvis to Public Enemy. Later, catch a view of the city from the 42nd floor of the Terminal Tower at the Observation Deck, or take in a performance at one of nine venues comprising the Theater District. For the younger ones, there are a ton of kid-friendly activities at the Children’s Museum of Cleveland. Take care of business at a nearby dump station, and have fun with the whole family staying at an area campground.
Your road trip from Washington, D.C., to Duluth wouldn’t be complete without a stop in the Windy City, where museums and art galleries abound. A photo in front of the “Cloud Gate” stainless-steel sculpture in Millennium Park is practically obligatory as is a visit to the Chicago Riverwalk. There are speakeasies galore and 24 restaurants worthy of the Michelin Guide in this city. Young and old will enjoy a ride on the Ferris wheel at the Navy Pier, and admission to the Lincoln Park Zoo is free. Nearby campgrounds provide a great option for Chicago lodging on your Washington, D.C., to Duluth RV road trip, and there are dump stations close by as well.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Washington to Duluth, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Washington, D.C., or Duluth.