How to Spend Three Months in America Part Two: Southeast and Midwest

27 July 2017

Summer’s officially here, and if you’re planning on spending your school break or hard-earned vacation time on a trip to the US, there’s plenty to keep you occupied! In fact, you could easily spend a full three months exploring the diverse people, places, and cultures that make up this vast country. So how do you make sure that you get to tick all the right boxes – see the big sights while also getting to go off the beaten path to discover the “real” America?

Since we at HI USA know a bit about budget travel and eye-opening adventures, we thought we’d help you plan a slow travel trip with stops at HI USA hostels and awesome must-dos. The first part of our series covered the East Coast, and for the next installment of our cross-country trip, we’re taking a look at the great cities and secluded spots in the Midwest and Southeast regions of the U.S.


The Chicago skyline
The Chicago skyline

HI Chicago

Why go: art, architecture, baseball, and more await you in this lakefront metropolis.
How long should I stay: 2 to 3 days
Do I need a car: Nope, Chicago has a great public transportation system and the hostel is within walking distance of many attractions.
Must do: Eat a Chicago deep dish pizza, bike along the lakefront trail, visit the Art Institute of Chicago.

HI Madison

Why go: Madison is known for its impressive network of parks and bike trails, lakes, and great restaurants.
How long should I stay: 2 days
Do I need a car: You should be good without one.
Must do: Eat cheese curds and visit the impressive State Capitol Building

Scenic Minnesota
Scenic Minnesota

HI Mississippi Headwaters (Itasca State Park, Minnesota)

Why go: Unwind in a gorgeous park or get your adrenaline going with some water sports
How long should I stay: 2 days
Do I need a car: You’ll need one to get to the hostel.
Must do: Spend the day outdoors hiking or biking, hang out at the beach on Lake Itasca.


HI New Orleans (from Spring 2018)

Why go: Live music, festivals, colorful local culture, and stunning scenery, all with a side of beignets.
How long should I stay: 3 days
Do I need a car: No, the hostel will be ideally located near the French Quarter and other NOLA sights.
Must do: Eat as much of the great food as you can and see a parade!

HI Austin

Why go: To experience the eclectic and proudly “weird” culture and the excellent live music scene
How long should I stay: 3 days should be enough to eat, drink and explore
Do I need a car: HI Austin is a 25-minute walk from downtown or you can rent a bicycle from the hostel to get around.
Must do: Get your fill of Tex-Mex food and eat traditional barbecue, check out the live music scene.

The outdoor patio at HI Austin
The outdoor patio at HI Austin


Amtrak is your best bet to get you from the east coast to the middle of the country, but it’s worth searching around for good deals on flights especially since the cities here are little more spread out than the ones on the east coast.


Don’t miss the first leg of the trip featuring this cities to visit on America’s East Coast. Next, it’s on to the West Coast for beach fun and an iconic road trip!


No matter what season you are planning your trip for, remember to pack for all four as climates can vary across the country. Lastly, remember to just enjoy you travels and go with the flow – plans change, road friends come and go, and sometimes you’ll want to stay longer than you thought.

Take a look at our Green Footprints series to see how you can travel responsibly, and share you travel snaps with us on Facebook and Instagram!