College Tour: Midwest–MI, IN, WI and IL
It is cold out here!
- More about your oliver guide: Betsy Danes
- Trip type: Family, City
- Activity level: moderate
- Ideal length of trip: Ideally a day and a night for each school you are visiting.
to & from
We flew into Detroit, rented a car which we returned to Midway for our return Flight. Drove from Ann Arbor to South Bend to Madison to Evanston/Chicago.
Where to Stay
- We did not stay in Ann Arbor, as we drove to the University of Notre Dame after our tour and lunch. In South Bend, if the Morris Inn is available (it won’t be on any football weekends), I would recommend staying there as it is right on campus, with the Inn at Saint Mary’s or Ivy Court as a second choice.
- In Madison, we stayed at Hampton Inn and Suites, as it was walkable to both downtown and the University.
- In Evanston, we stayed at the Hyatt House, an all suite hotel which was centrally located and lovely with a bar in the lobby.
Where to Eat and Drink
- Ann Arbor: Zingermans for lunch!
- South Bend: Crooked Ewe, Uptown Kitchen, Cafe Navarre, Roselily.
- Madison: We ate at dinner at the Tipsy Cow and lunch at the Mediterranean Grill (owned by a student’s parent).
- Evanston: We had a delicious dinner and fun cocktails at Tapas Barcelona and lunch at Shang Noodle.
What to Do
I had never been to Madison, so we enjoyed just walking the streets and exploring the city. After our Northwestern tour and lunch, we went to downtown Chicago for gelato at Eataly and for some shopping along the Magnificant mile. We had wanted to go to the Museum of Science and Industry but it was sold out to capacity for that afternoon.
Definitely PLAN ahead with the college tours, as the slots can fill up quickly. Schools also usually do not offer them over school breaks (except summer) and many do not have Saturday tours. With COVID restrictions, some schools still are not doing tours or are only doing an outdoor tour without the information session. We used driving time to watch the virtual information sessions. Also, it sometimes possible to try to squeeze two colleges into one day (we did this with U of Richmond and UVA, another guide!), but I would also suggest not to rush the process. The student needs time to look around and absorb. Also, if you can connect with a current student (we did that at 3 of the 4 schools), it gives your child another perspective. My son wanted to explore the surrounding town and get a feel of the food scene!
- The Chicago area currently is requiring proof of COVID vaccine to enter restaurants and museums.
Let your child take the lead so do what they want to do or see. Leave the younger ones at home if you are able.
What to Pack
If you do midwest college visits in the winter (which you should if you want your child to know what the weather is really like), a super warm coat is essential for Mom — think Canadian Goose or Northface coat that at least goes mid thigh! Comfortable water proof walking shoes or boots with good traction in case of snow. I have a great pair of Born that are fashionable and fit the bill!
Have fun and good luck with the search!