Published: April, 2022
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College Tour: Midwest–MI, IN, WI and IL

It is cold out here!
— Betsy Danes
  • More about your oliver guide:
  • 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

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.

inside scoop

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. 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!

skip it

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!

College Tour: Midwest–MI, IN, WI and IL - Suggestions from the Oliver Community

  • Kati Seymore Says

    If visiting Indiana University, Bloomington, I highly recommend booking a room at the Graduate Bloomington on Kirkwood, and grabbing dinner (and getting a feel for the local scene) across the street at Nick’s English Hut. Pop into the Union for a pick-me-up Starbucks while touring campus, and don’t forget to watch “Breaking Away” before your visit!

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