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U.S. Route 12 Road Trip

10 states and 2,500 miles, these are RT 12's best stops.

  • 51
  • 46:22
  • $283
  • 2,660 mi.

Created by Roadtrippers - May 13th 2016

U.S. Route 12 runs east–west across the northern United States, from from Detroit, MI to Aberdeen, WA. Nearly 2,500 miles in length, this cross-country route has been mostly surpassed by road trippers in favor of the I-90 and I-94 highways. But just because it's less popular doesn't mean it's less worth driving! Head off the beaten path to the best attractions along Route 12.

Starting in Detroit, learn about the city's rich history at Hitsville, USA (the Motown Museum,) or at the Henry Ford Museum. You can also soak up some beauty at Belle Isle, a 900-acre island that's been turned into a gorgeous park. Stay the night at the Corktown Inn, the Hotel St. Regis, or one of the other nice hotels in Detroit.

1
2mi 00h 07m
The Heidelberg Project
4.3

4236 Grand River Ave, Detroit, MI, US

The Heidelberg Project

1

Since so much has been made of the state of Detroit's neighborhoods, stop by the Heidelberg Project, a massive folk art installation, to see what one man is doing about the urban decay. Many of the homes and yards here have been decorated in the strangest and most fascinating ways imaginable: records, stuffed animals, polka dots, tires, found-object sculptures and more cover the gorgeous old houses.

2
3mi 00h 07m
Slows Bar BQ
4.5

2138 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI, US

Slows Bar BQ

2

What do you do when you're hungry and looking for some amazing barbecue north of the Mason-Dixon? It's not easy to find, but it exists! There's not much Slows Bar BQ doesn't do right, which is a feat, considering they offer a massive variety of sauces, from Carolina mustard-style to the lesser-known white BBQ sauce, all kinds of meats, and a ton of different kinds of sides. And beer! Naturally, this place gets pretty busy, but trust us: it's worth the wait.

3
3mi 00h 05m
The Inn On Ferry Street
3.9

84 E Ferry Street, Detroit, MI, US

The Inn On Ferry Street

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3

Victorian mansions dot the neighborhoods of Detroit, so it makes sense that you should get to stay in one! The charm and character of the Inn on Ferry Street is in a perfect location, has clean and elegant rooms, and provides excellent service.

4
41mi 00h 44m
Maize and Blue Deli
4.5

1329 S University Ave, Ann Arbor, MI, US

Maize and Blue Deli

4

Maize and Blue Deli is a favorite among Michigan locals and visitors alike. This deli serves up the biggest sandwiches you've ever seen. Plus, they categorize their equally huge menu by your preferred type of meat (and they offer 8 different types of pastrami sandwich). Be prepared to share, or have tons leftover for the road!

5
38mi 00h 45m
The Parlour
4.0

1401 Daniel Rd, Jackson, MI, US

The Parlour

5

If you've got a sweet tooth, visit The Parlour in Jackson, MI. Step back in time at this retro-inspired ice cream shop that's been treating people to sweet treats since the 1940s! You can't go wrong with a classic hot fudge sundae, but if you're really hungry, they have a massive, 21-scoop behemoth that's free if you eat it in under an hour. Beware of brain freezes!

6
62mi 01h 04m
Air Zoo
4.4

6151 Portage Rd, Portage, MI, US

Air Zoo

6

Part aerospace museum, part theme park, all fun. Air Zoo in Portage, MI features ferris wheels, bi-plane rides, flight simulators, paratrooper jumps and more. It's a great experience to see their collection of historic aircraft, and kids will have so much fun they won't realize they're learning... and adults won't mind, either.

7
51mi 00h 55m
Silver Beach Center and Carousel
5.0

333 Broad St, St. Joseph, MI, US

Silver Beach Center and Carousel

7

Silver Beach Center and Carousel in St. Joseph MI is a beautiful, hand-carved carousel that's impressively detailed, and it has more than just your classic horses. You can ride a hippo, a tiger, a panda, or even a clown fish! Plus, right near by at the Silver Beach Center you'll find Michigan's tallest kaleidoscope, a splash fountain, and more.

8
66mi 01h 11m
Michael Jackson's House
3.8

2300 Jackson St 46407, Gary, IN, US

Michael Jackson's House

8

Over in Gary, Indiana you can visit the humble home where Michael Jackson and his talented siblings grew up. It's an appropriately humble tribute to the simple beginnings of the Jackson Five. You can't go inside, but there are little touches in memory of MJ, and sometimes the neighbors will come out and sell souvenirs.

9
34mi 00h 43m
Freehand Chicago
4.0

19 East Ohio Street, Chicago, IL, US

Freehand Chicago

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9

Welcome to the Windy City! If you're looking for a ridiculously cool hotel in Chicago, hit up Freehand Chicago, an impossibly hip hostel (they have private rooms for a little extra, or shared rooms for an insanely reasonable price). The trendy decor and location in a 1927 building in River North will make you forget that this is actually a hostel. Plus, the bar, coffee shop, and restaurant inside attract people who aren't even staying here, and they put on the coolest events.

10
1mi 00h 04m
Millennium Park
4.6

55 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL, US

Millennium Park

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10

You won't find any better views of Lake Michigan and of Chicago's skyline than at Millennium Park. There's always something going on, and tons of weird little nooks and crannies to explore here.

11
1mi 00h 05m
Gino's East
4.0

162 E Superior St, Chicago, IL, US

Gino's East

11

Chicago has tons of great food (Chicago-style hot dogs, Italian beef, etc.), but it's almost a crime if you visit without at least trying some of their signature deep-dish pies. Gino's East is one of several places famed for their Chicago-style pizza, and the old-school Italian vibes make it even more fun.

12
91mi 01h 34m
Historic Auto Attractions
3.8

13825 Metric Rd, Roscoe, IL, US

Historic Auto Attractions

12

Historic Auto Attractions in Roscoe IL features all kinds of cars (including one that belonged to Elvis), but the whole museum has a pop culture twist, so you'll also find a lock of Abe Lincoln's hair, some of Houdini's props, costumes from Gone With the Wind, and tons of other assorted oddities that will entertain pretty much anyone.

13
66mi 01h 05m
National Mustard Museum
3.9

102 W Main St, Middleton, WI, US

National Mustard Museum

13

Over in Middleton, Wisconsin you'll find the National Mustard Museum, which has the world's largest collection of mustards! Yes, for real. As legend has it, the owner of this kitschy stop began his mustard collection to take his mind off the pain of watching the Boston Red Sox lose the 1986 World Series. Check out the strange displays, sample some mustards at the tasting bar, and pick up some condiments at the gift shop.

14
35mi 00h 43m
Circus World Museum
4.4

550 Water St, Baraboo, WI, US

Circus World Museum

14

Back in the day, the Ringling Brothers circus was headquartered in Baraboo, a little Wisconsin town, and the performers and animals spent their winters here. So, naturally, the town has a ton of circus-themed attractions, like the International Clown Hall of Fame, but if you want to keep it classic, head to the Circus World Museum on Water Street. Here you'll find tons of antique posters, costumes, wagons, and props, like the Human Cannonball's cannon.

15
75mi 01h 22m

14177 County Hwy Q, Sparta, WI, US

FAST Fiberglass Mold Graveyard

15

In Sparta, WI, take a slight detour to the FAST (Fiberglass Animals, Shapes, and Trademarks) Company, which is responsible for most of those giant kitschy roadside statues that make you think of classic Americana. But where do the molds go once they've been used to make the statues? Into this bizarre graveyard, where you can find eerie shapes like elephants, skulls, sharks, devils, lions, and ice cream cones, among others.

16
54mi 01h 03m
Norske Nook
3.9

13804 7th St, Osseo, WI, US

Norske Nook

16

This part of the country has strong Scandinavian ties, so enjoy the benefits of their heritage at Norske Nook in Osseo. It's adorable little bakery and gift shop. Sample goodies like sandbakkels, rosettes, lefse and other traditional treats!

17
27mi 00h 31m
Paul Bunyan Logging Camp Museum
4.4

1110 Carson Park Drive, Eau Claire, WI, US

Paul Bunyan Logging Camp Museum

17

Once you take Route 12 into Eau Claire, pose for pictures with the statue of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Big Blue Ox (since you're in one of the legendary giant's supposed hometowns), and learn about what it was like to be a logger like ol' Paul Bunyan at the Paul Bunyan Logging Camp Museum.

18
83mi 01h 27m
The Covington Inn
4.5

100 Yacht Club Rd W, Maplewood, MN, US

The Covington Inn

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$$

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18

The Covington Inn is easily the coolest and most unique hotel in Minnesota. There aren't many floating B&Bs in the country, you know! The 1946 tugboat has four rooms, all adorned with nautical antiques. The views of downtown from the water are great, especially at night, and the hosts are super accommodating.

19
11mi 00h 16m
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
4.4

725 Vineland Pl, Minneapolis, MN, US

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

19

The 11-acre Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is run by the Walker Art Museum, and it has nearly 40 sculptures for you to see, including the iconic "Spoonbridge and Cherry." The garden is beautiful, and it's always fascinating to see art outside the gallery, so take some time to explore.

20
1mi 00h 04m

18 West 26th Street, Minneapolis, MN, US

Eat Street Social

20

There are tons of incredibly restaurants in Minneapolis and St. Paul; the Twin Cities are foodie destinations. Whether you visit Eat Street Social for brunch or dinner, you're sure to leave stuffed. Their offerings are imaginative, the space is cool, and the drinks are awesome, so you can't exactly go wrong with anything here!

21
3mi 00h 08m
Donny Dirk's Zombie Den
4.1

2027 N 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN, US

Donny Dirk's Zombie Den

21

Okay, who wouldn't want to at least grab one drink at Donny Dirk's Zombie Den, a psychobilly/dive bar-themed craft cocktail lounge? This place is low key but serves some really outstanding beverages. It's the kind of place you'll wish you lived nearby so that you could make it your regular hangout.

22
130mi 02h 01m
Runestone Museum
4.4

206 Broadway, Alexandria, MN, US

Runestone Museum

22

The Runestone Museum in Alexandria, MN is a local gem that will take you on a journey through time. From displays on Native Americans in the region, to ancient Vikings, to Norwegian immigrants, to a recreation historical village, there's a surprising amount to see and do here. Plus, you'll learn about the mysterious Kensington Runestone, a stone tablet discovered nearby in 1898 that appears to somehow date back to the 1300's. Definitely a fun stop off Route 12!

23
67mi 01h 05m
World's Largest "Booming" Prairie Chicken
4.6

221 1st St NW, Rothsay, MN, US

World's Largest "Booming" Prairie Chicken

23

The "booming" at the World's Largest "Booming" Prairie Chicken refers to the chicken's puffed-out cheeks, a sure sign in prairie chickens that they're ready to attack. It helps to keep in mind that while prairie chickens could once be found all across the region, they're way more scarce now, so study the statue and keep your eyes peeled for these suckers, because they're not something you see every day. Plus, no road trip is complete without checking out at least one massive roadside sculpture.

24
40mi 00h 42m
Hjemkomst Center
3.7

202 1st Ave N, Moorhead, MN, US

Hjemkomst Center

24

There's more Scandinavian-themed fun to be had in Moorhead, MN at the Hjemkomst Center. Here, you'll find a beautiful replica of the Hopperstad Stave Church in Vic Norway, as well as a working replica of a Viking ship called the Hjemkomst, which is from the Norwegian word for "homecoming".

25
0mi 00h 01m
Hotel Donaldson
4.5

101 Broadway N, Fargo, ND, US

Hotel Donaldson

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$$$

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25

The Hotel Donaldson in Fargo, ND is a boutique hotel so cool, you might not want to leave. And with the suites all decorated by different local artists, the cozy beds, and the hip rooftop bar, you don't exactly have to!

26
0mi 00h 00m
Würst Bier Hall
4.5

630 1st Ave N, Fargo, ND, US

Würst Bier Hall

26

Beer halls are always a good time, and Wurst Bier Hall in Fargo is a place that does everything right, with German fusion food (Philly cheesesteak sausage, flights of bacon, poutine and more are great for soaking up the booze). They also have a massive selection of beers, of course. If you're feeling brave, go for Das Boot!

27
5mi 00h 10m
Fargo Movie Woodchipper
4.5

2001 44th St S, Fargo, ND, US

Fargo Movie Woodchipper

27

If you've ever seen the movie Fargo, you'll want to stop by the Fargo-Moorehead Visitor Center, not too far off Route 12, because they have the woodchipper used in the film on display, along with other memorabilia from the movie. There's even a replica of the woodchipper outside in case you stop by when they're closed, which is really super of them.

28
92mi 01h 26m
Frontier Village & National Buffalo Museum
3.8

500 17th St SW, Jamestown, ND, US

Frontier Village & National Buffalo Museum

28

North Dakota was once covered in herds of majestic buffalo, and you can still find them across the state to this day. The North American Bison has played a massively important role in the state's history and culture, though, and you can learn all about them at the Frontier Village and National Buffalo Museum in Jamestown, ND.

29
102mi 01h 37m
Blarney Stone Pub
4.5

408 E Main Ave, Bismarck, ND, US

Blarney Stone Pub

29

When you're hungry, head to the Blarney Stone Pub in Bismarck. This Irish pub really nails it: the classic food (think bangers and mash and burgers), the Guinness and huge selection of beers (go for something local, though), and the incredibly friendly atmosphere make this a fun place to grab a meal and a pint.

30
12mi 00h 23m
Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park
4.5

4480 Ft. Lincoln Road, Mandan, ND, US

Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park

30

Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park in Mandan is where Custer and his men rode out from right before their infamous Last Stand. This old fort has that bit of history going for it, but the park also has some really awesome recreations of the kinds of earthworks built by the Mandan tribe who also lived in the area. Plus, it's a great place to appreciate the rolling plains that make up the North Dakota landscape.

31
139mi 02h 13m

PO Box 224, Medora, ND, US

Diamond Bar Bed & Breakfast

31

Since you're in North Dakota, why not stay in a gorgeously restored historic log cabin? The Diamond Bar Bed and Breakfast in Medora has every modern convenience, but they'll still make you a home-cooked, ranch-style breakfast, and offer "guitar-pickin and story-tellin' upon request".

32
1mi 00h 04m
Boots Bar & Grill
3.5

300 Pacific Avenue, Medora, ND, US

Boots Bar & Grill

32

Grab a bite to eat at Boots Bar and Grill. This is the best place to chat with the locals over an elk burger and a local craft brew.

33
0mi 00h 01m
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
4.5

315 2nd Avenue, Medora, ND, US

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

33

While you're in Medora, explore North Dakota's rugged badlands at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It's not hard to see why Teddy Roosevelt fell in love with this part of the country and the Wild West lifestyle in general. It really is beautiful, and there's something so exhilarating about the untamed landscape.

34
253mi 03h 57m
Pompeys Pillar National Monument
4.2

3001 Highway 312, Worden, MT, US

Pompeys Pillar National Monument

34

Over in Worden, Montana, you can climb to the top of Pompeys Pillar National Monument and take in the outstanding views, but the natural feature probably best known for the Native American pictographs and the signatures from pioneers passing by. You can even find some famous names here- like that of William Clark, from the famed Lewis and Clark expedition.

35
31mi 00h 32m
The Fieldhouse Cafe
4.5

2601 Minnesota Avenue, Billings, MT, US

The Fieldhouse Cafe

35

Relax with a glass of wine and some charcuterie at The Fieldhouse Cafe in Billings. Or stop by for a fresh, locally-sourced dinner or a boozy brunch. There aren't many places in Montana where you can get a kale salad with quinoa dressing, but this is one of them.

36
73mi 01h 12m
Greycliff Prairie Dog Town State Park
3.6

Old US Hwy 10 , Greycliff, MT, US

Greycliff Prairie Dog Town State Park

36

It's basically scientifically proven that prairie dogs are the cutest, and even though you can find "towns" of these incredibly social critters in some parks across the state, Greycliff Prairie Dog Town State Park is home to a notably huge colony. Stop off to watch the little guys hustle and bustle about and learn all about them.

37
97mi 01h 33m
The Garage Soup Shack & Mesquite Grill
4.5

451 E Main St, Bozeman, MT, US

The Garage Soup Shack & Mesquite Grill

37

Over in Bozeman, hit up The Garage Soup Shack and Mesquite Grill, a quirky little joint serves up some really awesome soups, salads, sandwiches, plus BBQ and burgers. Sit outside on the patio and enjoy the sun if the weather is nice, or take in the funky decor with a table inside.

38
0mi 00h 02m
Lehrkind Mansion Bed and Breakfast
4.5

719 N Wallace Ave, Bozeman, MT, US

Lehrkind Mansion Bed and Breakfast

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38

When you're ready to call it a night, head to Lehrkind Mansion Bed and Breakfast. This charming Victorian home makes the perfect place for a little bed and breakfast. All the rooms have private bathrooms and period antiques, and some have decks and clawfoot tubs.

39
98mi 01h 42m

Welcome to Montana's capital! Tour the statehouse, check out the Holter Art Museum, and drink up the booming craft beer scene in this scenic city! Nice hotels in Helena include the Best Western Premier Great Northern, Jorgenson's Inn and Suites and the Sleep Senator Inn and Guesthouse.

40
94mi 01h 57m
Garnet Ghost Town
4.1

3255 Fort Missoula Rd, Drummond, MT, US

Garnet Ghost Town

40

After Helena, it's on to Drummond, MT, home to Garnet Ghost Town. This former boom town was founded during a gold rush, and remains one of the state's best preserved ghost towns. There are several cabins and other buildings to explore (imagine this: at its peak, the little town had 13 saloons!) An excellent job has been done of preserving the town without turning it into a kitschy tourist attraction. Don't forget your camera!

41
155mi 02h 55m
Oasis Bordello Museum
4.2

605 Cedar St, Wallace, ID, US

Oasis Bordello Museum

41

Once you reach Idaho, visit the adorable town of Wallace (used in the film "Dantes Peak"). Here you'll find the strange Oasis Bordello Museum, which is dedicated to the last cathouse in Wallace. It was open until 1988, when a raid forced the prostitutes to abandon the building, leaving it mostly intact. It was later purchased and preserved, so it looks as it did in the 1980s. The mannequins and 80s-tastic decor are pretty kitschy and the whole thing is fascinating, if not a touch bizarre.

42
48mi 00h 51m
Crafted Taphouse & Kitchen
4.0

523 Sherman Ave, Coeur d'Alene, ID, US

Crafted Taphouse & Kitchen

42

Locally-sourced gourmet pub grub and loads of beers are two great reasons to grab a bite at Crafted Taphouse and Kitchen in Coeur d'Alene. But you'll definitely want to stay for the turtle races. The prize for betting correctly on the race? $1 beers!

Consider staying the night here, because there are tons of hotels in Coeur d'Alene. The Roosevelt Inn, the Greenbrier Inn, and the Coeur d'Alene Resort are all worth checking out.

43
33mi 00h 36m
Wild Sage American Bistro
4.5

916 w. 2nd Ave, Spokane, WA, US

Wild Sage American Bistro

43

Whether you want a burger or steak, or you're in the mood for gluten-free ravioli or calf's liver with white cheddar grits, Wild Sage American Bistro in Spokane, WA is your place. The menu is totally drool-worthy... don't skip out on dessert and cocktails, too.

There are some great hotels in Spokane as well. The Davenport Hotel, Hotel Ruby and the Spokane Club Inn are some nice options!

44
0mi 00h 01m
Hotel Ruby
4.0

901 W 1st Ave, Spokane, WA, US

Hotel Ruby

44

Hotel Ruby in Spokane, WA is a funky boutique hotel with artsy vibes and swanky accommodations, plus little perks like free bike rentals, free wifi, and laundry facilities, and the location is right downtown: perfect!

45
127mi 02h 08m
Soap lake
3.5

Lake Shore Dr, Soap Lake, WA, US

Soap lake

45

The mineral-rich waters of Soap Lake make the water in this natural oddity feel soapy and slick, and create a white foam along the shores. The high mineral content of the water makes it super buoyant, and some think that it has healing properties, like that of a hot spring. Also, since the alkalinity of this lake is similar to that of lakes on Jupiter, scientists are studying it to test the probability of life on other planets.

46
148mi 02h 35m
Double R Diner (& Twin Peaks Filming Location)
3.7

137 W North Bend Way, North Bend, WA, US

Double R Diner (& Twin Peaks Filming Location)

46

"This must be where pies go when they die." If you've ever seen David Lynch's cult classic TV show "Twin Peaks," you'll recognize this little joint as the Double R Diner, a favorite of Agent Dale Cooper. It's got some memorabilia from the show... so stop by for some cherry pie and a damn fine cup of coffee.

47
10mi 00h 13m
Treehouse Point
3.6

6922 Preston Fall City Rd SE, Issaquah, WA, US

Treehouse Point

47

The temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest are notoriously stunning, so why not book a stay right in the middle of one, at Treehouse Point in Issaquah, WA? A night in one of their treehouses is literally a childhood fairytale come true, and they're so beautifully done that you won't mind walking down a trail to use the bath house.

48
23mi 00h 27m
Pike Place Chowder
4.5

1530 Post Aly, Seattle, WA, US

Pike Place Chowder

48

Take Route 12 into Seattle, which is loaded with incredible restaurants and things to do. You'll find quite a few of those awesome eats at Pike Place Market. However, the chowder at Pikes Place Chowder is completely addictive, and you won't get a better taste of the city's fresh seafood. Plus, nothing goes better with a cool, grey Seattle afternoon than a warm bowl of chowder.

If you're in need of a hotel in Seattle, check out the Warwick Hotel, the Ace Hotel or the Edgewater.

49
63mi 01h 05m
Tumwater Falls
4.3

110 Deschutes Pkwy SW, Tumwater, WA, US

Tumwater Falls

49

There are also lots of waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest, including Snoqualmie Falls and Palouse Falls. What makes Tumwater Falls so impressive is that these falls were once the site of a hydroelectric power plant that helped power the Olympia street car, and later, were the site of a brewing company. Now it's a park where you can enjoy the lovely view of the waterfall!

48mi 00h 50m

Finally, you've made it to Aberdeen, WA, the "Gateway to the Olympic Peninsula." This town is best known as the birthplace of Kurt Cobain, frontman of Nirvana. In fact, some Nirvana lyrics reference parts of the town.

Route 12 may not be the most popular cross-country road trip, but it's full of offbeat roadside stops, fascinating pieces of American history, beautiful natural wonders, and delicious road food, from BBQ joints to craft beer pubs.

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