This July, we planned to fly to California for a wedding in Napa. After the wedding, I had the perfect Highway 1 itinerary all ready to go with stops in Big Sur, Santa Barbara, and LA. Thanks to COVID-19, the wedding was moved to next year, Ventana Big Sur canceled our reservation, and we generally didn’t feel safe getting on an airplane. We still had the week off work so we decided on the next best thing…a road trip! I wanted to go somewhere I hadn’t been before and I randomly threw out Mount Rushmore. It’s 28 hours from Boston, but still doable in a week. Since we’d be driving through the Midwest, it also made it possible to visit my husband’s family who we hadn’t seen since Christmas. Here are the details of our midwest road trip from Boston to South Dakota.

Our Midwest Road Trip Itinerary

Here’s the itinerary for our Midwest road trip:

  • Day 1: Drive to Donegal, PA
  • Day 2: Visit Fallingwater, drive to Indianpolis, IN
  • Day 3: Visit family in Indianpolis, drive to La Crosse, WI
  • Day 4: Drive to Wall, SD
  • Day 5: Visit Badlands National Park and Mount Rushmore, overnight in Keystone, SD
  • Day 6: Visit Custer State Park and Crazy Horse Memorial, overnight in Keystone, SD
  • Day 7: Drive to Rochester, MN
  • Day 8: Visit family in Illinois and Indiana, overnight in South Bend, IN
  • Day 9: Drive to Niagara Falls, NY
  • Day 10: Visit Niagara Falls, drive home

Driving

Normally this section would be called “Flights”, but since it’s a road trip, I’ll detail our driving expenses. We used our own car, so our only expense was gas. Luckily, gas is pretty cheap right now and thanks to the temporary bonus category on Chase Sapphire Reserve, I earned 5x points on all purchases. We spent $371 earning ~1,800 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Hotels

We were able to use points/rewards for all of the hotel nights on this trip. We also spent one night at my husband’s parent house.

  • Night 1: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Donegal
    • 15,000 IHG points worth $137.30
  • Night 2: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Indianapolis NW – Zionsville
    • 12,500 IHG points worth $109.66
  • Night 3: Fairfield Inn by Marriott & Suites La Crosse
  • Night 4: Days Inn by Wyndham Wall
    • 11,336 Chase Ultimate Rewards points worth $170.04
  • Nights 5-6: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Mount Rushmore/Keystone
    • 42,500 IHG points worth $422.99
  • Night 7: SpringHill Suites by Marriott Rochester Mayo Clinic Area/Saint Marys
    • Stay was worth $179.60 so I used the remaining $163.14 on the Marriott gift certificate and paid $16.46 out of pocket
  • Night 8: Stayed with family in South Bend, IN
  • Night 9: Holiday Inn Niagara Falls-Scenic Downtown
    • 22,500 IHG points worth $243.67

Total cash: $16.46
Total points: 103,836
Total value: $1,400.09

Final Thoughts

If flying isn’t an option for you during COVID-19, a road trip is a great alternative. We spent just under $400 out of pocket on our midwest road trip to Mount Rushmore, most of which was on gas. The hotels on the trip would have cost about $1,400 without points or travel rewards! I’ll post travel guides for points of interest on this road trip as well as reviews of the hotels at these stops.

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More from Our Midwest Road Trip!

Trip Reports:
A Guide to Visiting Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater
What You Need to Know About Visiting Badlands National Park
The Ultimate Mount Rushmore Travel Guide
One Day in Custer State Park
Things to Do in Niagara Falls 
Three Day South Dakota Road Trip Itinerary

Reviews:
Hotel Review: Holiday Inn Express Mount Rushmore/Keystone
Hotel Review: Holiday Inn Niagara Falls Scenic Downtown

2 thoughts on “A Midwest Road Trip Using Points”

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