By John Wogan
July 08, 2020
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Courtesy of Deer Path Inn

This year’s World’s Best Awards survey closed on Mar. 2, just before widespread stay-at-home orders were implemented as a result of COVID-19. The results reflect our readers’ experiences before the pandemic, but we hope that this year’s honorees will inspire your trips to come—whenever they may be.

An abundance of lakes, forests, and protected land makes the Midwest a fertile ground for American resorts. Leading the way was Wisconsin, which took four of the top 10 spots, thanks to properties including Grand Geneva Resort & Spa (No. 10), a 1,300-acre lakeside escape, and the grand Osthoff Resort (No. 7), reminiscent of an early-20th-century lodge, in the village of Elkhart Lake.

Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities.

In Ridgedale, Missouri, near the Ozark National Forest, Big Cedar Lodge appeals to a wide range of readers. “You can be as social or reclusive as you wish,” explained one. “Sometimes we just enjoy the cabin and the fireplace and movies. Other times, we'll go with the family, and it’s very social. It’s always enjoyable for all.”

Over on Michigan’s Mackinac Island, a visit to Hotel Iroquois is a summer tradition for many readers because of its “perfect location on the water” in Lake Huron. The hotel’s 45 guest rooms nod to the surrounding gardens with floral wallpaper and curtains and have plantation shutters that open to the glorious lake views. The restaurant, Carriage House, specializes in local seafood from the Great Lakes and is a major draw. “This is the gem of Mackinac Island,” said a longtime fan.

For the second year in a row, Illinois’ Deer Path Inn takes the top spot. Continue on for the full list of best hotels in the Midwest.

1. The Deer Path Inn, Lake Forest, Illinois

Courtesy of Deer Path Inn

Score: 97.64

More information: thedeerpathinn.com

Forty minutes north of Chicago in the upscale suburb of Lake Forest, the Deer Path Inn has not only won this list, it is also ranked as the No. 2 resort in the United States. The property dates back to 1860, and it channels an English country tavern of centuries before that, with a Tudor façade, rich wood paneling, and stag motifs. (The afternoon tea service is another transportive British experience at the inn.) “I can't say enough about this gem of a hotel,” said one reader. “The rooms are beautifully and comfortably decorated, the restaurants are excellent, the public areas exude charm, and the staff provides personalized, friendly, and efficient service. The only hesitation in providing too much praise is that the secret will get out and it will become harder to book!”

2. Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Michelle Gerard

Score: 92.90

More information: grandhotel.com

3. Hotel Iroquois, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Courtesy of Hotel Iroquois

Score: 89.17

More information: iroquoishotel.com

4. American Club at Destination Kohler, Kohler, Wisconsin

Courtesy of American Club at Destination Kohler

Score: 88.60

More information: americanclubresort.com 

5. Big Cedar Lodge, Ridgedale, Missouri

Courtesy of Big Cedar Lodge

Score: 87.44

More information: bigcedar.com

6. Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, Minnesota

Courtesy of Grand View Lodge ©2019

Score: 86.46

More information: grandviewlodge.com

7. The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Courtesy of The Osthoff Resort

Score: 83.50

More information: osthoff.com

8. Sundara Inn & Spa, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Courtesy of Sundara Inn & Spa

Score: 82.71

More information: sundaraspa.com

9. Mission Point, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Michelle Gerard

Score: 82.36

More information: missionpoint.com

10. Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Courtesy of Grand Geneva Resort & Spa

Score: 81.00

More information: grandgeneva.com

See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2020.