Besides Chicago, the Midwest of the United States is such an underrated destination even for Americans, and international travelers tend to choose popular destinations in either coasts. There are so much more that the Midwest can offer than just corn fields and hillbillies. In fact, not only will you find the friendliest people, I believe the American Midwest is the best place to experience American culture and the good old wholesome values. The road less traveled always brings you more intimate experiences.
So what states are in the Midwest? Well, this is debatable, but typically it goes from Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri to Kansas, Nebraska, North and South Dakoda. As you can see it covers a vast amount of area and could certainly get quite cold in the north in the winter. But no matter when you go, you will find the most down-to-earth people that will certainly warm your heart.
Here are the top and unique things to do in the Midwest:
Milwaukee Summer Fest
In the cheese capital of the Untied States, Summerfest is THE event to go in Wisconsin as people came out of hibernation. Summerfest is one of the largest music festivals that takes place in the lakefront of Milwaukee. Did you know the festival holds a title of “The World’s Largest Music Festival” by the Guinness World Records?
Skyline Chili in Cincinnati
This is such an unique dish that you will either love it or hate it! This savory and watery chili topped off with cheese over pasta or hot dogs is definitely a locals favorite. If chili is not your thing, then head over to Graeter’s ice cream for some of the creamiest ice cream you would ever had.
The city of Cincinnati itself is very scenic due to the hilly landscape which can rival certain parts of San Francisco. Go check out Mt. Adams or go across the river on the Kentucky side for some amazing view of the city. Also with the new casino and gentrified trendy area of Over-the-Rhine, downtown Cincinnati boosts some great night life.
The energy and the excitement at Indy 500 is something to not miss out. Indy 500 is America’s open-wheel series and it operates outside of the Formula One system. The so-called “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” draws over 200,000 people each year.
Athens Ohio Halloween Block Party
Probably the craziest place to be in America when it comes to Halloween in Athens Ohio. With Athens being a college town, home of Ohio University, trust me, it will get very rowdy. People especially college students flocked from all over the country and the university population could easily double in size.
Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Paradise
A fantastic place to do some camping and hiking and finally arriving at the breathtaking water falls. Located in the Upper Peninsula of northern Michigan, Tahquamenon Falls is actually a year-round attraction. Think the falls is stunning? Check it out when it’s frozen.
Mt. Rushmore and Custer State Park
Mt. Rushmore in South Dakoda is a given consider it is such an iconic site. Custer State Park, which is in the same area of Mt. Rushmore boost stunning views and tons of wild life, from turkeys to deer to bison. No worries if you are not a hiker as you can drive to the scenic areas which is a plus.
Mall of America
The Mall of America is THE largest mall in the United States! So big that it’s got its own zip code. Besides the regular shops and movie theater, there’s a theme park with many rides and even an aquarium inside the mall. Looking for somewhere to hide from the cruel winter of Minnesota? It’s 70 degree year round in the Mall of America.
Deep Dish Pizza in Chicago
What’s better than pizza? More pizza! That’s how I feel about Chicago’s famous deep dish pizza. The pizza is tall with high edges and the center is filled with monstrous amount of cheeses, sauces and other ingredients. This filling and savory dish is absolutely the cheery on top for your Chicago trip. My favorite is Pequod’s Pizzeria, and Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria is a close second.
Gateway Arch in St. Louis Missouri
Another iconic architecture from the Midwest. Built as a monument to the westward expansion of the United States, the Arch is dedicated to the American people. The view on top of the arch is simply stunning while overlooking the city of St. Louis.
A few blocks away from the Gateway Arch, the City Museum is another place definitely worth checking out. It is a play house museum housed in a former shoe factory which consists of re-purposed architecture and industrial materials. Both adults and children will have a blast.
National Balloon Classic in Indianola Iowa
The 9-day festival is one of the most anticipated events in Iowa. Giant hot balloons with live music, lots of food and fireworks.
Indianola is only a short drive from Des Moines, which is the state capital full of art and culture. The beautiful and cool sculpture park is not to be missed. Iowa State fair is also located in Des Moines, fried food and petting baby lambs? Check!
Most likely wherever you go in the Midwest, you would need to rent a car. But the good thing is that Midwest airports tend to be smaller, which means easy in and out (besides Chicago), and you wouldn’t wait in line for long.
I can’t emphasis enough that people in the Midwest are very heart-warming, where neighbors are friends, and friends become family. This is the land where people wave at each other in their cars, and enthusiastic people who will stop whatever they are doing to help you out. Give it a go, you will find that America has a lot more to offer than just the east and west coast.