So, you felt that urge to visit the Midwest but don’t know where to start your journey? Look no further. From Chicago to Milwaukee,there is plenty to see and visit in the US Midwest.
Whether taking in breathtaking views or indulging in local culture and cuisine, these cities will provide unforgettable experiences. Learn about what each city has to offer, including main features, points of interest, and things to consider before your visit.
Our travel experts have rounded up their top picks for must-visit places in the Midwest, why we love each one, and what to see and do when you get there. Let us be your guide!
16 of the Best Places to Visit in the Midwest
You’ve probably heard about some of the places we are about to mention, or maybe you have even visited them already. Nonetheless, most cities have more to offer than what they are famous for.
Let’s dive in!
1. Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is a vibrant city full of culture and history. From the iconic Willis Tower to the Navy Pier, there are plenty of attractions for visitors to explore.
The Magnificent Mile offers an array of shopping and dining options, while Millennium Park provides stunning views of Lake Michigan.
For those looking for entertainment, Chicago has no shortage of theaters offering plays, musicals, comedy shows, and more. Catch a show at one of the many venues or stroll along Lake Michigan’s shoreline to experience its breathtaking views.
For those who prefer outdoor activities, Grant Park hosts festivals throughout the year, including Taste Of Chicago which features food from around the world.
The Art Institute of Chicago is another popular destination featuring works from some of the greatest artists in history, including Monet and Van Gogh.
Read Next: Where to Stay in Chicago in 2023
2. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis offers outdoor exploration and dynamic city life, with plenty of activities for all ages and interests. The Mississippi River allows for outdoor recreation like kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and biking along its banks.
Several parks in the area also offer beautiful scenery and trails to explore. From Minnehaha Park with its 53-foot waterfall to Theodore Wirth Park, which features over 7 miles of trails – there’s something here for everyone.
Read Next: Is Minneapolis Safe to Visit in 2023?
3. St. Louis, Missouri
From its world-class museums and historic sites to its delicious BBQ and stunning views of downtown St Louis, there’s no shortage of things to do when you find yourself in this Midwestern gem.
The iconic Gateway Arch stands tall over the Mississippi River as a reminder of America’s westward expansion. Take a ride on the tramway up to the top for some breathtaking views of downtown St Louis and beyond.
The City Museum is also an absolute must-see – it’s part museum/part playground that will keep you and your family entertained for hours.
Read Next: Is St. Louis Safe to Visit in 2023?
4. Indianapolis, Indiana
From its rich history and monuments to its many attractions, you’ll find a lot to do in Indianapolis. Home of the world-famous Indy 500 race, Indianapolis has a long and storied past that can be explored through various monuments and memorials throughout the city.
The Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Monument stands tall in downtown Indy as a tribute to those who served in all service branches during America’s wars.
Also located downtown is the Abraham Lincoln statue which honors one of our nation’s most beloved presidents. Lastly, visitors can check out the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site to learn more about this Hoosier president’s life and legacy.
Or, you can be one with nature by visiting White River State Park or the Indianapolis Zoo. We’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention that this gem of a city is home to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which hosts the Indy 500 every year.
Read Next: Is Indianapolis Safe to Visit in 2023?
5. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee is located on the shores of Lake Michigan and offers stunning lakefront scenery and world-class attractions. One popular attraction in Milwaukee is Discovery World Museum.
This interactive museum allows visitors to explore science and technology. From exploring underwater robots to learning about renewable energy sources, your brain will be put to work at Discovery World Museum.
The Milwaukee Art Museum is another must-see spot in the city, housing over 30,000 artworks. Or, relax with a cold beer in hand in one of the city’s many craft breweries.
The building itself is also worth seeing; designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, it features a soaring wing-like structure that opens up during the day and closes at night like a bird taking flight.
Read Next: Is Milwaukee Safe to Visit in 2023?
6. Lincoln, Nebraska
Lincoln, Nebraska, is a great destination for travelers looking to explore the Midwest. Located in the heart of America’s Cornhusker State, Lincoln offers visitors an array of attractions and activities.
If outdoor adventure is on your list, head over to Pioneers Park Nature Center, where there are miles of trails perfect for hiking or biking through prairies full of wildflowers or wetlands filled with wildlife like beavers and herons!
For those who prefer urban exploration, check out Antelope Valley, which has several unique stores selling antiques. You’ll also find some delicious eateries serving up classic Midwestern fare like juicy steaks from Johnny’s Café & Steakhouse!
7. Wichita, Kansas
Wichita caters more to urban explorers and culture buffs. But fear not, you’ll also find plenty to do outdoors.
Wichita is home to many cultural attractions such as The Old Cowtown Museum, which showcases life in 19th century Kansas, and the Exploration Place, which features interactive science exhibits.
There are also several parks located within city limits, including Central Riverside Park, where visitors can enjoy walking trails along the Arkansas River or take part in recreational sports leagues at Lawrence Dumont Stadium.
8. Mitchell, South Dakota
Mitchell, South Dakota, is known for the Corn Palace and Lake Mitchell, making it great for both cultural exploration and outdoor experiences.
The main attraction in Mitchell is its Corn Palace – an iconic building covered entirely in corn husks, which was built as a tribute to local farmers back in 1892!
It has been renovated, but it retains the original charm that attracts so many! For those looking for more adventurous activities outside of town, nearby Lake Mitchell provides ample opportunities for fishing.
And camping sites like Cattail Campground offers stunning views overlooking rolling hillsides dotted with wildflowers during springtime months.
9. Mackinac Island, Michigan
Mackinac Island, Michigan, is perfect for anyone looking for nature and culture. It’s a small island inhabited by Native Americans since ancient times.
The most popular attraction on Mackinac Island is undoubtedly The Grand Hotel — a luxurious Victorian-style hotel with stunning views overlooking Lake Huron — but there are plenty more sights worth seeing too!
Visitors to the island can visit Skull Cave — an underground cave system filled with stalactites and stalagmites — or take part in guided tours around Fort Holmes, where they will learn about local history from knowledgeable guides.
10. Door County, Wisconsin
Door County, Wisconsin, is better known for its stunningly beautiful nature. From sprawling forests and rolling hillsides to crystal-clear lakes and sandy beaches along Lake Michigan’s shoreline — nature lovers are sure to love it here!
One must-see spot is Peninsula State Park which offers camping sites alongside beautiful views overlooking Eagle Harbor. We also recommend taking a boat tour around Washington Island, where you can see some amazing wildlife up close!
11. Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Badlands National Park is a stunning landscape of eroded buttes, spires, and pinnacles. It’s one of the most unique national parks in the United States, and it offers visitors an unforgettable experience.
The main features of Badlands National Park include its dramatic landscapes, which have been formed over millions of years by wind and water erosion.
Numerous hiking trails offer visitors breathtaking views from atop the mesas or through narrow canyons filled with fossils dating back millions of years ago!
12. Madison, Wisconsin
Located on an isthmus between two lakes, Madison offers stunning views of the water from almost anywhere in the city. With its many parks, trails, and bike paths, it’s easy to get out and explore nature while still being close to downtown amenities.
One of Madison’s main features is its abundance of green spaces and parks which make up nearly half (45%) of all land within the city limits!
This means that no matter where you go in town, there will always be something beautiful nearby, whether it be a lakefront beach park along Lake Mendota or one of over 260 miles of walking and biking trails winding through wooded areas around town.
13. Branson, Missouri
Branson, Missouri, is an urban destination that offers many museums, the Table Rock Lake, and more. With its stunning natural beauty and abundance of attractions, Branson is a little gem ready for exploration.
You can attend live music shows and theme parks, or you can go for outdoor adventures like fishing, hiking, and zip-lining. There are also several museums dedicated to local history as well as numerous shopping centers with unique stores and restaurants.
Plus, you can take advantage of the many golf courses or relax at one of the spas or resorts located around town, such as the Grand Country or the Chateau On The Lake.
Read Next: The Best Time to Visit Branson, MO in 2023
14. Traverse City, Michigan
Traverse City is a charming destination, offering plenty of activities and attractions that make it an ideal spot for a weekend getaway or extended vacation.
Visitors can enjoy everything from kayaking and sailing to golfing and hiking during their stay in this vibrant city.
One popular attraction in Traverse City is the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which features miles of sandy beaches along with breathtaking views of Lake Michigan’s shoreline.
15. Black Hills, South Dakota
Home to the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Black Hills, South Dakota, has unique landscapes where bison roam freely among lush meadows and pine forests.
You can explore the Custer State Park, the perfect destination if you’re looking to hunt, fish, or relax in the middle of untouched nature.
Alternatively, if you’re in the mood for a joyride, take a drive along Needles Highway with its narrow tunnels carved through granite spires and towering pine trees.
From the Black Hills, you’re a stone’s throw away from the Badlands National Park, with its rugged terrain and dinosaur fossils. If you fancy something more cultural, you can spend your time at the Crazy Horse Memorial, which honors Native American heroes.
16. Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland hosts several museums, Broadway shows, and lively nights. There are also numerous parks throughout the city, including Edgewater Park, where visitors can enjoy stunning views along with recreational activities like fishing and kayaking.
For those who prefer indoor entertainment, there are plenty of theaters offering live performances year-round! If you feel like enriching your culture, visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum or the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Read Next: Is Cleveland, Ohio Safe to Visit in 2023?
Things to Consider
From what type of activities you want to do while on vacation to where you should stay and how much money you’ll need for your travels, there’s more to traveling than just getting there!
Here are a few things to consider before arriving at your Midwest destination:
- Accommodations: Hotels, motels, bed & breakfasts, cabins, or camping sites all offer different amenities at varying prices. Make sure to research each option thoroughly before booking so that you know exactly what kind of experience awaits you during your visit.
- Transportation: The Midwest offers plenty of transportation options, from planes and trains to buses and rental cars.
- Weather: Weather conditions vary greatly throughout the year in this part of the country so it’s important to check forecasts before packing for any seasonally specific items like winter coats or sunscreen lotion!
- Budgeting: Most Midwestern cities have affordable accommodations available depending on individual preferences regarding location, amenities, etc.
- Activities & Events: Consider checking out local festivals too–from music concerts held outdoors near lakeshores during summertime (like Eaux Claires Music Festival) to winter ice skating rinks set up around town squares (like St Louis Missouri’s Steinberg Skating Rink).
Additionally, many attractions offer discounted admission fees if purchased online ahead of time, which could save travelers a few extra dollars over purchasing them at full price upon arrival day itself.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few answers to the most commonly asked questions about traveling through the Midwest:
Where do people in the Midwest go for a vacation?
The Midwest offers a variety of vacation destinations for travelers. We suggest visiting the Great Lakes region, with its many lakeside towns and cities.
Chicago, with its vibrant culture and iconic skyline, is also worth the visit. Minnesota’s North Shore, which is known for its stunning scenery, is also great for nature lovers.
What is the prettiest state in the Midwest?
The Midwest is home to a variety of stunning landscapes, making it difficult to choose just one state as the prettiest. However, Michigan stands out for its diverse beauty and abundance of natural attractions.
The rugged coastline of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula and the rolling hills and lush forests of northern Michigan make it spectacular.
What is the most visited place in the Midwest?
The most visited place in the Midwest is Chicago, Illinois. It’s a vibrant city with plenty of attractions to keep visitors busy. From world-class museums and galleries to iconic landmarks like The Bean and Navy Pier, there’s something for everyone.
There are also plenty of outdoor activities, such as biking along Lake Michigan or taking a stroll through Millennium Park.
How is the Midwest different from other regions?
The Midwest is known for having pleasant residents, affordable land, and a stress-free way of life that is very different from other American regions. The Midwest is seeing a population boom due to its low cost of living, wide-open landscapes, and laid-back lifestyle.
So, What Is the Best Place to Visit in the Midwest?
As we’ve seen through this article, the Midwest of the United States is filled with places to explore and visit, from nature glory to urban bustle. Midwestern cities are not all the same, and some might offer the experiences you are looking for.
If you know what you want and like, it won’t be very hard to choose. With its unique culture, stunning landscapes, and vibrant cities, this region offers endless possibilities for exploration and discovery.
So, with so much to see and do, there’s no reason to wait — book your trip to the Midwest today!