Top 14 Things to Do in the Midwest

Top 14 Things to Do in the Midwest

Top 14 Things to Do in the Midwest

Things to Do in the Midwest – Whether you’re just passing through the Midwestern states or have been living for a while, they each have well-known and obscure attractions that are fun to see and experience.

Midwestern states include Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas.

While some top tourist attractions, such as Mount Rushmore, are located in specific sites, you can enjoy other experiences, such as river paddle boat rides in many Midwest states.

From the famous Willis Tower Skydeck in Chicago to scenic drives to see the vibrant colors of fall, check out our list of some of the top-rated things to do in the Midwest.

  • Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore in South Dakota is one of the top tourist attractions in the entire country, not just in the Midwest.

The carved mountain is an iconic American feel that symbolizes the freedom and democracy the country represents and is an unforgettable sight.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial features the faces of four US presidents, 60 feet tall, carved into the mountain.

One of the best ways to experience the site is with a ranger-led tour through the park to learn more about the history of the Black Hills and the carving of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

While in the park, you can also visit the sculptor’s studio to learn about the artist who created the work and walk the Presidential Trail to see some of the park’s most majestic views from the Grand View Terrace.

  • Falling leaves

The Midwest states are blessed with four distinct seasons, and the best time to visit is during the fall when the leaves change color.

There are some excellent must-see spots for fall foliage tours and scenic drives: Marquette, Michigan, has hundreds of miles of roads through forests illuminated in the fall with shades of red, orange, purple, and brown. The fall colors are gorgeous against the backdrop of Lake Superior.

The Hocking Hills region in southern Ohio is one of the best places for fall foliage. You can book a cabin in the fall and go hiking or ziplining on the treetops to enjoy the colorful views.

The North Shore, near Duluth, Minnesota, is another must-see destination for fall in the woods, located along the shores of Lake Superior.

Another scenic route to fall foliage is in Geneva, Wisconsin, where you can walk the 21-mile trail along the lakeshore surrounded by vibrant trees or take a boat tour and soak in color by the water. The resorts in Lake Geneva provide an excellent opportunity for a weekend getaway.

  • Willis Tower Skydeck

One of the most exciting and fun things to do in the Midwest is at the top of the Willis Tower in Chicago. The Skydeck is the tallest in Chicago and has the city’s best views.

The Ledge is what most visitors travel to the tower’s 103 floors to experience. The ledge is 4.3 feet out from the Skydeck, landing in a glass box.

This means you are suspended 1,353 feet in the air, and there is only glass under your feet. While the experience can take you to new heights, you can always look out the windows if the nerves get better.

  • Paddleboat Ride

Some of the best attractions in the Midwestern states are paddleboat rides along rivers that have historically served as essential routes for delivering goods.

Several states along the significant rivers offer historic paddleboat rides worth going out of your way to experience.

In Ohio, the cities of Cincinnati and Marietta have paddleboats that operate along the Ohio River, and Cleveland has paddleboats that work on the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie.

Going to the Ohio Sternwheel Festival held annually in Marietta the weekend after Labor Day, you’ll see many sternwheelers from across the country converge on the Ohio River.

Other Midwest states with paddleboat riding experiences include Pearl of the Lake Riverboats in Lake City, Minnesota, which sail on the Mississippi River; Spirit of Peoria in Illinois, which runs on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers; and the Lake Queen paddleboat cruises along Lake Taneycomo near Branson, Missouri.

  1. Indy 500

The Indy 500 takes place every Memorial Day weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and is a bucket list item for most people who get the chance to experience it.

There are pre-races and events in the days leading up to the main event, but even if you can’t make it to the race, the speedway is one of the best Midwest tourist attractions of the year.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is a fun attraction for car racing enthusiasts that is open year-round.

It is located inside the track and contains performance and information about the history of racing and the Indy 500.

You can also book the Indy Racing Experience to discover what it’s like to be behind the wheel of a real NTT IndyCar Series race car and drive. Around the famous track. (Things to Do in the Midwest)

  1. Northern Lights

You don’t need to travel to Iceland or Norway to see the northern lights; when you can find many great places in the Midwest to round out that experience.

Cook County, Minnesota, is one of the places to see the aurora borealis on the shores of Lake Superior. One of the best places to see them is the Superior National Forest in the Oberg Mountains.

The Upper Peninsula in Michigan is another place in the Midwest where you can see the northern lights. You can stay in Marquette or plan a camping trip to catch the spectacular show of the Keweenaw Peninsula.

Another option is to catch the northern lights at Newport State Park in Door County, Wisconsin, which has a Dark Sky designation. (Things to Do in the Midwest)

  1. Historic National Roads Yard Sale

If you have a few extra days after Memorial Day weekend, you can indulge in one of the most exciting things to do in the Midwest during the Historic National Roads Yard Sale.

It includes several days of communities, individuals, shops, churches, and random roadside vendors selling their wares along the 800 miles of Historic Route 40 that runs through the Midwest.

The actual sale extends from Baltimore, Maryland, to St. Louis, Missouri, and it’s a festive atmosphere through hundreds of small towns where people search for yard sale treasures.

Even if you don’t want to hit the annual National Street Yard Sale, Route 40 is where to find small antique shops. Antique Alley is one of the best spots along Route 40 in Richmond, with many antique vendors. (Things to Do in the Midwest)

  1. Work a Cattle Drive

If you’ve ever wondered what life is like as a cowboy, you can experience it by participating in an authentic animal expedition in Kansas.

Several working farms in the Kansas Flint Hills let you try your hand at horseback riding and work a cattle drive through tall meadows.

Flying W Ranch near Cedar Point in Kansas and Moore Ranch near Dodge City have experiences that let you consider many jobs related to the cattle drive. You become part of the working crew and see what life is like on the farm. (Things to Do in the Midwest)

  1. Visit Amish Country

Ohio and Indiana Amish counties are a must-experience in the Midwest. No plan is needed to explore the quiet back streets and simple way of life.

Amish communities in Ohio are located in the northeastern counties of Adams, Guga, Holmes, Hardin, Wayne, and Tuscarawas.

You will experience the best by staying at a bed and breakfast, where you can start your day with home-cooked meals using locally sourced eggs and produce.

You will share the road with horses and wagons and see Amish workers in the fields. Fall is a beautiful and picturesque time to visit.

Indiana Amish communities are connected by the Heritage Trail Scenic Loop, which runs through Elkhart, Middlebury, Goshen, Bristol, Shipshewana, Nappney, and Wakarusa. You may have seen many small Amish-owned shops and clothes drying lines. (Things to Do in the Midwest)

  1. Climb the dunes

To experience one of the best natural attractions in the Midwest, you must visit Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore near Traverse City in Michigan.

This is where kids and those who want to feel like kids again can climb the mountainous dunes that rise 450 feet above Lake Michigan.

The whole dunes experience will take three to four hours, going up and down the dunes for about 3.5 miles to Lake Michigan.

When you get tired of climbing the dunes, you can relax on the 35 miles of shoreline and enjoy the breeze from the lake. (Things to Do in the Midwest)

  1. Mall of America

The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, is one of the top tourist destinations in the United States because people must see it to believe it.

It is a massive shopping and entertainment complex with over 520 stores, an aquarium, and a seven-acre amusement park under one roof.

There are also over 60 restaurants here, so you have plenty of places to refuel as you go through the many levels.

Mall of America is as much about the attractions inside as the shopping. Several family-friendly attractions include the Crayola Experience, which lets kids create their own crayons, and the Lego store. Nickelodeon Universe Amusement Park has 27 indoor rides and attractions. (Things to Do in the Midwest)

  1. Sandhill Crane Migration

The Platte River in central Nebraska is one of the must-see spots in the Midwest during sandhill crane migrations every spring. This is when 500,000 cranes stop to rest on the Platte River during their migration.

Cranes have been descending the area over the years, and now the mass migrating herds have become a tourist attraction.

Seeing the cranes going to the right places on the river requires waking up before the storks appear.

Many tours and guides in the region can help ensure that you arrive at the right place at the right time for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. (Things to Do in the Midwest)

  1. Go to a State Fair

There is no other experience in the Midwest than going to a state fair. Healthy fairs are vital to the state’s agricultural roots, which is why you’ll find livestock contests and competitions for a wide variety of produce. Activities at these state fairs range from learning to milk a cow to watching concerts.

Each state has something that makes it’s fair unique. In Ohio, the famous Butter Cow statue’s design is estimated yearly. The Minnesota State Fair is known for its spectacular gardens.

The Indiana State Fair is one of the oldest in the country and focuses on agriculture and quirky displays, like the world’s most giant popcorn ball.

  1. Gateway Arch, St. Louis

The famous Gateway Arch in St. Louis is not only exciting to look at from the ground, but it is even more spectacular from the inside. It is the tallest monument in the United States, and you can take the tram to the top.

See the city from 630 feet in the air and see a new perspective of one of the most recognized symbols in the country when you return to the ground.

In addition to taking a trip to the top of the Gateway Arch, there is an excellent museum with exhibits related to the American settlement.

You’ll also find information about the arch’s construction and what it took to build it.

We hope you like our article on Top 14 Things to Do in the Midwest.

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