49 Best Places to Visit in the Midwest

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Best Places to Visit in the Midwest

The Midwest features a diverse blend of scenery and culture. Here are the best places to visit in the Midwest, including great vacation spots and weekend getaways.

The Midwest is one of the greatest places to visit in the United States. Dubbed America’s Heartland, the Midwest area is famed for its rich natural resources, picture-perfect open roads, and wonderful, diverse culture.

Sometimes, it’s also referred to as the Midwestern United States. Both are correct! In the Midwest, you will find attractions like the House on the Rock and the Art Institute of Chicago.

There’s no lack of things to see! Are you planning a road trip or backpacking excursion through the American Midwest? Here’s your guide to the top places to visit in the Midwest.

What We Cover

Midwest Vacation Spots & Tourism

American Gothic by Grant Wood at the Art Institute of Chicago
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The Midwest is comprised of twelve different states.  While there are still arguments about where the boundaries of the Midwest begin and end, most official websites and resources agree about which twelve states make up this long stretch.

The Midwest is… Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. There are many things to do in the Midwest, and our guide covers the essential Midwest destinations you’ll find through these states.

More About Tourism in the Midwest

The Midwest is one of the most popular destinations in the United States. Midwest points of interest are common in films and television shows: The House on the Rock, located in Wisconsin, features heavily in American Gods. The Art Institute of Chicago is seen in hundreds of movies and TV shows, including Shameless.

The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul will forever be associated with Steve Buscemi’s opening lines in Fargo. Tourism in the Midwest is big business. The good news is that it’s easy to find accommodation, cheap to travel, and affordable to find excellent food near most attractions listed here.

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The Best Places to Visit in the Midwest

Illinois

1. See The Skydeck

Skydeck, Chicago, United States

The Skydeck is located at 233 S Wacker Drive, Chicago, on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower. It’s an impressive architectural sight, but that’s not all it’s built for. The Chicago Skydeck offers one of the only views that let you see across four states and sweeping views of Lake Michigan!

More than 1.7 million visitors pass through the Skydeck each year. If you’re more daring, step into the Ledge for a closer view from suspended glass cubes.

Of course, if you are visiting Skydeck, ensure you visit the many other amazing attractions in Chicago, such as the John Hancock Building, a boat tour along the Chicago River, the beaches of Lake Michigan, and so much more.

No matter the season, Chicago has an endless list of fun things to do. Grab a Chicago CityPASS if you want access to all the sights.

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2. Visit Anderson Japanese Gardens

A Flower in Anderson Japanese Gardens

Anderson Japanese Gardens is at 318 Spring Creek Road in Rockford, Illinois. It’s one of the largest Japanese-themed gardens in the states and a must-visit for nature lovers. It was donated to the local Rotary Association in 1998 and has been open to the public ever since.

Adults pay $10 to get in, while kids and senior citizens can venture into the gardens for a slight discount.  Select days are free, including the third days of August, September, and October.

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3. The Art Institute of Chicago

Lion Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the world’s largest, oldest, and most prestigious art museums. Located at 111 South Michigan Ave and founded in 1879, the Art Institute of Chicago contains some of the world’s most famous art pieces.

The truth is that you won’t believe the extent of how large and impressive the Art Institute is until you’ve actually seen it! Plan for at least an hour or two at least. There’s a lot to see! Be sure you stop by the nearby Millennium Park for a nice stroll in the summer or go ice skating in the winter.

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4. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Entrance to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, and The Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site. Springfield, the unassuming capital city of Illinois, sits between Chicago and St. Louis.

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, is commemorated at local attractions, including the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Lincoln Home National Historic Site, and The Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site.

Even if you’re not a history buff, you’ll want to see the latter because it’s surrounded by the Lincoln Memorial Garden & Nature Center.

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Indiana

5. Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Aerial View of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the largest racing track in the world. This place is a must-stop for anyone who would say they are an autophile, adrenaline junkie, or racing lover.

This is where the famed Indianapolis 500 (commonly known as the Indy 500) and Verizon 200 races take place. Other big events like the NASCAR Series are also scheduled at the famous speedway in Indiana.

For schedule information and ticket purchases, visit StubHub for the best selection of tickets, regardless of whether they’re sold out. If you’d like even more to see on the same trip, this is also the location of the Speedway Museum.

While there are plenty of things to do in Indianapolis, you may want to schedule some free time to visit White River State Park, a large green space in the city with a three-mile walking path, shops, and restaurants.

See Related: Things to Do in Warsaw, Indiana

6. The Indiana Medical History Museum

Historic lecture hall at Indiana Medical History Museum
Indiana Medical History Museum / Indiana Medical History Museum

The Indiana Medical History Museum is located at 3270 Kirkbride Way, Indianapolis – and if you’ve never heard of it, it was opened as a monument to the beginnings of psychiatric research in the United States.

Is it for everyone? Well, maybe not, but it still gets thousands of visitors worldwide every year. Atlas Obscura features it as one of their top strange world destinations.

Historical items, records, and weird antique stuff can be seen here. The IMHM opens at 10 in the morning.

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7. Antique Alley

Courthouse in Richmond, Indiana
Roberto Galan / Shutterstock

Antique Alley is the perfect stop-over for anyone who enjoys fine antiques. Located in Richmond, Indiana, Antique Alley is the nickname for a two-tiered destination that brings you to more than 1,200 different stores along the route.

Maps are available from local stores or can be downloaded online to plan your walkthrough better. As far as antiques go, Indiana’s Antique Alley is one of the best places in the world. It’s impossible to visit without taking something home with you!

8. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

The beautiful dunes along Lake Michigan will make visitors want to explore the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The park has over 15 miles of trails, including places where you can roam without getting on a trail. The park also features several beaches, scenic lookouts, and places for bird-watching.

The natural attractions of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore have made it one of the best outdoor things to do in the Midwest. The park offers boat tours, ranger-guided programs, educational activities, and visitor center exhibits. The dunes near Windy City make a great weekend getaway from Chicago.

Iowa

Looking to explore the great Midwest? Iowa will give you a real Midwest experience. Check out our full list of the best things to do in Iowa.

9. The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium

Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium

The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium is a great day out for anyone who wants to get closer to nature during their time in the Midwest. It is a great tourist attraction in Iowa.

Located at 350 East 3rd Street in Dubuque, entry is affordable. Adults pay $15 for entry, while kids get a discounted rate of $10. Added extras can cost more, although they generally won’t break the bank.

Tours of the museum and aquarium are only some of what you can do here. The venue also hosts shows and movies if you can stay longer.

What else can you find here? Great restaurants right around if you want to stop for a bite to eat. Predictably, few seafood options are offered at the aquarium.

10. National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

Entrance to the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library is in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It was first opened to the public in 1974, though it moved to its current address at 1400 Inspiration PI SW in Iowa in the eighties.

The venue promises much more than just a museum and library. History buffs will be right at home here, with movies, tours, and current cultural events that are great for anyone.

The museum and library let you do more than see things at a distance: you’ll experience some culture and food first-hand. Worth your time!

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11. Greater Des Moines Botanical Center

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden can be found at 909 Robert D Ray Drive in Des Moines. Opening hours are from 10 am – making it perfect as a morning stop on your day trip.

The Botanical Garden closes at 5 pm and has certain days of the week when it might be closed to the public. Call ahead to be sure that it’s an open day.

Its true scope is massive, with 14 acres comprising the garden. Garden tours are granted throughout the whole year. Special events are hosted occasionally, so be sure to check the online schedule for event dates.

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Kansas

12. Rock City Park

Rock City Park in Minneapolis, Kansas

Rock City Park can be found at 1051 Ivy Road in Minneapolis, Kansas.  Made from natural sandstone formations, Rock City Park is a popular destination for hiking trails or picnics – or sometimes, just a great place to rest your legs in the middle of a long trip. 

The Rock City was formed approximately 100 million years ago, though it only became a public park open for visits in the 1970s. Since then, millions of footsteps have found their way to this ancient landmark.

Approximately 200 different rocks comprise the great Rock City Park. You’ll want to take photos! Pets are allowed, and admission is kept under $5 for adults and kids.

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13. Sedgwick County Zoo

Tiger Statue at Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, Kansas
Jordan Fitzpatrick / Shutterstock

Sedgwick County Zoo is located at 5555 W Zoo Blvd in Wichita. While the idea of the zoo has lost popularity, Sedgwick County Zoo prides itself on the ethical treatment of the animals. 

More than 3,000 different animals are housed at Sedgwick County Zoo. You’ll be glad to know these are some of the happiest animals you will find anywhere! 

Check their website schedule to determine which shows and events are on throughout the year. Admission prices vary. Adults pay $20, and seniors and kids get in for $15. Members can get free entry throughout the year if they want to support a good cause – or pass through the state several times yearly. There’s a lot to see here, and there’s even more to learn about.

14. Cosmosphere

Quote at the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas
DCM Images / Shutterstock.com

If you didn’t guess from the name, Cosmosphere is a space museum and educational center located in Kansas. Cosmosphere is located at 1100 North Plum Street, Hutchinson, Kansas – formerly known as the Kansas Cosmosphere.

The Cosmosphere opens at 9 am. Entry can cost between $25 for adults and free for kids younger than 3. If you’re a regular visitor, you can get a season pass – or book specific show tickets according to their schedule.

It’s a busy place with a lot to experience. You should spend at least two to four hours here, or you might miss out on the best bits.

Michigan

15. The Henry Ford Museum

Front of the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation

The Henry Ford Museum opens at 20900 Oakwood Boulevard at 9:30 am. Admission is affordable for kids, adults, and senior citizens. 

It’s a great day out for fans of vehicle history or great cars. Tours are its biggest attraction, but that’s not all you can go there to see. Shows and special events are held throughout the year, and you should check their schedule to see what’s on during your trip.

It’s more than just another museum: The Henry Ford Museum is considered a National Historic Landmark. Spend at least 1 to 2 hours here if you want to make sure you’ve seen everything there is to see

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16. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park

The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park is one of several hundred national parks littered throughout the United States and one of the multiple parks you’ll go past on a trip through the Midwest.

Open from 9 am, mark out at least 3 to 4 hours within your day if you want to see a large section of Sleeping Bear Dunes. Plan for more time if you want to have the full experience.  Guided tours of the park can bring you right up to nature.

The moment you’ve seen it, you’ll want to stay longer. Accommodation is available at the park to extend your stay there. If you love outdoor activities, this is one of the best getaways in the Midwest to explore and relax.

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17. The Detroit Institute of Arts

Detroit Institute of Arts

The Detroit Institute of Arts is known internationally as one of the world’s best and largest art collections. Located just 25 minutes from main Detroit at 5200 Woodward Avenue, most road trips through the Midwest will bring you close enough to the Institute for a stop.

More than 100 different galleries can be seen here. Guided tours are possible, though a self-guided tour allows you to learn more about key exhibits and collections. Sixty thousand different works of art call the Detroit Institute their home. Why wouldn’t you stop here? Check out these best things to do in Detroit.

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18. Mackinac Island

 Mackinac Island

There’s a serene charm on Mackinac Island, as cars aren’t permitted there. The Victorian architecture of the houses and the beautiful Grand Hotel is set higher on a hill. The best experiences happen when you explore Mackinac Island on your own through the delicate garden and lilac trees.

You can book a sunset or fireworks cruise on the Star Line ferry on summer weekends. The island has a location across from Lake Huron on the shores of Mackinaw City, Michigan.

The island is 5 miles long and 1 mile wide and is home to Mackinac Island State Park and many 19th-century buildings and places of interest.

See more of Mackinac Island on horseback, with several tours offering daytime excursions. This is one of the Midwest’s most romantic road trips and weekend getaways.

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19. Traverse City

Traverse City

Traverse City is a laid-back neighborhood with spas and golf course and scenic roads. Go to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore for a day, hike around the famed dunes, or swim in Lake Michigan.

The sunsets on Lake Michigan are magnificent, so plan to stay a few days enjoying farm-to-table dining in one of the two waterfront restaurants on the water.

Shop small boutiques and check out interesting galleries and historical monuments in Traverse City, which contains boutiques, art galleries, and antique stores.

Near Grand Traverse Bay, shopping in this area is mainly upscale. Traverse City is one of the most popular getaways in the Midwest due to its combination of charm, outdoor activities, things to do for families, and proximity to key Midwestern cities like Chicago and Detroit.

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Minnesota

20. The Mall of America

MOA Mall of America

The Mall of America is the largest shopping mall in the United States, based at 60 East Broadway in Bloomington. The store directory contains more than 500 different retailers. Clothing, food, and electronics are just a small section of what you’ll find here.

Picture it; a real-life Amazon where you can find anything you want to gawk at. Millions of people worldwide walk through Mall of America’s doors each year.

Expect to do a lot of walking from one store to the next. It’s a literal shopping marathon, but it can also be fun. There’s even an indoor theme park! Check out these other best things to do in Minneapolis.

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21. Como Park Zoo & Conservation Park

A Statue Inside the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory

Como Park Zoo is located in Saint Paul, and you can find it on this list by driving under 30 miles from the previous destination! 

If you would like your trip through the Midwest to bring you right up and close to nature, Como Park is one of the best places you can visit. Admission is affordable, and it’s a fun place for adults and kids to visit all year round.

Most of Como Park can be seen in about 2 hours, though allow extra time if you want to attend an event or see a show. Shops and restaurants are located within the zoo if you want to take a break. The conservatory is among the best places to take pictures in the Twin Cities.

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22. The Museum of Quackery & Medical Frauds

Museum of Quackery and Medical Frauds Exhibit

Weird museums are an entire business on their own. The Museum of Quackery & Medical Frauds is one of the most famous “odd” museums in the entire world – and while driving through Wichita, you best believe it’s worth pulling over for it.

This famous museum has historically displayed medical oddities, lies, and snake oils. Yes, this is where you’ll see some of the strangest stuff ever!

Atlas Obscura lists the Quackery Museum as one of their top sites. Bookings can be made through their official website. Check out these other museums in Minnesota to visit.

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23. Grand Marais

Grand Marais

Grand Marais is a beautiful vacation spot in Minnesota. It’s about an hour and a half away from Duluth and is at the end of the National Scenic Byway of Highway 61 along the North Shore. Grand Marais is up there for one of the most picturesque weekend getaways in the Midwest.

This small, charming town is located on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota. It’s known for its fantastic fishing, trails, biking, and, of course, the lighthouses, as well as a number of nearby state parks.

The freshwater of Lake Superior is perfect for boating, and the town’s marinas are good places to do that. The Bayview Marina will provide rentals if you want to check out Lake Superior on your boat or rent one yourself. There is no better place to vacation than Grand Marais, with its everlasting beauty of the north shore.

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Missouri

24. National WWI Museum and Memorial

National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City

The National WWI Museum and Memorial is the official museum for World War I in the United States. The museum is located in Kansas City, Missouri. The museum was completed in 1926 and was a Veterans Memorial Hall until WWII.

With 77 million people living around the area and being centrally located in the Midwest, it is important to educate them on what took place while highlighting this period in history. In 2004, it was designated by the United States Congress as the country’s official war memorial and museum dedicated to World War I.

The museum’s library and archives are the largest repositories of Great War information in the United States. One of the museum’s other goals is to serve as a memorial for those who lost their lives during this time serving their country.

The museum offers educational tours, exhibits, and lectures that bring history to life! You can take a self-guided or guided tour that will have you explore the trenches, view the film “The Price of Freedom,” and see artifacts from this period.

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25. Lake of the Ozarks

Lake of the Ozarks

The Lake of the Ozarks is right in the warm heart of Missouri and was first built in the 1930s to separate the surrounding bodies of water. The Lake of the Ozarks is today a state-run park called Ozarks State Park, where you’ll see some of the most natural sights in the state.

Accommodation is available with bookings through the official Lake of the Ozarks website, or check out these top options on Booking.com. Fun activities and guided tours can be arranged if you have more time or want to do more than just window shopping through nature.

The lake stretches more than 1,100 miles in one direction. This is one of the most popular weekend getaways for residents from Kansas City as well as downtown Chicago. This lake and the surrounding towns can get very busy in the summertime. Nature lovers can’t afford to miss it!

26. St. Louis Zoo

Penguins at St. Louis Zoo

The other very well-known city in Missouri that isn’t Kansas City is, of course, St. Louis. The St. Louis Zoo is one of the largest zoological gardens in the United States and is home to more than 12,000 animals of 500 different species. 

The primary focus of St. Louis Zoo is high-quality animal care. Their secondary focus is education, where the public sees some fascinating sights that make up the day-to-day zoo operations.

It’s recommended to make reservations ahead of time and through their website. Membership is available for visitors who go through the state more often. As a note, the St. Louis Zoo closes at 4 pm. It’s one of the best things to do in the Midwest in June!

See Related: Things to Do in Greenwood, Indiana

27. Missouri Botanical Garden

Missouri Botanical Garden in Spring

Missouri Botanical Garden is located at 4344 Shaw Boulevard in St. Louis. It’s one of the most highly-rated stops for nature lovers, and even restaurants offer something to eat if you want to take a break.

The park first opened in 1859. This makes it one of the oldest parks in the United States. Picnics, guided tours, and more are available right here.

It’s recommended to book ahead through their website. While tickets are at the door, it can get busy during some parts of the year.

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Nebraska

28. Carhenge

Carhenge at Nebraska

Carhenge could be one of the weirdest attractions on the list, and pictures don’t do it enough justice. Gamers might recognize this from the popular game Fallout 4. If you are anywhere near the area of Nebraska, stop by 2151 Co Road in Alliance.

This is where you’ll find the unique Carhenge sculpture, created by artist Jim Reinders. Admission is charged: remember this before you show up for a trip. Roadside America lists it as one of its top attractions. A great photo opportunity awaits. 

29. Chimney Rock Museum

Chimney Rock Museum in
magraphy / Shutterstock.com

Chimney Rock Museum is based around one of Nebraska’s many natural rock formations. Chimney Rock’s peak is more than 4,200 feet above sea level. If you are the hiking type, you’ll be right in heaven at Chimney Rock – although some inclines can be pretty steep and hard to grip.

If you would like to stop by and see it, note that the Chimney Rock Museum is only open over weekends from 9 am. There’s a small gift shop here with memories for sale.

30. The Old Market

Christmas in the Old Market of Omaha

The Old Market describes an area of Omaha where more than 40 restaurants are packed along the same stretch. Official resources call it “the most historic and entertaining neighborhood” in Omaha.

It won’t take long to find out why. The best way to approach the several acres that make up the Old Market area is to look at the online guide first.

A list of the stores and restaurants can be viewed here – and unless you plan on getting lost, you’ll need it! Great accommodation in Old Market, Omaha, is also available if you want to stay for a while before continuing your trip.

North Dakota

31. Fargo Air Museum

Interior of the Fargo Air Museum

The Fargo Air Museum is located at 1609 19th Avenue North in Fargo and first opened in 2001. The Museum opens at 10 am. 

History and education are their main focus. Events and exhibitions are hosted every day, with the obvious aviation angle. Interactive displays bring you up and close with real and historical aircraft.

If you or someone you know loves to spend hours on Flight Simulator (certainly not me *cough*), the Fargo Air Museum can be one of the best trips you can make. Like what you are hearing? Check out these best things to do in Fargo, North Dakota.

32. Red River

Aerial View of the Red River, North Dakota in Autumn

The Red River runs through the entire state but spans into Southern Manitoba from there – and alongside parts of the stretch, you’ll find perfect photo opportunities, roadside stops, and accommodation.

What could be better than a view of the Red River? Very few things, let me tell you. Guides and walking trails are the best way to see the Red River up close. There is plenty of nearby accommodation for those who prefer to look at it from a distance.

For the best experience, find a guide in the local newspaper! 

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33. Scandinavian Heritage Park

Scandinavian Heritage Park in Minot, South Dakota
Yosoyana / Shutterstock.com

The Scandinavian Heritage Park is one of the best outdoor sights you’ll find in North Dakota.  SH Park is located at 1020 South Broadway in Minot and is easy to access from either side of the highway.

You’ll find many interesting things here, including a replica of the Scandinavian Gol Stave church and other historical landmarks.

Guided tours and walkthroughs can be booked through the official site. Scandinavian Heritage Park closes at 5 pm. Plan for at least 1 to 2 hours for a proper tour.

34. Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is in North Dakota and contains the northernmost portion of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.

The park is named after Theodore Roosevelt, who was instrumental in establishing the national park system. It has more than 500,000 acres split into three units: the South, North, and Medora.

This park is one of the Midwest’s best places to visit for outdoor enthusiasts – there are scenic trails that will take you through the badlands as well as recreational activities like fishing or horseback riding.

Visitors can also enjoy visiting the visitor center to learn about the local park animals like bison, coyotes, and black-footed ferrets.

This is one of the most underrated national parks in the US and makes for one of the best weekend getaways in the Midwest for national park lovers.

Ohio

35. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (Cleveland)

Architecture of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (Cleveland)

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is one of the holy sites of modern rock music. If you’re passing through Cleveland (Ohio), then you have got to make this one of your stops – it’s almost like a pilgrimage for rock fans.

The Hall of Fame opens at 1100 East 9th Street in Ohio at 9 am. Plan for several hours to make your way through several exhibits. It’s easy to miss something, especially when you try to rush your way through. Take your time!

Some of the greatest items tied to Rock Music History are here. It’s recommended to book ahead, so check the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website for availability and special events.

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36. West Side Market (Cleveland)

West Side Market (Cleveland)

West Side Market is the oldest public market in Cleveland and sees several thousand visitors and locals every week who stop by for the greatest fresh food, baked goods, and restaurants. West Side Market opens at 8 am and allows visitors to browse the selection of restaurants and more at their own pace.

The food is great, the drinks are great, and there’s no need to rush. Hey, it’s almost safe to say this is one of the best places to relax in Cleveland. If you’re a chef or lover of fine food, you’ll enjoy it much more.

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37. The American Sign Museum (Cincinnati)

Inside the American Sign Museum in Ohio
Lost Mountain Studio / Shutterstock.com

The American Sign Museum is a monument to the arts. Construction started in 1999, and the American Sign Museum was finally completed by its creator in 2005. It’s one of the largest sign collections in the world, with signs including vintage wooden signs and neon signs from their start. It opens at 10 am, with tours the best way to see everything.

38. Cedar Point Amusement Park

Cedar Point Amusement Park Gate Keeper

Cedar Point is home to over 100 attractions that will thrill visitors of all ages. Thrill-seekers will love places like Maverick, which features an 80-degree drop, Top Thrill Dragster, which reaches 120 mph in under 4 seconds, and Gatekeeper, which offers a breathtaking view of Lake Erie.

Offering places to visit in the Midwest doesn’t mean there aren’t fun places for kids, too. The park offers places like Soak City Waterpark with its water slides and wave pool, and Snoopy’s Splash Dance features water nozzles, sprays, geysers, dump buckets, and more.

South Dakota

As a visitor stop, there is more to do around Mount Rushmore than at it. If you remember this while driving up to it, it’s still a worthy place to stop during your Midwest day trip. Check out our full list of the best things to do in South Dakota if you plan on building an itinerary there.

See Related: Top Most Beautiful Cities in the World to Visit

39. Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Mount Rushmore is world-famous and closer than you think when traveling through the American Midwest. The National Memorial can be found at 13000 SD-244 in Keystone and opens to visitors early in the day.

It’s one of the most iconic landmarks in the United States and is in the heart of the Black Hills National Forest. There are many great things to see and do in the area, especially with kids.

40. Dinosaur Park

Dinosaur at Dinosaur Park

Dinosaur Park is located in Rapid City – at 940 Skyline Drive to be more exact. It’s not the only Dinosaur Park in the United States, but Google Maps should know the difference.

If you want fun things to do in the Midwest that won’t break the bank or destroy your budget, Dinosaur Park is great. Seven unique, massive dinosaur sculptures look out over the city.

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41. Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

The Badlands National Park is home to a diverse array of wildlife. The park is also one of the places in the Midwest where there’s sandstone deposited over millions of years.

Colorful bands and unique shapes characterize the sandstone formations. Plenty of places to explore in the Badlands include fossil beds, rocky outcroppings, and natural sand dunes.

The park is open all year round. You should visit between spring and fall to minimize exposure to harsh elements. The Badlands offers ranger-guided tours, educational activities, and visitor center exhibits.

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42. Reptile Gardens (Colonial Pine Hills)

Entrance to the Reptile Gardens in Rapid City, South Dakota
Sumit.Kumar.99 / Shutterstock.com

Reptile Gardens is in Colonial Pine Hills at 8955 US-16, Rapid City. The place isn’t just incredible; it’s record-setting: Guinness World Records has listed this as the largest reptile park in the world for several years in a row.

If you want to delve into reptile education or see some of these amazing creatures from close-ups, Reptile Gardens is one of the best Midwest destinations.

Shows, walkthroughs, and a small store are just some of what you can find through Reptile Gardens. Tickets are available at the door, but viewing the schedule on their website is recommended to plan your trip properly.

43. The Black Hills

Black Hills and a River

The Black Hills is a small and isolated mountain range rising from the Great Plains of North America in western South Dakota and extending into Wyoming, United States.

The range’s highest summit is Black Elk Peak, which rises to 7,244 feet. The Black Hills encompass the Black Hills National Forest. With many places to visit, such as Mt Rushmore, Devils Tower, and historic mines, this region has options to suit various interests and is an excellent place to spend your vacation.

This is a great option for an extended stay or a family vacation. There are plenty of nearby attractions and things to do in South Dakota along the Black Hills, including Custer State Park.

44. Custer State Park

Custer State Park, South Dakota

Custer State Park is home to more than 1,500 free-roaming buffalo and other wildlife. The park features natural beauty, including its rugged terrain and prairies, and Custer State Park offers hiking and camping spots for those who enjoy the outdoors.

The park features an abundance of wildlife, including coyotes, deer, elks, beavers, and so much more. There are many great things to do in Custer State Park beyond the wildlife, including hiking trails, camping, and even notable landmarks like Crazy Horse.

Wisconsin

Let’s get into some of our favorite places to visit in Wisconsin. Be sure to check out our full list of our favorite things to do in Wisconsin to fill out the rest of your list.

45. The House on the Rock

House on the Rock, Wisconsin

The House on the Rock opened in 1959 and is between Dodgeville and Spring Green in Wisconsin. Opening hours are 9 am, and guided tours can be booked through their website or shown up at the door.

Unusual does not begin to describe what you’ll see at the House on the Rock. Created by Alex Jordan Jr, it is more than just a weird tourist attraction today. Accommodation, golf, and a spa are available, as well as tours through the House on the Rock. Stop by the House on the Rock!

See Related: Minnesota vs Wisconsin: What’s the Difference?

46. Door County

Autumn in Door County

On the 67-mile peninsula, Door County has 19 little communities. Adventurers can hike in five state parks or visit one of the region’s many lighthouses.

The lake in Door County has about 100 miles of shoreline and is home to a variety of sea life. You may view lavender fields and Schoolhouse Falls. Kayaking and camping are popular activities at Peninsula State Park.

Visit a family-owned cherry garden and take a bike ride in the Door County Trolley to peek at a few of the area’s finest. For a fun day trip, take a ferry to Washington Island.

47. The Harley Davidson Museum

Entrance to the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee
Brett Welcher / Shutterstock.com

The Harley Davidson Museum is located in Wisconsin – and it’s one of the places that have to be on your list as one of the best tourist attractions in the Midwest if you are a biker or biking culture enthusiast.

Vintage bikes are displayed here alongside a historical timeline of Harley Davidson motorcycles. Shops allow you to deplete your vacation funds with gloves, helmets, and more. Plan for at least 2 hours if you would like to make your way through most of the museum. Opening hours are at 9 am.

48. The Cave of the Mounds

Cave of the Mounds

The Cave of the Mounds is a gorgeous natural cave formation located at 2975 Cave of the Mounds Road in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin. It was first named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and sees thousands of visitors enter its doors yearly.

If you want to walk straight through a time machine into prehistoric times, visit this place and take a moment to breathe it all in. It’s one of the singularly greatest Midwest places to visit.

Admission fees are approximately an hour for the tour, but you can book a longer pass. Time peaks during mid-day, so mornings or afternoons are ideal for a quiet trip out.

49. Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Wisconsin Dells in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Dells is considered the water park capital of the world, making it one of the best things to do in the Midwest with kids. You can enjoy famous waterparks like Kalahari’s Noah’s Ark water park and Great Wolf Lodge.

Spend three days outdoors in a Wisconsin deer park or hike to Lake Delton to get a taste of the park’s natural side. The Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum and Rick Wilcox’s Magic and Illusion Show are kid-friendly attractions.

Outside of the water parks and amusement parks, the Wisconsin Dells is also known for some picturesque natural wonders of lakes, pines, and ponds with a diverse set of wildlife. This is one of the top weekend getaways in the Midwest for kids.

See Related: Going (Formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights) Review

FAQ

Where can I go for a road trip in the Midwest?

You can visit places near you, not too far but just a few hours away. There is plenty to do in the Midwest if you know where to go. You can head north and explore Madison, WI, which boasts a lot of culture and architecture from the mid-century.

It’s also got a variety of attractions like zoos or festivals in town year-round – never a dull moment! Head south from there and check out Kansas City, Missouri, if you’re looking for a blend of Southern and Midwest living.

Smaller cities like Traverse City or Grand Marais often have more charm when it comes to places their residents frequently hang out since they’re not trying to compete with other places to attract tourists or host large events all year long that draw big crowds.

What are some important places to visit in the Midwest?

Visitors and students who come to the Midwest can explore some of the best places in America. Such as downtown Chicago, the Great Lakes, Mount Rushmore, or one of the many amazing national parks. Visitors flock from all over the world to explore these Midwest vacation spots.

What are great places to visit in the Midwest?

As someone who has lived in the Midwest my entire life, my favorites include the Windy City of Chicago, Badlands National Park, Mackinac Island in Michigan, the North Shore of Minnesota, and Door County in Wisconsin. These all make for excellent weekend getaways or road trips with plenty of things to see and do around each area.

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Kyle Kroeger
WRITTEN BY

Kyle Kroeger

Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He's a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he'd heard.

Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he's learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.

He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time. Read more about his portfolio of work.

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