midwest National Parks road trip travel Uncategorized

50 must-see places in the Midwest

I already know what many of you are thinking. Are there really 50 must-see places in the Midwest? Isn’t it all just flat farmland? The truth is, there is a lot of flat land out here but it is beautiful to drive. However, there are plenty of places that are must-see in the Midwest.

From major cities, to National parks, and even interesting museums and sites. The Midwest is much more than you think it is. Take your while you are exploring everything that makes the heartland such an interesting place.

The Midwest consists of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Below you will find our picks for 50 must-see places in the Midwest.

Chicago, Illinois 

You will be blown away by everything you can see and do in the Windy City. Visit Olive Park on the banks of Lake Michigan or see your reflection on The Bean. If you are looking for an unbelievable view you have to go to 360 Chicago Observation Deck. Of course, you can’t forget to visit the famous Wrigley Field home to the Chicago Cubs.

Kansas City, Missouri 

If you are a fan of Barbecue then a visit to KC is a must. Some of the best barbecues in the country can be found in Kansas City. If there is a line out the door you know it must be good. People from Kansas City don’t mess around with “bad” BBQ. 

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore – Munising, Michigan

Michigan, Midwest, Pictured Rocks, Lake Superior, Water, Cliffs,

Located on Lake Superior and known for its multicolored pictured rock cliffs. 

Deadwood, South Dakota

National Historic Landmark, Deadwood, South Dakota, Midwest, Fairmont Hotel, oyster bay, Eagle bar, main street, wild west,

Did you know that Deadwood, South Dakota is a National Historic Landmark? If you are a fan of the old west you won’t want to miss Deadwood and the graves of famous Wild West figures. 

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – Cleveland, Ohio

Learn all about the history of Rock and Roll and see artifacts from rock legends like the Rolling Stones, Guns N’ Roses, and even Micheal Jackson.

Chimney Rock Museum – Bayard, Nebraska

Nebraska, Chimney Rock, Scenic,

Nearly 300 feet above the surrounding valley is Chimney Rock. It looks very much out of place. 

Mall of America – Bloomington, Minnesota

Mall of America is more than just a mall with a bunch of stores to go shopping in. You can also find a theme park, adventure course, aquarium, and so much more. If you find yourself in Minnesota it is worth the stop. Even if it’s just to tell your friends that you’ve been to one of the largest malls in the country. 

Wisconsin Back Roads

open road, dirt road, scenic,

Just take a drive around the roads in Wisconsin. The scenery makes for a nice and calming drive.

Dodge City, Kansas

Looking to see what an old west gunfight would have been like? Doge City is the place for you where the Boot Hill Museum holds reenactments of them. 

Black Hills National Forest, South Dakota 

The Black Hills National Forest is huge. It is made up of 1.2 million acres. Travel the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway for epic views of Mount Rushmore and the chance to see some elk. Please just remember not to feed any wildlife you see. 

South Dakota, Black Hills, Sylvan Lake, Milky Way, Night Photography, stars, dark,

The Black Hills is also a great location to visit at night and do a little star gazing. Sylvan Lake is a great location to get some epic Milky Way shots.

Lambeau Field – Green Bay, Wisconsin

Home of the Green Bay Packers. 

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Visit the Judy Garland Museum (Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz) or start your journey on the Wilderness Scenic Byway. 

Indianapolis, Indiana

Of course, you have to pay a visit to the Indianapolis Speedway but there are other places you should stop and see too. White River State Park is the nation’s largest urban state park where you can enjoy a 3-mile stroll on the canal walk. 

Clifty Falls State Park – Madison, Indiana

They say the waterfalls’ moods change with the seasons and weather. From a lite mist to a roaring beast. The best times to visit are winter and spring when the ice is either forming or melting.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park- Medora, North Dakota 

Where the Badlands meet the Great Plains you will find Theodore Roosevelt National Park. This is a great place to see prairie dogs, Bison, and Elk. Follow the Scenic Loop Drive for some epic overlooks. 

Maquoketa Caves State Park – Maquoketa, Iowa

Looking for a unique outdoor adventure when traveling in Iowa? Look no further than Maquoketa Caves State Park which has more caves than any other state park in Iowa. Now grab your flashlight and get out there. 

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota 

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, stone, sculpture, Mountain

Massive sculpture carved into the side of a mountain. The faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln are 60 ft high and are a sight to see. 

Spirit of Peoria – Peoria, Illinois

Get a chance to take one of the nation’s only overnight paddleboat tours. 

Field of Dreams – Dyersville, Iowa

Field of Dreams, Iowa, Movie Location,

Baseball field from the movie.

Henry Doorly Zoo – Omaha, Nebraska

Henry Doorly Zoo is considered the largest zoo in the world in terms of acreage and species numbers. Other zoos have more acreage or more species but none have both. 

Here you will find the world’s largest indoor swamp and desert. 17,000 animals of 962 species call Henry Doorly Zoo home. You might want to call it home too after your visit. 

Bismarck, North Dakota

When in Bismarck check out the State Capitol, Dakota Zoo, North Dakota Heritage Center, and Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park. 

Let us know what you think of the North Dakota State Capitol building? Do you think more states should have a capital like there’s? To me it kind of looks like a prison. I should know, I’ve worked in one for years.

Clear lake, Iowa

This is the town the day the music died. Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa was where Buddy Holly, the Big Booper, and Ritchie Valens played before their plane sadly crashed. Visit the museum and visit the crash site.

Route 66 Association of Illinois – Pontiac, Illinois

Route 66, historical,

Most people have heard of Route 66. Well, stop by to learn about this amazing old highway that crossed through eight states. 

Cantwell Cliffs – Rockbridge, Ohio

If hiking is your thing you will love Cantwell Cliffs which is known for its deep valleys, rock shelter, and high cliffs. 

St. Louis, Missouri 

St. Louis Gateway Arch

St Louis is known as the gateway to the west so that means you have to visit the famous Gateway Arch. However, there is still more to see like the Botanical Garden or the St. Louis Zoo. 

Detroit, Michigan 

The Motor City might not be what it once was but that doesn’t mean you should skip a visit here. Visit the 130-year-old Detroit Institute of Arts or spend the day exploring Belle Isle. Of course, a visit to Detroit wouldn’t be the same if you missed out on a visit to the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. 

If it wasn’t for Henry Ford the American Auto industry might not be the same as it is today. 

Museum of World Treasures – Wichita, Kansas 

See Egyptian mummies, a real shrunken head, a section of the Berlin Wall and so much more. 

Cedar Point – Sandusky, Ohio 

Visit the second oldest amusement park in the United States. 

Crazy Horse, South Dakota

Crazy Horse, South Dakota,

Located not too far from Mount Rushmore is a massive stone sculpture of Crazy Horse. Construction started in 1948 and it is still being worked on today.

World’s Largest Toy Museum – Branson, Missouri

They have a collection of over 1 million toys. Everything from lunch boxes to Barbie and tin toys to pull toys. Your mind will be blown by this amazing collection. 

Badlands National Park, South Dakota 

Badlands, National Park, South Dakota, must see places

Follow the Fossil Exhibit Trail to see fossils uncovered in the park or hop in the car and travel Highway 240 to see some amazing scenery. 

Frankenmuth, Michigan

If you were traveling by car and fell asleep to find yourself waking up in Frankenmuth. You’d think you were transported to Germany. However, you would be wrong, you are just in Michigan. 

Garden of the Gods – Herod, Illinois

Located within the Shawnee National Forest is one of the most photographed locations in Illinois. The extraordinary view will leave you speechless. 

Topeka, Kansas

Topeka, Kansas, State Capital, Dome roof,

Topeka is the state capital but is so much more than that. You do have to stop in the visitor center but also have to see the museum about one of the most craziest man to ever live. Of course, we are talking about Evel Knievel. Another must see in Topeka is the Great Overland Station which is a railroad station from 1927 that has been fully restored.

Hill City, South Dakota

When in Hill City, South Dakota pay a visit to the State Railroad Museum or the Teddy Bear Museum before you head out to see Mount Rushmore. 

Carhenge – Alliance, Nebraska

Carhenge

Sometimes you do things just because. Carhenge is one of those times.

Bridges of Madison County, Iowa

Take a drive to visit all six covered bridges of Madison County. 

National Museum of the US Air Force – Dayton, Ohio

This place houses the largest collection of military aviation in the United States. History, Military, and aviation fans are sure to love the National Museum of the US Air Force. 

Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Cape Girardeau is the 17th largest city in Missouri and located along the Mississippi River. You can find over 30 historical sites including the site of a small Civil War skirmish.

Scenic River Drive – Western Illinois

Take a relaxing and peaceful drive for more than 550 miles along the mighty Mississippi River in Western Illinois. 

Kissing Bridges – Indiana

Covered Bridge, Indiana

Take a road trip to see the covered bridges in Parke County, Indiana. These covered bridges are known as Kissing Bridges due to love notes left by past visitors. 

Scotts Bluff National Monument – Nebraska

Relive the Oregon trail as the Scotts Bluff has been a landmark for travelers for hundreds of years.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Located along Lake Michigan, Milwaukee is a beautiful city to visit in the mid west. Notable places to visit are the Harley-Davidson Museum, Milwaukee Zoo, Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee Art Museum, and don’t forget about stopping off at one of the many breweries.

Starved Rock State Park – Illinois

The first state park in Illinois has over 13 miles of beautiful hiking trails with many taking you past stunning waterfalls. Starved Rock State Park has also been declared a National Historic Landmark. 

Michigan City Lighthouse, Indiana

Lake Michigan Lighthouse, Michigan City, Indiana

Lighthouse located in Michigan City, Indiana along the banks of Lake Michigan.

Chimney Rock- Nebraska

Another famous landmark along the Oregon trail located in Nebraska. 

Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati like many cities around the US has something for everyone. From the Taft Museum of Art to hands on entertainment for children at Duke Energy Children’s Museum. A weekend in Cincinnati will not be a dull one. 

Riverside, Iowa

Why not visit the future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk from the Star Trek series? Why wouldn’t you want to go where no mans gone before.

Chain of Rocks Bridge – Illinois/Missouri

Historic, Route 66, Chain of Rocks Bridge, Mississippi River,

Part of Historic Route 66 this bridge connects Illinois and Missouri over the mighty Mississippi River. The middle of the bridge features a unique 22 degree bend.

Valentine, Nebraska

Can you think of a better view for you and the love of your life? Just park the car and enjoy the view.

There you have it. Fifty must-see places in the Midwestern United States. Did we miss your favorite place? Did you add any of these to your bucket list? Let us know in the comments below.

Want to continue on the journey with us? Be sure to follow us on social media by clicking the icons below. We post content weekly and are always looking for fun and exciting places to visit. Just drop us a line on where we should go next or what we should do.

Thank You everyone who has commented and followed us. It means a lot and helps us continue making post, photos, and guides for you. Till our next post….. Have a great day!

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