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My Top Midwest Cities to Visit

My Top Midwest Cities to Visit

The heart of America lies in its vibrant Midwestern cities, each with its unique blend of cultural attractions and surprising delights. Whether it’s your first time venturing into the Midwest or you’re a seasoned traveler eager for new discoveries, this collection of cities promises experiences rich with charm and an unexpected blend of history, culture, and mouth-watering cuisine.

Join me on this curated escapade through the Midwest’s must-visit cities that offer a treasure trove of experiences for every traveler.


Wichita, KS — A Cultural Melting Pot

Wichita, Kansas, presents a seamless blend of cultural diversity and artistic expression. At the Keeper of the Plains, a striking riverside sculpture, you’ll witness an enchanting nightly fire ceremony accompanied by street vendors and entertainers.


For a dash of laughter, the Mosley Street Melodrama will serve up a helping of humor alongside dinner. Pay extra to add in dinner —it’s tasty and affordable. Pro Tip: All seats in the house are excellent.

Wichita is also full of excellent museums. My favorites are the Wichita Art Museum, Mid-America All Indian Museum, and Exploration Place, where the littles will have a ball.


Family-friendly delights include the interactive Old Cowtown Museum and the animal oasis at Tanganyika Wildlife Park. And for food enthusiasts, the Doo Dah Diner awaits with a breakfast extravaganza that is simply unforgettable. Their Triple D Breakfast Sampler (corned beef hash, banana nut French toast, and eggs Benedict) continually ranks for my favorite breakfast ever.


Read more about the Wichita in this post.

Fort Wayne, IN — A Shopper’s Haven

Indulge in the excitement of Fort Wayne, Indiana, a bustling hub offering experiences like the colossal Vera Bradley Annual Outlet Sale and genealogy adventures within the iconic Allen County Public Library, the #1 genealogy center in the world.


The recently opened boutique hotel, The Bradley, beckons for a luxurious stay in a fashionable space designed by Barbara Bradley Baekgaard, co-founder and former CCO of Vera Bradley.

Adventurous spirits and families alike will revel in the newly developed Promenade Park and Riverfront, perfect for kayaking and leisurely strolls. Cap off your day with the scrumptious fare and tasty brews at Junk Ditch Brewing Co. or Hop River Brewing Company, sure to satisfy all palates.


For a few more fun ideas, consider a Mad Ants basketball game and stops at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art and Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, both worthy of a few hours of your time.


Read more about the Fort Wayne in this post.

Manhattan, KS — The Little Apple

Acquaint yourself with Manhattan, Kansas, a collegiate town teeming with upscale dining and niche shopping. The Flint Hills Discovery Center will enrich your knowledge about this geographical marvel. Raise your glass to the sweeping views and craft beverages at Liquid Art Winery & Estate.


If you’re a collector car fan like I am, you won’t want to miss Midwest Dream Car Collection, which has fabulous finds, including several celebrity cars. Please note that cars rotate from time to time.

Pro Tip: Don’t skip the 15-minute Disney-esque movie at the Flint Hills Discovery Center. It’s pretty fascinating.


When hunger calls, head over to Radina’s Bakehouse for artisanal bread and pastries that will leave you craving more. The dreamy individual quiche gets a 10/10 in my book.


Read more about the Flint Hills in this post.

Mason City, IA — A Cultural Jewel

Mason City, Iowa may be small, but it’s packed with cultural legacy. Here, explore The Music Man Square, a walk-through the film set of the same name, and the Historic Park Inn Hotel, Frank Lloyd Wright’s only remaining hotel. In fact, Music Man creator, Meredith Wilson, hails from Mason City. His boyhood home is part of the attraction.


A great free attraction is seeing the darling art sculptures around town on the River City Sculptures on Parade route.

When visiting Mason City, one must indulge in a meal at the Northwestern Steakhouse, an iconic establishment where the simplicity of the menu vouches for excellence, especially their Filet Mignon and Greek spaghetti.


What is Greek spaghetti? I couldn’t figure out the secret ingredient, so I had to ask. The flavorful juices of the broiled steak (plus butter and Parmesan) is what makes this side dish unbelievably tasty. After dinner, pop by Fat Hill Brewing for excellent sours and porters.


Read more about Mason City in this post.

Mackinac Island, MI — Step into a Timeless Haven

Imagine a place where the rhythm of horse-drawn carriages replaces car horns — this is Mackinac Island. Relive history through costumed interpreters and reenactments at Fort Mackinac, bask in the charm of art-filled galleries, and yes, indulge in the world-famous fudge from the Fudge Capital of the World. The chocolate mint should not be overlooked.


An experience not to be missed is the authentic horse-drawn carriage tours (Mackinac Island Carriage Tours) that offer a genuine glimpse into the island’s heritage. And when you dine at Chianti inside Mission Point Resort, you’re in for a feast of Northern Italian flair — think pumpkin gnocchi bathed in a brown butter sauce that is simply divine. You’ll want to stay there, too. And while you are at it, indulge in a spa treatment for a day of living your best life.


You’ll also want to see the Grand Hotel, a world-famous address where the rockers lining the front porch make the best of every magazine list and the lunch at Fort Mackinac Tea Room offerings are superb.


Read more about Mackinac Island in this post.

Oklahoma City, OK — A Tapestry of New and Old

Venture into Oklahoma City and you’ll find a place where modernity and history intertwine seamlessly. Bricktown beckons with its revitalized warehouse charm, home to Mickey Mantle’s Steakhouse — a haven for foodies and steak lovers. You can even take a canal boat ride!


The Oklahoma City Museum of Art captivates with its array of Dale Chihuly pieces, and you can’t help but be moved by the solemn grace of the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing Site. Bring tissues, this very well done museum weaves the sadness and hope from the April 19th event that tragically took the lives of 168 innocent souls.


Breakfast at Hatch Early Mood Food means facing the delightful dilemma of choosing between the tantalizing options for your pancake flight. Make sure Bananas Foster is one of them.


Two other not-to-miss attractions are Automotive Alley, an area of historic buildings with new life breathed into them, and the Oklahoma City Zoo, with 2000+ animals, and Wild Encounters behind-the-scenes offerings where you might catch an elephant enjoying its monthly grooming session.

Read more about OKC in this post.

Springfield, Missouri — A Midwestern Gem

Over the years, I’ve become something of an ambassador for Springfield, fervently recommending it to anyone yearning for an adventure—and for good reason. The jewel in Springfield’s crown is undoubtedly The Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium.

This extraordinary attraction, the brainchild of Johnny Morris of Bass Pro Shops fame, enthralls visitors with pristine aquariums that beg to be photographed. It’s no wonder the mesmerizing encounters with marine life here leave a lasting impression.


Pro Tip: You’ll also find the OG Bass Pro Shop in Springfield.

Missouri proudly wears the title of “The Cave State,” and true to its reputation, Springfield is the gateway to Fantastic Caverns. Imagine exploring America’s only ride-through cave on a jeep-drawn tram, surrounded by natural formations like soda straws and draperies—an otherworldly experience that’s both educational and Instagram-worthy!


Car and movie buffs, take note, the Route 66 Car Museum is your siren call. With an eclectic collection that includes Batman’s sleek Gotham Cruiser and the iconic Ghostbusters Cadillac, this museum adds a vintage flare to Springfield’s modern vibe.


Safari in the Midwest? Absolutely! The Dickerson Park Zoo is a slice of wildlife utopia. Whether you’re a family, a couple, or a solo explorer, a stroll through this picturesque zoo offers up-close encounters with the exotic and the endangered—and plenty of stories to tell.

Read more about Springfield in this post.

Toledo, OH — Where Nature and Industry Coalesce

Tour Toledo, sitting on the banks of Lake Erie, and discover an industrial powerhouse redefined by nature’s beauty and the arts. The city showcases an indelible mark on the glass industry at the 74,000-square-foot Glass Pavilion, while the free-to-enter Toledo Museum of Art houses works by the great masters: Van Gogh, Degas, Rubens, and Rembrandt. I found this museum very similar to the Detroit Institute of Arts.


Nature’s allure is undeniable here, with the sprawling Metroparks Toledo leading the way in urban green spaces. There are over 20 of them, each unique and offering family fun through historic homes, fat-bike trails, botanical gardens, and even luxury treehouses.


Free things to do include spotting all the vibrant murals around town, and you won’t want to miss the fantastic local coffee shops and iconic restaurants: Tony Packo’s Cafe and Schmucker’s Restaurant. And as dusk falls, unwind at Maumee Bay Lodge, a serene retreat perfect for those looking to recharge.

This Midwestern industrial city may be one of the most shocking for those first-time visitors.


Read more about Toledo in this post.

Lincoln, NE — Beyond the Cornfields

In Lincoln, Nebraska, uncover the vibrant life beyond the cliché of endless cornfields. The Haymarket Square is a pulsating heart that invites you to live Lincoln’s culture, with art alleys and eclectic dining spots, like The Oven, the local Indian restaurant that promises to tantalize your taste buds.


Delight in the beauty of the Sunken Gardens, a free attraction busting at the seams with gorgeous well-manicured gardens. They even have a fountain and gazebo. Or, marvel within the International Quilt Museum ,a treasure trove for anyone, not just quilters.


If you’re searching for a place to stay that mirrors the city’s charm, The Graduate Hotel won’t disappoint, flaunting a unique blend of comfort and Cornhusker pride. I’ve stayed at several of these college-themed properties, and this was my favorite.


Bringing kids? Definitely take time out for the Lincoln Children’s Zoo, which I think is one of the best in the country. This walkable property is home to meerkats, elephants, tigers, and much more.

Read more about Lincoln in this post.

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