The American Midwest is often sadly overlooked by travel planners, who think that there is nothing to see or do in “flyover country.” In reality, the Midwest offers excitement for travelers of any taste, and low prices for tourists on a budget.
Take advantage of an easy drive from the Twin Cities and enjoy spectacular views of Lake Superior in Duluth. Find an affordable hotel near the lakefront and make Enger Park one of your first stops. Climb the observation tower and look out over the city and the bustling port. Curiously, it’s actually a seaport — the farthest inland in North America. Spend a day getting more intimately acquainted with the lake on the North Shore Scenic Drive, a 140-mile route through the wilderness along the lakeshore.
Enger Park Tower | Image via Flickr by chefranden
Michigan is the traditional capital of American auto manufacturing, and Lansing played a very important part in the development of the industry. Every year, thousands of American gearheads make a pilgrimage to Lansing to visit the R. E. Olds Transportation Museum — named for the founder of Oldsmobile — to learn about Lansing’s automotive past. Families in Lansing should make time to tour the Michigan Capitol and the neighboring Michigan Historical Museum. If visiting during football or basketball season, make sure to book your accommodation well in advance to avoid getting locked out by the flood of Michigan State Spartans fans coming to town to cheer on their favorite team.
Saint Louis, Missouri
“The Gateway to the West” should be on every Midwestern travel list. Saint Louis has something for everyone: families with kids should not miss the Saint Louis Zoo; grown-up kids can tour the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, home of Budweiser. The most iconic structure on the Saint Louis skyline, and the symbol the city, is the Gateway Arch. From the observation deck, enjoy commanding views of the city and the wide Mississippi River. With so much to do, Saint Louis is worth a few days. Shop around for the best deals on your hotel and use your savings for a few extra beers at the Cardinals game.
The Gateway Arch | Image via Flickr by MrGuilt
Each autumn, visitors from around the Midwest travel to Peoria to cruise or walk the Grand View Drive overlooking the Illinois River Valley. This linear road was dubbed the “world’s most beautiful drive” by none other than U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, and it has been a popular destination ever since. While it is busiest when the leaves change in the fall, locals know that you can enjoy spectacular views from the park at any time of year. Find a convenient downtown hotel like the Holiday Inn Peoria-City Centre for easy access to the riverfront and historic downtown district.
South Bend, Indiana
So signals a rising Christ in “The Word of Life,” a mural looking down into Notre Dame Stadium depicting Jesus with his arms raised. Notre Dame is one of the most prestigious and most popular universities in America, and its sports teams enjoy the support of massive nationwide fanbases. However, this historic campus draws more than just Fighting Irish fans; many sightseers — religious and otherwise — visit just to walk around the leafy paths and to photograph the massive Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Find a very affordable hotel and make time for an easy two-hour trip from Chicago to South Bend. Whether you are a city explorer or an outdoor adventurer, consider booking your next trip to the American Midwest. There you’ll find low prices, friendly people, and lasting memories.
Cory Hanson is an American travel writer specializing in American and European travel. This is part of a series of American destination posts sponsored by travel search and booking service Hipmunk. Find more Hipmunk posts here, and a full sponsored content disclosure here.