Visiting the Midwest

Visiting the Midwest

I ended up living in Iowa for a number of years when work took me and my husband there. Most people say “where” when I tell them we lived in Iowa, and remain mystified when I explain it is in the great big bit in the middle. Even having been there herself, my mother still gets Iowa and Idaho mixed up…..

Anish Kapoor's beautiful rounded steel sculpture reflecting a view of the skyscrapers

Cloud Gate, Millennium Park, Chicago, Illinois

Little visited by UK tourists, there is actually much to be said for visiting America’s Midwest. Often referred to as the flyover States (due to the fact that people tend to fly over them) you can find all manner of stuff, hidden away from hordes of tourists. So, if you are interested in a trip that is a little bit different, don’t fly over. Land and check it out instead!

The one Midwest destination that most people have heard of is Chicago. This will always be one of my favourite cities. I love the architecture, the fantastic setting on the shore of Lake Michigan, the restaurants & bars, the music scene & the atmosphere. It is simply a fabulous place with surprisingly few visitors from the UK. It is a slightly longer flight than New York or Miami, but is still a great place for a mini-break, and an even better place to start a longer trip, with direct flights from Manchester and London.

Bison giving directions, Custer State Park

Bison giving directions, Custer State Park

Another great Midwest city which is completely off the UK tourist path is Kansas City. If you are interested in music and art this is a fabulous place to visit. There is a strong jazz and blues tradition and tons of live music venues to explore, including the recently opened Kaufmann Center, a massive state of the art concert hall. In between gigs you can go on a quest for some famous Kansas City Barbeque, and head out to watch all manner of sports, including American Football (or just football locally), baseball, basketball and soccer.

If you are a lover of the great outdoors, the Midwest has plenty of it to go and visit. My personal favourite is to head to South Dakota and take in some hiking in the Black Hills & some gawping at Mount Rushmore. Other great options are Minnesota’s stunning Boundary Waters, especially if you have always hankered after an adventure in a canoe, or a trip to Missouri’s lake of the Ozarks, great for hiking, water sports, fishing and partying (if you so wish).

Mount RushmoreGet the map out and get creative with your itinerary. Make sure you use a mapping tool to check distances and drive times as this is a massive area. The driving is easy, with (by British standards) little traffic and good quality roads. In general you can find well priced, high quality accommodation and the rooms will be huge.

Try and visit a couple of small towns. People will be interested to talk to you as soon as they hear your accent. You never know, you could make some great new friends.



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Getting there


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