Believe It or Not: Exploring the Quirky Side of the American Midwest

by Jules on May 1, 2014

You have a taste for the unusual. You want to see something weird, but where do you go? Well, there are fewer weird places than the Midwest. The center of the country spans from Ohio to the Dakotas, and in there are some of the most fascinating sites you can see. Most people travel to the east or west coast.

And, truth be told, this is where most of the population in the country resides so it’s understandable why people would want to go here. For the adventurer, though, you should start your vacation in Chicago.

The Windy City

Chicago is a dangerous city. Everyone knows about Illinois’ corruption, and Chicago has the “bad boy”  image of being a gangster’s city. But, it’s also the largest city in the Midwestern U.S. and the third most populous city in the country.

Chicago is also known as the “second city” and is New York’s rival for population. Just how dense is this city? The actual city is 2.7 million people. The metro area holds 10 million. That’s actually more than New York’s population, but the big apple wins on a technicality – all of New York’s population fits in the 5 boroughs.

Score yourself some discounts on hotels, and rent a car, because you won’t be able to see everything in the matter of a weekend. Plan on 4 days at least – 7 days, ideally.

St Louis

St Louis is famous for its Gateway Arch. It sits on the banks of the Mississippi river and has a lot to offer – riverboat tours, breweries, baseball games, and the usual big city stuff. It’s the gateway to the west.

Cleveland Rocks!

You don’t have to be Drew Carey to appreciate Cleveland. This city sits on the shore of Lake Erie, and it’s one of the most populous cities in the U.S. Its reputation is mostly centered around transportation and manufacturing, but it’s also got a cool Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame Museum, and other developments on the North Coast Harbor. Sports are big here, so bring your baseball cap.

Detroit

Detroit – you know it from the newspapers. It’s one of the poorer cities now, but it used to be affectionately referred to as “Motor City.” Coming here today is like walking through a natural disaster – except is an unnatural disaster. The economy here has really fallen apart, but there are a few glimmers of hope in the music scene.

Minneapolis/St Paul

The twin cities – Minneapolis and St. Paul. This is a largely urban area comprised of Minnesota’s largest city, Minneapolis. The capital is St. Paul, oddly enough. You won’t get bored here, as there are 100s of small town that surround both of these cities, lakes, a killer baseball team, the Mall of America (North America’s largest shopping mall), and a cool railway system.

Kansas City

You’re in Kansas. Now what? It’s Missouri’s largest city – so large, it straddles two states. It sits in Missouri and Kansas. The city is known for its fountains and has about 200 of them. It’s also got a thriving jazz community that you absolutely have to check out if you love jazz.

Oh yeah, don’t forget its BBQ scene. These people know how to do barbecue.

Karen Swain lives out of a suitcase. With a career built on the road documenting her travels, she enjoys sharing her discoveries across the country.

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