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26 Things To Do In The Midwest: The Ultimate Bucket List

Are you looking for things to do in the midwest? You are in the right place.

In this article, I will walk you through the main attractions in the Midwest and tell you everything you need to know about this incredible part of the country.

From the Salt Plains in Oklahoma to the Badlands of North Dakota there are so many Midwest landmarks to put on your list.

From the hustle and bustle of Chicago to the peace and quiet of the small Iowa towns there is something here to please everyone.

Whether you are looking for vibrant midwest cities or wide open spaces this part of the country has it all.

The Midwest has some of the best places to go in the USA and you won’t regret exploring. So pull up a chair, grab a drink and let me walk through the best vacation spots in the Midwest.

26 Things To Do In The Midwest: The Ultimate Bucket List

26 Things To Do In The Midwest: The Ultimate Bucket List

Illinois: Chicago

One of the best places to visit in the Midwest is Chicago.  It’s an incredible city with so much to do whatever your tastes.

From Chicago sightseeing to incredible restaurants and amazing tours this city will not disappoint.  Some of the must-see sights are The Willis Tower and John Hancock Center.

Also, make sure you visit some of the historic locations and a trip to a speak-easy is a must.

Chicago makes a great destination for one of your Midwest weekend trips.

Chicago, Illinois, USA downtown skyline from Lincoln Park at twilight. One of the things to do in the Midwest

Indiana: Indiana Dunes National Park

When it comes to the top things to see in the US the National Parks of the Midwest should be high on your list.

Located on the shores of Lake Michigan the Indiana Dunes National Park has 15 miles of beautiful sandy beaches for you to explore and enjoy.

There is so much to do in the park from swimming, watersports, hiking, and biking to cross-country skiing.

If you love the great outdoors then this is one of the must-see places in the USA.

Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana, USA. The views of Lake Michigan and the sand dunes are popular beach and hiking attractions.

Iowa: Bridges of Madison County

The 1995 film The Bridges of Madison County was set and filmed in Iowa. If you haven’t seen it it’s a real tear-jerker.

What this film does really well is show off the incredible Iowa countryside. It’s picture-perfect here with covered bridges set against stunning scenery.

Bring your camera and photograph some of these scenes. The Roseman and Holiwell Bridges are great places to start.

It’s idyllic and beautiful and would make a perfect spot for a romantic midwest getaway.

Roseman Covered Bridge in Winterset, Madison County, Iowa was built in 1883. It is also known as the “haunted” bridge. This is one of things to do in the Midwest

Kansas: Walking in Dorothy’s Footsteps

There is only one thing to really do when you are in Kansas and that is to visit the museum of the film that made this state so famous.

In the small town of Wamego is the Wizard of Oz Museum. It’s one of the fun things to do in the USA.

You can visit Dorothy’s farmhouse and take a walk down the yellow brick road and of course, the museum is painted emerald green.

Whatever your age this museum has all the nostalgia you could ever wish for. It’s definitely one of the most interesting museums in Kansas.

The Wizard of Oz Museum and Gift Shop in Cape Canaveral is the south's only Wizard of Oz museum. This is one of the things to do in the midwest
Photo Credit: JennLShoots via Shutterstock.com

Michigan: Mackinac Island

If you are thinking about things to do in the Midwest then a visit to one of the Midwest Islands should be high on your list.

Mackinac Island in Michigan is one of these beautiful islands that is well worth a visit.  The only way to get to this island is by boat and no cars are allowed on the island.

There is so much to see on Mackinac Island and some really unique restaurants to try. The island is lovely and a trip on the island trolley is a must.

The Harbor at Mackinac Island showing buildings on the shoreline. This is one of the things to do in the Midwest

Minnesota: Boundary Waters

If you looking for activities in the Midwest then head to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

In the Lake Superior National Forest, this 1,000,000 acres is a unique wilderness. It’s an absolutely beautiful location and National Geographic Traveler has named it one of the “50 Places of A Lifetime To See”.

It’s a wonderful place to go hiking and biking and if you are in the right place at the right time you might even get a glimpse of the Northern Lights.

A visit here should be high on your list of things to do in Minnesota

Three canoes on the shore of a lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in the North Woods of Northern Minnesota

Missouri: Gateway Arch

If you are looking for Midwest vacation ideas then a trip to Missouri should be high on your list. There is so much to see and do in Missouri.

Top of your list should be a visit to The Gateway National Park in St Louis. The iconic Gateway Arch is a 630-foot national monument built in the shape of a weighted arch.

It’s a popular attraction and well worth a visit and you can even ride to the top by elevator or tram if you want a great view.

Image of the St. Louis Gateway Arch in St. Louis, MO. One of the things to do in the midwest

Nebraska: Scotts Bluff Monument

One of the must-see places in the USA is Scotts Bluff National Monument. In the North Platte Valley, this iconic landmark has led the way to the Great Plain for centuries.

This sandstone rock formation stands 800 ft above the valley and is quite spectacular. There are many hiking trails around the area that offer amazing views.

When you visit make sure you go to the visitors center and check out the documentary and exhibits.

Rugged Butte at Scotts Bluff National Monument. One fo the things to see in the midwest

North Dakota: Theodore Roosevelt NP

A trip to Theodore Roosevelt National Park is definitely one of the things to do in the Midwest. This famous park really is stunning and one of the points of interest in the USA.

The park is  70,000 acres and comprises mountains, canyons, rivers, and the desolate Badlands area.

Things to do here include hiking, stargazing, camping, skiing, and much more.

Hoodoos at Theodore Roosevelt National Park at sunrise with grass around them

South Dakota: Mount Rushmore

In the Black Hills of South Dakota is one of the most famous mountains in the USA. A visit to Mount Rushmore is one of the top things to see in the US.

On this mountain, you will find the sixty-foot faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

While here walk the scenic Presidential Trail and learn about the area’s history. This is a bucket list attraction that you must visit.

Presidential sculpture at Mount Rushmore national memorial, USA. Sunny day, blue sky. One of the things to do in the midwest

Ohio: Cedar Point

If you looking for the best amusement parks in the Midwest then Cedar Point in Ohio should be high on your list.

Located in Sandusky, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie, this park offers 364 acres of chills and thrills. Whatever age you are there is a rollercoaster here to suit you.

There are so many rides and attractions here to enjoy.

Cedar Point Amusement Park is the roller coaster capital of the world with Millennium Force, Steel Vengeance and Maverick coasters seen here over Lake Erie.
Photo Credit: PhotosByLarissaB via Shutterstock.com

Wisconsin: Door County

One of the best places to visit in the Midwest is Door County in Wisconsin. This area is beautiful with some of the best waterfalls, beaches, and lighthouses in the state.

There is so much to do in Door County the villages and towns are postcard perfect. From the various islands and the numerous parks, you won’t run out of things to do in the area.

Sister Bay Town harbour view in Door County of Wisconsin. One of the things to do in the midwest

Oklahoma: Great Salt Plains St Park

If you are looking for things to do in the midwest then a trip to the Great Salt Plains State Park in Oklahoma is a must.

Located in the west of the state this park is beautiful and unique and makes for some great photography.

The salt flats cover approximately 11,000 acres and it is a great area for birdwatching.  This is one of the Midwest landmarks that you don’t want to miss.

Pyramid from pieces of crystalline salt. Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma

South Dakota: Badlands

One of the best places to go in the USA is the Badlands of South Dakota. A visit here is one of the best things to do in South Dakota and is truly unique.

Here you will find over 200,000 acres of rugged mountains, deep canyons, and grassy prairies.

It’s a great place to see animals in their natural habitat go hiking or biking or just spend some time stargazing.

This is one of the things to do in the Midwest that everyone needs to see.

Badlands National Park in South Dakota this is one of the things to see in the midwest

Ohio: Amish Country

One of the best vacation spots in the Midwest is Amish County in Ohio. Visiting here is one of the best things to do in Ohio.

When I was young I would visit Amish County all the time with my family. I have fond memories of the sights and sounds of this place.

Expect horse-drawn buggies, handmade quilts and furniture, and delicious Amish food for sale. It really is a pleasure to slow down for a while.

Visiting Amish Country is one of the unique activities in the Midwest.

Amish trolly going down the road with a church in the background
Photo Credit: ironwas via Shutterstock.com

Wisconsin: Wisconsin Dells

If you are looking for Midwest vacation ideas then a trip to the Wisconsin Dells might be just what you are looking for.

Located in southern Wisconsin along the Wisconsin River, Wisconsin Dells is known as the Waterpark Capital of the World.

There are more than waterparks to explore with some great hiking, museums wineries, and breweries in the area.

This is a great place for a Midwest getaway and one of the things to do in Wisconsin.

Family members enjoy summer fun at LOST CITY OF ATLANTIS water rides at Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park.
Photo Credit: Aaron of L.A. Photography via Shutterstock.com

Minnesota: Duluth

If you are looking for things to do in Minnesota then a trip to Duluth might be perfect for you.

Duluth is a city with a lot of history and so much to see and do. Things to see include the Lake Superior Rail Road Museum, the SS William A. Irvin, and the Glensheen Mansion.

This port city also has beaches, city parks, and a lovely shoreline. It’s one of the best places to go in the USA.

Duluth is a Seaport City in the U.S. State of Minnesota and is the County Seat of Saint Louis County. Duluth Cityscape Photo in Summer.

Oklahoma: Oklahoma City

If you are looking for places for Midwest weekend trips then Oklahoma City might be perfect for you. This vibrant and thriving city has so much to offer.

This Midwest city is known for its rich history, numerous museums, galleries, theaters, and recreational opportunities.

Things to see here include the Oklahoma City Museum of Art and the Civic Center, and the Myriad Botanical Gardens.

Visiting here is one of the most fun things to do in the USA and one of the best things to do in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA cityscape in Bricktown at dusk. This is one of the things to do in midwest

Missouri: Branson Is One Of The Best Places To Visit In The Midwest

If you are looking for things to do in Missouri then Branson is really worth visiting. It’s a popular destination and has something to please everyone.

If you are looking for events in the Midwest Branson always has something happening. It’s a place with so much to see and do.

Whatever you like to do Branson can deliver. From those who like things loud to those who want to spend time in natural beauty, you can do it all here.

Stone church at top of the rock in Branson Missouri

North Dakota: Enchanted Highway

Want to do something different in North Dakota then how about a trip on the Enchanted Highway?

The Enchanted Highway is a collection of metal sculptures placed at regular intervals along the I-94. They stretch for 32 miles with each sculpture has a parking area so you can out and explore.

The sculptures include ‘Geese in Flight’, ‘Grasshoppers in Field’, ‘World’s Largest Tin Family’, and more.

This is one of the cool hidden gems in the Midwest!

A 30-mile stretch of road in west North Dakota is dubbed “the Enchanted Highway” for its eight oversized folk art sculptures, such as this metal "Pheasants on the Prairie."

Ilinois: Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library

If you are looking for things to do in Illinois then a trip to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library is a great way to spend your time.

In Springfield, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum documents the 16th President of the United States’ life as well as the history of the Civil War.

It’s so much more than a library with readings and performances and more. If you love history then this is one of the things to do in the Midwest.

The entrance to Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, Illinois, USA. The Museum documents the life of U.S. president Abraham Lincoln
Photo Credit: JHVEPhoto via Shutterstock.com

Indiana: French Lick

if you looking for somewhere romantic in the Midwest then French lick might be perfect for you. This historic town is charming and full of beautiful architecture.

Visiting here is one of the things to do in Indiana if you are wanting to spend some time with that special someone.

Expect intimate restaurants, quaint boutique shops, and picture-perfect streets. This is definitely one of the places to see in Indiana.

This image shows the front view of an old idyllic rural, small town church chapel building on top of a green hill. French Lick is one of the things to do in midwest
Photo Credit: GypsyPictureShow via Shutterstock.com

Iowa: De Moines Is One Of The Best Places To Visit In The Midwest

One of the must-visit places in Iowa is Des Moines. The city has so much to offer whatever you like doing.

From art museums to lovely parks to great architecture there are lots to see here. The State Capitol is a building that is well worth visiting.

There are so many things to do in Des Moines and it is one of the places to see in Iowa.

State Capitol Building in Des Moines, Iowa. Flowers are in front of the building

Kansas: 8 Wonders Of Kansas

Yes, Kansas does have 8 Wonders for you to enjoy. Monuments Rocks is one of them and is one of the places to visit in Kansas.

These chalk formations in Oakley stand 70 feet high and are very spectacular.  Some know these as the chalk pyramids others think of them as nature’s Stonehenge.

Whatever you want to call them they are well worth a visit. Definitely one of the points of interest in the USA.

A horizontal landscape photography image of Monument Rocks in Kansas before sunset. They are also known as Chalk Pyramids.

Michigan: Detroit Is One Of The Best Things To Do In The Midwest

One of the best things to do in Michigan is to take a trip to Detroit.  Detroit is one of those cities that surprises you.

Most of the city is a National Historic Area and it is also home to one of the best National Parks in Michigan.

Obviously, this city is rich in automobile history and there are over 100 historic landmarks, buildings, and museums to explore in this city.

Detriot offers so many others things to see and do and there are some great restaurants.

A visit here is one of the things to do in Michigan.

Panorama of the downtown district of Detroit with the Renaissance Center and the People Mover monorail. Detroit is the largest city in the state of Michigan.
Photo Credit: ehrlif via Shutterstock.com

Nebraska: Smiths Falls Is One Of The Best Things To Do In The Midwest

The Midwest has some amazing waterfalls and Smiths Fall is no exception. This is one of the things that you need to see in Nebraska.

Smith Falls is the highest in Nebraska and stands 2 feet tall.  It’s also surrounded by a really beautiful area.

You can hike around the area too if you want to. The falls are also really close to the cute Nebraska town of Valentine which is also worth a visit.

This is one of the things to see in Nebraska.

Smith Falls State park Nebraska. The water falls over the rocks with trees around.

Packing List When Exploring Things To Do In The Midwest

If you will be traveling, either by plane or by car to the Midwest, here are some tips on how to pack lightly.

concealed travel pouch may be one of the most important items you bring along when visiting Midwest attractions.

It is always important to protect your personal information. Identity thieves are everywhere.

This unisex RFID-blocking concealed travel pouch is lightweight and comes in several colors. It has lots of organization to give you peace of mind.

You can place it under your clothes next to your body to carry your ID safely.

If you have a pouch already that does not come with RFID protection, as I do, these RFID sleeves are the perfect solution.

This configuration comes with enough credit card sleeves that the entire family would be protected. They are slim too, so they will easily fit into your pouch or wallet.

If you are planning on taking a lot of pictures with your phone you will definitely want to consider an external charging battery.

This Anker high-speed phone charging battery is the exact one I carry with me on all of my trips.

It can be used on a variety of phones, not just an iPhone like I have. And wow is it fast!

My daughter gifted me with this FugeTek selfie stick and tripod setup for my birthday. I absolutely love it! It is made of lightweight aluminum and so easy to use.

It has Bluetooth connectivity and is a breeze to use for taking photos during Montana attractions.

You will want to bring your own refillable water bottle with you.

I never leave home on a trip without my Bobble filtration bottle. The 18.5-ounce size is perfect for hiking and it fits nicely in the pocket of a backpack.

Perhaps you are traveling a long distance and packing space is a premium in your suitcase, or in your car.

Then this collapsible silicone foldable water bottle would work well for you. Would not take up much space at all.

You will want a backpack or daypack with you to store snacks, your water bottle, phone, extra clothes, etc… No matter the time of day or evening.

This foldable water-resistant backpack would be great.

As you can see when it comes to things to do in the Midwest there really is so much. I hope this article has helped you somewhat in deciding which Midwest landmarks to visit.

Whichever of these attractions in the Midwest you visit I know you will have an amazing time. Please come back and let me know where you visited.

And if you wnat more Midwest vacation ideas I have so many on this explore so dig around a little.

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