The United States Midwest includes the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas. The region is considered "America's Heartland" and is at the heart of the nation's manufacturing and farming industries. There are both large cities and vast rural areas in the region. This area is where you'll find the Great Lakes, the vast Northwoods, and the city of Chicago. The Midwest was also home to more than a quarter of the American Presidents. It is known for its automobile industry and agriculture.
There are many different sights in the American Midwest. The Great Lakes are a favorite travel destination for many visitors. Around the Great Lakes you'll find the Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail, the Lake Erie Islands, the North Shore Scenic Drive and Mackinac Bridge. The Mississippi River also offers some interesting sights. The Great River Road from Wisconsin and Minnesota through Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri is interesting. In Illinois there is the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Route. The Ohio River Scenic Byway goes through Ohio, Indiana and Illinois and the Ohio & Erie Canalway goes from Lake Erie in Cleveland through Ohio to the Ohio River Valley.
If you're looking for history and culture, the Historical National Road runs through Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. The Amish Country Byway is in Ohio, the Lincoln Highway is in Illinois and the Amana Colonies are in Iowa.
The Midwest includes the Great Plains. This area is known for its wide open spaces. It includes the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas and is predominantly agricultural. It is also where you'll find the Badlands, the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore. The area parallels the Rocky Mountains and has vast areas of grasslands.
Activities in the American Midwest are diverse and entertaining. The Great Lakes offer plenty of beaches where you can relax and enjoy the scenic beauty. There are also sand dunes in northwest Indiana along Lake Michigan. Other activities in the area include fishing, boating, visiting the area's lighthouses, taking a riverboat, rafting, or tubing. There are some impressive amusement parks in the area including Cedar Point, Six Flags and Kings Island. If you're in a larger city then there are opportunities to see shows, take in concerts, or enjoy a local festival.
Food and Dining
There is a surprising amount of diversity in cuisine within the American Midwest. The area has been influenced by the immigrants and African American influx that resulted from the American Industrial Revolution during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The cuisine includes a combination of German, Irish, Polish, and African American flavors. Popular local specialties include bratwurst, kielbasa, Italian sausage and American hot dogs. In the rural areas you'll find many places where you can enjoy family style dining. Dishes are served in large bowls and platters at the table, and everyone helps themselves.
For the most diverse and interesting ethnic cuisines, head to Chicago or Minneapolis. Ethnic food restaurants in these cities are plentiful and you'll have no shortage of interesting meal choices. In the more rural areas you can enjoy locally grown produce such as salad greens, radishes, sweet peas, spinach, corn, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, melons, berries, peaches, cherries and pears. There are plenty of roadside stands where you can pick up some local produce if you want to prepare your own meal.
Like the other regions in the United States, having access to a car will make your experience in the midwest dramatically easier and more efficient. The interstate system is excellent, gas prices are relatively cheap, and driving is usually safe and comfortable. Public transportation within the area is limited. Intercity transit between the large cities is limited to very infrequent train and bus service. Flying is efficient but very expensive. Most of the larger metropolitan areas have international and regional airports, but tickets must be purchase well in advance if you want to get a reasonable price.
With the exception of Chicago, which has a good public transit system, most of the cities in the region have limited public transportation options within town as well. Smaller towns are often not pedestrian friendly, so having access to a car is essential to be able to see or enjoy anything that the area has to offer.
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