The Midwest often lays claim to being the most 'American' part of the US. This area of Middle America is home to a large portion of the American population and plenty of wide-open spaces. The area loosely encompasses the Great Lakes States and the Great Plains States, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
The Great Lakes
The ancient glaciers of the Ice Age left behind five Great Lakes – Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario – and many of them lie among the Midwestern states. Their stunning scenery make them a magnet for tourists; cruising the Great Lakes is a particularly popular experience. And, Chicago is the ideal gateway for a self-drive around three of the five, perhaps adding on smaller boat trips among the rugged sandy shores and mirrored waters of the lakes.
The Great Lakes
The Great Plains
Stretching endlessly across this region of America and up into Canada are vast, flat plains of prairie, steppe, and grassland. Known as the Great Plains, the area comprises the entirety of Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota, and is known for extensive cattle ranching and dry farming. Visitors to these states are welcomed with warm hospitality and plenty of things to do – explore the alien landscapes of South Dakota’s Badlands or discover the authentic cowboy towns of Deadwood in South Dakota and Dodge City in Kansas. And of course, South Dakota is home to one of America's most famous monuments – the granite faces of U.S. presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln at Mount Rushmore.
Prairie, South Dakota
Chicago is easily one of the Midwest's most popular cities, and for good reason. Its skyline is defined by the impressive Willis Tower, and at ground level you'll find great shopping, lakefront boulevards and a thriving music scene. Kansas City, Missouri, also has an important musical history, but it's perhaps better known for its barbecues. And on the shores of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee is a shiny urban city with a small-town feel.