When you peer at a map of the Midwest, your eye is usually drawn to one city. Chicago is a vast metropolis, the urban jewel of Illinois, crammed with great bars, restaurants, galleries and sports teams. It is a gateway to the Midwest. But it is not a sole attraction.
For here is a huge and fascinating part of America, made up of 11 wildly diverse states.
Some of the country’s most intriguing cities are found here. Aside from Chicago, you can enjoy fine culture and food in Detroit (Michigan), Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati (Ohio), Indianapolis (Indiana), Minneapolis and St Paul (Minnesota), St Louis and Kansas City (Missouri), Milwaukee and Green Bay (Wisconsin) and Des Moines (Iowa).
This is also the realm of the Great Lakes. Six Midwest states (Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota) can claim shoreline on Lakes Erie, Superior, Huron or Michigan – a situation that adds up to glorious scope for road trips and splendid scenery.
The landscape continues to thrill as the Midwest forges west. Iowa has its own Great Lakes region, Missouri has the protected Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Nebraska has the high dunes of Sand Hills. Then there are the rugged Badlands of North Dakota and South Dakota – the latter sheltering Mount Rushmore, with its carved presidential faces.