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Travel Spotlights: Midwest Region

Discover classic Americana on a road trip along the Midwest’s rivers and lakes, stopping in vibrant cities and friendly small towns.

Michigan

An artist working on the Agnes Street Mural in Detroit, Michigan

Detroit Arts and Culture

Detroit’s thriving arts scene is a magnet for entertainment lovers. See a Broadway-style production at the historic Fox Theatre, marvel at public art murals on display and explore 100 galleries at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

River Place Shops in Frankenmuth, Michigan

Small-town Shopping

In Frankenmuth, you’ll feel as though you’re in a true Bavarian village at River Place Shops, which has more than 30 boutiques and attractions. Find everything from fudge and pastries to clothing and souvenirs. There’s even a distillery and a mirror maze for the kids.

Cascading waterfall in Tahquamenon Falls State Park near Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

Tahquamenon Falls State Park

Mother Nature is on display at nearby Tahquamenon Falls State Park, where thundering waterfalls cascade over rocks. Hike trails, rent a rowboat or spend an afternoon birdwatching or fishing in Sault Ste. Marie’s breathtaking wilderness.

A tram tour of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Photographers and plant lovers will enjoy the rainbow-hued gardens and imaginative sculptures at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids. In the spring, visit the annual butterfly exhibition featuring thousands of colorful butterflies.

Lighthouse lenses on display at the Marquette Maritime Museum in Michigan

Marquette Maritime Museum

Dedicated to preserving Marquette’s maritime history, this unique, seasonal museum features an expansive collection of unique items. Marvel at lighthouse lenses, seafaring artifacts and a submarine display.

Empire Bluff Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Traverse City, Michigan

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Head to breathtaking Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Traverse City for picturesque hiking trails, coves, islands and seemingly endless beaches all along the expansive Lake Michigan coastline.

View of the Holland Harbor Lighthouse in Holland, Michigan

Holland State Park

In Holland State Park, stroll along the shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Macatawa, fish for walleye and bass, and enjoy views of photogenic Holland Harbor Lighthouse, nicknamed “Big Red.”

Exterior of the Motown Museum in Detroit, Michigan

Motown Museum

Visit Detroit’s Motown Museum, also called Hitsville U.S.A., to see the instruments and recording equipment used by iconic names such as Michael Jackson and Aretha Franklin and learn about the history of this empowering music genre.

Outside the Mission Point Lighthouse in Traverse City, Michigan

Mission Point Lighthouse

Enjoy a self-guided tour of this historic lighthouse at the end of Traverse City’s Old Mission Peninsula. Stop by the gift shop, learn about the lighthouse’s history at the on-site museum and meet one of the Lighthouse Keepers.

Spectacular views from an observation deck at Sugarloaf Mountain in Marquette, Michigan

Sugarloaf Mountain

The observation decks atop Sugarloaf Mountain provide spectacular views of iconic Marquette landmarks. See Lake Superior in the distance and the spectacular Superior Dome, and snap panoramic photos of the Upper Ore Dock and Wetmore Landing.

The Meyer May House in Grand Rapids’ Heritage Hill Historic District in Michigan

Meyer May House

Tour this historic landmark in Grand Rapids, Michigan, designed by well-known architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1908. Explore the restored home, complete with original furnishings and learn about Wright’s unique Prairie-style approach.

Kayaking down the Cass River in Frankenmuth, Michigan

Cass River Adventures

Enjoy Frankenmuth’s historic charm and small-town appeal on a self-guided kayak tour or via a passenger paddleboat. It’s an easy glide down the Cass River’s calm waters surrounded by the city’s Bavarian architecture.

Kayaking in the shallow waters surrounding Turnip Rock in Port Austin, Michigan

Turnip Rock

Kayak from Port Austin to Turnip Rock, a unique rock formation in Lake Huron where the surrounding shallow waters allow you to get up close to this geological wonder.

Kayaking in the Mackinac Island, Michigan, harbor

Mackinac Island

Enjoy the short ferry ride to this car-free oasis. Browse the charming downtown and explore the island on foot, by bike or in a horse-drawn carriage to discover unique shops and historic sites.

Backpacking in Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park
Drew Mason

Isle Royale National Park

Take a boat or seaplane to this remote national park consisting of a collection of islands huddled in the northwestern curve of Lake Superior. Hike the Greenstone Ridge Trail, see spectacular views of Mount Franklin and keep an eye out for grazing moose.

Detroit, Michigan

Cycling past one of Detroit’s street murals in Michigan
Jesse David Green

Thriving Art Scene

Art plays a major role in Detroit’s cultural and historical fabric that can be found throughout downtown and beyond. Snap photos of bold street art designed by local and international artists, or tour exhibitions and galleries at the Detroit Institute of the Arts and Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.

Shopping in the historic Avenue of Fashion in Detroit, Michigan
Justin Milhouse

Can’t-Miss Shopping

Wardrobe need an update? The historic Avenue of Fashion is one of the USA’s oldest primarily Black-owned business districts and boasts a variety of boutiques, galleries and dining options. For Detroit-centric housewares and accessories, check out City Bird where you’ll find unique designs by metro Detroit artists.

A craft beer flight paired with a delicious meal at a restaurant in Detroit, Michigan

Detroit Flavors

Sip on craft beers and dine on a wide array of cuisine plated up by a diverse group of up-and-coming chefs. Sample fine dining, food cart fare and international flavors as well as vegetarian and vegan-friendly options throughout the city.

Enjoying a show at the Fillmore Detroit in Michigan
Marc Nadar

That’s Entertainment

Not just the birthplace of Motown, Detroit serves up a variety of beats from electronic to hip hop to rock n’ roll. Watch a classical performance at the Detroit Opera House, a Broadway-style show at the historic Fox Theater or attend a concert at The Fillmore Detroit.

Viewing a sculpture outside of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan
Michelle & Chris Gerard

Cultural Attractions

Explore the culture and contributions of Detroit’s diverse communities at museums throughout the city. Learn about the Black experience at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History or tour exhibits at the Arab American National Museum.

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Aerial view of Traverse City, Michigan, shoreline
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Traverse City, Michigan

Surrounded by a glacier-carved landscape of freshwater lakes and rolling hills, the Traverse City area has 376 kilometers of continuous Lake Michigan shoreline that attracts swimmers, sailors, boaters, beachcombers and kayakers from around the world. Learn more
Sunset at Bowers Harbor Vineyards in Traverse City, Michigan
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Traverse City, Michigan

Best known as a fruit-growing region – and the USA’s leading producer of tart cherries – Traverse City is also a wine and craft beer destination with over 40 vineyards and wineries on the Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas. Learn more

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A sunny day at Windmill Island Shops in Holland, Michigan
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Holland, Michigan

Known for its quaint charm and Dutch heritage, Holland offers a taste of the Netherlands in scenic Michigan. Visit our authentic Dutch windmill, stroll our downtown’s cobblestone streets and watch a traditional cheese-making demonstration at Nelis’ Dutch Village. Learn more
Couple kayaking past the De Zwaan windmill in Holland, Michigan
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Holland, Michigan

Holland is an active city with plenty of natural areas for recreation. Go for a kayak, canoe or paddleboard trip along the Lake Michigan coastline or the Macatawa River. In spring, be sure to paddle past Windmill Island, where more than 100,000 tulips bloom in the colorful gardens. Learn more

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Walking along the beach toward the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse in Michigan
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Marquette, Michigan

On the shores of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Marquette offers four seasons of outdoor adventure and scenic charm. Ski at mountain resorts, hike to majestic waterfalls, explore beautiful lighthouses and enjoy a live performance at the Lake Superior Theatre housed in a former boathouse. Learn more

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Friends enjoying a beer on the patio at Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan
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Grand Rapids, Michigan

Voted Beer City USA in two nationwide polls, Grand Rapids is known for its budding craft brewery scene and dedication to the arts. Visit more than 40 breweries on the Beer City Ale Trail, snap photos of spectacular street art, or stop by the Downtown Market for farm-to-table produce and artisan foods. Learn more

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Aerial view of Point Iriquois Lighthouse in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
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Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

Founded on the shores of the St. Marys River, Sault Ste. Marie is the oldest city in Michigan. Located within an hour of three Great Lakes – Superior, Huron and Michigan – the historic enclave also boasts a range of activities such as kayaking the famed Soo Locks, touring lighthouses and hiking in state parks. Learn more

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The Bavarian Belle Riverboat on the Cass River in Frankenmuth, Michigan
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Frankenmuth, Michigan

German heritage meets small-town appeal in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Learn about local history on board the Bavarian Belle riverboat tour or explore the town’s sights on your own. Visit museums, sample craft brews or dine on authentic Bavarian cuisine such as Stollen (fruit and nut bread). Learn more

Illinois

The Pink Elephant Antique Mall in Livingston, Illinois

Route 66

Discover kitschy roadside attractions, nostalgic eateries and loads of Americana on historic Route 66. See where notorious criminals were held at the Old Joliet Prison, savor a meal at the Route 66 Motorheads Bar or snap a photo with the giant pink elephant at the Pink Elephant Antique Mall.

The Chicago, Illinois skyline

Chicago Architecture

From neo-gothic to art deco, Chicago’s distinct skyline is a blend of styles from talents such as Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. See impressive examples of modernist, contextual, contemporary and postmodern designs on an architectural tour – on foot or from a boat.

Blues musician Lurrie Bell performing at Kingston Mines in Chicago, Illinois

Chicago Nightlife

Hit the streets of Chicago after the sun goes down for a night out on the town. Head to the many cocktail lounges, sports bars or dance clubs that dot the entertainment landscape, or opt for tickets to legendary comedy club The Second City.

Aerial view of Chicago’s Millennium Park in Illinois
Terry Evans

Millennium Park

In the heart of Chicago, Millennium Park is the epicenter for state-of-the-art design, landscaping and art. Known as a social hub for cultural programs and festive events, the park attracts locals and visitors alike with concerts, exhibitions and family-friendly activities.

Couple posing in front of the Cloud Gate sculpture in Chicago, Illinois

LGBTQ+ Culture

Illinois celebrates the many inclusive communities within the state. Delight in doses of flair, fun and Pride celebrations in popular LGBTQ+ neighborhoods such as Andersonville in Chicago. In Northalsted, visit The Legacy Walk, an outdoor installation detailing LGBTQ+ contributions around the world.

Franklin Lloyd Wright home in Illinois

Illinois Frank Lloyd Wright Trail

Take a driving tour of 13 sites designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the USA’s most notable architects. Chicago’s Frederick C. Robie House and Oak Park’s Unity Temple are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Tangled Roots Brewing Company in Ottawa, Illinois

Illinois Made

Meet the artisans, brewers, distillers, vintners and farmers that make Illinois thrive. Taste everything from handcrafted beers and furniture to farm-to-table fare, and feel like a local while you experience all the amazing flavors the state offers.

The English Walled Garden in the Chicago Botanic Garden

Chicago Botanic Garden

An attraction for all seasons, the Chicago Botanic Garden features 27 breathtaking gardens to explore, from the cascades of the waterfall garden to the hidden rooms within the English Walled Garden.

Waterfall in the Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford, Illinois

Anderson Japanese Gardens

Find tranquility in the peaceful Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford, Illinois. Stroll by koi ponds, relax by babbling streams and walk winding paths through manicured gardens that feel like works of art.

Cruising down the Great River Road in Alton, Illinois

Great River Road

Trace the mighty Mississippi River along Illinois’ western border from Galena to Cairo to discover charming towns and cities full of unique shopping and locally owned restaurants. Check out historic sites, recreational areas and cultural attractions such as Cahokia Mounds, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Couple hiking through Starved Rock State Park in Oglesby, Illinois

Starved Rock State Park

Outdoor adventures await in Oglesby, southwest of Chicago. Venture into sandstone canyons, marvel at seasonal waterfalls in the spring, hike 13 trails and stay overnight in a charming cabin or historic lodge room at Starved Rock Lodge.

Cycling on Galena’s historic Main Street in Illinois

Main Street Galena

Explore Galena’s historic Main Street, home to nearly 100 storefronts from the 19th century. More than 85 percent of the town is on the National Register of Historic Places. Main Street also features boutique shops, fine dining establishments and art galleries.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum

A celebration of the life and legacy of America’s 16th President Abraham Lincoln, this museum in Springfield features state-of-the-art exhibits, interactive displays and a faithful recreation of the White House.

Relaxing in a hammock with spectacular views of the Shawnee National Forest in Illinois

Shawnee National Forest

Escape into the natural beauty of the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois. Hike to High Knob Lookout, snap photos of unique rock formations at Garden of the Gods Wilderness and explore expansive forests, wetlands and bluffs.

The World’s Largest Mailbox in Casey, Illinois

Casey

Known for its larger-than-life roadside attractions, Casey’s motto is “Big Things in a Small Town.” See 12 of the world’s largest objects such as the world’s largest wind chime and golf tee – eight of these attractions have been featured in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Minnesota

Family explores Itasca State Park at sunset in Minnesota
Micah & Jenna Kvidt

Itasca State Park

Explore Minnesota’s oldest state park, which is also home to the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Boat, paddle or swim the river or hike through the old-growth pines to a historic pioneer cabin and cemetery.

Couple watching the northern lights from Gooseberry Falls State Park on the North Shore of Lake Superior

North Shore Scenic Drive

Enjoy a scenic drive through Minnesota northeast from Duluth to the Canadian border. Along the way, explore seven state parks, browse unique shops and see the magical northern lights over Lake Superior.

Boating on Rainy Lake in Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota
Paul Stafford

Voyageurs National Park

Take a naturalist-led sunset or wildlife tour along meandering waterways, fish for walleye or spend an afternoon berry picking at Voyageurs National Park in International Falls, Minnesota.

Foyer of Prince’s Paisley Park in Chanhassen, Minnesota

Prince's Paisley Park

Walk the halls of Paisley Park in Chanhassen, Minnesota, once the home of legendary musician Prince. It’s now a museum and concert venue that pays tribute to the beloved icon’s art, fashion and vision.

A view from the Guthrie Theater along the Minneapolis, Minnesota, riverfront
Ryan Taylor

Minneapolis Riverfront

Experience the historic Minneapolis Riverfront, which features the only waterfall on the Mississippi River, St. Anthony Falls. Stroll along the Stone Arch Bridge that crosses over the river and provides spectacular views.

Mall of America® in Bloomington, Minnesota

Outside of Mall of America® in Bloomington, Minnesota

Ultimate Entertainment Destination

Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2022, the Mall of America® in Bloomington, Minnesota, is a global icon. Home to 500 stores, the mall also features over 50 dining options, 16 attractions and two hotels conveniently connected to the mall.

Friends shopping at Mall of America® in Bloomington, Minnesota

The Ultimate Shopping Spree

Attracting more than 40 million people a year to its three levels of retail stores, Mall of America® is the USA’s largest retail and entertainment center featuring brands such as BOSS Store, Kate Spade New York and Coach. Download the mobile app for current promotions. Even better – there’s no sales tax on clothing and shoe purchases.

Nickelodeon Universe® at Mall of America® in Bloomington, Minnesota

Fun for the Family

Beyond shopping, Mall of America® is home to a wealth of attractions. Laugh with Spongebob at Nickelodeon Universe®, stroll through the ocean tunnel at SEA LIFE® Minnesota Aquarium or try out one of the play tables at The LEGO® Store.

Family dining at Mall of America® in Bloomington, Minnesota

Savor the Flavor

Between visiting retail stores and enjoying thrilling family attractions, relax and refuel at more than 50 dining options. Indulge on pizza, ice cream, sushi, burgers or even a multi-course farm-to-table meal.

Checking in at the JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota

Shop and Stay

There’s so much to see and do at Mall of America® that you’ll want to stay overnight at one of the two full-service hotels connected to the mall. Relax by the indoor pool at The Radisson Blu or experience five-star treatment at JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America.

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Aerial view of Minneapolis, Minnesota
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Minneapolis, Minnesota

Experience urban sophistication and outdoor adventures in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Stroll along the Stone Arch Bridge for majestic views of St. Anthony Falls, kayak along the Mississippi River, catch a baseball game at Target Field or enjoy a Broadway-style show at the Orpheum Theatre. Learn more

Photo: Nathan Klok

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A sunset riverboat tour in Saint Paul, Minnesota
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Saint Paul, Minnesota

With over 41 kilometers of scenic riverfront, Saint Paul, Minnesota, has a longer shoreline along the Mississippi River than any other city. You’ll find lots of things to do on or near the water, from riverboat rides and guided kayaking tours to riverfront dining and hiking in waterfront parks. Learn more

Wisconsin

Kayaking past large rocky outcrops at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Explore expansive sea cave formations and visit 100-year-old lighthouses along the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Enjoy views of the stunning Lake Superior shoreline from one of the most beautiful locations in Wisconsin.

A woman walks her dog along the shoreline in Door County, Wisconsin
Mike Tittel and Destination Door County

Door County

A long, narrow peninsula separating Green Bay from greater Lake Michigan to the east, Wisconsin’s Door County is framed by beaches and bluffs and accented by ferry boats and historic brick lighthouses. Explore seemingly endless kilometers of shoreline and visit charming small towns along the way.

A view of the Milwaukee Art Museum against the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, skyline

Milwaukee Art Museum

On the shores of Lake Michigan, the Milwaukee Art Museum is home to more than 2,500 works of art. Marvel at masterpieces inside and out: Its striking exterior is an architectural delight, with wings that fold and unfold over the structure.

The Wisconsin State Capitol building at sunset in Madison, Wisconsin

Wisconsin State Capitol

Known as a gateway to the Great Lakes, Wisconsin offers four seasons of outdoor adventures and culture. Explore the vibrant college town of Madison and visit the Wisconsin State Capitol, a stunning example of neoclassical and Beaux-Arts French architecture.

Aerial view of Wisconsin’s Great River Road
Jay Olson-Goude

Great River Road

Take a road trip along Wisconsin’s Great River Road, one of the most beloved scenic byways in the USA. Trace the path of the Mississippi River through dozens of small towns. In the fall, the region transforms into a kaleidoscope of autumn colors – perfect for photo ops.