The center of the United States that stretches from the state of Ohio in the east to the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas to the west is known as the Midwest. The region is further divided into the Great Lakes States (Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Illinois all border one of the Great Lakes) and the Great Plains States (Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska).
Although much travel in the United States is focused on the cities of the East Coast, West Coast, and the South, the heart of the country contains one of the top destinations in the United States in Chicago; the "Gateway to the West" in St. Louis; the Mall of America, North America's largest shopping mall; automobile and musical history in Detroit; and hundreds of other traditions, foods, and landmarks worth paying a visit. The Midwest is definitely a place to see.
The biggest city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous city in the nation is Chicago. The population of the city of Chicago is around 2.7 million, while its metropolitan area boasts nearly 10 million residents.
Known as the "Second City," for its traditional rivalry with New York, or the "Windy City," for its legendary chilly weather, Chicago has architecture, art, and festivals galore, making it not only one of the top cities to visit in the Midwest but also one of the top destinations in the USA.
A landmark to see is the Buckingham Fountain, one of many free Chicago tourist attractions. You can also visit a Chicago museum for free. Summer's milder weather makes it a great time to visit the Windy City, and attracts such as The Art of Dr. Seuss gallery make it a great family-friendly vacation spot.
Chicago is one of America's best cities for music, thanks to the Chicago Blues Festival. It's also a top foodie city, known for deep-dish pizza, Chicago-style hot dogs, a bevy of steakhouses, and even Michelin-starred restaurants.
Sitting on the banks of the Mississippi River, St. Louis has a lot to offer the tourist visiting the Midwest. Riverboat tours, brewery tours such as the Anheuser Busch Brewery, baseball games in the heart of the city with the beloved St. Louis Cardinals, a walking tour of St. Louis' "The Hill" and a trip to the top of the Gateway Arch—one of the most famous landmarks in the Midwest, as well as in the U.S.A—are all must-do activities in this town known as the "Gateway to the West."
On the south shore of Lake Erie and one of the main hubs for commerce in the Great Lakes, Cleveland was once one of the most populous cities in the United States. Although it remains a reputation as a transportation and manufacturing center, Cleveland has reinvented itself over the years as a tourist destination, thanks to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum and other developments on the North Coast Harbor. Also check out the Cleveland Museum of Art in the Wade Park District on the east side. Sports are big in Cleveland and the city boasts professional football, basketball, and baseball teams that have all been really successful in recent years. Other top Cleveland attractions include the Greater Cleveland Aquarium.
Detroit—Motor City—is known as the home of the Ford Motor Company, which Henry Ford founded in 1903. Detroit's other moniker, Motown, refers to Detroit's soul and R&B musical legacy from the 1960s. Detroit sits across the Detroit River from Windsor (Ontario), Canada, making Detroit a popular first stop in the United States for many Canadians.
Be sure to visit the Henry Ford Museum, as well as the GM Renaissance Center's clustering of skyscrapers and other Detroit landmarks and buildings.
Minnesota's Minneapolis/St. Paul area is known as the famous "Twin Cities." This urban area is comprised of Minnesota's largest city (Minneapolis), the capital and second-largest city (St. Paul), and 100s of other townships that have developed around the confluence of the Mississippi, Minnesota, and St. Croix Rivers.
The Twin Cities are known for their lakes, baseball team (check out a Minnesota Twins' game), and Garrison Keillor's old-time radio show "A Prairie Home Companion." The Mall of America, North America's largest shopping mall, located in Bloomington, MN, is accessible by light rail from the cities' centers. Minnesota also has a beautiful Midwestern landscape.
There are lots of free things to do in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and many good restaurants.
Kansas City is Missouri's largest city. In fact, the city is so large that it straddles two states—Missouri and Kansas. Kansas City is renowned for its fountains—it has approximately 200 of them - as well as a thriving jazz and blues music scene. Kansas City is also known the world over for its style of barbecue. Oceans of Fun is a large water park that is perfect for families, as are Kansas City's public libraries.