Flyover states stretching across the Midwestern region of the United States are typically overlooked as possible destinations for travelers, stereotyped for offering nothing more than endless farms and fields. It’s within these states, however, that travelers will discover the ideal destination for a weekend getaway with the perfect balance of relaxation and adventure.
1. Pella, Iowa
This charming town in Marion County, Iowa continues to uphold the traditions of its deep Dutch roots. The village of Pella transports visitors to Holland with its remarkable architecture and rich culture. Landmarks throughout Pella, including the Vermeer Mill that stands as the tallest functioning windmill in the United States and the Pella Opera House recognized for its vibrant stained glass windows, evoke the town’s Dutch heritage. The Molengracht Plaza in downtown Pella replicates an authentic Dutch canal and is home to some of the best boutiques and bakeries in town. Those visiting Pella in early May will have an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the annual Tulip Time Festival, a cultural celebration featuring tulip gardens, traditional performances, Dutch costumes, and much more.
Photo courtesy | David Mulder
2. Mackinac Island, Michigan
Mackinac Island is one of the few places where automobiles are prohibited, leaving residents and visitors to rely on bicycles and horseback to make their way around. The city of Mackinac Island has a small population of nearly 500, making it a peaceful spot for a weekend getaway in the summer. There are plenty of lodging options around the island, including the famed Grand Hotel, voted by Travel & Leisure Family magazine’s best resorts for families and kids, and the historic Island House Hotel. Mackinac Island offers an endless list of activities for the adventurous visitors, including walking tours, bicycles, museum visits, and water sports. A visit to Mackinac Island would not be complete without tasting some of the city’s famous fudge made on cold marble slabs at any of its fudge shops.
Photo courtesy | Ellenm1
3. Columbus, Ohio
Named after the founder of the New World, Columbus is a city full of energy unlike any other. Scattered around the city are some spectacular sites worth seeing such as the Scioto Mile Fountain and the 100-foot red metal ART sculpture. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, as well as the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Garden, are great venues for families to explore while in town. Columbus is also home to Easton Town Center, an indoor and outdoor shopping complex that houses over 240 retail shops including designer boutiques.
The culinary masterpieces of Columbus, including the mouthwatering pizza served at Harvest Pizzaria, will please everyone’s appetites. As the home of famous musicians, including musical duo Twenty One Pilots, Columbus is known for weekly live performances hosted at local clubs. For a more classical night out on the town, the theater district of Columbus offers several options including the Wexner Center for Arts, which features artist talks, dance performances, and film screenings.
Photo courtesy | Always Shooting
4. Minneapolis, Minnesota
The animated metropolis of Minneapolis, situated along the banks of the Mississippi, is the largest city within Minnesota. Nicknamed the “City by Nature,” Minneapolis is one of the most bike-friendly places in the nation with a park located every six blocks. The Minneapolis Queen Paddlewheel Cruise serves as an opportunity to spend time with friends and family while seeing the city and learning about its history. Once back on land, tourists can wander through any of the museums sprinkled across Minneapolis such as the Institute of Art and the Mill City Museum. For the artsy travelers, the Walker Art Center, recently renovated in 2005, is a must stop destination. This acclaimed contemporary arts center is the venue for art and musical performances, as well as film screenings.
Photo courtesy | M01229
5. Indianapolis, Indiana
Sports enthusiasts can experience the thrill of athletics during the off-season in Indianapolis, Indiana. Home of the Pacers and Colts, the capital of Indiana is also known for the “Indianapolis 500,” the annual car race held at the city’s motor speedway. For a small entrance fee at the motor speedway museum, guests can discover the history of auto racing that has existed since automobiles were invented in the 19th century. For the less sporty travelers, Indianapolis has a wide variety of recreational activities. Families will particularly enjoy spending time at the Eagle Creek Park and Nature Preserve, where they can go sailing, windsurfing, hiking, swimming, biking, and fishing. White River State Park, the only cultural urban park in America, is in close proximity to popular attractions such as the Indianapolis Zoo, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, the NCAA Hall of Champions, and the Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn, a 6,000-seat outdoor concert venue.
Photo courtesy | Matthew Rogers