by Rebekah Icenesse
The Midwest has plenty of staples when it comes to showcasing the culture and beauty of some of the most unique places in the region. Particularly in Missouri and Kansas, there are ample opportunities to experience what makes the Midwest such a great destination to visit and stay. From entertainment centers to sports venues, to nature-filled activities and to historical sites, there are reasons why these states are part of The Great Midwest.
Cape Girardeau, MO
With a mix of small-town feels and big-city living, Cape Girardeau is the “ideal place to live, work, and play.” Offering a taste of everything, Cape has the entertainment, food, and hospitality to make this a destination that can’t be missed. Perched on the bank of the Mississippi River, it is practically flowing with over 250 years of history. Step back in time with a visit to Fort D, the only civil war fort in Cape, or walk through Trail of Tears State Park. You can find charming treasures in the local antique shops or experience the thriving art scene with colorful murals on the flood wall and sculptures on Broadway Street. Spend your evenings sipping in one of the multiple wineries or listening to live entertainment at the Century Casino.
Expect the unexpected in Columbia, Missouri. Named one of the 50 best places to live in the U.S., Columbia is more than just a town with a well-known university. Offering small-town hospitality and some big-city features, there are ample opportunities for travelers to have fun and experience what makes this city the best. If you’re an avid sports fan, attend one of the many college sports games or The Show-Me-State Games, the largest annual amateur style Olympic event in the state. Columbia has 84 parks and trails to explore and many festivals and events highlighting the beauty and culture of the region.
Lake of the Ozarks, MO
Whether you want to relax by the lake, experience fine dining, or explore indoor and outdoor attractions, the Lake of the Ozarks is the premier lake resort destination for all ages and groups. Whatever vacation vibe you desire, the Lake of the Ozarks has it all. Lounge by the lake for a relaxing afternoon or partake in the fun watersports. Discover the natural beauty of the castle ruins at Ha Ha Tonka State Park or spend the day exploring the 17,000 acres of the Lake of the Ozarks State Park. Outside the lake, you can splash through the multiple water parks or experience an adrenaline rush on the Adrenaline Zipline. To refuel, enjoy lakeside dining or take a break from the boisterous activities with some golfing. The Lake is considered one of the Midwest’s finest golfing destinations.
Spring into action with the unique attractions and cultural scene in Springfield, where simple pleasures are celebrated. Make your stay memorable by visiting the various museums and public gardens, or explore one of the 90 parks that make Springfield the “Gateway to the Great Outdoors”. Experience incredible shows in Landers Theatre or attend one of the festivals and concerts in Springfield’s vibrant performing arts community. Whatever tempo you want for your visit, Springfield has you covered.
Nicknamed “The Little Apple,” travelers can experience eclectic shopping, nightlife entertainment, unique dining, and outdoor adventures in Manhattan. Witness the rolling green hills of Flint Hills, the largest intact tallgrass prairie in North America, or hike the unrefined trails at Konza Prairie. Spend the day on the water paddleboarding or kayaking along the Kansas River or Tuttle Creek, or zipline through Wildwood Adventure Park for an exhilarating soar 100 to 1400 feet above the ground. Visit The Sunset Zoo, one of the oldest zoos in the United States, or listen to a great performance in the local art community. Manhattan also offers a dining experience with unique twists on traditional flavors, satisfying whatever food mood you desire.
St. Charles, MO
A river-front city rich with history, St. Charles offers fun and mystery to all of its visitors. The perfect weekend getaway, St. Charles has everything you need for a leisure stay. Shop down the brick-lined streets on Main Street, where you can get a taste of history modernized in the shops and dining. Visit the Foundry Art Centre to view art exhibitions or spend the day at Historic Missouri Wine Country, one of the local wine treasures. For an even more exciting experience, visit Ameristar Resort and Casino for delicious restaurants, pleasant gaming, and unique entertainment shows.
Rebekah Icenesse is a contributing writer from St. Louis.