You can rarely hear people talking about the American Midwest the way they praise New York, Mount Rushmore or Grand Canyon. The main reason for such an unfair treatment of this cult American region lies in the fact that tourists, especially foreign ones, don’t know too much about it. Now that fall is coming and nature is preparing fireworks of colors, it’s the right time to start planning a visit to this part of the USA. Therefore, find a comfortable reading position and get familiar with the hidden gems of the Midwest before you rent a free car and set off on this amazing feast for your eyes.
You would miss a lot if you just storm through Ohio. Rarely a part of fancy tourist guides, this state offers intriguing tourist spots. The most attractive natural beauty that will take your breath away on an October afternoon stroll is Hocking Hills. The tourists coming from New York can get to this picturesque region driving along the beautiful shore of Lake Erie.
When you reach Columbus, you should continue for another 57 miles until you reach a blend of breath-taking vistas – fast waters rushing over jagged rocks, dozens of beautiful waterfalls, as well as endless areas of hickory, maple and oak, displaying probably every single existing color that the fall has to offer. Before you continue your trip, conclude your adventure at the Glenlauren restaurant – traditional Scottish cuisine will serve as a great follow-up to a day in the wilderness.
The Waterfront of the Wolverine State
If you want to add some water energy to the mostly earth-ish and wood-ish Ohio experience, your next stop on the Midwest quest for stunning landscapes should be the tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Keweenaw. Remember the lake scene with Robin Williams from What Dreams May Come? Expect something like that when you see the reflections from the trees on the shore in the lake.
Also, knowing that the Upper Peninsula is covered by approximately 4 million acres of woods explains why fall in this region is an endless source of pure living inspiration. The most popular activities you can do here are definitely hiking and bike rides through endless pine forests. Moreover, you will certainly come across some old mines, but don’t get inside, for your own safety. Just take a quick selfie and move on.
When you start feeling hungry, go down to the Eagle River and dine in one of the restaurants on the river bank, like the Fitzgerald’s Restaurant and Hotel. Beside first-class meals, this place also offers accommodation – a handy package for an exhausted traveler.
The Scenery of the North Star State
On the western shore of Lake Superior you can witness an unparalleled view of this astonishing lake from the Minnesota Highway 61, also known as the North Shore Scenic Drive. As you reach Duluth and before you get to this highway, make a stop and try some local specialties, to get enough energy for your North Shore exploration. You shouldn’t drive the entire 142 miles, but only scan the view and get back to enjoy other attractions of North Shore, since this road leads straight to Canada.
Bear in mind that this part of the Midwest has a continental climate, with some plant species characteristic for much colder regions. The direct descendant of such conditions is the vegetation that reminds of Russia or Scandinavia, with aspen, pine and birch trees as its main representatives. In fall, this triplet of trees (treeplet) will sweep you off your feet, so just immerse yourself into this unique combination of colors, fragrances and views.
The West Gate of the Cornhusker State
The end of this Midwest quest – or the beginning for the travelers coming from the east – is in Valentine, Nebraska. This town serves as a great base for Nebraska-discovering trips. A car drive from Duluth, MA to Valentine, NE should take about nine hours, so find out more about the diners along Interstate 80 relevant for your part of this transcontinental road before you hit it.
The most important natural attraction that takes one-quarter of the Nebraskan land is the Sandhills. It consists of numerous sand dunes covered with grass. The dunes look like landscaping masterpieces made by some great artists, but they’re only a genuine work of nature. During the fall months, those miraculous shapes can easily make you think you’ve come to an uninhabited planet.
Another must-see attraction when in Nebraska is Smith Falls State Park. The drive from Valentine to this scenic spot should last for about 20 minutes and then you will get a chance to see a 70-foot high waterfall. Last, but not the least – don’t forget to add Bruce Springsteen’s amazing album Nebraska to your playlist for the trip to and across this state.
This guide only shows the tiny part of the Midwest natural wealth. We suggest you follow our route, but also don’t hesitate to add some places of your special interest to a fall tour de Midwest and have a great time exploring this amazing, bust somewhat underrated US region.
Article by Lillian Connors.