If someone asked you to think of a city in the Midwest, you may think of Chicago, St. Louis, or Detroit. These are populous cities and commonly thought of because of it. Equally, they are distinct hubs of culture, with contributions of history, nature, music, food, architecture, theater, sports, and more unique to each city, individually. Because they are so commonly thought of, they are the cities someone may be most likely to visit in the Midwest.
For every large city in the Midwest, there are many smaller cities that offer just as much, on a smaller scale, within the same region. These smaller cities have the same kind of attractions and amenities, just maybe without the stadiums and skyscrapers. For every Lollapalooza, there's a similar festival or street fairs aplenty.
Below is a list of five smaller cities that you may not think of immediately when planning your next vacation or staycation in the Midwest:
1) Sioux Falls, South Dakota
As described by South Dakota's tourism board, "Sioux Falls sports easy access to rock climbing and skiing (both snow and H2O) in the middle of the Great Plains. Rock climbers descend on the 50-foot quartzite cliffs at Palisades State Park (30 minutes northeast of town), while skiers, snowboarders, and tubers flock to the 12 runs at Great Bear Recreation Park. Meanwhile, water skiing teams have been building human pyramids for over 20 years at Catfish Bay, aka 'The Greatest Show on H2O,' just off I-90 in northern Sioux Falls."
2) Columbus, Ohio
"Wherever you're staying in Columbus, you're going to have a great trip. The world-class Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a delight at any time of year. Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens brings horticulture and art together with a spectacular glasshouse, a stunning community garden campus and sculpture sprinkled throughout. The Scott's Miracle-Gro Foundation Children's Garden focuses on introducing and connecting children to the natural world. The Columbus Museum of Art offers sunny galleries with rotating exhibits and an outdoor sculpture garden. COSI mixes science and fun for kids and adults. Don't miss the American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery. Parks like the Scioto Mile connect the city to nature, and dozens of miles of multi-use trails span Columbus," as detailed by Columbus' tourism board.
3) Ann Arbor, Michigan
Ann Arbor is many things, including a bustling university town, culinary hotspot, and a tech hub with a walkable downtown that includes world-class arts and culture. Located in southeast Michigan's Lower Peninsula, Ann Arbor lies at the center of a greater collection of communities in Washtenaw County. With so many thriving communities nearby, Ann Arbor has become a cultural melting pot and urban oasis.
4) Madison, Wisconsin
According to Madison, Wisconsin's tourism board, "Greater Madison is an outdoor lover's paradise. Green space and trails. Five glistening lakes. And over 260 parks perfect for picnicking. Whether you're a resident looking to try a new-to-you park or trail, or a visitor eager to spend some time outdoors, you'll find ample space to explore and unwind safely. Plus, urban amenities including hotels, boutiques and award-winning restaurants are within an arm's reach."
5) Des Moines, Iowa
"Catch Des Moines a city with Broadway shows, public art, delicious food, and so much more. Cheer on the Iowa Cubs, Iowa Wild and more. Enjoy live music by the river and plenty of craft beer. Browse charming street front shops and department stores. Select from dozens of breathtaking venues fit for conventions, tradeshows and sports action. Walk, bike or run more than 800 miles of recreational trails. Des Moines is a city where you can catch it all," as described by Des Moines, Iowa's tourism board.