Exploring Americas Heartland

As published on The Huffington Post

Most people I talk with about traveling turn their noses up when I mention the Midwest and I have a confession to make, I was one of those people too. And then one day, I got a call to do a story in the Midwest and my impression did a 360.

The states comprising the Midwest are Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South and North Dakota. Each one of them is unique in its own way but the people have one common factor; they are down to earth and friendly.

The Heartland is definitely worth your attention when you are making your summer plans. There is an abundance of places to explore for adults and families alike but unfortunately I wont have the space in this article to list them all so here are a few of my favorites.

For all of you that are roller coaster junkies, Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio needs to be on your list. It is home to the largest collection of roller coasters and rides in the world.

Keeping with the theme park interest, Wisconsin Dells offers water parks in adnauseam. Each park has its own theme and tries to outdo the others. If walking the parks isn’t enough exercise for you, the Dells has nature trails along the Wisconsin River for some quiet hiking.

Michigan has two of my favorites, Mackinac Island and Frankenmuth. Mackinac Island is a step back in time to the Victorian era complete with horse drawn carriages as the mode of transportation. Frankenmuth is a quaint Bavarian village with a year round Christmas shop that is spectacular.

If canoeing is your thing, then head to Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota. The labyrinth of lakes makes up 1,200 miles of canoe only routes. For that family wilderness getaway, this is the place to check out.

In a previous article, I wrote about the Wizard of Oz park that opens only once a year in NC, so it is only fitting for me to mention that there is The Oz Museum in Kansas. It is the home to everything Oz and with more than 2,000 artifacts surrounding you, you no doubt will start to feel like Dorothy herself.

South Dakota has Mount Rushmore and the Mammoth Site. After taking in the surrealness of Mount Rushmore, you can get up close and personal to a mammoth excavation site.

Another favorite of mine is Door County in Wisconsin. It’s expansive shoreline and lighthouses are captivating as well as the quaint towns and of course, their fabulous fish boils. Take the ferry over to Washington Island and bike its many paths or walk the quiet beaches.

Not to be out done by Door County, I have to say the ultimate adventure would be to experience an 8-day cruise on a riverboat. Can someone say, Mark Twain? With so much to see and do in Americas Heartland, I suggest you get a packin’!

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