Ah, the Midwest: Home to Henry Ford, cheese curds, The Great Lakes, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, countless professional sports teams and more acres of farmland than anyone cares to count. It’s a beautiful place with steamy summers, and frigid (not to mention, long) winters, with pockets of pure bliss during the spring and summer. It’s the definition of Americana and one of the best places to call home in the U.S.
In this article we are paying homage to the great Midwest by sharing the greatest things about living in Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
So, why is the Midwest the best? Here are 20 reasons.
1. Tailgating is a serious pastime
I don’t care who you are: girl, guy, young or old. If you live in the Midwest, you probably like professional and college sports and you’ve probably tailgated. Even if you don’t like sports, you’ve probably tailgated. See which Midwest cities made our list of Top 10 Tailgate Cities in the U.S.
2. Cheese curds or BBQ, anyone
Hearty, sometimes not-so-healthy, but always delicious and satisfying. Yup, this sums up Midwestern-style food. If you haven’t had Wisconsin cheese curds, Cincinnati chili, St. Louis BBQ, Chicago-style hot dog, sugar cream pie in Indy, or a to-die-for Ohio Buckeye, you really haven’t lived. And, if you want a laugh. Watch a few non-Midwesterners try Midwest foods for the first time.
3. More than 100 top-rated breweries to quench your thirst
The amount of craft beer available to Midwest citizens is just unfair to the rest of the United States. With more than 100 top-rated breweries, if you can’t find a “favorite” in the Midwest, I don’t think you ever will. See which ones made our list of the Top 99 Beers in the U.S.
4. So, so many music festivals
Midwesterners like summer and they also like music, which results in some of the nation’s best music festivals. Outdoor music festivals such as Chicago’s Lollapalooza and Pitchfork, Michigan’s Faster Horses three-day country music affair and Milwaukee’s Summerfest, take the cake for some of the best live music around. Want more? Click here for a round up of great Midwest music festivals.
5. Dunes, trails and bike paths, oh my
There are so many ways to experience nature in the Midwest. It’s kind of our thing. From the Indiana Dunes to the Wisconsin Dells, to Minnesota’s Lake Minnetonka and Starved Rock in Illinois, we’ve got you covered. We also have some pretty wonderful state parks.
6. Foodies, eat your heart out
So much food, so little time. If you think top notch chefs flock to the east and west coasts, think again. The Midwest has some seriously delicious and prestigious restaurants (see above video).
7. The Great Lakes: Our very own fresh water oceans
The Great Lakes are the largest fresh water system on Earth and just our luck, Midwest states Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana all get to enjoy. Lake Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario span 750 miles from east to west, including some the best beaches and swimming one could ask for!
8. Fashion: The Midwest can strike a pose
New York might have us beat from a fashion standpoint, but we hold our own in the Midwest. We even have our very own fashion week.
9. The best of higher education
The Midwest is known for its impressive list of colleges and universities, including Northwest University in Chicago, the University of Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin, Ohio State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Chicago and more.
See which ones made our list of 10 Best College Towns in America
10. Ok, just great schooling in general
Besides great colleges and universities, the Midwest also has fantastic primary and secondary education options for families. For more information, check out our 2016 list of the 10 Best Cities to Raise a Family.
11. Summer may be short, but it’s glorious
We Midwesterners have a love/hate relationship with summer, fall, winter and spring. Summer is too short, albeit beautiful. Fall is full of breathtaking, crisp color, but a signal of what’s to come. Winter is lovely during the holidays but harsh and filled with blizzard-cold weather come January. Spring is sloppy and wet, giving us a shred of hope for summer. It’s a vicious cycle filled with 15 different types of coats, boots, bathing suits and umbrellas, but it’s worth it.
12. Beaches & Boats: Sunbathing galore
Summer is the Midwest is the best and the beaches are plentiful. Plus, with the great lakes and the thousands of other lakes throughout the region, you'll have ample opportunity to get out on the water. (Shall we mention the almost 12,000 lakes in Minnesota alone?) East and west coasters will argue the ocean is where it's at, but in the Midwest, you'll find people are just as passionate about lake life.
13. Our laid-back way of life
In the Midwest, we’re pretty friendly, laid back people. We’re also a tad bit conventional according to Time’s “Mood Map.”
14. Two words: Cedar Point
There are many great amusement parks in the Midwest, but one in particular takes the cake. Located in Sandusky, Ohio, Cedar Point is the second oldest operating amusement park in the U.S. with four roller coasters taller than 200 feet. More than three million visitors per year, can’t be wrong.
15. The art scene
If you like art, you’re in the right place. From top notch art museums to regional art festivals, the Midwest has got you covered.
16. The best biggest cities: Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Detroit, Milwaukee
You don’t need to go to California or New York to experience big city living all the finer things that go along with it. In the Midwest we have some of the biggest cities in the nation and some pretty great mid-sized cities too.
17. State Fairs: All the elephant ears, deep-fried Twinkies and Ferris Wheel rides you can stand
State fairs are an American institution and a tradition in the Midwest. The Ohio State Fair is one of the biggest with just under one million people in attendance each year. Wisconsin lures people in with its world-famous “cream puffs” and 50 amusement rides.
18. The amount of culture in the Midwest is astounding
If you’re a museum lover, look no further than the Midwest. So many museums and historical monuments to choose from.
19. Jobs: The Midwest is where it’s at
Although the Midwest took a hard hit during the economic recession, it’s rebounding strongly, with cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, St. Louis and Indianapolis on the rise across technology, healthcare and industry.
20. Skiing: No mountains necessary
There are so many opportunities for great skiing in the Midwest, whether you like downhill or cross country, you can’t go wrong.