Three Culturally Rich Cities to Visit in the Midwest


Some see the Midwest as a laid-back, quiet place where not much happens, but this reputation is undeserved. Culturally rich cities like Chicago, Indianapolis and Cincinnati are all well worth a visit. Put them on your travel wish list for your next weekend getaway.

Check out Chicago

You may be familiar with the large cultural icons of Chicago, such as Navy Pier or the Shedd Aquarium, but there’s a lot more to see and do. Chicago has 77 different neighborhoods that allow you to explore beyond the lakefront areas. For unique food and culture, head to Greektown or the Ukrainian Village. In Andersonville, find Middle Eastern sweets, gastro pubs, Scandinavian presence and a growing GLBT community. Similarly, Boystown Chicago offers a GLBT community center, nightlife and plenty of shopping. Located less than 15 miles from the Loop, Schorsch Village is diverse community home to newlyweds and families who have been in the neighborhood for generations. For a glimpse of historic Chicago, spend an afternoon walking around upper-class Lincoln Park, which features a zoo, a historic museum and plenty of mansions, boutiques and fine-dining restaurants.

Investigate Indianapolis

Indianapolis is smaller than Chicago but visitors have a wealth of fun activities at their disposal, including fine dining, art galleries, live music and local theatre. Host to the most recent Super Bowl, Indy’s cultural opportunities include modern dance performances, a world-class symphony, opera and chamber orchestra. The city recently completed its Cultural Trail, which connects five major arts districts – Fountain Square, Mass Ave, the Canal & White River State Park, Indiana Avenue and the Wholesale District – to the Monon Trail, a walking and jogging path stretching more than 10 miles through the city. Travelers can easily access Broad Ripple Village, a hub alive with independent shops and nightlife, from the Monon. In addition to public art projects and historical sites, enjoy vintage shops, unique home goods, locally owned restaurants and big-city entertainment without overwhelming crowds.

Consider Cincinnati

Cincinnati was named one of the top 10 “Cities That Rock” by Esquire. Its combination of strong identity and rich cultural experiences make it a premier Midwest vacation destination. For fine arts lovers, Cincinnati offers the second-oldest opera in the country, a superb ballet company and the fifth-oldest orchestra in the country. The city offers powerful architecture, pleasant parks and vibrant city life with lots of restaurants, boutiques and museums. Take in the Cathedral Basilica of Assumption, a majestic cathedral that resembles Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Major parks include Eden Park, Krohn Conservatory and Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum, which allow you to relax and unwind in natural beauty. The conservatory offers special events, including a butterfly exhibit. The Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum offers winding paths, Civil War connection with generals’ graves and trees, bushes and flowers in bloom.

Wherever you go in the Midwest, there’s plenty to do whether you’re visiting during a holiday weekend or longer vacation. Use cultural attractions as a starting point to plan your trip and add in museums, restaurants and outdoor activities to make your getaway great.

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Image Courtesy: Microsoft Office