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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From Wikitravel

The Midwest is a region of the United States of America known as "America's Heartland", which refers to its primary role in the nation's manufacturing and farming sectors as well as its patchwork of big commercial cities and small towns that, in combination, are considered as the broadest representation of American culture. In fact, most national television broadcasters speak with a midwestern accent. The Midwest was the home of more than one quarter of U.S. Presidents as well as the birthplace of the inventors and entrepreneurs of most of the technology that fuels the world's economy (airplane, automobile, electric lighting, petroleum, steel production - to name a few).

States

The following eight states of the Midwest account for one-fifth of the U.S. population, according to the 2005 Census estimates taken by the United States Census Bureau:

States and cities of the Midwest
States and cities of the Midwest
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Michigan
Minnesota
Missouri
Ohio
Wisconsin

Cities

See also the pages for the states of the Midwest, for smaller but still substantial cities in the region. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2005 population estimates, the Midwest includes 9 of the 25 largest combined metropolitan statistical areas in the United States.

Understand

The term "Midwest" refers to a collection of states just east of center in the United States. This area is sometimes referred to as the "heart" of America and is often associated with agriculture and industry. The culture of the midwest is generally acknowledged to be "down to earth", as much of the population is far from the influences of coastal cities and cultural centers such as New York City and Los Angeles. The biggest city in the midwest region is Chicago, Illinois, the third largest city in the U.S.

States bordering the Great Lakes (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin) are sometimes called the "North Coast", "Third Coast" or "Fresh Coast" as parallels to the East and West coasts.

Talk

English is, as with the rest of the US, the de facto official language. The "Midwestern Accent" is the voice most commonly heard on national newscasts across the country. Some areas with large Hispanic populations might have a majority speaking Spanish, but most have at least basic English skills. Some of the larger cities, such as Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, Saint Louis, and the Twin Cities have diverse ethnic communities with many first generation immigrants. Extreme southern and northern portions of the Midwest have their own minor linguistic quirks, but generally the English spoken here is among the easiest dialect to understand in all America.

Get in

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By plane

The Midwest is served by several international airports, including many of the major US airlines' national hubs. O'Hare International (United and American), Cleveland (Continental), Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky (Delta), Detroit (Northwest), Minneapolis-Saint Paul (Northwest),Milwaukee (Midwest) and Saint Louis-Lambert (American). Many major metropolitan areas also have secondary international and regional airports, supporting discount airlines.

By car

The Midwest is served by several interstate highways. Most of the states in the Midwest can be access by the major east-west corridors of:

  • I-94 - connects five of the Midwest states of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
  • I-90 - connects five of the Midwest states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
  • I-80 - connects four of the Midwest states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa.
  • I-70 - connects four of the Midwest states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri.

Additionally, several major interstate highways have their northern, eastern and western termini in Midwest states including:

  • I-24 - connects Southern Illinois to the Southeastern United States.
  • I-29 - starts in Kansas City and provides an important link to Canada by running through northwestern Missouri, western Iowa, eastern South Dakota, and eastern North Dakota.
  • I-35 - starts in northern Minnesota, serves Minneapolis-Saint Paul and follows through Texas
  • I-39 - gives traffic from north and northwest a bypass around Chicago when heading south.
  • I-43 - Links Milwaukee to I-39, thus allowing them to avoid to Chicago to get further south.
  • I-44 - begins in St. Louis, runs through the Missouri Ozarks into Oklahoma and Texas and thus provides an important link between the Midwest and Southwestern United States.
  • I-55 - starts in Chicago, serves St. Louis and ultimately reaches New Orleans
  • I-57 - gives Chicago traffic an alternative to I-55 in getting to Memphis and bisects Illinois vertically.
  • I-64 - starts in St. Louis, Missouri and connects it with Southern Illinois and Southern Indiana through Evansville, and ultimately to Hampton Roads, Virginia. I-64 is an important east-west corridor linking the Midwest to the Southeast.
  • I-65 - starts just outside of Chicago in Gary, Indiana, serves Indianapolis and utlimately terminates in Alabama
  • I-69 - Links Indianapolis to Lansing Michigan and ultimately runs to the Canadian border in Port Huron
  • I-71 - starts in Cleveland, also serving Columbus and Cincinnati then unto Kentucky
  • I-72 - Planned to run from St. Joseph, Missouri eventually. Currently links Hannibal, Missouri to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois via Springfield, Illinois.
  • I-74 - Links the Quad Cities to Peoria, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati
  • I-75 - starts in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, contains the only bridge connecting the two parts of Michigan, and linking through Detroit, Michigan and Cincinnati, Ohio, ultimately terminating in Florida
  • I-77 - starts in Cleveland, Ohio and runs all the way to South Carolina
  • I-88 - relieves congestion on interstate 80 between the Quad Cities and Chicago.
  • I-94 - Links Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and points west together.
  • I-96 - Links Detroit to western Michigan

By train

Amtrak also operates several routes through the Midwest, including several that primarily connect Chicago directly to other major Midwest cities. The major routes running through several Midwest states and major cities include:

  • Capitol Limited (Chicago, Cleveland and onto Washington, D.C.)
  • Cardinal/Hoosier State (Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and onto Washington, D.C. and New York City)
  • Empire Builder (Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-Saint Paul and onto Seattle)
  • Lake Shore Limited (Chicago, Cleveland and onto Boston)
  • Texas Eagle (Chicago, St. Louis and onto Texas)
  • California Zephyr (Chicago onto Denver and the San Francisco Bay Area)
  • Greyhound offers passenger bus service from many U.S. cities.
  • Megabus is a low-cost bus company primarily offering service in the Midwest connecting its hub in Chicago to Ann Arbor, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, St. Louis and Toledo.
  • Great Lakes - The northern Midwest can be traversed by boat throughout the Great Lakes. Many boaters utilize the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence Seaway and their connection points as a travel route. The Lakes Cruising Company [1] and the American Canadian Caribbean Line [2] provide cruises with several Midwest cities (including Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee) in their itineria.
  • River Travel - Additionally, the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio Rivers are some of the primary navigable waters in the US. There are also steamboat and cruise options connecting points along Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

Get around

By plane

Many major metropolitan areas also have secondary international and regional airports, supporting national, discount and commuter airlines.

By car

In addition to the major interstates listed above, many Midwest cities have secondary interstate service such as outerbelt and by-pass systems.

By train

Most of the Midwest lacks regional passenger rail service, but segments of Amtrak routes may suffice.

  • Greyhound and Megabus offer a variety of routes and connections to guide through the Midwest.

See

Great Lakes

  • Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail - including Northern Ohio and Southeastern Michigan.
  • Lake Erie Islands. Located west of Cleveland, Ohio and southeast of Detroit, Michigan, a group of picturesque and festive islands in Lake Erie are accessible via ferry. In addition to several Ohio State Parks [3] located on the islands, there is plenty to do including wineries, restaurants, bars, marinas and beaches.
  • North Shore Scenic Drive - Along Lake Superior in Minnesota, this picturesque route is popular for stunning vistas of the water and beautiful fall foliage. Follow Minnesota Route 61 northeasterly from Duluth all the way to Thunder Bay, Canada.
  • The Mackinac Bridge - Connecting the two peninsulas of Michigan via I-75. An engineering marvel and an important transportation artery.

River Dancing

  • Great River Road - the Mighty Mississippi, from Wisconsin and Minnesota through Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri and south to the Gulf of Mexico
  • Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Route - Illinois
  • Ohio River Scenic Byway - a river trail through Ohio, Indiana and Illinois
  • Ohio & Erie Canalway - from Lake Erie in Cleveland through Ohio to the Ohio River valley

Inland History and Culture

  • Historical National Road - a trail of history running through Ohio, Indiana and Illinois
  • Amish Country Byway - Ohio
  • Lincoln Highway - Illinois
  • Amana Colonies - Iowa

Do

Great Lakes

  • Beaches, including the dunes in Indiana along Lake Michigan.
  • Fishing, with many charters in most major cities to choose from.
  • Boating, in and around the Apostle Islands in northern Wisconsin.
  • Lighthouses worthy of a picture in Wisconsin's Door County.
  • Resorts along the Traverse City area of Michigan.

River Valleys

  • Casino riverboats in Dubuque, Iowa.
  • Rafting and tubing along the Wisconsin River in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.
  • Boatwatching along the Mississippi River in Hannibal, Missouri, Mark Twain's hometown.

Amusement Parks

  • Cedar Point
  • Six Flags' Great America
  • Kings Island
  • Michigan's Adventure
  • Six Flags St. Louis
  • Valleyfair

Eat

The Midwest is a patchwork of big cities, small towns and farming communities. Being the epicenter of the American Industrial Revolution, it attracted an influx of immigrants and African Americans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, resulting in a diverse ethnic culinary experience from the heavy German, Irish, Polish and African-American urban populations to rural Amish and Mennonite cooking traditions. Big Midwest cities, like Chicago, St. Louis, Cleveland, Detroit and Milwaukee, are known for their bratwurst, kielbasa, Italian sausage and good old American hot dogs. Minnesota and parts of Wisconsin have heavier Scandinavian influences. Large hispanic, pan-Asian, Middle-eastern and Indian now add spice to this international potpouri.

Locally grown food is seasonally available in rural areas, often at roadside stands. Spring crops include salad greens, radishes, sweet peas and spinach. Summer's abundance includes sweet corn, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, onions, melons, berries, apples, cherries, peaches and pears. The agricultural abundance can be excellent in season and seems to encourage large helpings year around.

  • Beer - Major domestic breweries, Anheuser-Busch (recently acquired by InBev) (St. Louis) and Miller (Milwaukee) are headquartered in the Midwest. Many renowned microbreweries dot the landscape as well, including Summit (St. Paul), Goose Island (Chicago), Bell's (Kalamazoo, MI), New Glarus (New Glarus, WI), Gluek's (Cold Spring, MN), Schell's (New Ulm, MN), Leinenkugel's (Chippewa Falls, WI).
  • Wine - Wine is made in every state of the Midwest. Catawba grapes were first discovered in Ohio in 1802 and thus Catawba vineyards line the shores and islands of Lake Erie. Michigan and Missouri also have significant wine countries.
  • Dial 911 from any telephone for emergency police, medical, and fire services. The call will be free of charge. This should not change from town to town or state to state, since all police, fire, and medical emergency services throughout the USA and Canada are tied into the 911 service.

The rural areas and small cities of the Midwest are among the safest for travelers and residents in all America. Parts of the larger cities, including Chicago, Saint Louis, and Detroit, should be avoided after dark.

Weather in the Midwest ranges from blistering heat waves in July and August, to fierce blizzards in January and February. Tornadoes are common in the southern parts of this region in the springtime, but ample warnings are often given to help protect property and lives. If the weather on the road appears to be turning inclement, local radio and television stations will continuously offer advice and information.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

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