When Sara of Travel with Sara and I started this chat last year, I honestly wasn’t sure what would happen. Along with Sara, Tim and I are very passionate about our love for travel and know there is so much to explore in our own backyard that is the Midwest. Tim and I had been to many of these destinations, which made it easy to fully engage and share our favorites in the conversations. Even for these same locations, we found ourselves with many reasons to go back following suggestions for places we had not visited. For the two destinations, Racine, WI, and Hendricks County, IN, that we haven’t visited, the chats made us eager to figure out when we could add them to our travel calendar.
As we start off 2016 and our first Midwest Travel Twitter Chat of the year this week, I thought it would be fun to look back at all those great destinations that we covered last year.
Clear Lake IA
When we started the Midwest Travel Chat in January, Tim and I had only been to the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, IA. After the chat was over, I was already trying to figure out when we were going to head to this lake resort with one of the “Great American” beaches, according to USA Today. We made it to Clear Lake over Memorial Day weekend of 2015 and it exceeded our expectations. I now want to put it on our list to make it to every year.
Cape Girardeau MO
Cape Girardeau is a great riverfront location between St. Louis and Memphis. This is the location where the movie “Gone Girl”was filmed. They have a driving tour that you can take to all the film sites. There is so much more to explore in the area, from the barges running down the Mississippi River and Civil War sites to the Lazy ‘L’ Safari Park where you can pet and feed more animals than your typical petting zoo. We can’t forget the great murals along the river wall and antique shops on main street, and the great dining options, from Cajun to hometown coffeehouses and the farmers market.
North Platte NE
We visited North Platte in June 2014 during the annual Nebraskaland Days. What a surprise this trip was! We only had passed this city previously on our way to somewhere in Colorado. We no longer consider it a pass-through city and highly recommend a stop to check out all there is to offer. From a must-stop for train lovers to unique antique shopping in grain bins to a step back in time meeting Buffalo Bill, North Platte has something for everyone.
Hendricks County IN
We have not yet been to Hendricks County, IN, but it is now on our radar to visit as a result of the Midwest Travel Twitter chat. During the twitter chat, we learned all about this area just west of Indianapolis. From their Second Saturday events including the Danville Handmade Market to the Mayberry in the Midwest Festival and their many fall and holiday events, Hendricks County has many reasons to check them out.
We visited Springfield, Il in February 2014. We were only able to spend about a day there that time, but we know that we have to make it back. We were able to cover a lot of ground in the footsteps of Lincoln that day, as we visited the very impressive Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (one of my favorite presidential museums to date), his home and the Old Capitol building. During the chat we were reminded of some Route 66 stops that we need to check out, including a stop at Cozy Dog, as well as something to eat called a Horseshoe – a Springfield tradition.
It has been close to 5 years since we have been to the “Windy City” of Chicago. It is definitely time to go back. There is so much to do here, from shopping to beautiful architecture and adventure on the Lake Michigan. The city has great attractions, including the Field Museum, Museum of Science and Industry, Shedd Aquarium, Navy Pier and Adler Planetarium. Of course, we can’t forget the fierce debate that was had during the chat about favorite places to eat, including, of course, the votes for best deep dish pizza.
Racine is the other place we have yet to visit from this past year’s chat. However, it is already on the agenda for this summer. It is another locale on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan. It was another Midwest city noted as having one of the best American beaches. I look forward to checking out the Wind Point Lighthouse, trying a Kringle (an oval-shaped Danish pastry) and the beautiful architecture of the area.
Lincoln, Nebraska, is not only home to the Nebraska Cornhusker teams, but also to a growing and changing community. This destination is only about a 45-minute drive west of Omaha. We have noticed quite a change in the Lincoln landscape the last few years with the development of the Railyard/Haymarket entertainment area. Many restaurants mixed with shops and a great outdoor dining area in the spring and summer turned ice rink in late fall/winter. They also have a great selection of museums and outdoor parks and gardens. One of our new favorite restaurants in Lincoln, Honest Abe’s, was a discovery from the chat and we met fellow blogger Gretchen of Odyssey through Nebraska to try it out.
St. Joseph MO
St. Joseph, Missouri, is another one of those places that we passed many times on our way to another destination. St. Joe is located about 45 miles north of Kansas City. Current home to training camp of the Kansas City Chiefs, it is in our opinion an underrated stop in the Midwest. From discovering all about Jesse James and the Pony Express to ghost tales during the fall and fantastic food in surprising places, put St. Joseph on your to-visit short list.
Omaha, what can I say about Omaha? Well, it is where we live. And we love our city! It continues to grow and change. Yet, we still have not done it all here. Even some of my friends and co-workers, who know that we are out and about all the time, are surprised to hear when we have not been to a place or restaurant. It just means that there is always something to do here. From the vibrant art and growing food scenes, to great historic neighborhoods, such as Dundee, to the award-winning zoo, Omaha is a jewel in the heartland.
Kansas City MO
Next to Omaha, Kansas City is a city that we feel we know pretty well. It is a city that we have been to dozens of times and are always finding new things to do. From a world-class art museum – the Nelson-Atkins – to top notch BBQ, Kansas City has many things to offer all ages. We could spend majority of the day in the Union Station/Crown Center area of town, head to City Market or check out what’s happening in the Power and Light District. We’ve recently discovered the great areas of Westport and Crossroads districts. Our goal for this year is to make it down to check out their First Fridays event.
We hope you can see why you need to check out this upcoming year of the Midwest Travel Twitter Chat to help feed your wanderlust. The Midwest has so much to offer and we already have some great destinations lined up for you to discover, including our first one of the year, Clear Lake, IA, on Jan. 6th at 11am. Other destinations in 2016 include Decorah, IA, North Dakota and Kenosha, WI.
So, join us for the conversation each first Wednesday of the month at 11 am CT to talk Midwest Travel using hashtag #MWTravel.