The Best Time to Visit the Midwest

The Midwest is a unique part of the country. It’s very central (hence the name) and is often looked at as filled with fly-over states. However, there are so many wonderful parts of the Midwest you wouldn’t want to miss. A few of my favorite moments I’ve spent in the Midwest:

  • The excitement around Wrigley Field after the Cubs win a game
  • Kayaking along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
  • Exploring the only urban state park in America in Indianapolis
  • Eating fantastic BBQ in Omaha
  • Looking out over St. Louis from the Gateway Arch

A few of the things I still want to do:

  • White water raft in West Virginia
  • Explore northern national forests in Minnesota (in the summer)
  • Explore Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota
  • Visit the hot springs of Arkansas
  • Bar hop around the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

There are a surprising amount of things to do in these states, and the best part is, fewer crowds! (Except for Chicago of course, being the third largest city in the country.)

The Midwest experiences all four seasons very drastically. It’s honestly one of the things I love most about living here. Just when you start to get tired of one season, it moves onto the next! There are certainly better times to visit than others, but overall you can find cool things to do any time of year. The best thing to do is pack in layers! With the drastic temps you’ll be thankful you have that jacket to cover up with.

Average Temperatures: 10-29° F
Precipitation: Snowfall varies by state, but it’s expected across the board

Let’s start with winter. The Midwest experiences lots of snow. Most of the states are far enough north that it snows every winter without fail, some places like Minnesota and Michigan get dumped on! But just because it’s cold doesn’t mean the adventures have to stop.

Chicagoans are troopers. Not only is Chicago cold, but it gets windy! It’s nicknamed the Windy City for the breeze blowing off the lake, so bundle up, buy a CTA pass and hop around the city to plenty of indoor attractions.

I also recommend checking out cool places to go ice skating, snow shoeing, snowmobiling, and other winter sports that don’t require mountains. The Midwest is very flat! One of my recommendations in the winter is visiting Mammoth Cave National Park because it holds comfortable temperatures all year round. I explored it in January and from inside the cave you’d have no idea it was winter!

Average Temperatures: 30-55° F
Precipitation: Very rainy and windy

In my opinion, the spring time is the worst time to visit the Midwest. The winter chills hang around for far too long, and mixed with the rain? It can be miserable.

You’ll usually find me holed up in a coffee shop during the day trying to warm up and catch up on blog posts and travel planning, and scoping out cool bars and pubs in the evenings. One of my personal favorites in a chain called Books & Brews! They have cheap used books, good beer and trivia nights!

However, despite the rain, I try to gear up with my rain boots and umbrella and do something in the city. I like exploring cities in the spring because I can pop into museums if it starts raining. Aside from Chicago, you should check out Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Omaha. Those are some of my favorite cities in the Midwest!

Average Temperatures: 70-95° F
Precipitation: Not much, but expect humidity!

Despite the humidity, summer is a great time to get out and explore the Midwest. The rain has finally stopped, aside from the occasional summer thunder storm, and it’s warmed up. There is so much to do in the summer, but some of my favorite things are exploring state parks and going to baseball games. There’s nothing more American than drinking a beer at a ball game!

Something unique to the Midwest that the rest of the country doesn’t have are the Great Lakes. They are the largest body of fresh water in the entire year and I’m so spoiled to call them my home for 23 years! My top recommendation for summer time in the Midwest is visiting the Great Lakes. Road trip along the quaint shore towns, kayak Pictured Rocks or one of the other many national lakeshores, live it up in Put-in-Bay or Cedar Point on Lake Eerie, or eat delicious fudge on Mackinac Island.

Average Temperatures: 45-65° F
Precipitation: This is the driest season in the Midwest, with little rainfall

Fall is arguably the best time to visit the Midwest. It has gorgeous cool weather (although this year we’ve been experiencing a heat wave!), and little rain making it a beautiful time to head outdoors and experience all we have to offer.

I recommend you do some state park hopping at this time of year. Starved Rock, Turkey Run and Hocking Hills are just a few of the top parts in the Midwest. You can also check out national parks like Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, or the Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas!

It’s also a great time for local festivals. If you want to explore small town America, look up event schedules for street fairs, fall festivals and other events happening. It’s the perfect time to be outdoors all day and get a feel for small town living.

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