Most Famous Landmarks in the Midwest USA

The Midwest doesn’t get a lot of coverage in travel magazines, even though it contains some of the most unique travel opportunities available in the United States. These are some of the famous landmarks in the Midwest USA that you need to visit in your travels.

Famous Landmarks in the Midwest

landmarks in the midwest usa
Bison at Badlands National Park – one of the most famous landmarks in the Midwest USA

Historical and natural landmarks dot the golden landscapes of America’s heartland, and it has some of the most unique and renowned destinations for travelers to experience.

The Midwest covers twelve states, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa,  Nebraska, and Wisconsin.

And while each state has its distinct character and historic landmarks in the Midwest, the most famous ones are listed below.

Looking for more famous landmarks around the world? Check out all of our articles here, or start with the most popular ones:

Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri

landmarks in the midwest usa

The Gateway Arch remains the biggest manufactured landmark in the US, and taking the tram to the top is a truly incredible experience. Other ways to experience the Arch are to tour the museum at the top or take a riverboat cruise through the arch itself.

St. Louis is a great city to visit in and of itself, so plan a day or two to enjoy the city.

Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota

landmarks in the midwest usa

Mt. Rushmore is perhaps the most iconic of the Midwest landmarks, as the famous memorial has carved a place into the popular consciousness of the American people.

This incredible monument sits in the famed Black Hills of South Dakota, known for their nature and beauty.

You can learn about American history and enjoy the natural splendor that surrounds it on a tour or hike on the several trails that surround the monument.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

landmarks in the midwest usa

Another South Dakota must-see is the Badlands National Park. The 244,000 protected acres consist of protected prairies and towering stone monuments, creating a harsh landscape.

The park is home to many endangered species like bison, bighorn sheep, and black-footed ferrets that create a fragile ecosystem unlike anywhere else in the world.

You can study the archeology of the park, where ancient horses, rhinos, and saber-tooth cats once roamed, and enjoy the stunning beauty of the grasslands.

Como Park Conservatory, Minnesota

Como Park Conservatory

Also known as Majorie McNeely Conservatory, the Como Park Conservatory sits on the grounds of the Como Park Zoo in St. Paul, Minnesota.

It has several different gardens and installations to enjoy, like a Bonsai gallery, a butterfly garden, a Japanese garden, and a tropical garden filled with plants and animals from Central and South America.

Since the conservatory is a part of the zoo, you can enjoy both at once, fantastic gardens and exotic animals all in one location.

Willis Tower, Illinois

Willis Tower was the tallest building in the world from 1974 to 1998, not an easy feat to accomplish.

While it’s dropped to twenty-third in the rankings, it remains the tallest observation deck in the United States, where visitors can walk onto a transparent floor and see the ground thousands of feet below.

The tower is located in Chicago, Illinois, a great city to visit any time of the year and an absolute must-see for any Midwest tour.

Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan

landmarks in the midwest

Sleeping Bear Dunes is a national lakeshore on Lake Michigan. Towering 450 ft above the lake, the sandy dunes are home to inland lakes and green forests that house unique flora and fauna.

Driving up this lakeshore will lead you to charming coastal villages, lighthouses that function as museums, and so much more.

Northern Lights, Michigan and Minnesota

landmarks in the midwest

You don’t have to fly to Norway or Iceland to witness the world’s most stunning light show. You don’t even need to drive to Canada.

You can experience one of the most iconic natural wonders by going far north into Minnesota or Michigan and looking up at the clear night sky in winter.

The best place to view the lights in Minnesota is Oberg Mountain in the Superior National Forest. You should visit the northern city of Marquette on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to see the light show.

Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

landmarks in the midwest

The drastic towering canyons of the Starved Rock State Park in Illinois are enough to draw a gasp from any visitor.

With thirteen miles of trails, you can see the stunning landscape and death-defying drops from all angles, along with the wildlife native to the park.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland Ohio

Cleveland has a lot to explore on its own, but visitors can’t miss the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. It’s spectacular from the outsides, and on the inside it’s filled with collections and memorabilia from musicians, pop culture icons, and more, you absolutely must visit this landmark if you’re a fan of the genre.

It’s a celebration of all things rock and roll and is a fantastic museum to boot. However, don’t expect to find recent favorites, as musicians are only eligible for the Hall of Fame 25 years after their debut.

The Great Lakes

landmarks in the midwest
Lake Erie is one of the most famous landmarks in the Midwest USA

The Great Lakes comprise some of the largest freshwater bodies on Earth, with historical, geological, and global significance.

It’s composed of five different lakes, Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario, and they’re all connected via water routes and canals.

Traveling the islands or the shores of these lakes is a fantastic way to experience the lakes and local culture. Fresh fish, watersports, sailing, boat rides, and adorable towns dot these waters, making it an ideal vacation getaway overlooked by the rest of the world.

Cedar Point, Ohio

landmarks in the midwest

Known as the Rollercoaster Capital of the World, Cedar Point is an amusement park that boasts a wide range of topsy-turvy coasters meant for thrills, chills, and adrenaline junkies.

Sitting on a cape jutting into Lake Erie, you can’t miss the wild rides this park offers, like the 200 mph Top-Thrill Dragster or the classic wooden rollercoasters.

Kids love the park for its child-friendly rides and Peanuts characters, so it’s an ideal location for a family getaway.

Amish Country, Ohio

landmarks in the midwest

Head south of Cleveland, and you’ll soon find you’ll quickly find yourself in an idyllic landscape of old-timey farmhouses and horsedrawn carriages. No, you haven’t suddenly gone back to the 1800s. You’re in Amish country!

The Amish live the way their ancestors did when they first came to the land, without electronics or mechanical devices, and they dot the Midwestern states but are most prevalent in eastern and southern Ohio.

They do big business in tourism, specializing in fresh organic produce and foodstuffs and well-made furniture and knickknacks.

You can learn about an entirely different way of life and enjoy the splendor of simple country living.

In Summary – Landmarks In The Midwest

If you’re worried you won’t find activities or that landmarks in the Midwest won’t make for an exciting visit, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

The Midwest offers some of the most down-to-earth, exciting, and bustling destinations in the world, from well-known landmarks like the Gateway Arch to smaller, homier destinations like Amish country.

No matter what state you visit, you’re guaranteed to find at least one destination or activity to draw you in. There’s plenty more than on this list, like Bowling Green in Wisconsin, Glacier National Park, the Enchanted Highway in North Dakota, and so much more!

So, before you plan your visit, look up your destination and nearby landmarks and attractions, and prepare to be surprised by the variety, importance, and fun attractions and landmarks in some of the most charming destinations in the US.

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