This winter I met this kid from the East Coast. I was the second person from the Midwest he had ever encountered. Between the two Midwesterners, my friend and me, we had, he admitted, completely shattered the image of simple-minded people that he assumed covered the land that spans between the two intellectual coasts. Well joke was on him, because the Midwest, as I will ceaselessly preach, is full of some pretty damn cool places and people. As I grow on the defensive and build up my beloved region of the nation, though, I realize that I haven’t seen all of the great cities I bolster. So this year I resolve to travel to more of the surrounding cities and states of Midwest, USA. Here are my top 5–and probably most practical–cities I want to go to in 2014:
1. Grand Rapids, Michigan
Although I’ve technically been through Grand Rapids, it was on the way to my mom’s cousin’s vast hunk of land that we traveled to years ago for a family reunion. During that whole trip we didn’t leave her house among the forest for the city once, so I’m not counting the trip. From the Grand Rapids Art Museum and ArtPrize 2014, Holland Coast’s Tulip Festival, natural beautiful landscapes provided by Lake Michigan and forests, and plenty of beer festivals near every season, there really doesn’t seem a bad time to check this place out.
2. The Twin Cities
I guess this is technically cheating, seeing as my number 2 is composed of 2 cities, but I’ll definitely hit them both up in one trip, so it’s fair. I’ve been to Minneapolis twice with Drake’s art department to see exhibits at the amazing Walker Art Center and MIA, and every time I go I just feel really happy. Isn’t that enough of a reason to go back? A trip to Electric Fetus is always worth it, too, though, and I wouldn’t mind finally checking out Minnehaha Falls, frozen or otherwise. As for St. Paul, I may not know much about it, but I do know that happen to have some rocking architecture I can gawk at for hours. So I’m in.
3. Madison, Wisconsin
It really doesn’t make sense that I haven’t been to Madison before. I have family there; I have friends there. And really it’s not that far. So what do I have to say for myself? Errr, I don’t know. To be honest, I had no idea that the city is nearly surrounded by water or that it is known for being green, green, green, in every which way of the word. But now that I do, you can count on me heading up there this spring.
4. Cleveland, Ohio
I never have been to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And really that would be enough for me to justify going out here, but I’m under the impression that Cleveland has a lot more to offer. Besides countless gardens, reservations, and parks, the city also has West Side Market, a building that dates back to 1840 and boasts over 100 different vendors selling the best food from all cultures around the world. And also I’m pretty sure I owe it to my grandpa to go see The Christmas Story house, which he used to keep on all Christmas day, courtesy of TBS.
5. Des Moines, Iowa
And in the end, I guess I just can’t leave out a stop in Des Moines. I mean, just look how stunning that Sculpture Park is! And my cravings for Zombie Burger and Fong’s Pizza never really go away. Plus it’d be pretty cool to see a bunch of my friends graduate this spring.
If I can get to all of these places in 2014 I will feel pretty good about myself. I would also really enjoy taking another excursion to Kansas City and to check out Indianapolis, but whoa, let’s calm down! I don’t want to seem too ambitious here. If y’all have any other recommendations of cool places to check out in the Midwest that I’ve insulted by not including here, let me know! I love adding cities to my list of places to travel.