If traveling more was your number one New Year’s resolution, it’s time to go travel.
From a breath of fresh urban air to small-town charm with an artistic flair, here are the top destinations for 2023, all without leaving the Midwest.
Wisconsin’s capital city isn’t just about business. Madison certainly knows how to have a good time. After all, the city’s official bird is a plastic pink flamingo, and every February locals host his Frozen Assets Festival (cleanlakesaliance.org) on Lake Mendota. This year he said the weekend celebration, held February 4-5, will include a 5K run, kite flying, a sustainability panel and more, all to raise money for lake improvement projects. It’s from Take advantage of the extensive network of bike paths during the warmer months. Madison is one of five cities in the United States that have been certified as platinum-level bike-friendly cities by the National Cycling Federation.
When you’ve worked up an appetite, head to The Harvey House (644 W. Washington Ave., 608-250-9578, theharveyhouse.com), a modern take on a Wisconsin supper club. With dining spaces housed in the depot’s former baggage claim and lovingly restored train carriages, Harvey House is cozy and sophisticated, with luxuries such as the ever-present Supper Club Relish Tray. Everything has been reimagined, down to the classic menu with a relaxed atmosphere. Served with local seasonal vegetables and applewood smoked trout dip. For a nightcap, enjoy a Wisconsin original, the classic Pink Squirrel his cocktail.
Coastal charm abounds in this quick-to-miss town on the shores of Lake Superior. The early fishermen and fur traders who frequented the city were kept safe by the rocky outcrops that formed the harbor’s natural breakwaters. These days, the harbor of Grand Marais is a great place to watch the waves, boats and the town’s two lighthouses. Best viewed from the deck of the Angry Trout Cafe (408 West Highway 61, 218-387-1265, angrytroutcafe.com). Over a cup of fish chowder of the day.
As the local fisheries dwindled, creatives moved in. North House Folk School (500 West Highway 61, 218-387-9762, northhouse.org) was founded by locals looking to embrace traditional crafts and folk art. The school has many classes that can be completed in a matter of days, and its eclectic course catalog includes offerings from birch bark basket-making to Anishinaabe finger-weaving. Visit in the fall, when the shades of autumn light up the backdrop of the Superior National Forest to further immerse yourself in the area’s natural beauty.
Home to the University of Missouri, Columbia College, and Stevens College, the town is one of the fastest growing cities in Missouri. The annual Fall Roots N Blues Festival (rootsnbluesfestival.com) features his three days of family fun, local food, and a wide range of music, including his 2023 headliners his Wilco, Chaka Khan, and more. performance will take place. 1st place this year. In the spring, the Ragtag Film Society hosts the True/False Film Festival (truefalse.org), transforming the city center with documentary screenings, art installations and parades March 2-5.
After immersing yourself in so much local culture, it’s time for some rest and relaxation. Built in 1928, the luxurious Tiger Hotel (23 S. 8th St., 573-875-8888, thetigerhotel.com) was the first skyscraper between Kansas City and St. Louis and an icon in the Columbia skyline continue to be a part of A red neon tiger sign perched on top of the building. To top off your trip, head around the corner to Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream (21 S. 9th St., 573-443-7400, facebook.com/sparkyshomemade). You can taste unique flavors such as black. Currant balsamic and berry brie made with local balsamic vinegar from Boone Olive Oil.
American Impressionist painter Theodore Clement “TC” Steele was so inspired by Nashville that landscapes were often the subject of his work, and he called the area home for many years. His Studio His space and home are now part of the TC Steele State Historic Site (4220 TC Steele Road, 812-988-2785, indianamuseum.org). Visitors can explore the lush scenery that inspired Steele, including a 92-acre nature reserve.
Nashville maintains its reputation as an arts paradise and the center of the Brown County Art Colony. For picturesque, old-fashioned accommodations within walking distance of all downtown Nashville has to offer, stay at the Brown County Inn, 51 State Road 46, 812-988-2291, browncountyinn.com. Please give me. In town, visit galleries and stock up on souvenirs from local artisans, from handcrafted soaps to handcrafted jams. After you’ve finished shopping, head back to the inn to take advantage of the on-site walkable gardens and miniature golf course, or simply relax and enjoy the live music provided each weekend.
This northern Michigan city is steeped in colorful history. Boutique Hotel The Earl (120 Michigan Ave., 231-547-6565, hotelearl.com) is named after local architect Earl Young, who built the original hotel in 1959. A rooftop bar with nostalgic design elements. Young designed more than 30 of his structures in the Charlevoix area, including what is affectionately called his “Mushroom House”. Stroll the streets and create a self-guided tour of these quirky Hobbit-like homes.
From April to December, take the ferry to Beaver Island, Lake Michigan’s largest island. Dubbed “America’s Emerald Island” for the many Irish families who immigrated there, the island offers plenty of outdoor recreation, incredible stargazing within the island’s designated dark sky reserves, and offers some infamous local history. In 1848, religious leader and politician James Hennessy Jesse Strang, after breaking with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, led his followers to the island and proclaimed himself king. After Strang’s murder in 1856, his followers were expelled from the island, but remnants such as King’s Highway, one of Beaver Island’s main roads, are still preserved in the area. It alludes to a “royal” history.
Called the City of Queens, Cincinnati is another spot with a royal reputation to put on your list. Check in at the 21c Museum Hotel (609 Walnut St., 513-578-6600, 21cmuseumhotels.com/cincinnati). Part boutique accommodation, part contemporary gallery space. Then, board Cincinnati’s free Connector Streetcar for dinner at a Mid-City restaurant (40 E. Court St., midcitycinti.com). This is a delicious and decidedly no-frills place where you can order a cold martini with a grilled baguette and pickle butter to start your evening. , topped off with a seasonal fruit slab pie.
For more of Cincinnati’s culinary history, stop by the oldest surviving Skyline Chili store on Ludlow Ave. (290 Ludlow Ave., 513-221-2142, skylinechili.com) and order a 5-way . Sauce, beans, diced onions, all topped with shredded cheddar cheese. Immigrant brothers Tom and John Kiraziev began serving Mediterranean-spiced stews as toppings in the early 1920s at his hot dog stand outside his theater, the Empress Burlesque, and later spaghetti. Added option to order sauce on top. Now considered one of Cincinnati’s signature dishes, Cincinnati chili has inspired countless variations and many chili parlors in the area. Some other local favorites include the original Empress Chili, Blue Ash Chili (which boasts the addition of jalapeños), and Pleasant Ridge Chili (a must-try gravy fry specialty).
After refueling, take a short walk to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens (3400 Vine St., 513-281-4700, cincinnatizoo.org). This is the home of the internet’s hottest hippo, Fiona, and her new little brother, Fritz. If the weather isn’t great, head instead to the Cincinnati Museum Center (1301 Western Ave., 513-287-7000, cincymuseum.org), home to the Cincinnati History Museum, Children’s Museum, and Natural History and Science Museum. All under his one roof at the Art Deco Union Terminal Station, the crown jewel of local architecture.
Jaclyn Jermyn is a freelance writer.