Midwest Hot Spots to Check Out in 2019 | Midwest Living

Midwest Hot Spots to Check Out in 2019

Solve a mystery at Cedar Point's new attraction this summer, learn about Wisconsin's agriculture industry in Manitowoc and check out a new literary festival in Minneapolis.

Planning for your 2019 vacation? Here are some of the new and recently opened attractions in the Midwest to put on your radar, plus events to add to your calendar! 


Chicago Blues Museum l Chicago

Explore Chicago's role as the birthplace of the modern blues through interactive displays and tributes to local legends at the new museum, set to open this year near Millennium Park. The space includes a performance lounge and restaurant. chicagobluesexperience.com

Hamilton: The Exhibition | Chicago

A 360-degree immersive exhibition inspired by the musical is scheduled to open April 6 on Northerly Island. The tented attraction will provide a journey through the foundation of our country through the perspective of one of the Founding Fathers.The audio tour is narrated by Hamiliton's author Lin-Manuel Miranda, giving insight on the American Revolution with a mix of lighting, sound, multimedia, music and historical artifacts. hamiltonexhibition.com

Maxx Force Roller Coaster at Six Flags l Gurnee

Go from 0 to 78 mph in two seconds when the newest roller coaster opens this summer at Six Flags Great America. Maxx Force will offer thrill-seekers the world’s fastest inversion and tallest double inversion. sixflags.com

Grafton Sky Tour | Grafton

An unusual aerial ride called a "chondola"—an open-air chairlift and enclosed gondola on the same lift—will open this spring linking Grafton's Main Street with Aerie’s Resort and Winery in Grafton. Enjoy views of the Mississippi River on your ride, then grab a glass of rose at the winery and share a few small plates on the outdoor deck. aeriesview.com

Grafton Sky Tour

Grafton Sky Tour


Bloomingdale Music Expo | Bloomingdale 

The first annual vinyl sales event in Bloomingdale will include live music performances on Feb. 9. Vinyl, tapes and CDs will be for sale, as well as food and drink. facebook.com/events/

Promenade Park | Fort Wayne

This new park and riverfront amenities are set to open summer of 2019. The first phase of development will open in June, including a tree canopy trail, amphitheater, playgrounds and public spaces. fortwayneparks.org

Promenade Plaza rendering

Promenade Park rendering

National Mascot Hall of Fame | Whiting

The 25,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility will be giving mascots the recognition they deserve with an interactive family fun zone, exhibits, acitivities and events that celebrate mascots. mascothalloffame.com 

Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience l Indianapolis

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the world’s largest children’s museum, added even more fun last year: a $38.5 million sports-theme addition with 15 experiences, including a mini Colts football field, Indy 500 pedal cars and mini golf courses.

Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience

Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience


March Madness | Des Moines

The Road to the Final Four stops in Des Moines on March 21 and March 23 with the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball First and Second Rounds at Wells Fargo Arena. General public sales are sold out, but tickets may still be bought through the NCAA Ticket Exchange. iowaeventscenter.com

Ice Cream Days and Sesquicentennial Celebration l Le Mars

The town that calls itself the Ice Cream Capital of the World (home to Blue Bunny ice cream) marks its 150th birthday June 12-16 with ice cream socials, family bike rides, downtown tours and an Ice Cream Bash concert. Ice Cream Days on Facebook

Driftless Area Education and Visitor Center l Lansing

Displays in the $3.6 million center explain the geology and wildlife of the Driftless Area, rolling hills in northeast Iowa and neighboring states. allamakeecountyconservation.org/driftless-center


Witchita State University Rowing/Boats and Bikes | Wichita 

Enjoying the Arkansas River will be easier this spring when visitors will be able to rent canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, bikes and skateboards at the new boathouse and public dock that are part of the River Vista development. visitwichita.com

Cyrus Hotel l Topeka

The $28 million, 106-bed boutique hotel in the heart of the capital is expected to open in early 2019. Located just one block from the Kansas State Capitol on the recently redesigned and greenscaped Kansas Avenue, the hotel, restaurant and event space honor Topeka's founder, Cyrus K. Holliday. cyrushotel.com

Pizza Hut Museum | Wichita

The pizza chain was founded in 1958 by two University of Wichita students, brothers Frank and Dan Carney. The college, now called Wichita State, moved Pizza Hut's first home (a 500-square-foot brick building) to the campus, where they transformed it into a museum filled with mementos donated by the owners.  wichita.edu

Field Station: Dinosaurs | Derby

The 14-acre park, which opened last year, features 30 life-size animatronic dinosaurs, a fossil-digging area and a dino-themed mini golf course. fieldstationdinosaurs.com

Field Station: Dinosaurs

Field Station: Dinosaurs


Shinola Hotel l Detroit

The Detroit-based company known for luxurious leather watches and bags, teamed with urban-revitalization master Bedrock to create a 129-room boutique hotel in Midtown, due to open in December 2018. It joins other recently opened boutique hotels—Aloft Detroit, Detroit Foundation, The Siren—as part of an ever-hotter city renaissance. shinola.com/shinola-hotel

Flint Institute of Arts Contemporary Craft Wing l Flint

The new crafts wing, opened in 2018, features three galleries with art by contemporary glass artists and ceramicists as well as a hot shop. flintarts.org

Outdoor Adventure Center l Detroit

On Detroit’s riverfront in the historic Globe Building, get a taste of wildlife, camping, mountain biking and other adventures through exhibits and simulators created by the state’s Department of Natural Resources. michigan.gov/oac


The Loft's Wordplay | Minneapolis

This literary festival will launch May 11-12, 2019, with author readings, conversations, kids' activities, book signings and more. About 100 authors are scheduled to attend, including Nicole Chung, Nora McInerny and Laila Lalami. loft.org

Bell Museum l Saint Paul  

Check out a green roof, planetarium, restored wildlife dioramas and hands-on exhibits at the museum’s new $79.2 million home on the University of Minnesota’s Saint Paul campus. bellmuseum.umn.edu

Bell Museum diorama

Bell Museum diorama

X Games l Minneapolis

From Aug. 1-4, ESPN’s premier action sports competition returns to Minneapolis to pit pro against pro in televised events like BMX, skateboarding and Moto X at the U.S. Bank Stadium. Concerts and meet- and-greets will accompany the competitive events. xgames.com/minneapolis


Great North American Oktoberfest | St. Louis

From Oct. 4-6, visit St. Louis for the beer event of the year. The festival will feature beers from German and North American breweries that have won a gold medal in either the World Beer Cup or Great American Beer Festival. The main event will take place in a huge tent adorned with traditional Bavarian decorations. nasgch.com

Museum at the Gateway Arch | St. Louis

A $380 million renovation to the Arch and surrounding areas wrapped up in 2018, including a new museum under the arch, as well as a new visitors center. Interactive exhibits at the museum encourage visitors to explore the history of St. Louis and construction of the Arch. gatewayarch.com


Venture Climb Rock Climbing Wall | Ashland

At Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, get ready for a new 40-foot rock climbing wall, part of Venture Parks’ effort to make state parks more engaging. outdoornebraska.gov/VentureParks/

North Dakota

Turtle Mountain Chippewa Heritage Center l Belcourt

The heritage center is slotted to open spring 2019. It will be built inside a concrete medicine wheel, a spiritual symbol in Native American culture. The first phase of the project will be in a semicircular design that can be expanded in the future. chippewaheritage.com

Fort Seward Wagon Train l Jamestown

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the wagon train, a week-long pioneer family experience (June 23-29, 2019). About 100 travelers register for covered wagon rides that cover about 15 miles a day, ending in campfires and history talks. covered-wagon-train.com


Visitors Center, Hocking Hills State Park

A new $5 million visitors center is opening early this year at the Old Man's Cave area, giving Ohio's most-visited state park more room for exhibits, safety information and other amenities. parks.ohiodnr.gov/hockinghills

Forbidden Frontier on Adventure Island, Cedar Point | Sandusky

Forbidden Frontier on Adventure Island is set to open at Sandusky's amusement park on Lake Erie in summer 2019. Cedar Point says visitors seeking to solve the mystery of the Forbidden Frontier should prepare for a "minute-to-minute real-life adventure" where they will be "immersed in interactive encounters with the island inhabitants" and experience "physically active challenges that test your resourcefulness and fortitude." Every ending is different! cedarpoint.com

Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Celebration l Wapakoneta

In honor of Wapakoneta native Neil Armstrong, the town will host a year of events and festivities marking the 50th anniversary of the first steps on the moon. firstonthemoon.org

Cincinnati Reds' 150th anniversary

In 1869, the Cincinnati Red Stockings became America's first professional baseball club. The Reds will mark the anniversary with season-long events including a party at the Great American Ballpark on July 5. mlb.com/reds/one-fifty

South Dakota

Arc of Dreams | Sioux Falls

In May, a stainless steel sculpure nearly as long as a football field will stretch across downtown's Big Sioux River. At the center is an 18-foot gap, representing the leap visionaries must take. The piece, which honors a former city planner, will be the centerpiece of the annual SculptureWalk. siouxfallsarcofdreams.org

Jewel Cave National Monument | Custer

The third-longest cave in the world is planning to reopen in the spring. The cave system was closed in October to allow for $5 million in renovations to walkways, stairways, guardrails and lighting. nps.gov/jeca


Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center l Manitowoc

Learn about the state’s agriculture industry through interactive exhibits, dairy farm bus tours, a birthing barn and farm-fresh meals in the Wisconsin Cafe at the Manitowoc destination, which opened last summer.

Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center

Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center

Green Bay Packers l Green Bay

The Packers celebrate their 100th anniversary year with exhibits, festival, concerts and more. packers.com/100-seasons

The Hop MKE l Milwaukee

The new streetcar connects Milwaukee’s central train and bus station to many of the city’s attractions and hotels. Take advantage of free rides for the first year of service. thehopmke.com

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