If your mental image of the Midwest is more cornfields and gravel roads than world-class museums and fine dining, it’s time to get to know the region a little better. From James Beard-nominated chefs in Ferndale, Michigan, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to historic theaters in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Hutchinson, Kansas, the culture and entertainment options of some of its smaller cities are challenging preconceived notions of Midwestern life and putting to rest the notion that this part of America is “flyover country.”
Costs here are lower than on the coasts, which confirms one common Midwest stereotype. Seven of the cities listed in the 2015 CNN and Trulia report “The 10 Most Affordable Places to Live” come from the Midwest, including Wichita, Kansas; Kansas City, Missouri; St. Louis; and four cities in Ohio. It’s no surprise, then, that Midwest residents are perceived as friendly and welcoming, which is always positive when it comes to site selection for your events.
While Chicago, St. Louis and Minneapolis are among the region’s most notable tourist destinations, they don’t have a monopoly on Midwest culture, nor are they the only cities capable of hosting large groups. These four under-the-radar cities offer a surprising number of things to see and do, as well as substantial hotel and convention space. Each of these cities has between 2,000 and 4,000 hotel rooms, a nearby commercial airport and a CVB eager to work with groups. They just may change your perceptions of the Midwest.