If you’re a first-time visitor to America’s Midwest, we’re sure you’re coming into your journey with a few preconceived notions. While we have to admit that there’s truth to some of the stereotypes about our neck of the woods, there’s also a great deal that non-Midwesterners don’t understand. Here are 11 things everyone should know before visiting the Midwest.
1. "Midwest Nice" is a real thing.
Not to toot our own horns, but we Midwesterners really do display a different level of kindness than you might find in some of America’s coastal cities. Perhaps it’s our abundance of small towns, or maybe it’s just something in our blood, but you’ll likely find yourself being waved to by total strangers.
2. Get ready for some seriously beautiful beaches.
Who says oceans are the only beaches worth visiting? Think again. The Midwest houses the Great Lakes, which are nothing short of breathtaking. Marvel at ridiculously blue waters as you peruse the beaches of Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, and others.
3. The driving isn’t always fun, but the destinations are.
Yes, we’ll admit that the Ohio turnpike isn’t necessarily the most thrilling section of highway, and driving through Iowa can be a bit of a drag from time to time. But while we can’t claim that 100% of our roads are overflowing with scenery, we can promise that the destinations they lead to will have you enamored.
4. Ranch dressing is a way of life.
Don’t be surprised if you see people dipping any and all food items into ranch dressing during your time in the Midwest, and don’t be afraid to try it for yourself! We’re not sure how to explain it, but we Midwesterners are just born with a few extra taste buds that lean toward the flavors of ranch.
5. It might seem like we’re speaking our own language.
While we might claim not to have an accent, you’ll likely beg to differ. Okay, perhaps we can be a bit nasally from time to time -- and some of our catchphrases will confuse you. Just be prepared with a pen and paper so you can write down "translations" as they arise!
6. We’re still worth visiting in the wintertime.
Perhaps you’ve heard horror stories about Midwestern winters, and we will admit that our snowfall amounts are no joke -- but there’s still plenty to do and see when cold weather rolls around. From ski resorts in Northern Michigan to fun-filled holiday celebrations in Chicago, you’ll love this season.
7. The weather can change on a dime.
You might think you’re venturing to the Midwest for a summer getaway, only to find yourself shivering in 40-degree temperatures. The weather here in our neck of the woods can be highly unpredictable, so adhere to the ultimate rule of a Midwesterner: dress in layers.
8. We call it "pop."
If you sit down in a Midwestern restaurant and ask for a glass of "soda," you might just get a few strange looks. Here in the Midwest, it’s "pop." Period. End of discussion.
9. Eat local as frequently as you can.
Speaking of Midwestern restaurants, we’ve got plenty of fantastic ones to choose from. There’s nothing better than mingling with friendly locals at a hole-in-the-wall diner or longtime eatery in some small town. Do a bit of research and keep your dining local: you (and your taste buds) will thank us later!
10. There’s a lot more here than cornfields.
Don’t buy into the stereotype that the Midwest is nothing but a bunch of cornfields. We’ve got a little something for everyone: big cities, charming beachfront towns, art museums, mountain ranges, hiking trails, and everything in between. Sure, there’s plenty of corn here: but that’s only part of our story.
11. You might just want to move here.
When you return home from your trip to the Midwest, you might just find yourself longing for the friendly faces and gorgeous scenery of our region. Well, you’re in luck: another perk of the Midwest is its welcoming spirit toward newcomers. Go ahead and make the move. We’ll be waiting with open arms.
Are there any other warnings that should be noted for traveling to the Midwest? Share your thoughts and suggestions with us in the comment section below!