8 Great Microbreweries in the Midwest

The heartland of the U.S. has brought us world-famous beers like Budweiser and Miller High Life and in recent years, it’s become home to an increasing number of outstanding microbreweries. These shrines to foamy goodness in a glass are bringing back the art of hand-crafted lagers and ales that was the norm for so long. Many of them are housed in cool, historic buildings and offer behind-the-scenes brewery tours as well as tap rooms where you can get a great meal and taste some of their finest, small-batch creations not available anywhere else. Here’s my “Great Eight” Midwest microbreweries.

1. Great Lakes Brewing -Cleveland, OH

Cleveland, like other cities, has seen the craft beer craze catch on in a big way recently. The one that got it all started is Great Lakes Brewing, Ohio’s first and most celebrated microbrewery. Many of Great Lakes’ brews like Burning River Pale Ale are among Ohio’s most popular craft beers, while others are only available at its brewpub. The brewpub and brewery are located in Ohio City, one of Cleveland’s oldest neighborhoods located across the Cuyahoga River from downtown. The brewpub, housed in an historic brick complex, serves excellent pub-style food in several quaint spaces including a tree-lined beer garden along a cobblestone street. Its beautiful tiger mahogany bar once hosted Eliot Ness, the leader of the ‘Untouchables’ law enforcement team that battled infamous gangster Al Capone. Brewery tours cost $5, last an hour and include four five-ounce samples. A gift shop sells Great Lakes and Cleveland memorabilia.

Photo by: Great Lakes Brewing
Photo by: Great Lakes Brewing

2. Bell’s Brewery Inc -Kalamazoo, MI

Bell’s Brewery was the first brewery in Michigan to open an onsite brewpub (1993) and since then, the downtown Kalamazoo landmark has become as an entertainment center with an expansive outdoor beer garden and indoor events center that holds up to 375 people. The two-story brick complex was expanded in 2011. Large and airy with lots of wood tables and an impressive collection of art and memorabilia, the centerpiece of the complex is the Eccentric Café and its creative menu featuring everything from deviled eggs and falafel to beef brisket and green curried tofu. Up to 20 Bell’s brews are poured at any given time at the brewpub including small batch, pub-exclusive options. The events center hosts popular bands on national tours and even square dancing and trivia nights. Free brewery tours are offered on weekends and take 30-45 minutes.

Photo by: Bell’s Brewery Inc
Photo by: Bell’s Brewery Inc

3. Barley’s Brewing Co. -Columbus, OH

Walking into Barley’s Brewing on bustling High St. in downtown Columbus is like stepping back in time. The delightful brewpub, located near the Ohio State University campus, has been serving hand-crafted beer since 1991. The brewpub is chock-full of charm, with authentic wood booths, underground brewery and rathskeller-like events area with century-old stone walls and brick arches. These guys take their ales seriously, keeping them unpasteurized and brewing only 10 barrels per batch. Every Friday, they tap a different cask-conditioned ale that complement a dozen other Barley’s 12 brews that rotate weekly. The large menu features burgers and gourmet dogs as well as upscale pub grub like white truffle mac and cheese. The quality of Barley’s food and beer has built quite a following over the years. Patrons have included best-selling author Stephen King, actor James Doohan (Scotty on “Star Trek”) and rock band Cheap Trick.

Photo by: Barley’s Brewing Company
Photo by: Barley’s Brewing Company

4. Schlafly -St. Louis, MO

The town that introduced Budweiser to the world has some great microbreweries, too, as evidenced by Schlafly, debuted in 1991 in two adjoining brick and timber buildings that opened in 1902 and 1904. The massive complex had steel-reinforced beams to hold printing presses that operated for the Swift Printing Co. for 65 years. After Swift moved out in 1969, the buildings vacant for 22 years and were almost destroyed by a fire. The thriving taproom, located between St. Louis University and downtown’s riverfront, serves 16 small-batch draft beers and a menu featuring brew and food pairings like mussels and pale ale. Taproom and original brewery tours on Sundays are free and end with a pint (also free). Schlafly’s nearby Bottleworks brewery and restaurant complex also offers free weekend tours and Friday afternoon ‘beer school’ seminars that focus on the brewing process and end with, you guessed it, beer tastings.

Photo by: Schlafly
Photo by: Schlafly

5. 3 Floyds Brewing Co. -Munster, IN

Some of the rich, aromatic ales brewed by 3 Floyds have reached cult status, like its Zombie Dust Pale Ale that people (including me) sometimes stand in long lines simply to buy a single 12-ounce bottle. If you want to find out where the legend was born, you’ve got to travel to Munster, IN to visit the 3 Floyds brewpub. There, you’ll find a rotating menu of fine brews including its popular Alpha King Pale Ale and, if you’re lucky, Zombie Dust. They also offer pub-only selections and a creative food menu which changes seasonally to stay focused on the availability of locally sourced ingredients. Brewery tours are conducted on Saturdays from 12:30-5:30 and last about an hour. The brewpub also sells collectible-quality merchandise featuring the colorful comic book-like artwork that graces the 3 Floyds bottle labels sold in five Midwest states.

Photo by: 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
Photo by: 3 Floyds Brewing Co.

6. Rhinegeist -Cincinnati, OH

Rhinegeist translates to “Ghost of the Rhine” and for good reason. The brewery is located in downtown Cincinnati’s historic Over the Rhine (OTR) district where thousands of German immigrants—and 38 breweries—called home at the turn of the 20th Century. The microbrewery, which opened in 2013, is housed in the circa 1895 Christian Morlein Brewing Co. plant that sat empty for decades after Prohibition shuttered Morlein and other OTR breweries. Today, Rhinegeist offers up to 13 different ales, lagers, pilsners and hard ciders in its classic, beer hall-style taproom. The 25,000-square-foot space with high ceilings is massive, with rows of community tables and enough room to include indoor games like ping pong and foosball. TVs broadcast sports daily and guests are welcome to bring their own food. Private tours cost $10 and include a pint of beer. Free yoga sessions are offered on Sunday mornings in the beer hall.

Photo by: Rhinegeist
Photo by: Rhinegeist

7. Lakefront Brewery -Milwaukee, WI

The city that brought us beer icons like Miller High Life and Pabst Blue Ribbon has a lively microbrewery community. Its most popular micro operation is Lakefront Brewery, located in the former Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company building downtown that opened in 1908. Lakefront’s own history began in 1987 when brothers Russ and Jim Klisch took their love of brewing to the next level. Today, Lakefront has surpassed the 40,000-barrel milestone. Weekday tours are limited due to production but weekend tours give you the run of the place. Tours cost $8 and include four six-ounce samples and a souvenir pint glass. In-depth, technical tours are offered on Sundays for brew aficionados. They end with special beer and food pairings. Lakefront’ s beer hall is open daily and features a menu focused on locally sourced products. Fridays feature fish frys and live polka music (it is Milwaukee, after all).

Photo by: Lakefront Brewery
Photo by: Lakefront Brewery

8. Goose Island -Chicago, IL

Some people might not view Goose Island as a microbrewery anymore, given that its brews are sold in all 50 U.S. states and the U.K. But, the brewery on Chicago’s Near West Side certainly started out that way in 1988, and its lineup of ales, stouts and other delicious brews continue to taste hand-crafted. Interestingly, Goose Island recently opened its brewery to tours for the first time. Thursday through Sunday, the 45-minute, $12 tours include a tasting and take-home pint glass. Reservations are required. Its beautiful taproom overlooking brewery operations features several favorites as well as a changing menu of limited releases that are exclusive to the taproom. It doesn’t serve food but you’re welcome to bring your own.

Photo by: Goose Island
Photo by: Goose Island

The 10 Most Unfriendly Cities in America 2015

When people talk about travel, a lot of the discussion will focus on the best places to travel—and there are certain places that rank high on the list of great places to visit. But what about places that are, according to some, better avoided by curious travelers? These 10 cities are considered to be some of the unfriendliest places in the U.S., best avoided by novice and casual travelers. Despite their reputations, however, these places still have their charms—which are left to the intrepid explorer to tease out.

10. Baltimore, MD

Located virtually right next to the District, Baltimore is sometimes characterized as being something of a bedroom community for those who work in the nation’s capital. Baltimore also struggles in the tourism arena since it has to compete directly against the sights of DC, with its museums and numerous other attractions. The city’s downtown core has begun to fall into disrepair and other key cultural attractions, such as the Inner Harbor shopping area, are beginning to deteriorate. Nonetheless, Baltimore offers travelers opportunities to take in Orioles baseball games, visit the Visionary Art Museum or go sailing on Chesapeake Bay. Some suggest that, like other “unfriendly” American cities, Baltimore is best enjoyed with someone who knows the area well—whether a friend who has visited before or a local who knows the city like the back of their hand.

grafitti ally Baltimore

9. Los Angeles, CA

The City of Angels is probably one of the most hyped cities in America, but plenty of travelers find this destination overrated. The city is swathed in smog and the streets are dirty and crowded. The culture is variously described as being “plastic” and “snobbish,” with too many people getting caught up in the bright lights of Hollywood—and too many businesses willing to cater to would-be starlets and star-struck fans. Let’s not even get started on the congested roadways—some of the worst in the U.S.—and the aggressive drivers that clog the city’s arteries. (Public transit is considered a sketchy-at-best alternative.) And while it might sound almost cliché or even borderline hipster, LA is rich in rewards for those who go looking: getting off the beaten path or garnering advice from locals will yield the city’s hidden gems to the discerning traveler.

View Apart / Shutterstock.com
View Apart / Shutterstock.com

8. Reno, NV

Reno, the capital of Nevada, is usually ignored in favor of the bright lights of the state’s Sin City, Las Vegas. The two metropolises are virtually on top of each other. People looking to stay somewhere quieter and cheaper than Vegas might think Reno is a great option for that reason—it’s not Vegas, but still offers easy access—but they might be sorely disappointed if they think Reno is just a discount Vegas. Those who hit the casinos should be prepared to feel the city is “old” and “tired,” despite ongoing revitalization efforts. If you want to enjoy Reno, skip the lure of the slots and get outdoors: the city’s proximity to the mountains offers plenty of recreational opportunities for hiking and kayaking, among other activities. There are also plenty of golf courses around, so hit the greens instead of the card tables.

Reno Nevada

7. The Hamptons, NY

The Hamptons have been enjoying a higher profile thanks to the likes of celebrities such as the Kardashians—but that should immediately tell you one thing about this vacation spot. Once a favorite among old money, the Hamptons have become the go-to vacation location for the “nouveau riche.” That means you need to have money to burn if you want to get anywhere near the Hamptons. During the summer, restaurants and accommodations will be booked and busy, and travelers have begun to decry the “see-and-be-seen” atmosphere that now pervades the area. If you want to avoid the snobbish crowd—and paying top dollar—book your trip during the off-season, when the beaches will be deserted and you can revel in the area’s natural beauty, instead of bumping elbows with superficial beauty queens.

Photo by: Montauk Blue Hotel
Photo by: Montauk Blue Hotel

6. New Haven, CT

One might think that New Haven, as home to one of the country’s Ivy League schools, would land on the list of “unfriendly” cities for being too much like the Hamptons—rich and snobby. Unfortunately, despite Yale’s presence, much of New Haven suffers from stark poverty, which has led to plenty of rough neighborhoods and a reputation as an unsafe place. Some have even commented on the sharp contrasts between the rich at Yale and the poor in the rest of the city. Still, visiting Yale’s historic campus can be a great starting point for a trip to New Haven. The “nine squares” are home to museums, theaters and stunning architecture. The campus is also renowned for its restaurant scene, which is a far cry from the run-of-the-mill cafeterias you’ll find on so many university campuses.

Yale New Haven

5. Boston, MA

Beantown might be rich in history and culture, but the citizens are rich in something else apparently: rudeness. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, really, since Bostonians have always had something of a reputation as being a little snobbish, something that actually stems from their city’s long history and importance as a cultural center. Even though Boston’s given way to cities like New York and LA as the cultural leaders in the U.S., the Athens of America still likes to think of itself as a more sophisticated alternative. There’s no denying the history that still lines the streets here, though, and you can find local artists at the Greenway Open Market every Saturday from May to October. If studying history works up an appetite, you can grab a bite at any one of the city’s many gourmet eateries.

fmua / Shutterstock.com
fmua / Shutterstock.com

4. Detroit, MI

Detroit has always had a bit of a reputation as something of a “rough” city; Motor City was historically full of blue-collar workers and a mixed population. Lately, though, things have been even worse in Detroit, with the bankrupt city cutting services and jobs migrating elsewhere. Abandoned houses have sold for as little as a dollar. In this climate, it seems little wonder that Detroit ranks as one of the unfriendliest places in the U.S. Despite this, Detroit still attracts plenty of sports enthusiasts, as it is the home of the Lions, the Red Wings and the Tigers. Those who know their way around or are willing to do their research will find a thriving culture, one where plenty of restaurants and shops are opening their doors to unique experiences in this post-industrial destination.

LouLouPhotos / Shutterstock.com
LouLouPhotos / Shutterstock.com

3. Seattle, WA

Portland, Oregon, might now be the epicenter of snobbish coffee culture and the mecca for hipsters, but Seattle still ranks high on the list. The home of coffee giant Starbucks, Seattle is also home to a number of indie cafes and microbreweries, as well as a center for foodies, locavores and others who rebel against corporate consumerism. All that can mean that the locals can seem stand-offish or rude, especially if you ask them where the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts is. While it’s easy to get the brush-off for being too “mainstream,” you’ll find Seattle natives are passionate about their interests—and more than happy to share. If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, ask them for recommendations about the city’s best and most unique, and you’ll quickly see a different side.

Pike Market Seattle

2. Oakland, CA

A second entry from California, Oakland still hasn’t shaken the bad rap it earned in the late 20th century as a hub for crime. The East Bay city is perhaps one of the most notorious in the country and that alone is enough to keep most people away; the fact that crime rates are still high provides further incentive. The city is working hard to shed its “bad boy” image, however, introducing First Fridays in Uptown and offering support to the city’s exploding arts and culture scene. Temescal Alley is considered one of the hippest parts of the city, featuring a number of one-of-a-kind local shops (like a retro barbershop), and the restaurant scene has been experiencing a new vibrancy. Some have even suggested Oakland might be the new Portland, Oregon.

Oakland California

1. Newark, NJ

Almost nobody goes to Newark, New Jersey, willingly. The area is a stop on a lot of travelers’ itineraries where they wait for connecting flights, maybe weathering an overnight stop before continuing on. Despite being a major travel hub, an easy connection to New York and a city with its own draws (like the Prudential Center and the New Jersey Center for the Performing Arts), Newark is used by most travelers as a stopover to other destinations—seemingly for good reason. Newark has plenty of rough neighborhoods, so visitors need to be wary when they’re out and about, and the city itself is characterized by some as being dirty or even trashy. Despite this, Newark can be a pricey destination, partially because so much traffic does come through from New York and the airport.

LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES / Shutterstock.com
LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES / Shutterstock.com

The Top 12 Hiking Trails of the US National Parks

No disrespect intended to state and provincial parks, but the designation of National Park means the crème de la crème of the USA’s natural real estate. The resourceful experts at Backpacker.com have cleverly compiled a list of the Best Hikes in the country’s venerable National Park Service. Clever in the sense that they have isolated stretches of much longer trails that are accessible and achievable for those who are not Ironman alumni. Consider them as a hiking espresso to the Grande cup at Starbucks. There are logistic challenges to getting to the abbreviated versions but the best thing about this list is that it inspires a desire to experience these wonderful venues in some way, shape, or form. A few are Park superstars, like Yosemite and The Grand Canyon, but most are not that well known yet and could very well become the most unforgettable sight of a lifetime. Just touring them online is a breathtaking experience that will have you shopping for new hiking gear.

12. Goat Trail to Skolai Pass (Wrangell-St. Elias NP, Alaska)

Alan Majchrowicz / Getty Images

As for the degree of difficulty, just consider the name and how hikers need to impersonate one to progress comfortably along this trail which is often more of a track worn by Dall sheep. It is the epitome of Northern Exotic. All one needs to get there is take a bush plane, hike for miles through the wilderness, forge a river or two, and voila! You’re ready. Piece of cake.  It follows along the Chitistone River across the pass, where the view erupts in brilliantly colored flowers, redundantly including forget- me- not because this sight will certainly not ever be. The huge Russell Glacier, snaking for 20 miles down from a towering peak of 16, 421-foot Mt. Bona.  Timing and luck may produce sightings of caribou, wolf, and bear as you navigate Skolai Pass down to the lake where you have arranged for your bush plane ride to pick you up. Like we said, piece of cake.

11. Teton Crest Trail (Grand Teton NP, Wyoming)

Jeff R Clow / Getty Images

Backpacker calls it “9 miles of mountain madness”, but honestly could there be anything more Wild West-erly perfect than to say it runs from Paintbrush Divide to Hurricane Pass? The full hiking Monty runs 40 miles. The Divide comes at almost 11,000 feet and still leaves hikers looking up at the 13,700 Grand Teton Mountain. Be assured a place is not called Paintbrush Canyon because it’s homely’ but prepare, if you can, to be blown away by in-your-face views of the Fantastic Four; Grand Teton, the Grand, Teewinot, and Mount Owen, the latter three all pushing 13,000 feet. Lake Solitude shows up eventually ensconced in summer wildflowers. Despite the altitude, there is little mention of altitude sickness. Astonishingly the park retains the name given by 18th-century French explorers and that such little mention is made of the translation which is essentially “Large Breasts”. 

10. Shi Shi Beach to Cape Alava, North Coast Route (Olympic NP, Washington)

Diana Robinson Photography / Getty Images

It’s not a household name but this stretch of northwestern coastline that’s part of Olympic National Park can hold its own with any piece of scenery you can imagine. It could almost be another planet with its isolation and rocks sculpted into other-worldly shapes by time and the relentless power of the Pacific Ocean. After a couple of miles of dense Pacific forest, a controlled 50-foot rock slide releases you onto the magical beach at Shi Shi (as in ‘shy), pristine white sand littered with cold water crustaceans washed ashore when the mighty Pacific swallows up the whole beach at high tide. The point of return at Point of the Arches, like prehistoric rock, has been shaped to mimic the architectural sites of the ruins of ancient Rome. For this trail the old cliché is apt: it must be seen to be believed.

9. Cathedral Lakes to Happy Isles via Clouds Rest (Yosemite NP, California)

Nirian / Getty Images

Whoever said “the journey is the destination” never saw the 360-degree panorama of Yosemite at Clouds Rest, 9926 feet up in the legendary Sierra Nevada. As one review at yosemitehikes.com put it, “This hike is all about the destination”. There is no shortage of spectacular views in the National Park System. Maybe it’s the thundering waterfalls, maybe the majestic stands of sequoia or perhaps the other iconic peaks but there’s something about an unobstructed view of the Grande Dame of Parks that leaves one feeling, if not on top of the world, then at least on top of America’s National Parks.

8. Cardenas Camp to Hance Rapid, Escalante Route (Grand Canyon NP, Arizona)

Francisco Blanco / Shutterstock

Well, the Grand Canyon had to be in here somewhere. The Backpacker says these nine miles convey the essence of the Canyon, an intense experience of the first order. Above and beyond getting up close with the canyon’s signature sunset-colored stone and the Colorado River, this nine-mile hike has many lesser-known but astonishing scenes. The Vishnu Complex named appropriately after the Hindu God also known as The Preserver, visible along the Canyon’s 277-mile length, formed by the massive collision of tectonic plates 1.7 billion years ago. Seventy-five Mile Creek is a towering, wafer-thin slot canyon. At the endpoint, Hance Rapids is one of the park’s premier stretches of white water. Along the way, some real hiking, climbing up on hand and toe grips, and a 30-foot descent by rope.

7. Andrews Bald to Jonas Creek Junction (Great Smoky Mountains NP, North Carolina)

Ali Majdfar / Getty Images

Perhaps the most thoughtful of the hikes on the list is located in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. One of the most popular parks in the system, it is designated an International Biosphere Reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so you know you’re going to see a show. Its hiking claim to fame is how it transcends climate zones. It has long been said that Smoky Park hikers can begin in the southern climate of North Carolina and end up in a northeastern climate like Maine, with similar changes in flora. This boiled-down version serves up the same experience in 8 miles with a 4,000-foot elevation change from Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in the state with boreal forests of fir trees to Appalachian hardwoods and finally to lush creek valleys and humid forest with a 40-foot waterfall at the bottom. Fabulous views of the old Smokies are especially frequent at upper levels. The entire trip is 16 to 18 miles return. Oh, and by the way, a ‘Bald’ is an elevated field of native grasses and thick shrubs.

6. “Wall Street,” Zion Narrows (Zion NP, Utah)

Matteo Colombo / Getty Images

This sliver of a hike in Zion National Park is really part of a much more strenuous 16-mile trek much of it waist-deep in water. One of the classic slot canyons (as in coin or mail slot) in the world, narrow gaps formed by the erosion of rushing water on rock, they are always significantly higher than they are wide. “Wall Street” as the Zion Narrows is affectionately called has the sheer cliffs rising straight up along a narrow stream and has been likened to being in an Indiana Jones movie, the various layers the stream has cut through the rock face over the last 18 million years, a staggering sight and more staggering thought. There are warnings of flash flooding if you do go, but it’s worth it as they come any more magical or memorable than this one.

5. Boulder Pass Trail (Glacier NP, Montana)

Arlene Waller / Shutterstock

Google Boulder Pass Trail.  Hit enter. Sit back. Say “Wow!” That’s how the hike begins. The 6.3-mile trail tracks the north shore of beautiful Kintla Lake with its crystal blue-green water with stands of timber standing sentinel.  It’s a lot of flats punctuated with a few hills to make you feel like you’ve worked. The trailhead is at the Kintla Lake Campground in Glacier National Park, where overnight is optional in warmer weather.  The grand finale is Kinnerly Peak, a majestic matterhorn of snow-capped rock that appears to rise straight out of the lake shallows to its 9,940-foot peak just three miles from the Canadian border.

4. Scoville Point Loop (Isle Royale NP, Michigan)

Posnov / Getty Images

It’s four miles in and four miles out along the rugged breathtaking Great Lakes coastline. Isle Royale National Park, designated as National since 1931 is a little-known archipelago jutting out into Lake Michigan. This loop is ideal hiking terrain, flat, remote, starkly beautiful in granite, pine, and imposing views of the vast inland sea that is Lake Superior. Backpacker describes the sublime add-ons as “serene forests, rocky bluffs, the soundtrack of howling wolves and lilting loons.” Not the most physically challenging, it can be done with little more than worn-in tennis shoes and water. But certainly among the most aesthetically pleasing.

3. Wonderland Trail (Mt. Rainier NP, Washington)

JeffGoulden / Getty Images

With the distant snowy peaks and wild alpine flowers, it looks like the sequel of The Sound of Music could be filmed here. The entire Wonderland Trail is 93 miles long and reveals every facet of Mount Rainier National Park’s considerable beauty. Backpacker compares this nine-mile stretch to going straight for dessert. Four miles in puts you at a meadow called Summerland memorably decked out in summer blooms. Panhandle Gap is the high point in elevation at 6,800 feet and in the scenery of the huge Fryingpan Glacier. A dozen waterfalls lie between there and the trail’s flowery end at Indian Bar.

2. South Rim Trail (Big Bend NP, Texas)

Mark C Stevens / Getty Images

The views along the South Rim are famous. On a clear day, you can see Mexico from a hundred miles off from the heights of the Chisos Mountains. This trail in Big Bend National Park gains 2,000 feet in elevation over 14 miles thereby offering birds’ eye views of the Chihuahuan Desert floor as well as the classic rock formations of the American southwest, mesas, and  arroyos, (also known as small plateaus and dried gulches,  for you Northerners.)  Native Texan flora is plentiful and picturesque and there is abundant wildlife including, mountain lions, Mexican black bears, and javelin, which sound like graceful gazelle but are in fact ungainly wild pigs. Parts of the trail are closed during the nesting season of the peregrine falcon.

1. The Emerald Mile (Redwood NP, California)

Kevin Thrash / Getty Images

It’s just a mile technically, but what a mile. Dense stands of giant redwoods soaring 300 feet up, the tallest trees, and in fact largest living things on Earth, an indelible lifelong memory gazing up at the natural majesty. But venture a little further and find a wonderland of thick old-growth redwoods and Douglas Fir, a pristine primeval forest like the kind that overwhelmed European explorers centuries ago. Three hundred and twenty-five miles north of San Francisco but millennia back in time, Redwood National Park is worth the visit.

10 Amazing Historic Hotels in the Midwest

With a long history as an industrial manufacturing hub, the U.S. Midwest also is home to some of the nation’s finest hotels. But just as the fortunes of the region’s business barons have risen and fallen over the decades, so have many of its longest-standing hotels. Some of the Midwest’s most revered, historic hotels narrowly escaped fires, the Great Depression, and the wrecking ball, but today, they are better than ever thanks to a new generation of forward-thinking preservationists. Here are 10 amazing historic hotels in the Midwest that are still open for business, and the stories behind them.

10. Palmer House Hilton (Chicago, IL)

EQRoy / Shutterstock

The iconic Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago got off to a most inauspicious start when the elegant hotel fell victim to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 only 13 days after its grand opening. But, business magnate and owner Potter Palmer quickly rebuilt the 1,641-room hotel which opened in late 1873 and has been a landmark ever since. Palmer’s wife Bertha decorated the hotel with opulent chandeliers, paintings, and other art inspired by her French heritage including a majestic ceiling fresco by painter Louis Pierre Rigal. The decadent hotel has hosted everyone from Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde to U.S. presidents, and top entertainers such as Liberace, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald performed in its Golden Empire Room. A $170 million renovation has ensured the Palmer House’s place among the top hotels to be found anywhere. Afternoon tea in the lobby is not to be missed.

9. Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza (Cincinnati, OH)

EQRoy / Shutterstock

Some hotels stand the test of time as a stunning architectural design achievement, like the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, an Art Deco masterpiece that’s a registered National Historic Landmark. Elaborately decorated with rare Brazilian rosewood paneling, two-story ceiling murals, and original German silver-nickel sconces, the circa 1931 hotel in downtown Cincinnati is one of the world’s finest examples of French Art Deco style. Its Orchids at Palm Court is among the most beautiful restaurants in America, made even more memorable by Chef Todd Kelly, named the America Culinary Federation’s Chef of the Year (2011-12). The opulent Hall of Mirrors ballroom has been at the heart of Cincinnati’s business and social scene for over 80 with its two-story ceilings, mezzanine, and original light fixtures. The Netherland Plaza is connected to the 49-story Carew Tower which opened in 1931 and has an observation deck with sweeping views of the Ohio River Valley.

8. French Lick Resort (French Lick, IN)

GypsyPictureShow / Shutterstock

The mineral spring waters that abound in French Lick were once thought to be the elusive Fountain of Youth due to their reported restorative and healing qualities. This attraction gave birth to the luxurious French Lick Resort that opened in 1845 and continues to be a destination for travelers seeking memorable accommodations. The 443-room hotel was restored to its original grandeur via a $382 million restoration and expansion project that added a 42,000-square-foot casino and restored and reopened the historic “Hill” golf course that originally opened in 1917. Prior to the restoration, the hotel had declined under several different owners. Over the years, it has hosted numerous dignitaries and historic events including the 1931 Democratic Governors Conference where Franklin D. Roosevelt secured support for his party’s presidential nomination. Today, the opulent resort has an array of amenities including a 27,000-square-foot, world-class spa with 24 treatment rooms.

7. Westin Book Cadillac (Detroit, MI)

Jen.ishayoga / Shutterstock

The story of most buildings that stand idle for a quarter-century rarely ends well, especially a luxury hotel like the Westin Book Cadillac in downtown Detroit. Originally opened in 1924 as the tallest building in Detroit, the 33-story Hotel Book-Cadillac played host to eight U.S. presidents and the likes of The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Babe Ruth, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during its heyday. It boasted more than 1,200 rooms as well as three ballrooms and various restaurants and shops. Its Italian Garden and Venetian Ballroom incorporated architectural elements from Europe, and the hotel was featured in “State of the Union” in 1947, starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Alas, it closed in 1984 as Detroit’s own fortunes began to wane, only to be reborn in 2008 after a $190 million project restored it. Today, it features 455 hotel rooms and 67 luxury condos.

6. Hilton President Kansas City (Kansas City, MO)

Known as the Hotel President when it opened in Kansas City in 1926, the Hilton President Kansas City has lived up to its name. The 453-room hotel hosted the 1928 Republican National Convention where Herbert Hoover received the party’s nomination. Three other U.S. presidents—Eisenhower, Truman, and Nixon—have either stayed or visited the opulent hotel. Its Drum Room lounge became equally famous after opening in 1941, hosting the likes of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Frank Sinatra, and Sammy Davis, Jr. The hotel closed in 1980 but soon was reborn as a smaller, 213-room luxury hotel following a $45 million restoration. Located in Kansas City’s vibrant Power and Light entertainment district, the Hilton’s immaculate lobby and mezzanine were meticulously restored, and its elegant Congress Ballroom features the original terrazzo floors installed in 1926. It’s Walnut Room restaurant features original stained glass and majestic wood columns as well.

5. West Baden Springs Hotel (West Baden Springs, IN)

Some hotels are famous for their history or their uniqueness and a few like the West Baden Springs Hotel are noted for both. The current West Baden Springs Hotel opened in 1902, but a hotel has occupied the site since 1855. In 1888, it was upgraded to a grand resort for the elite, complete with a casino and opera house. It burned to the ground in 1901 and was rebuilt just a year later with a spectacular circular design topped by an awe-inspiring 200-foot, a free-span dome that was touted as the eighth wonder of the world. The Depression forced the closure of the hotel in 1932 and it later served as a seminary and private college. It reopened in 2007 as part of a special casino district in Indiana after a massive restoration.  The luxurious, 246-room hotel now features a formal garden, an 8,000-square-foot spa, and a 12,000-square-foot indoor pool.

4. The Pfister Hotel (Milwaukee, WI)

When the Pfister Hotel opened in downtown Milwaukee in 1893 at a cost of nearly $1 million, it created quite a stir with unheard of features like individual thermostat controls in each guestroom and electricity throughout the hotel (imagine that). Sporting a Romanesque Revival style, the Pfister also had two billiard rooms (one for both sexes) and a private bar for men only. Owner Charles Pfister utilized the hotel bearing his name to showcase his extensive art collection. Today, the Pfister’s priceless Victorian art is among the world’s top hotel art collections. In 1962, theater operator Ben Marcus purchased the aging hotel at auction. He restored the grand dame of Milwaukee hotels and added a 23-story guestroom tower. The 307-room hotel is now better than ever, with a top-notch spa and a 23rd-floor martini and wine bar with great views of Lake Michigan.

3. Omni William Penn (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Omni William Penn Pittsburgh was once the largest hotel between Pittsburgh and Chicago, with 1,600 guestrooms, when its 600-room, Grant Street Annex addition opened in 1929. The original hotel, opened in 1916 at a cost of $6 million, was industrialist Henry Clay Frick’s dream to build a Pittsburgh landmark to rival the Old World elegance he saw in European hotels. He hired noted architects Franklin Abbott and Benno Janssen to design the hotel, and he spared no expense. The Grand Ballroom on the 17th floor of the original hotel has been lavishly restored. With huge crystal chandeliers and opulent gold and white décor on two levels, the large ballroom looks like a scene from “The Great Gatsby.” Traditional afternoon tea is served at the William Penn, which recently received a multi-million-dollar renovation. It now has 597 guestrooms, 52,000 square feet of function space, and multiple restaurants.

2. Renaissance Cleveland Hotel (Cleveland, OH)

Hotels have occupied the corner of Superior and Public Square in the heart of downtown Cleveland since 1812. Its current occupant, the Renaissance Cleveland, opened in 1918 as a 1,000-room luxury hotel with vaulted ceilings, high arched windows, and an impressive marble fountain in the lobby. It is connected to the Terminal Tower building that opened in 1930 as the city’s rapid transit center. Today, the 52-story Terminal Tower is known as Tower City Center and features shops, restaurants, cinemas, and casinos. After going through several names and owners over the years, the original Hotel Cleveland remains a luxury hotel with 441 guestrooms with marble bathrooms, 50 suites, and three ballrooms among 64,000 square feet of function space. Its aptly-named Grand Ballroom can seat 2,900 people. Its San Souci restaurant features fine dining in elegant surroundings including pastoral murals and wood columns.

1. Omni Severin Hotel (Indianapolis, IN)

The Omni Severin Hotel is one of the last original buildings standing in the Indianapolis Union Station Wholesale District. Built by Henry Severin, Jr. with help from the founders of the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the hotel originally opened in 1913 as the Grand Hotel of Indianapolis. It thrived as a daily stream of train passengers arriving at adjacent Union Station needed a place to stay, and it continues today as the city’s longest-running luxury hotel. Severin’s history is on display throughout the hotel. The original marble staircase remains, as does the crystal chandelier hanging outside the Severin Ballroom. The original 1913 mailbox serves as a working mailbox today, and original furniture from the hotel rests outside the elevator on each floor of the 424-room hotel. Completely modernized while retaining its historic charm, the Severin is connected via skywalks to the downtown Circle Center Mall and Indianapolis Convention Center.

The 12 Strangest Sayings in America

If you’ve had a chance to travel, you’ve noticed differences in the way people talk in other places. This is something that anyone who has traveled the U.S. is keenly aware that people in Seattle talk differently than New Yorkers, and Texans are a whole other kettle of fish again. Even then, we can usually figure out what people mean when they break out a colloquialism or a local version of an idiom. Sometimes, though, we’re left scratching our heads. Here are 12 of those strange sayings that will have you wondering if everyone’s still speaking English.

12. “Bang a U-ey” – Rhode Island

For most of us, “banging” something either means you’re making a big noise, like construction workers hammering nails into a wall or … well, you get the idea. We do use “bang” colloquially, but nowhere is the verb more colloquial than in Rhode Island where locals might tell you to “bang a U-ey” if you make a wrong turn. “U-ey” is pretty common slang for a U-turn. When Rhode Islanders tell you this, they just want you to make a U-turn, and there’s no need to make a lot of noise about it. The term might be related to the phrase “bang one out,” which essentially means to do something, but it sure sounds strange nonetheless. If you happen to be told to do this, your Rhode Island tour guide will likely be impressed if you just wheel it around, no questions asked.

Rhode Island

11. “Your wig’s a little loose” – Kentucky

The Bluegrass State is known for some of its quirky Southern slang, although it shares much of this lingo with other Southern states. One interesting phrase you might hear only in Kentucky is, “your wig’s a little loose” or “I think your wig’s a little loose.” This is essentially telling someone you think they’re crazy—not exactly a compliment. The phrase is comparable to idioms like “doesn’t have his head on straight” and “I think you have a few screws loose.” You needn’t be actually wearing a wig, in this case, your wig is more a metaphor than anything, so don’t worry about telling your Kentucky friends that you’re not even wearing a wig. Bets that this phrase got its start in the early days of the Union, when everyone was still wearing powdered wigs? We really hope so.

Kentucky 1

10. “Get a wiggle on” – South Dakota

The Dakotas get a bad rap: the weather isn’t all that great, there’s not much to see or do and the locals are friendly, but perhaps a little strange. One thing you’ll quickly notice is that South Dakotans, much like Minnesotans and North Dakotans, have some pretty odd turns of phrase. One of the most intriguing is “get a wiggle on,” which essentially means “hurry up.” Others might be familiar with the phrase “get a move on,” which uses the same construct and means the same thing. We’re not entirely sure why South Dakotans want everyone to wiggle to their destination, though maybe it has something to do with keeping warm during the harsh winter weather. Nonetheless, if a South Dakotan acquaintance happens to suggest you should get your wiggle on, you needn’t bust a move like you’re on the dance floor—a bit more spring in your step will do.

South Dakota

9. “Gotta get flat” – California

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the Golden State has some pretty slangy terminology. While a lot of California colloquialisms have arisen from surf culture and then spread to a wider demographic through the magic of Hollywood, there are still a few turns of phrase that are uniquely Californian. One of those phrases might be “gotta get flat,” which, at first glance, seems pretty obtuse. Why do we need to get flattened out? Is this something to do with earthquakes? Or maybe it’s some new twist on “getting down.” It actually just means “I need to lie down”—and if you think about it, it makes perfect sense: we often talk about being “laid flat out” or “flat on our backs,” so “getting flat” would be lying down.

California

8. “Geez-o-Pete!” – Michigan

Michigan’s strangest idiom might seem relatively tame or even understandable from some points of view. It’s a sort of mild swear, certainly not as rude as some of the phrases you can find around the world. In some ways, it’s almost cute and it’s definitely Michigan. “Geez-o-Pete!” is an exclamation that’s sort of like “Jesus Mary Mother of God!” with much the same meaning and a kind of parallel structure in that it calls on Jesus and St. Peter. If you hear your Michiganian friends shouting this, you know something’s caught them off-guard and not in a way that’s made them happy. It’s just that polite company is likely forcing them to keep it G-rated—otherwise you might hear some other choice words instead of this phrase.

Michigan

7. “Just because a cat has her kittens in the oven don’t make them biscuits” – Vermont

Local pride is something you’ll run into in any number of states (and countries, for that matter), but Vermont seems to take the cake with their own colloquialism about what makes a local a local. Specifically, they might tell you that “just because a cat has her kittens in the oven don’t make them biscuits.” What they’re really saying is that even if you were born in Vermont, you’re not necessarily a Vermonter, just like putting those kittens in the oven doesn’t make them biscuits. Once an outsider, always an outsider in Vermont, it seems. It will apparently take a couple generations to be considered a real Vermonter. In the meantime, nobody’s said we can’t all enjoy maple syrup, fantastic fall colors and great skiing in the Green Mountains in the wintertime.

Vermont

6. “That dog won’t hunt” – Georgia

Georgia’s another Southern state with that peculiarly Southern way of speaking. Of course, the Peach State has its own lingo, and one of the native phrases is “that dog won’t hunt” or “that dog don’t hunt.” While outsiders might think nothing of this idiom, it’s actually a way of saying something won’t work—much like a dog that won’t hunt, something’s a little off. Other versions of the phrase include “that horse isn’t a runner” and the historical predecessor “that cock won’t fight,” which was used as a natural metaphor for an idea that was bound to fail during the heydays of cockfighting in the 17th and 18th centuries. Today, if someone from the Peach State tells you the dog won’t hunt, you’d better go back to the drawing board.

Georgia

5. “Looks like 10 miles of dirt road” – Wyoming

Wyoming is a relatively “young” state and this Western state has been decidedly pastoral and rural throughout most of its history, even before statehood. With a large interest in ranching, the smallest population in the U.S. and a huge swath of land dotted by mountains and valleys, it’s little wonder that Wyoming’s slang would take on a distinctly rural flavor. The phrase “looks like 10 miles of dirt road” is an example of that. This phrase is pretty easy to figure out: it means someone looks disheveled or unwell. Dirt roads are often unkempt and bumpy, washed out by storms and rutted especially after use or the winter—so saying someone looks like 10 miles of that is not a compliment! If your hosts in Wyoming suggest you look like this, you might want to nip off and “freshen up.”

Wyoming

4. “I’m going by your house later” – Louisiana

At first glance, the phrase “I’m going by your house later” may not seem all that strange. In fact, some of us may have offered someone a ride home from a party or offered to drop something off because we were “going by later.” But in Louisiana, “going by your house later” doesn’t mean someone is just going to drive by like a bitter ex. It means they’re actually going to stop in and visit. Whereas people from other places might say, “I’m going to stop in later,” Louisianans like to keep you in suspense by suggesting that they’ll be in the neighborhood, at some point. Chances are that the phrase started off much like it’s used in other regions—to mean somebody’s place is on your way—but eventually just became another way of saying they were going to drop by.

Louisiana

3. “Red it up” – Pennsylvania

Have you made a bit of a mess of things? If you’re in Pennsylvania, chances are you won’t be told to “clean up.” No, Pennsylvanians are more apt to tell you to “red it up,” an odd turn of phrase that could catch most of us off-guard. It seems, at first glance, tangentially related to phrases like “paint the town red,” but the actual meaning of the phrase is a lot more buckled down and serious than we might imagine. It’s actually descended from the verb “to ready [up],” which means to make a room ready for a guest or to set the table for a meal. It might be related to other archaic uses like “ready the cannons.” The Pennsylvania Dutch introduced that particular idiom to English in the Keystone state. In the modern day, “ready” has been changed to “red,” even though the phrase still means the same.

Pennsylvania

2. “Butter my butt and call me a biscuit!” – Alabama

Alabama is probably best known for its Southern drawl, that oft-mimicked and mocked accent that is supposed to characterize people who hail from Alabama and the other states that make up the Deep South. Alabamans have a few expressions that set them apart from other Southern states. One of the best (and most mystifying) is “butter my butt and call me a biscuit!” This is an exclamation expressing delight at discovering something surprising yet pleasant. Other variants exist around the English-speaking world, such as “pin my tail and call me a donkey.” A close synonym is “I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.” Just don’t take the suggestion too literally if you’re visiting the Heart of Dixie—nobody actually wants to be buttered and called a biscuit, although they’d surely be surprised if you did!

Alabama

1. “Slap you naked and hide your clothes” – Missouri

This phrase comes to us from Missouri, although there might be variants on it around other parts of the South and the West. In other areas, we might have heard our parents threaten to “tan your hide” or “slap you silly” when we did something they didn’t like. In Missouri, the threat is to “slap you naked,” and then “hide your clothes” so you can’t go out again in public—at least, not unless you want to go out in the buff. Really, this seems like a pretty good threat. If your parents were to “tan your hide,” nobody would really know. If you get slapped naked and have your clothes hidden though, everybody’s going to know what happened—you get a bruised ego in addition. Best to mind your manners when you visit Missouri!

TommyBrison / Shutterstock.com
TommyBrison / Shutterstock.com

12 Over the Top Stadium Foods to Try This Year

If you are into over the top stadium foods, and not afraid to eat thousands of calories, this is the year to indulge in some crazy foods. From burgers that come complete with half pounds of cheese, nine patties and funnel cakes instead of buns to dessert dogs to vanilla bean apple-pie bacon milkshakes to chicken and waffles that require no cutlery; these over the top stadium foods will either have you begging for more or groaning in stomach pain.

12. Big Mother Funnel Burger – Appleton, Wisconsin

Executive chef Tim Hansen created this monster concoction that debuted at minor league’s Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Stadium. This funnel cake bacon cheeseburger will cost you $20 and contains a whopping 3,500 calories. It consists of 2 funnel cakes dusted with powdered sugar, a 1-lb burger, half a pound of cheese, eight slices of bacon and some lettuce, just to make sure you got your veggies in. We can’t promise that this heart-stopping creation won’t give you a stomach ache but the combination of sweet and beef is well worth it.

Photo by: Timothy Michael Hanson via Twitter
Photo by: Timothy Michael Hanson via Twitter

11. Sweenie Donut Dog – Wilmington, Delaware

This sandwich contains a lot of ingredients that don’t seemingly go together, raspberry jam, bacon, tubular meat and a Krispy Kreme donut. It debuted this year as the Wilmington Blue Rocks stadium and they even let fans choose the name of the dog. The chosen name, is a shout-out to former Blue Rocks player Mike Sweeney, who went on to play for the Kansas City Royals, Seattle Mariners, and the Phillies. This donut dog has a bun made out of a sticky Krispy Kreme donut, with a hot dog in the middle, topped with crumbled bacon and raspberry jam.

Photo by: Our Source University and Information
Photo by: Our Source University and Information

10. Tailgate Stack – Kansas City, Missouri

This sandwich pays tribute to Kansas City’s famous tailgate traditions. The Tailgate Stack features burnt ends topped with cheddar, malted beer grain syrup, bacon and fried egg, all served on a piece of deep fried bread. The Stack will put you back $13 but considering its both breakfast and lunch, we think it’s kind of a steal. Visitors can purchase the Tailgate Stack only at Gridiron Express stands located in sections 103 and 135 of Arrowhead Stadium.

Photo by: The Kansas City Star.
Photo by: The Kansas City Star.

9. Vanilla Bean-Apple Pie-Bacon Milkshake – Cleveland, Ohio

We have heard of bacon apple pie, much in thanks to Pinterest but has anyone ever thought to put it in a milkshake? Apparently Chef Michael Symon who runs the B Spot Restaurant at the Cleveland Browns Stadium thought this would be a wonderful idea. Luckily guests of the restaurant thought so too. This restaurant is actually located on the club level of the stadium so fans will have to shell out serious dough for tickets. This shake even looks delicious with crumbled bacon bits on top, a large straw to slurp through and flickers of vanilla bean throughout. Hold onto your hats Browns fans as this milkshake will knock your socks off.  We suggest making some wealthy fans to eat at this amazing restaurant and hope they pay for your milkshake too.

Photo by: Natalie / Foodspotting
Photo by: Natalie / Foodspotting

8. Chicken and Waffle Cone – Houston, Texas

If you are craving chicken and waffles and prefer to eat something on the go without any sort of cutlery, the Houston Astros have the solution for you. New to the stadium this year is the Chicken and Waffle Cone, and although waffles have been replaced with a cone, you still get that same great taste. What is consists of are pieces of fried chicken, along with mashed potatoes and topped with honey mustard, all stuffed into an easy to eat waffle cone. Although this culinary creation is loaded with calories, the team that produced this cone produced the much loved BBQ baked potato last year and we can assure you that this chicken stuffed waffle cone will be just as big of a hit, if not more.

Photo by: 365 Things to do in Houston
Photo by: 365 Things to do in Houston

7. Triple-Triple Wayback Burger – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

It contains a remarkable 2,200 calories and the place to get it is at Citizen’s Bank Park. This enormous burger consists of a whopping nine patties and nine slices of cheese, weighing in with 139 grams of fat. It also contains lettuce and tomato, in what looks like an effort to make it look the least bit healthier. Wayback Burgers are the masterminds behind this enormous burger and they can be found at Alley Grill in the stadium. We aren’t quite sure how anyone is going to wrap their mouths around this tall burger, but we cannot wait to see pictures.

Photo by: Wayback Burgers
Photo by: Wayback Burgers

6. Churro Dog – Phoenix, Arizona

Chef Michael Snoke is the man responsible for the invention of this dessert Churro Dog that is now offered at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. It will set you back about $8.50 and consuming it means consuming over 1100 calories but fans are insisting that it is well worth it. Essentially this dog is a sundae that is designed to look like a hot dog, the churro replaces the dog, A chocolate-glazed Long John doughnut cut in half makes up the bun and instead of the typical hot dog toppings, you get three scoops of vanilla frozen yogurt, a generous serving of whipped cream, and significant drizzles of chocolate and caramel sauces. Every churro dog is made fresh to order and we suggest eating it rather quickly as once it starts to get soggy, things go downhill. There are only two designated churro dog spots in the stadium so prepare to wait with everyone else dying to try this over the top dessert.

Photo by: Jennifer Stewart/Arizona Diamondbacks via ESPN
Photo by: Jennifer Stewart/Arizona Diamondbacks via ESPN

5. Fried Nachos on a Stick – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee truly outdid themselves this year in terms of offering over the top food at their stadiums and fried nachos on a stick are no exception. Appropriately named “Inside the Park” nachos, they can be found at Miller Park, home of the Brewers. Each nacho is stuffed with taco meat, rolled in crushed Doritos, deep fried to a golden crisp and topped with cheese and sour cream. We aren’t sure what kinds of Doritos were used in the making of the deep friend nachos but we can assure you, they picked the right flavor. As an added bonus, this kind of nacho is far less messy than the regular kind and you can keep the stick, as a souvenir, or proof that this food really does exist. Our only question is why didn’t someone come up with this idea earlier?

Photo by: Delaware North Sportservice / Orbitz
Photo by: Delaware North Sportservice / Orbitz

4. Bacon and Sriracha Deviled Eggs – Detroit, Michigan

Detroit has really outdone themselves on this twist of “bacon and eggs” and fans from all over rushed the stadium to try them. Essentially what the culinary team has come up with is a thick slab of flat-top grilled bacon on the bottom with three equally delicious deviled eggs carefully placed on top. These aren’t your typical deviled eggs though. They are made with sriracha and feature fried jalapenos on top. Slightly hard to eat, you may want to make sure you have plenty of napkins on hand for this dish. Deviled eggs lovers will find this concoction at the portable cart at Section 125 and at Michigan Craft Beer, because who doesn’t need a beer to go with their eggs?

Photo by: Go Go Go Gourmet
Photo by: Go Go Go Gourmet

3. Pulled Pork Parfait – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

This stadium food actually has its own Twitter account and although it looks completely unappetizing, fans of the Brewers actually love it. The parfait looks like a typical dessert complete with ice cream but in fact is far from it. Made up of pulled pork, gravy and mashed potatoes; this parfait is served in a parfait cup with a dash of beans on top. It seems as this dish is very American so you may be surprised to learn that it originally made its debut in Canada. Hank Daddy’s BBQ, based in Maple, Ontario, bills itself as the “Original Home of the Pulled Pork Parfait” and debuted the dish back in 2010. Since then companies all over have been replicating it and we see a long strong future ahead of this over the top, weird but delicious parfait.

Photo by: Delaware North Companies / NY Daily News
Photo by: Delaware North Companies / NY Daily News

2. Fried S’mOreo – Dallas, Texas

Texas Rangers fans had something to celebrate when this new dessert dish was introduced to their stadium this year. The Fried S’mOreo looks absolutely delicious, tastes absolutely delicious and we cannot promise it won’t give you a heart attack. So what is it exactly? First off two Oreos are battered and deep fried. A marshmallow is than covered in graham cracker crust and also deep friend. It is placed between the Oreos on a skewer and then the whole shebang is drizzled with an incredible chocolate sauce. In case that wasn’t enough, a side of chocolate is served with it for extra dipping opportunities. At $8 a serving, this heart attack on a skewer isn’t cheap but may just be worth it for the taste.

Photo by: Delaware North / ESPN
Photo by: Delaware North / ESPN

1. Breaded Chicken Waffle Sandwich – St. Louis, Missouri

It was the hottest new food item to hit the stadium in St. Louis this year and the breaded chicken waffle sandwich came out with a bang. The culinary team at the stadium worked long and hard to create this unique dish. Essentially the sandwich consists of a breaded chicken breast that is stuck between two waffles and loaded with maple bacon gravy. The waffles are cooked to order, making them fresh and fluffy while the maple bacon gravy pulls the dish together. This sandwich is served with queso tater tots topped with sour cream and fresh herbs.

Photo by: Susannah Lohr / St. Louis Public Radio
Photo by: Susannah Lohr / St. Louis Public Radio

8 Best Places in the US to Watch Fall Foliage

How will you travel this fall? If you’re considering a road trip, why not time your travels to coincide with some spectacular fall foliage? No matter how much traveling you’ve done in the states, seeing the United States covered in golds, yellows, oranges, purples, and reds is like seeing a whole new side to your spouse after decades of marriage. If you hit the right locations at the right time, your fall foliage drive will be beautiful, majestic, and breathtaking. Check out the following sites for foliage and have an experience you’ll remember for years and years to come.

8. Napa Valley, California

For fall foliage with a twist, why not visit California’s famous wine region? While many of the trees up in the hills change colors, the best place to witness fiery fall colors is right there in the vineyards. For travelers who have never seen the leaves on a grape vine change from yellows, to golds, to oranges to bold crimsons, it’s a stunning sight – made even better by fabulous bed and breakfasts, restaurants, and vintages that one of the world’s best wine-producing regions has to offer. Silverado Trail is always a great route to take for views of vineyard foliage against the backdrop of the Napa River. Or, book passage on the Napa Valley Wine Train and combine a love of wine, find food, and foliage for one unforgettable trip. Ripening grapes enjoy the crisp, cool evenings, and so will you after an Indian summer day in October.

Napa Valley - Autumn

7. The Driftless Region, Wisconsin

The Driftless Region in Wisconsin provides some of the most breathtaking fall foliage in the Midwest. Twisted oaks and wild hickories are ablaze in oranges and yellows, while basswoods add their own special hue as well. The loop around the Driftless Region provides a soothing 158 mile drive that starts and ends in Mineral Point. Heading north on Highway 23 to Baraboo will lead travelers to sumac and maple foliage. Highway 56, high up on the ridges that run from east to west in the area provides a bird’s eye view of the tops of trees. Choosing Highway 131 takes travelers from north to south through the Kickapoo River Valley for incredible river views. Or, simply take a guided tour of the Driftless Region to see several of these spots. Pinpointing the best time to visit, when the colors pop the most, is difficult, but the first half of October is a good bet.

Photo by: Terry McNeil / Wisconsin Trails
Photo by: Terry McNeil / Wisconsin Trails

6. Aspen and Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

There are so many ways to see the colors change in the mountainous region of Colorado. For starters, the affluent town of Aspen, where the nation’s one percent go to ski, turns into an explosion of oranges and yellows among evergreens and a background of purple-and-white-streaked mountains. Watching the breeze sail down the mountains and through the foliage is like watching a shimmering sea of fall colors. Alternatively, swing down around the south of the Gunnison National Forest to Gunnison, Colorado. Jump on Highway 135 and drive to Crested Butte and meet up with Kebler Pass Road. From there, Highway 133 connects near Paonia Dam. West Elk Loop Byway and Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park are beautiful spots, too. Late September into late October is the best time to visit the largest forest of aspen trees in the country, so don’t miss out!

Gunnison National Park, Colorado

5. Upper Peninsula and Gold Coast, Michigan

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has an incredible 7 million acres of forest, over 100 different species of trees, and views of the vivid blue waters of Lake Superior. Or, if Lake Michigan is more your style, set off on a drive down the Gold Coast. Either way, a gorgeous changing of the seasons awaits. The Upper Peninsula has more than 20 forested state parks to choose from, featuring ash, sycamore, tamarack, beech, birch, aspen, oak, and maple. Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is also home to moose, beavers, and white-tailed deer, which can be seen along Lake Superior and nearby areas. Or, take highway 2 to interstate 75 across Mackinac Bridge and head down the Gold Coast. This 100-mile route features charming coves, tiny fishing towns, and soaring sand dunes. Enjoy the bright and fiery maple and oak leaves against the green of fir, spruce, and pine trees.

Porcupine Wildness State Park, Michigan

4. The Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

The Cascade Mountains form a natural border between the states of Oregon and Washington in the Northwestern United States. The Columbia River cuts into them like a slithering snake, forming an 80-mile long gorge that’s home to some incredible fall colors, all with views of tumbling waterfalls, white rapids, and bubbling streams. Take in the bronze and golden hues of cottonwoods, big-leaf maples, twisted pines, Oregon ash, and firs – an incredible array of species, all with their own artistic interpretation of fall. Travelers can drive along the Columbia River on Interstate 84, or choose more adventurous and up-close ways to view the colors. Hike on gorgeous trails along the river’s edge or grab a kayak or raft and jump right in for some adventure. All-in-all, visitors only have about a month to watch the colors change, so planning trips from mid-September to mid-October is best.

Columbia River Gorge

3. The Adirondacks, New York

The Adirondacks is the largest natural wilderness region in the Eastern US and it consists of 6-million acres of beautiful forest made of both evergreen and deciduous trees. The area is home to oaks, maples, birch, and beech trees, so the combination of reds, oranges, and yellows is simply stunning. There are 13 scenic byways in the Adirondacks, but the Olympic, Adirondack, and Central Adirondack Trails are the most popular. The Olympic Trail connects Lake Champlain and Lake Ontario, but not before passing by the gorgeous Lake Placid along its 170 miles. The Adirondack Trail winds through 188 miles through the center of Adirondack Park. The Central Adirondack Trail consists of the 153 miles between Rome and Glen Falls. Head to the Adirondacks in mid-October to enjoy a hike through the foliage in the mountains, or stay in lower altitudes to pick your own apples and join harvest festival celebrations into late October.

Adirondack Mountains

2. Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, New Mexico

When it comes to watching the colors of the leaves change each fall, most people think of New England as the place to be, or perhaps the northwest. They don’t think of New Mexico, but forests to flourish in the northern part of the state. Deciduous trees like purple cinquefoil and golden cottonwoods are everywhere. Even the aspens in this area turn a darker orange than anywhere else in the U.S. For an atypical autumn scene, the 85 mile trek around Wheeler Peak, a 13, 161 foot mountain and the state’s highest point. Travelers would do well to begin in Taos, New Mexico and take Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway to Eagle Nest for the best views of the mountain. Continue on to Angel Fire and back into Taos to complete the loop. It might just be the most uniquely colorful way to spend the autumn season.

Photo by: Angel Fire Chamber
Photo by: Angel Fire Chamber

1. The Great Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains are a subrange of the Appalachians and stretch from the southwestern corner of Virginia and down along the North Carolina and Tennessee border. Peaks rise to a height of 6,600 feet. There are hundreds of species of trees in the mountains, so gazers can enjoy the yellows of the American beech, the oranges of maple and sassafras, and the reds of pin cherry and ash as they populate the mountainside. Travelers who start their color-changing trip in Virginia can jump right on the Blue Ridge Parkway and catch fall foliage on dogwoods, sourwoods, and black gums as early as the end of September. Then, if you slowly make your way through the mountains into October and November, you’ll catch all the best colors as they pop. The best drives also include Newfound Gap and Cades Cove for views of foliage among streams, waterfalls, and panoramic views.

Autumn in the Great Smoky Mountains

12 Things to See and Do in Michigan

Bordering four out of the five Great Lakes, the state of Michigan has much to offer the outdoorsman or adventurous traveler. It is a hot spot for recreational boating because of its long freshwater coastlines and over 60,000 inland lakes and ponds. The state is ripe with attractions and incredible cities to visit. Mackinac Bridge separates the Upper and Lower Peninsula and is an attraction in itself being the fifth longest suspension bridge in the world. The view of the Straits of Mackinac and Mackinac Island are breathtaking. Below are some places you should visit while traveling through Michigan.

12. Old Town Lansing

Old Town is located at the northern end of Lansing and overlooks the Grand River and a winding bike trail. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the North Lansing Historic Commercial District and is the oldest of the three original villages of present day Lansing. The neighborhood consists of beautiful Victorian buildings housing galleries, eateries, boutiques, creative businesses, specialty shops, nightclubs and more. There are many festivals, gallery walks and farmer’s markets hosted here throughout the year so there is always something new to experience. The area has a small town feel with its incomparable customer service and all the little extra you may or may not expect. Old Lansing is like entering a world of its own with a unique and enjoyable shopping experience, elegant boutiques and happening nightclubs. You’ll want to take lots of pictures there too with the amazing artwork and murals.

Photo by: Michigan Municipal League via Flickr
Photo by: Michigan Municipal League via Flickr

11. MBAD’S African Bead Museum

MBAD’S African Bead Museum is located on Grand River Avenue in Detroit and serves as a repository for African artifacts. The collection includes sculptures, textiles, pottery and bead works dating back hundreds of years from numerous African cultures. You will also find an incredible selection of beads for sale. Their guided tours include Iron Teaching Rocks How to Rust, The N’Kisi Iron House and African Language Wall. You can even watch an artist at work and learn about his art while he is creating it. The building is quite prominently decorated on the outside, but if you don’t take the time to stop in and explore, you will miss out on one of Detroit’s hidden gems. The entire building inside and out, as well as spilling out onto the sidewalk, contain colorful and original art.

Photo by: soupstance via Flickr
Photo by: soupstance via Flickr

10. Binder Park Zoo

Binder Park Zoo is a 433-acre (174 ha) zoo located just outside Battle Creek and is one of the largest zoos in Michigan featuring a wide variety of animals and plants and includes the Wild Africa Exhibit. It also features a train, a tram, a carousel and Wildlife Discovery Theater. The zoo hosts several special events during the season like Bowling for Rhinos, Corks for Conservation, Climb for Lions – Airway Fun Center Event, Reptile Weekend and their 40th Anniversary celebration. Check out their sprawling exhibits where animals happily laze and graze. Binder Park Zoo prides themselves in their preservation, conservation and their Species Survival Plan. Its a beautiful zoo with the animals and their welfare being their focus as it should be. You and your children will have a great time while learning about animals and enjoying some fun activities.

Photo by: Jacob Enos via Flickr
Photo by: Jacob Enos via Flickr

9. Fox Theater

Located on Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit, the Fox Theater is a performing art center opened in 1928 as a flagship movie palace and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and a designated  National Historic Landmark. The theater seats 5,048 people and is the largest surviving movie palace of the 20s also the largest of the original Fox Theaters. The ornate interior is breathtaking with its elegant pillars and arches lending a sophisticated air to the hall. To give you an idea of the incredible performances hosted there, some of the performers currently performing include Loretta Lynn and Martina McBride, Josh Groban, K. Michelle, Azealia Banks and Jethro Tull. You can catch Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical, Mythbusters Jamie and Adam UNLEASHED! or Alvin and the Chipmunks: Live On Stage! just to name a few. The performances will keep you entertained and mesmerized.

Photo by: DDohler via Flickr
Photo by: DDohler via Flickr

8. Detroit Masonic Temple

Located in the Cass Corridor of Detroit, the Detroit Masonic Temple is the largest Masonic Temple in the world. It is home to various masonic organizations and the building contains a variety of public spaces which include three theaters, three ballrooms and banquet halls, and a 160 x 100 foot (49m x 30m) clear-span drill hall. For recreation, you will find a swimming pool and Handball court, gymnasium, bowling alley and pool hall on the premises as well. Rooms include numerous lodge rooms, offices and dining spaces and there is also a hotel section with a total of 80 rooms available to any shrine or blue lodge mason. The 55 x 100 foot (17m x 30m) Masonic Temple Theater is a popular venue for concerts, Broadway shows and many other events. The Gothic style limestone building is truly a sight to behold and a great piece of American history.

Detroit Masonic Temple

7. Huckleberry Railroad

Located in Genesee County near Flint, the Huckleberry Railroad is a three foot (914mm) narrow gauge heritage railroad that operates alongside Crossroads Village run by Genesee County Parks and Recreation Commission. The name is said to come from the people who rode the train, jumped off to pick wild huckleberries and then jumped back on without problems since the train traveled so slowly. Travel back in time by taking the 40 minute ride on the authentic Baldwin steam locomotive. It travels along the shores of Mott Lake, down Pere Marquette roadbed and into the heart of Crossroads Village. Then you can catch a show at the Colwell Opera House or learn a trade from one of the craftsmen demonstrating their unique skills. What could be more fun for you and your children? What a great experience riding on a steam engine, enjoying the beautiful scenery and living history.

Photo by: Drew Jacksich via Flickr
Photo by: Drew Jacksich via Flickr

6. Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland

As large as one and a half football fields and located in Frankenmuth, Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland is the largest Christmas Store in the world and the greatest thing about it is it’s open all year round with the exception of New Years Day, Easter, U.S. Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. It is a Christmas shopper’s dream come true with over 50,000 trims and gifts suited to the holiday season. You can’t help but become totally immersed in the Christmas spirit with all the sights, sounds and Christmas spirit engulfing you when you are there. Whether you are looking for the perfect stocking stuffer, stocking hanger, Christmas lights, ornaments, personalized gifts, outdoor decorations, Nativity scenes, Santa suit and accessories or something to top your Christmas tree, you can find it here for a great price. While there you can stop at their Season’s Eatings snack area for a quick bite.

Photo by: Pure Michigan Blog
Photo by: Pure Michigan Blog

5. Gilmore Car Museum

Located in Hickory Corners, the Gilmore Car Museum is home to one of Michigan’s largest collections of classic and vintage automobiles. With over 300 vintage and collector cars and motorcycles on display from various eras in over a dozen vintage buildings, it is a collector’s or car aficionado’s dream. You’ll see classics from the early 1890s to the early 40s, 50s and 60s. Featured, are Duesenbergs, Hudson’s, vehicles built in the “Other Motor City – Kalamazoo”, the largest gallery ever dedicated to the Model A Ford, as well as dustbowl vehicles from the 20s and 30s which were used to migrate vintage pedal cars and many, many more. There is also a 1941 Blue Moon Diner and a recreation of a 1930s gas station where gas always sells for 18 cents a gallon. Movie buffs won’t be disappointed either with their movie set and car display from The Gnome-Mobile.

Photo by: Joe Ross via Flickr
Photo by: Joe Ross via Flickr

4. Belle Isle Park

Belle Isle Park is a 982-acre (534 sq mi) island park located in the Detroit River between the United States mainland and Canada. It is the largest city-owned island park in the United States and is the third largest island in the Detroit River. Home to the Belle Isle Aquarium, Belle Isle Conservatory, Belle Isle Nature Zoo, the James Scott Memorial Fountain, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, municipal golf course and many monuments, the island is quite a tourist attraction. There is also a Nature Center where visitors can be directed onto their wooded nature trails to view wildlife natural habitats, a former Belle Isle Zoo, riding stables and a boat club. If you want to cool down in the summer heat, the island features more than a half-mile (800m) of beautiful swimming beachfront. The area is rich in natural history and many interesting and engaging attractions.

Photo by: pcfishhk via Flickr
Photo by: pcfishhk via Flickr

3. Detroit Zoo

Located about two miles (3.2 km) north of Detroit City, the Detroit Zoo is one of Michigan’s largest family attractions. The zoo consists of 125 acres of naturalistic exhibits with over 3,300 animals representing 280 species and is one of the first zoos to use barless exhibits extensively. Major attractions featured at the zoo include Arctic Ring of Life, Australian Outback Adventure, Great Apes of Harambee, Natural Amphibian Conservation Center, Penguinarium and Butterfly Garden. The Dinosauria exhibit includes forty animatronic dinosaurs that snarl and move while you walk through the five acre Dino Trail and is an adventure for young and old alike. You can also visit the 4-D theater where you will travel back 82 million years following the life journey of an incredible prehistoric creature. There are more features, exhibits and events, so check their schedule before you go to make sure you don’t miss out.

Photo by: Detroit Zoo
Photo by: Detroit Zoo

2. Michigan’s Adventure

Located about halfway between Muskegon and Whitehall, Michigan’s Adventure is a 250-acre (1.0 km2) amusement park. The park boasts over 50 rides – more than any other amusement park in the state. It features an outdoor waterpark, seven roller coasters and is typically open from May to September. Whether you are old or young, a thrill seeker or enjoy something more laid back, the park will not disappoint. For children, there are Kiddie cars, Airplanes, Elephants, Jr. Go-Karts and more. For the entire family, there are several water rides, a carousel, Scrambler, Tilt-A-Whirl and more. Roller coasters include the Big Dipper, Corkscrew and Mad Mouse, while the thrill rides include Bumper Boats, Dodgem, Flying Trapeze and RipCord. If you don’t want to go on a ride, you can play some mini-golf on their lakeside course. It’s a great way to spend a day having fun.

Photo by: Jeremy Thompson via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Jeremy Thompson via Wikimedia Commons

1. Mackinac Island

One of the most unique places to visit in Michigan has got to be Mackinac Island. You will travel by ferry from either Mackinac City or St. Ignace depending on what side of the Mackinac Bridge you begin your journey. If you have the chance, staying overnight on the island is the way to go since there is so much to see and do. It’s like traveling back in time when you reach the island since it is filled with charming shops, restaurants, hotels and attractions from bygone times. There are no motorized vehicles allowed on the island. Transport is on foot, by horse, horse and buggy or bicycle. More than 80 percent of the island is a national park making it a scenic and lovely walk to ride through the eight mile long island. For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Mackinac Island offers everything for everyone no matter the age.

Mackinac Island, Michigan

10 Destination Races Worth the Trip

Any runner will tell you that there are few greater moments than when you cross that finish line during a race. It’s not just about having completed the race, but marks the achievement of all of the training that you’ve done to get there. If you feel like you may have plateaued a little in your training, or want some extra incentive, here are a few destination races that will make you want to get those feet moving.

10. Big Sur International Marathon -Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

This April race has the tagline of “running on the ragged edge of the western world”, which is a pretty apt description of the vistas that runners will take in during their race. Runners understand uniquely the effort/reward relationship in training, and they’ll take full advantage of some spectacular ocean views after tackling the challenging hill that spans almost two miles about a third into the race up to Hurricane Point. This race winds its way along the Pacific Highway, and is closed for the most part to vehicular traffic, providing for a serene, scenic run experience.

Photo by: Big Sur International Marathon
Photo by: Big Sur International Marathon

9. Not Since Moses -Five Island, Nova Scotia

Wanting to change your run routine up a bit? How about going for a run on the ocean floor? That’s exactly the terrain that runners get to cover in this August race at Sand Point, Five Island, Nova Scotia. Runners can choose between 5km and 10km distances, and will get to run across the Bay of Fundy at low tide. While the tide is out, runners run alongside scenic, ragged cliffs.

Photo by: Runner's World
Photo by: Runner’s World

8. Swiss Alpine Marathon -Chur, Switzerland

This 30-year old race began as “a race for the insane”, most likely named so for the number of height inclines and uphill portions in the races, as well as the extra challenges that are present when running at higher altitudes. It has evolved over the years to appeal to a wide variety of runners abilities and also promotes itself as a family friendly event by offering several different distances from a grueling 78km ultra marathon to a 500m kids fun run. It takes place in and around Davos in the Swiss Alps in July.

Photo by: Swissalpine Marathon
Photo by: Swissalpine Marathon

7. Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend -Orlando, Florida

Who couldn’t use a little magic to carry them through the tough times in their next big race? How about magic from the Magic Kingdom and surrounding parks? The Walt Disney World Marathon weekend offers several different distances over a single weekend, including a full marathon that winds its way through four of the Disney parks, and the Goofy Challenge (which is truly goofy) that involves running a half marathon on the Saturday, followed by the full marathon the following morning. This race weekend occurs in January every year.

GSPhotography / Shutterstock.com
GSPhotography / Shutterstock.com

6. National Capital Marathon Race Weekend -Ottawa, Ontario

The Ottawa Race weekend is Canada’s largest race weekend and several of the races consistently sell out every year. This particular race weekend usually takes place during the second last weekend in May before the summer heat really sets in. Distances include the full marathon, half marathon, 5km and 10km as well as a Kids Marathon. Runners are treated to some great views along the Rideau Canal, Parliament Hill and other famous landmarks as they wind their way through downtown Ottawa and over the bridges to Gatineau, QC. Almost the whole route is accessible for spectators, so runners can expect lots of fan enthusiasm, beginning to end.

Photo by: Ross Dunn via Flickr
Photo by: Ross Dunn via Flickr

5. Reggae Marathon -Negril, Jamaica

Sun, surf, Reggae music and cold beer when you’re done running? Sounds like a runner’s delight (although the beer may not usually be part of post-run recovery, but when in Rome…). Set for the first weekend in December every year, the Reggae Marathon goes in Negril with a full marathon, half marathon and 10km distances. This event is promoted as having “good vibes and irie spirit”. Once you’re done, there is a party on the beach with Red Stripe Beer and lots of live music.

Photo by: Jamaica Experience
Photo by: Jamaica Experience

4. Great Wall Marathon -Tianjin, China

The Great Wall of China may already be on your bucket list, but what about combining that visit with a once-in-a-lifetime run at the same time. Promoted as “5,164 steps into history”, this race offers full and half marathons, as well as an 8.5 km race. This course is challenging, with lots of steps and inclines, but the views are reportedly worth the work. Runners will wind their way through towns and villages as well. This race takes place on the third Saturday in May every year.

Photo by: Great Wall Marathon
Photo by: Great Wall Marathon

3. The Polar Circle Marathon and Half Marathon -Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

If running in one of the most remote, yet scenic spots on the planet appeals to you, then this is your race. Otherwise known as “the coolest marathon on earth” (for obvious reasons) these races take place in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland in October. Runners will run through glaciers tongues, along ice caps and along some more forgiving gravel-based terrain. This route takes them just north of the Polar Circle.

Photo by: Polar Circle Marathon
Photo by: Polar Circle Marathon

2. Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon -Kauai, Hawaii

After running through the Polar Circle, runners may want a more temperate climate, namely the islands of Hawaii. Held annually in September, these races let runners wind their way through tropical rain forests and stunning views atop oceanside cliffs, the kind that lessen the burn in your thighs as you climb those hills.

Photo by: The Kauai Marathon & Half Marathon
Photo by: The Kauai Marathon & Half Marathon

1. Bay Shore Marathon -Traverse City, Michigan

This May race offers a full marathon, half marathon and 10km distance run. As far as scenery goes, this run is tops. Runners will be treated to lovely views of Lake Michigan on one side and Traverse City’s orchards and cherry trees on the other. This course is known for being fast and flat which is popular for runners seeking those elusive personal bests.

Photo by: Bayshore Marathon
Photo by: Bayshore Marathon

The Best Farmer’s Markets in the U.S.

Heading to the farmer’s market can be an experience all in its own. The atmosphere, the experience of talking with the person who grew the very food you’re buying – it’s something we can’t get at the grocery store. Then there are markets to take it all to the next level. They host games, booths for crafts, trivia where winners earn candy even. Others host live music or DIY baking lessons, and free samples to all who pass. That’s an accurate description of many farmer’s markets throughout the United States. But which ones are the absolute best? What markets offer more than any of the competition? And which ones are worth traveling for? Or at least making a slight vacation detour? We’ve complied this list of some of the very best from around the country:

8. Market on Central -Fort Dodge, Iowa

This is no ordinary market, it’s a full-day event. If you’re willing, that is. Their entire motto is, “Come for breakfast, take home lunch, and stay for dinner,” selling a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Vendors also come with homemade pies, chocolate bars, wine, and crafts. Everything from kites, to clay pots, to clothing has all been found at the huge market. There’s also an active art scene present, allowing guests to enjoy music or watch a live show, they might even purchase a piece of art to take home.

Photo by: Market on Central
Photo by: Market on Central

7. DuPont Circle Fresh Farm Market -Washington, D.C.

Another full-day event, DuPont Circle offers shoppers meals, foods to take home, and plenty of shopping stalls. Buy meat by the pound, seafood, flowers, produce, and get a new outfit while you’re at it. There’s even vendors selling unique (but delicious) foods, like pickles on a stick – choose from several flavors, or crepes that can be filled with tons of different toppings. Then, once you’re good and full take a stroll and look at all the local art!

Photo by: DuPont Circle Fresh Farm Market
Photo by: DuPont Circle Fresh Farm Market

6. South Bend Farmer’s Market -South Bend, Indiana

With nearly 100 years of service under its belt, the city of South Bend has made their market a permanent occurrence. They now host a brick and mortar building and open their doors to the public three days a week (three times as often as most markets!) A move that’s allowed the city to uphold its market traditions, the same ones they’ve been boasting since 1919. And if you get hungry while shopping, stop at their restaurant and fuel up … or just snack on your buys – either way sounds delicious!

Photo by: South Bend Farmer's Market
Photo by: South Bend Farmer’s Market

5. Jefferson County Farmer’s Market -Jefferson County, Washington State

This event perhaps come with one of the most widespread items up for sale. Following seasonal crops, vendors bring berries, apples, pumpkins, flowers, artichokes, arugula, and even mushrooms. Their crafts, too, fall outside of the normal farmer’s market offerings. Things such as paper jewelry and sheep wool dolls can all be found for sale in Jefferson County.

Photo by: Jefferson County Farmer's Market
Photo by: Jefferson County Farmer’s Market

4. Ala Moana Farmers’ Market -Honolulu, Hawaii

Branch out of your comfort zone and try the local cuisine the next time you take a trip to Hawaii. Vendors at the Ala Moana market come prepared with plenty of passion fruit, red Hawaiian papayas, as well as traditional breads and desserts. And if you’re not sure about trying Hawaiian goods, they’ll let you taste test each item first! Goods can be purchased every Saturday, year-round and offer some great experiences for locals and travelers alike.

Photo by: Ala Moana Farmers' Market
Photo by: Ala Moana Farmers’ Market

3. Statesboro Main Street Farmers Market -Statesboro, Georgia

In Statesboro, they take the word “market” and bring it to the next level. Aside from traditional farmer’s fare one would expect, shoppers can also find grits, leather jewelry, bird feeders, cheese sticks, and even herbal salves to help the body heal and relax. This outdoor market closes for the winter, though shoppers can still order items online (seasonal availability is listed), and pick them up at certain drop-off spots.

Photo by: Statesboro Main Street Farmers Market
Photo by: Statesboro Main Street Farmers Market

2. Woodmont Farmer’s Market -Milford, Connecticut

Not every establishment can say they’ve been around since the 1600s, but that’s exactly the case for Woodmont. Braving any season, they’re open Wednesdays to sell pickles, produce, hand-made cheese, and plenty of seafood. And unlike most markets, it’s actually put on by a private party, Robert Treat Farms, adding a unique touch to the event. Its quaint feel and unique décor help take this market to the next level. Oh and did we mention to try the pickles?

Photo by: Woodmont Farmer's Market
Photo by: Woodmont Farmer’s Market

1. Boyne City Farmers Market -Boyne City, Michigan

Expand your market taste buds (and shopping skills) when visiting Michigan. This celebrated market offers berries, granola mixes (including trail mixes), caramel popcorn, and dried fruit. Then display your goods in beautiful handmade glass creations, or if that’s not your thing, choose a metal container instead. All versions can be found at the market. Shoppers can head outdoors every Saturday, then stop by an indoor location during the colder months of November through April.

Photo by: Boyne City Farmers Market
Photo by: Boyne City Farmers Market