The American Midwest sometimes gets a bad rap, but there’s way more to it than cornfields and the world’s largest ball of twine. And if a ball of twine is your thing, we won’t judge. But there are vibrant cities, lots of great regional food, and spectacular sights to see throughout the Midwest, affordably. Here’s where to go when you’re planning a trip on a budget.


The Windy City (which is actually called that because of all the hot air-filled politicians, not the weather) is a fun destination with something for everyone—even when you’re planning a trip on a budget. It’s famous for its deep-dish pizza—and who doesn’t love pizza—which you can get all over the city. But Lou Malnati’s is the OG, and one of the best. Another famous local food is the Chicago-style hot dog, and SuperDawg is the place to go for an authentic Chi-town link with the traditional fixings.

When you’re not busy eating, Wrigley Field is well worth visiting for a tour, along with the waterfront amusement park at Navy Pier. And don’t miss taking a selfie with the Cloud Gate, the giant, reflective bean-shaped sculpture at Millennium Park.

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore is an incredible sight—there’s no other monument like it. The faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln were carved into the mountain’s face by sculptor Gutzon Borglum and a team of 400 workers from 1927 to 1941. Up until then, it had been unpresidented. (Sorry, we couldn’t resist!)

Mall of America

The Mall of America is the largest shopping mall in the United States, and in the entire Western Hemisphere. It covers 129 acres and has 520 stores. There’s even an amusement park right there in the mall! It’s free to walk around, so a great spot to include when you’re planning a trip on a budget.

Ozark Mountains

For the ultimate Midwest outdoor adventure, don’t miss the Ozark Mountains. The Ozarks are a recreation wonderland—against a backdrop of gorgeous green mountain ranges there are lakes to swim, canoe, and boat in, trails for hiking and horseback riding, and even golf courses.