Americans’ lust for “revenge travel” isn’t sated yet. More of us plan to travel this year than last, and most plan to do so by car.

If you’re one of the millions gearing up for a road trip in the coming months and you live somewhere in the great middle of this beautiful country, consider these five underappreciated heartland destinations. 

1. Augusta, Missouri

Augusta is the best Missouri town to visit that’s not named Branson. And in the not-too-distant future, it might take the top spot.

That’s not entirely due to the ambitious vision of one man: entrepreneur David Hoffmann, who grew up in the Augusta area before relocating to Florida. But Hoffmann and his team have done more than most to put Augusta on the map. They’ve resuscitated the region’s 160-year-old wine industry — the nation’s first — and attracted culinary firepower from across the world, to name just a few initiatives.

There’s much more in the works for Augusta, and it’s likely to get busier before long. 

2. Flint Hills, Kansas

Three or four hours west of Augusta lies the picturesque Flint Hills region of northeastern Kansas. With sweeping two-lane roads and seemingly endless expanses of gently rolling grassy hills, this is a true road trip destination — or, more likely, a place to spend a day or two as you pass through on the way to somewhere else. 

That “somewhere else” might be Denver, Kansas City, or anywhere else in the wide-open heartland. No matter — as long as you find time to get sidetracked here.

3. Bloomington, Indiana

Bloomington is a bustling little college town an hour or two south of Indianapolis. There’s enough to do here in town for days on end, and if you get bored you can always head up to the big city. But Bloomington’s real charm is what’s just beyond: the sparsely populated Hoosier National Forest, one of the Midwest’s most underrated outdoor playgrounds. Spend a night or two in peaceful Brown County State Park and you’re guaranteed to head back home refreshed.

4. Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

If your kids are fans of waterparks, or you’re a kid at heart yourself, Wisconsin Dells is an absolute must-visit. In fact, if you’ve lived in the Upper Midwest for a while, you’ve probably been there already.

If you haven’t, the Dells aren’t going anywhere. But with so many resorts to choose from, you’ll need to plan your trip carefully, or return frequently. It’s impossible to do it all in a single weekend.

5. Northwest Arkansas (Fayetteville, Bentonville, and Fort Smith)

Northwest Arkansas is beautiful. It’s economically vibrant. And thanks to benefactors like the Walton family (yes, the Walmart people) it’s a world-class cultural destination too. The Crystal Bridges Museum’s art collection rivals New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, with far less crowding.

Outside Northwest Arkansas’s vibrant small cities, the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains beckon. These vast upland areas also tend to be less crowded than coastal equivalents despite being every bit as scenic. For something truly special, take a quick detour south to Hot Springs National Park.

Where To Next?

You can’t go wrong with any of these heartland vacation destinations. 

They’re beautiful, they’re charming, they’re relatively affordable. And maybe most important of all, they’re easily accessible by car from some of the country’s biggest non-coastal cities.

So whether you’re looking forward to a weekend wine adventure in Augusta, Missouri, or a few days away from it all in stunning Northwest Arkansas, you can rest easy knowing that you won’t be ready to go home as soon as you arrive.

The post Road Trip? Visit These 5 Hidden Gems in America’s Heartland appeared first on American Travel Blogger.

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