Scouted Destinations: Midwest Cities That Thrive in the Summer

Known for its welcoming locals and beautiful scenery, the Midwest is the perfect place to plan a summer getaway. Whether you’re looking to escape for a long weekend or enjoy a longer sojourn, these special cities in America’s heartland have more than enough attractions to keep you busy. From farm-fresh food to outdoor activities galore, read on for three unique destinations that certainly shouldn’t be considered flyover states.


ice cream shop
Photography by Joan Fisher.

St. Louis has earned the moniker Gateway to the West, and while this dynamic city has proven to be an excellent travel destination year round, it really comes alive in the warmer months. A family-friendly city with ample green space, arts, culture and culinary options, it’s no wonder its population is steadily on the rise. “There is so much to do in our city, and its surrounding suburbs,” Angela Sandler, co-editor of The Scout Guide Saint Louis, reports. Numerous hiking and biking trails, golf courses, rivers to float, sunflower farms, local wineries, and nature reserves are just a few of her favorites.

Lisa Litvag, Sandler’s co-editor, ranks Forest Park as one of the premier attractions for visitors and locals alike. Larger than New York City’s Central Park, and housing everything from the Saint Louis Zoo to the city’s Art and History museums, touring this gargantuan greenspace could easily occupy an entire day. In a city where sports are king, you would be remiss not to make time to catch a game. Litvag and Sandler suggest a Cardinals game or checking out CITYPARK stadium to see the new MLS Soccer team, St. Louis CITY SC.  

A foodie town through and through, in the summer, restaurants in the DeMun neighborhood, Central West End, Webster Groves, and throughout the city shine with menus chalk full of seasonal ingredients, and plentiful outdoor patios for al fresco dining. When the sun sets, it’s time to experience STL’s bustling nightlife. Head to ArtBar on the rooftop of the Angad Arts Hotel, take in the view of the world famous Arch from the deck at the Four Seasons, or sip cocktails by the pool at The Chase Park Plaza. If you’d rather forgo an after dinner drink in favor of a sweet treat, the city’s sugary options do not disappoint—local favorites include Ted Drewes Frozen Custard and Clementine’s Naughty and Nice Ice Cream.

To plan your Saint Louis getaway, check out the Saint Louis Dining Guide, Saint Louis Shopping Guide, and Saint Louis Lodging Guide. And for additional recommendations for what to do, see, and experience in Saint Louis, follow The Scout Guide Saint Louis on Instagram and visit The Scout Guide Saint Louis website, where you can browse or buy the latest volume of The Scout Guide Saint Louis.


interior of hotel
Photography by Daniel P. Muller for TSG Omaha.

Often referred to as the Midwest’s best kept secret, Omaha locals consider their city to be an enchanting surprise to out-of-towners. Full of charm, this old city boasts a trove of attractions making it perfect for all types of visitors. “It’s truly a great big, small town,” Tammi Bishop, editor of The Scout Guide Omaha, explains. “I find that once someone visits, they tend to come back, and urge their friends to visit as well.” Bishop usually recommends staying at The Farnam, located within The Old Market and adjacent to the newly renovated Gene Leahy Mall, this downtown location means you’ll be a short walk or drive from all the hotspots.

Come hungry: Omaha’s culinary offerings include everything from delectable French pastries to traditional Japanese fare. But, if you want to take a deeper dive into the city’s food scene, a trip to Omaha’s Farmers Markets (in The Old Market and Aksarben Village) should be at the top of your to-do list. Summer in the city brings all the growers and their produce from the fields to the city. The sweetest corn, plumpest tomatoes, and juiciest watermelon can be found in abundance from late July through September. You have to experience what Nebraska and Iowa farmers, and mother nature, have mastered.   

When you’re looking to enjoy the weather there are endless possibilities for outdoor activities. Take a trip to the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, which is consistently ranked one of the world’s best zoos. A stroll amongst the breathtaking blooms of Lauritzen Gardens will bring the perfect amount of beauty and zen to your day. While the gardens are a year-round attraction, this hidden sanctuary in the heart of the city is in full splendor in the summer. 

Take us out to the ballfield! June is the month when the NCAA Men’s College World Series brings baseball teams and their most loyal fans from around the country to Omaha for an epic 10-day tailgating extravaganza. While the city can get a bit crowded during this time, the buzzy atmosphere and palpable excitement make it a worthwhile bucket list trip for sports enthusiasts.  

To plan your Omaha getaway, check out the Omaha Summer Guide. And for additional recommendations for what to do, see, and experience in Omaha, follow The Scout Guide Omaha on Instagram and visit The Scout Guide Omaha website, where you can browse or buy the latest volume of The Scout Guide Omaha.


coffee bag and cup with cupcake
Photography by Allison Leonard of Kismet Visuals & Co.

Easy East Coast access, a reputation for top-notch breweries, and a palpable local pride are just a few of the many reasons why Columbus is worth a visit. “Once the weather warms, the desire to do as much outdoors as possible can be felt all over the city,” explains Abigail Frederlake, editor of The Scout Guide Columbus. “Luckily, summers in Columbus are absolutely full of wonderful, enticing outdoor activities.” 

Almost every summer weekend brings a new festival or reason to get outside, including the much-loved Columbus Arts Festival along the Scioto Mile, the Columbus Symphony’sPicnic with the Pops” concerts in Columbus Commons, and Frederlake’s favorite—the German Village Haus und Garten Tour, where you can peek inside some of the most historic and unique homes in the city. Once you’ve worked up an appetite head to Lindey’s and ask for a seat on their gorgeous garden patio. Or eat like a local at Kittie’s Cakes, a community staple known for their fantastic coffee, breakfast, and sweet treats—they have three locations throughout the city so you’re never too far away from your next sugar boost. 

When it comes to choosing a homebase for your trip, Frederlake advises checking out the newly opened, The Junto. This boutique hotel boasts an amazing rooftop bar and unbeatable city views. Just west of downtown, the location is prime for easy exploration.

The Fourth of July is a big deal in Columbus, so if you’re yearning for an old-fashioned Midwest experience celebrating America’s birthday, plan a visit around this time. Many of the lovely neighborhoods host their own parades and festivities. Just ask any local for their favorite spot to celebrate. 

To plan your Columbus getaway, check out the Columbus Dining Guide, Columbus Shopping Guide, and Columbus Lodging Guide. And for additional recommendations for what to do, see, and experience in Columbus, follow The Scout Guide Columbus on Instagram and visit The Scout Guide Columbus website, where you can browse or buy the latest volume of The Scout Guide Columbus.