Hundreds of thousands of birds (and thousands of birders) migrate through Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge every year. The impressive new visitors center explores the wetlands' ecology and history. Free (877/243-9268).
Step aside, boys. Pink is back. Celebrating 50 Fabulous Years with America's Favorite Doll, an exhibit devoted to the history and culture of Barbie, runs through 2010 at the Toy and Miniature Museum in Kansas City. Admission charged (816/333-9328).
For centuries, people have touted the healing properties of Himalayan salt. Try it for yourself in a luxurious (and sort of trippy) salt cave in a Naperville strip mall, near Chicago. Cave treatments from $20 (630/428-0700).
The Indiana Historical Society's Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center reopens March 20, 2010. Massive new exhibits on the Indiana Experience will share state history through technology and costumed interpreters. Admission charged (800/447-1830).
The designer's newest destination golf course at French Lick Resort will host the 2010 PGA Professional National Championship. Memo to the pros: Good luck making par when 40-mile vistas of rolling Indiana countryside beg for attention. Golf packages available (888/936-9360).
Joe DiMaggio. Joe Montana. Casey Tibbs? He's not a household name, but Tibbs, who died in 1990, is a rodeo legend. So is trick rider Mattie Goff-Newcombe, captured in bronze on one center display. This fun new rodeo museum in Fort Pierre features memorabilia and gripping video footage. Admission charged (605/494-1094).
Look up: Sky. Look out: Skyscrapers. Look down: Yikes. Four glass boxes project from the 103rd floor of Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), giving brave visitors the illusion of walking on air. Admission charged (312/875-9447).
Millions of years ago, ash from an Idaho volcano buried animals as far away as modern-day Royal. Today, visitors can tour an ongoing paleontological dig at the new Hubbard Rhino Barn. Admission charged (402/893-2000).
For fans who needed one more reason to plan a pilgrimage to Canton: The new Lamar Hunt Super Bowl Gallery at the Pro Football Hall of Fame puts visitors eye to eye with the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Admission charged (330/456-8207).
When Iowa's oldest restaurant burned down in 2007, Balltown rallied to reopen it. And when fire hit again four months later, the community stood up a second time. Breitbach's is back (again), and the raspberry pie is as sweet as ever (563/552-2220).
Chicago celeb-chef Rick Bayless brings his Mexican genius to the masses with an affordable counter-service restaurant. None of the intriguing sandwiches (suckling pig!) disappoint, and the hot chocolate is divine (312/334-3688).
Good news for Detroiters who happily waited in long lines last year for takeout from this new, seasonally open, downtown creperie: A year-round, sit-down version has opened near the art museum. Tres bon! (877/727-4727)
Cafe DiVine: Sunset reflects on Lake Taneycomo. Fountains splash. You nibble cheese and share a surprisingly good Cabernet. Yes, it's Branson, Missouri, but trust us: You'll feel cool here (417/335-9700).
Extra Virgin: Kansas City chef Michael Smith has opened a tapas restaurant with a menu that begs for sharing -- braised pork cheeks, orange and olive salad, cheese-stuffed focaccia (816/842-2205).
Only in Traverse City (aka Adorable Restaurant Central) could a burger joint feel so special. "Slab Grab Bags" (sandwich, fries and drink) start at $5.30, but the atmosphere, in a cute yellow house, is anything but drive-through.
This downtown Saint Paul spot is the former home of the 1917 Saint Paul Athletic Club. Newly updated, it's a modern, affordable--yet charmingly traditional--alternative to the venerable Saint Paul Hotel.
From $129 (651/280-4120).
Click through the next slides to see 14 more of our picks for the Midwest's best new lodgings.
Want to gamble? Cross the skywalk and hit the tables. But if that's not your thing, you'll love that this plush and affordable Detroit hotel puts you blocks from downtown attractions. From $189 (877/424-5554).
Moonrise Hotel: Yes, that's a big, cratered moon spinning atop St. Louis' newest boutique hotel, located in the Delmar Loop. And you'll find more lunar art in the spacious rooms and lobby -- a perfect balance of kitsch and comfort. From $139 (314/721-1111).
Raphael: A $20 million renovation has turned this Spanish Renaissance Revival-style property into a warm and inviting space to snuggle, right near Country Club Plaza. From $159 (800/821-5343).
Castle Rock Resort and Waterpark: Branson welcomes its third (and largest) indoor water park at this newly expanded hotel just off the Strip. From $99 (888/273-3919).
Hotel Felix: This LEED-certified hotel is as stylish as it is green. One cool feature: Heat and motion sensors detect when a guest is in the room and automatically adjust the lights and thermostat to minimize energy waste. From $99 (877/848-4040).
JW Marriott Chicago: Want to see what $396 million buys? Then plan to check out the renovated Continental and Commercial National Bank building when it opens its first 12 floors as a hotel in June. From $249 (312/660-8200).
River Hotel: Rather than uber-chic, this attractive hotel on the Chicago River opts for three other Cs: comfortable, classy and convenient. And the price is pretty reasonable when you're talking about downtown Chicago.
From $99 (888/977-4837).
The Wit: A lime-green streak curves up the front of this hip, bustling hotel in the heart of Chicago's theater district. (Appropriately, amenities include a screening room for special group events.) From $249 (312/467-0200).
Bikers will love the amenities at Milwaukee's motorcycle-friendly hotel -- bag lunches for saddlebags, a bike wash -- but even if you've never ridden a Hog, this sexy boutique hotel is a great reason to visit the home of Harley-Davidson. From $149 (888/543-4766).
This much-awaited renovation transforms the lodging scene in Medora with attractive, affordable rooms available year-round -- and a great restaurant to match. Try to snag Room 501, with seven windows overlooking the badlands. From $89 (800/633-6721).
(A version of this story appeared in Midwest Living® January/February 2010.)