45 Best New Midwest Spots to Play, Eat & Stay: 2010
Great Bend, Kansas: Kansas Wetlands Education Center
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).
Look down on the giraffes from a new aerial ride at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo. Tram cars glide right over several animal enclosures. $2, with zoo admission (402/733-8400).
Chicago: Fork and the Road
Bike tour of Chicago? Fun. Bike tour of Chicago with hole-in-the-wall food along the way? Now we're talking. $50, includes food. Space limited (773/610-2432).
Kansas City, Missouri: America's Favorite Doll exhibit
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).
Medora, North Dakota: Maah Daah Hey Trail
The second leg of North Dakota's premier bike trail opens in 2010, extending 30 miles south from Sully's Creek State Park. Free.
Minneapolis: Target Field
When the Minnesota Twins open the baseball season at their new stadium in April 2010, they'll say goodbye forever to the Metrodome. Altogether now: Hallelujah! Admission charged (612/375-1366).
Naperville, Illinois: Timeless Spa and Salt Cave
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).
Indianapolis: Indiana History Center
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).
French Lick, Indiana: Pete Dye Course
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).
Fort Pierre, South Dakota: Casey Tibbs Rodeo Center
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).
Chicago: The Ledge at Skydeck
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).
St. Louis: Citygarden
Art mixes with play at St. Louis' new downtown sculpture garden, where kids and adults clamber on sculptures, jump through fountains or just chill out. Free (314/241-3337).
Royal, Nebraska: Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park
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).
Canton, Ohio: Super Bowl Gallery
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).
Restaurants: Chicago's Terzo Piano
Immaculate white decor puts Chef Tony Mantuano's sandwiches, salads and pastas front and center at the Art Institute of Chicago's new restaurant (312/443-8650).
Click through the next slides to see 14 more of our picks for the Midwest's best new restaurants. Click on the link below if you want to jump ahead to our top picks for lodgings.
Peoria Heights, Illinois: June
Chef Josh Adams trained in top Chicago-area restaurants, and it shows. June puts Peoria Heights on the dining map with locally inspired delights (309/682-5863).
Milwaukee: Cheese Bar at the Wisconsin Cheese Mart
Trust Milwaukee to produce a wine-and-cheese bar that sells more craft beer than wine. Buy cheeses at the adjoining store, an institution since 1938 (414/272-3544).
Balltown, Iowa: Breitbach's Country Dining
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).
Fish Creek, Wisconsin: The Cookery
This Fish Creek standby has reopened following a 2008 fire. Old-timers who come back for the whitefish chowder will love the new deck--and the extra tables (920/868-3634).
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).
Carroll, Iowa: Santa Maria Vineyard and Winery
It takes imagination to turn an auto showroom into a restaurant and wine bar, and it takes daring to do it in rural Iowa. Santa Maria pulls off both (712/775-2013).
Detroit: Good Girls Go to Paris Crepes
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)
Prescott, Wisconsin: Boxcar
Minneapolis: Sea Change
Sustainably harvested seafood stars at this new restaurant in Minneapolis' Guthrie Theater. Deserving applause: Chef Tim McKee's prosciutto-crusted sturgeon (612/225-6499).
Delavan, Wisconsin: Frontier Restaurant
The reincarnation of Lake Lawn Resort in Delavan includes Frontier Restaurant, where the grilled colossal shrimp deliciously classifies as a vacation-worthy splurge (800/338-5353).
Missouri: Branson Ridge Winery's Cafe DiVine and Kansas City's Extra Virgin
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).
Pictured: Cafe DiVine.
Columbus, Indiana: Zaharakos
This newly restored 1900 soda shop befits architecturally blessed Columbus. The homemade ice cream is good, but the setting--polished wood, pipe organ--is truly special (812/378-1900).
Traverse City, Michigan: Slabtown Cafe and Burgers
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.
Lodgings: Saint Paul's Hotel 340
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.
Traverse City, Michigan: Cambria
No worries if you arrive late for your Traverse City lake vacation: The delicious restaurant stays open 'til 11 at this new, conveniently located hotel west of downtown. From $99 (231/778-9000).
Detroit: Greektown Casino-Hotel
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).
Missouri: Moonrise Hotel in St. Louis, Castle Rock Resort and Waterpark in Branson, Raphael in Kansas City
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).
Pictured: Moonrise Hotel in St. Louis.
Walker, Minnesota: Chase on the Lake
Glowing woodwork, fireplaces, stained-glass lamps and lovely views of Leech Lake make this smashingly renovated resort in woodsy Walker a must-see. From $99 (888/242-7306).
Omaha: Element Midtown Crossing
A chain hotel, yes, but this extended-stay Westin property (due to open in 2010) will stand out in Omaha for its sleek decor and LEED-certified design. Rates TBD (877/353-6368).
Arnolds Park, Iowa: Bridges Bay Resort
Your GPS will say Arnolds Park (better known as Lake Okoboji), but you'll feel like you've slipped away to Key West at this indoor water park resort. From $149 (877/752-9607).
Chicago: Hotel Felix, JW Marriott Chicago, River Hotel, The Wit
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).
Pictured: Hotel Felix.
Milwaukee: Iron Horse Hotel
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).
Medora, North Dakota: Rough Riders Hotel
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.)