Visit a golden-domed state capitol, one of America's last vertical woolen mills and a 15-acre secret garden as you journey along I-35.

Interstate 35 runs north-south through the middle of the United States, starting at Duluth, Minnesota, and going south to Laredo, Texas. Roughly half its route traverses the Midwest, dropping from Minnesota down through Iowa, Missouri and Kansas and connecting St. Paul and Minneapolis with Des Moines; Wichita, Kansas; and Kansas City, Missouri. Here are seven of our favorite places to get a break from highway driving and soak in some Midwest culture.


Timber Twister Alpine Coaster, Duluth—Exit 249

Here's one way to coast into a North Shore getaway: dodging trees and feeling the breeze as you race down Spirit Mountain on more than half a mile of elevated track. A brake lets you control your speed, which can reach 26 mph before a smooth, slow lift through woods near Lake Superior.

Faribault Mill, Faribault—Exit 55

Pioneers and soldiers have wrapped themselves in the blankets crafted by this company since 1865. It's one of America's last vertical woolen mills—everything happens under one roof, from raw wool to finished product. Take a tour (Fridays and Saturdays) and shop for cozy gifts at the flagship store.

iowa state capitol
Credit: Jason Donnelly


Historic Park Inn, Mason City—Exit 194

Stay in an architectural treasure—Frank Lloyd Wright's little hotel on the Prairie (style). It's the world's last remaining hotel designed by the master. No two rooms are alike; all feature abundant natural light and woodwork. For the full Wright experience, book a premier suite.

Iowa State Capitol, Des Moines—I-235, Exit 9

All that glitters is gold (23 karat) on the dome of this Renaissance-style gem. Take a free tour to see the treasures inside, including the Grand Staircase, the Westward mural, the Law Library's spiral cast-iron staircases, and a Civil War banner stretched high under the vault of the dome.


National World War I Museum and Memorial, Kansas City—Exit 1B

Located at the 1926 Liberty Memorial Tower, this museum opens with a field of silk poppies—each of the 9,000 flowers represents 1,000 soldiers killed. In the Main Gallery, life-size trenches re-create the claustrophobic combat conditions of a conflict once thought to be the War to End All Wars.

bartlett arboretum couple walking
Credit: Aaron Patton


Bartlett Arboretum, Belle Plaine—Exit 33

Recharge and reflect in a 15-acre secret garden of trees, trails and tranquility among the wheat fields south of Wichita. Robin Macy, a founding member of the Dixie Chicks (now The Chicks), is the caretaker for this paradise, which bursts with 40,000 tulips in mid-April and hosts concerts. 

trolley house distillery
Credit: Aaron Patton

Trolley House Distillery, Emporia—Exit 133

Smooth-sipping spirits—such as Blackberry Moonshine—and a relaxed vibe beckon at this craft distillery in a town known for world-class disc golf and gravel cycling. Enjoy seasonal cocktails and popular sangria, plus eats from visiting food trucks on Fridays. Take a tour on a Saturday afternoon.