What's New in the Midwest This Year
A luxury campground southwest of Chicago, a world-class skatepark in Des Moines, new boutique hotels and intriguing art exhibits are among the adventures that await Midwest travelers in 2021.
Pandemic-related restrictions and temporary closures may be in place. Please check destinations' websites before making travel plans.
Camp Aramoni | Tonica
The state's first luxury campground opens in summer 2021 near Starved Rock State Park, 90 miles southwest of Chicago. Eleven safari-style tents, made in South Africa, include amenities such as air conditioning and heat, king-sized beds, private restrooms and mini-fridges.
Frida Kahlo: Timeless | Glen Ellyn
See 26 original works by Frida Kahlo, the largest display of the artist's works in the Chicago area in more than 40 years, June 5 to September 6 at the College of DuPage's Cleve Carney Museum of Art at McAninch Art Center.
Human+Nature | Lisle
Reconnect with nature at The Morton Arboretum's Human+Nature exhibition, which features large-scale sculptures (20 to 25 feet tall) created by South African artist Daniel Popper. The exhibit, opening April 9, highlights the relationships between people and trees.
Walk, Hike and Bike History | Springfield
This new, free series of outdoor experiences will connect visitors to "must-see" museums and monuments in Illinois' capital. Illinois Department of Natural Resources interpreters will lead tours that last from one to two hours. Once plans are finalized, reservations (which are required) can be made through the Illinois DNR's Springfield website.
Bottleworks Hotel | Indianapolis
The 139-room boutique lodging opened in late 2020 in a former Coca-Cola bottling plant. It's part of the first phase of the $300 million Bottleworks District project, which will also include a food hall.
THE LUME Indianapolis | Newfields
Step into the world of Vincent van Gogh—literally—when The Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields debuts a multi-sensory digital exhibit in June. Touted as the "largest and most innovative art exhibition" in the museum's 137-year history, THE LUME Indianapolis will feature digitally projected artworks from floor to ceiling.
The Bradley Hotel | Fort Wayne
Provence Hotels and Vera Bradley co-founder Barbara Bradley Baekgaard teamed up to create The Bradley, a boutique hotel featuring designer patterns. The 124-room lodging is expected to open in April.
Seriously Funny: American Gothic Parodies | Cedar Rapids
From now to May 2, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art—home of the world's largest collection of works by Grant Wood—will show a playful exhibit with parodies of Wood's iconic American Gothic. Thousands of parodies have been created over the years; the museum will display some on its gallery walls and will project others digitally.
MLB at Field of Dreams | Dyersville
Iowa is scheduled to host its first Major League Baseball game on August 12 when the Chicago White Sox are slated to play the New York Yankees at a temporary ballpark constructed just for that game, next to the Field of Dreams Movie Site.
Lauridsen Skatepark | Des Moines
Local groups collaborated to create the largest open skatepark in the United States, due to open May 22 in downtown Des Moines. The 88,000-square-foot attraction features a skateable art piece entitled WOW and is qualified to host local, regional, national and Olympic events.
200th Anniversary | Santa Fe Trail
Join in commemorating the historic trail's bicentennial in 2021. Retrace the route of one of the nation's first commercial highways and relive its storied past through special events held throughout the year.
The Jayhawk Experience | Lawrence
Kansas Athletics offers new, 90-minute guided tours showcasing venues and exhibits, such as the Booth Family Hall of Athletics and Allen Fieldhouse, as well as the program's rich history, traditions, and student-athletes.
50th Anniversary | Sedgwick County Zoo
A $15 million improvement program should wrap up just in time for the zoo's 50th anniversary, including a new entryway and administrative building, an electric train, and an enhanced Amur Leopard exhibit.
Wichita Wind Surge | Wichita
Wichita has a long history of minor league baseball, but Wichita Wind Surge is the first affiliate team to play in the city in over a decade. Games will be held at Riverfront Stadium.
Daxton Hotel | Birmingham
Metro Detroit's newest boutique hotel, expected to open in April, will offer perks like personal trainers, workout classes, and the Madam restaurant run by chef Garrison Price.
The state's largest amusement park debuts Camp Snoopy, a Peanuts-themed attraction, in 2021, with five family rides and Beagle Scout Acres, a large, interactive climb-and-play area.
Michigan's Dragon at Hardy Dam | Newaygo
The first 13+ miles of trails at Michigan's Dragon—an extensive trail system with world-class mountain biking, hiking, running experiences and more—are open, with more development planned. Also in the Newaygo area of western Michigan: 100-plus lakes, the Muskegon River, breweries, golf courses, and more.
International Dark Sky Certification | Voyageurs National Park and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
Gaze at Northern Minnesota's starry, mystical skies at Voyageurs National Park and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Both sites gained International Dark Sky Sanctuary certifications in 2020 and offer some of the best stargazing in the Midwest.
National Eagle Center | Wabasha
The National Eagle Center plans to invest more than $18 million in expansion and renovation over the next couple of years. Expect riverfront developments, port improvements, more interactive exhibits, and increased environmental leadership.
Rand Tower Hotel | Minneapolis
The 26-story Rand Tower, built in 1929, was an Art Deco showpiece for industrial and aviation pioneer Rufus Rand Jr. Recently restored and opened as a 270-room hotel, the building still reflects Rand's aviation interests in its elegant design and decor.
150th Anniversary | City of Detroit Lakes
Local artists can apply to paint one of 150 sailboat sculptures that will be placed throughout the town as a symbol of the city's 150 years. The new public art project will be part of community-wide celebrations.
Shepherd Mountain Bike Park | Arcadia Valley
Opening this spring, the bike park—at the highest elevation of any in the Midwest—will offer five trails and granite rock features. It's near several Missouri state parks, including Elephant Rock, Johnson's Shut-Ins, and Taum Sauk Mountain.
Missouri's Bicentennial | Jefferson City and throughout the state
Check the website for events and projects that mark the state's bicentennial. Among the highlights: a traveling exhibit featuring a bicentennial quilt, with quilt blocks representing every county in Missouri. In Jefferson City, the Capitol's striking Thomas Hart Benton murals depict state history, as do exhibits at the Missouri State Museum on the capitol's firt floor.
Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum | Independence
After a $30 million renovation, the museum is expected to reopen in 2021 with all-new interactive exhibits that tell the story of how Truman grew to be one of the most powerful men in the world.
Primate Canopy Trails | St. Louis
An $11.5 million expansion of the St. Louis Zoo's Primate House will create new outdoor homes for primates such as lemurs, Old World and New World monkeys. The expansion also includes an elevated boardwalk for eye-level canopy views and a clear acrylic tunnel for visitors to travel through.
100th Anniversary | Nebraska State Parks
Nebraska state parks and recreation centers turn 100 years old in 2021, with 100 events planned to celebrate.
Kimpton Cottonwood Hotel |Omaha
A modern reimagining of The Blackstone Hotel, this 205-room lodging brings together Second Renaissance-inspired architecture and Kimpton hospitality. The revitalized 1920s building opened in November.
Owen Sea Lion Shores exhibit, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium | Omaha
In fall 2020, the acclaimed zoo's sea lions got a state-of-the-art home, Sea Lion Shores, with a 275,000-gallon pool and 40-foot-long underwater viewing window.
The RiverFront | Omaha
Work continues on a $300 million project to remake the city's riverfront around Gene Leahy Mall, Heartland of America Park and Lewis and Clark Landing, with plans to create an urban beach, destination playground, and new science center, among other improvements. The project should wrap up by 2024.
The Hall | Fargo
Fargo Brewing Company's latest addition, an outdoor music venue, is expected to open by August. In the 400-person capacity concert hall, customers can catch live performances, socialize on an expanded patio, or grab a bite to eat from food trucks.
Broadway Square | Fargo
Visitors to downtown Fargo will have new events to attend all year long at Broadway Square, such as outdoor lawn yoga in the summer, fire-pit gatherings in the fall and ice skating in the winter.
Celebrate the colorful work of American painter Wayne Thiebaud in this exhibit at Toledo Museum of Art (through May 2). Still life works, figural studies, landscapes, and more come from the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California, and the Thiebaud family.
The Lytle Park Hotel | Cincinnati
The hotel's design emphasizes the relationship between park and city. Nature-inspired interiors, a fine dining restaurant, and a marketplace are a few of experiences that welcome guests to the hotel, which opened in mid-2020 inside a 1909 building.
In 2015, Ohio artist Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson left most of her estate to the Columbus Museum of Art. This landmark exhibit (open through October 3) features her work and journals, plus furniture she made and art she collected.
Explore the rich history of beautiful Lakota Country and the Lakota people. Check the website for progress on the Oglala Lakota Living History Village.
Outlaw Square | Deadwood
Enjoy activities such as Monday night movies, a farmers market and (in winter) ice skating at downtown's Outlaw Square, which opened in late 2019.
2021 Ryder Cup | Whistling Straits
The 2021 Ryder Cup returns to U.S. territory at Whistling Straits golf course, host of the 2004, 2010 and 2015 PGA Championships. Twelve of the best U.S. players will face 12 of the best European players at this three-day biennial event from September 21-26.
America's Black Holocaust Museum | Milwaukee
The museum's new galleries, on the ground floor of the Griot Building, take visitors on a chronological journey through the Black Holocaust in America. Founded by Dr. James Cameron, survivor of a 1930 lynching, ABHM offers context and commemoration of the Black experience from 1619 to the present day. Check website for reopening plans.
Maritime Lighthouse Tower | Sturgeon Bay
The landmark 10-story tower, completed last December, expanded the Door County Maritime Museum's Sturgeon Bay facility and will open to the public by May 2021. New additions include 10 floors of educational exhibits highlighting Wisconsin's maritime history, people and industries.
The Dörr Hotel | Sister Bay
Also in Door County, The Dörr Hotel is set to open in May 2021, the first newly built hotel in the area in nearly 20 years. The lodging will feature 47 Nordic-inspired rooms and suites, an outdoor courtyard with fire pit and lawn games, and complimentary amenities such as bicycles, tennis and pickle ball equipment, and beach chairs.
International Crane Foundation | Baraboo
A $10 million expansion and renovation that includes a new visitor center and 10 updated crane exhibits is expected to wrap up in spring. Look for indoor Sandhill Crane viewing windows and exhibits showcasing cranes around the world as you learn about the resilient bird's near-extinction story and the International Crane Foundation's work to save them.