The Midwest isn’t often regarded as a vacation hotspot, even in terms of avid stateside travelers. While coastal cities tend to get all the attention, there’s plenty to offer in what are often regarded as flyover states. Known for warm summers and snow-covered winters, you’ll find plenty of year-round activities worth planning a trip for.
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Of course, with Midwest real estate prices that generally skew lower than average, owning a vacation property could prove to be a lucrative endeavor. After all, lots of these tourist-friendly hotspots draw in travelers 12 months out of the year, so it can provide some great additional income when you’re not taking time off. Here’s a look at eight of the overall best cities to invest in real estate in the Midwest.
Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
Boasting 93 miles of coastline, Lake of the Ozarks is the Show Me State’s quintessential Midwestern location. Along with its numerous national and state parks, all that coastline means there’s no shortage of vacation homes. With an emphasis on waterfront living, the area boasts world-class entertainment, including boating, golfing, entertainment and food. With a thriving tourism industry, vacation homes are a sought-after commodity.
Door County, Wisconsin
While it’s part of Wisconsin, Door County is basically a peninsula and a small island jutting east into Lake Michigan. Its nickname is “Death’s Door,” or “Ports de Morts,” referring to the narrow strait between the peninsula and Washington Island. Though it’s become much friendlier to travelers, and another leading Midwestern vacation spot, with 300 miles of coastline surrounding 19 individual communities.
Traverse Bay, Michigan
Another Great Lakes coastal area, this one is in the far north of Michigan. The picturesque location offers everything from sandy beaches to snow-capped skiing in addition to all the usual lakefront activities you can imagine. It’s a collection of communities, including Harbor Springs, Petoskey and Charlevoix. Each offers its own unique charms and are located a few miles away from one another, giving potential buyers some options when looking for a vacation property.
Lake McConaughey, Nebraska
While Nebraska’s known for its rolling plains, it does have some white sand beaches near the state’s southwest corner that have been a tourist draw for decades. Along with being the largest lake in the Cornhusker State, it has scenic drives through the sandhills, old sod houses and the Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge. All of which make “Lake Mac” one of the area’s most popular and tourist-friendly destinations.
A town long-known for generations as a relaxing escape from the stress of city life, Brainerd, Missouri, has miles of hike and bike trails, camping and fishing to back it up. Not to mention the famous Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues. While camping and nature are popular, so are more high-end accommodations, making it a viable location for the type of vacation home where you could get away from it all.
The town of Okoboji is known for its glacier-carved lakes that stretch from the Minnesota border across the southwest corner of Iowa. Along with the state’s largest lake and five interconnected lakes, it has year-round activities based around the Midwest’s extreme weather, like snowmobiling and ice-fishing. Lots of the local activities are sponsored by the University of Okoboji, a made-up institution created by locals, like a triathlon in the summer and a series of winter games in January. The local pride is a major draw here, and offers some rare opportunities to vacation during the region’s coldest months.
While it’s not quite as quaint or laid-back as some of the options listed here, Cleveland has been a thriving metropolis since the 18th century, with all the amenities you’d come to expect. There are the obvious draws, like the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Cleveland Orchestra, but it has pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods sporting craft breweries and world-class eateries. The city’s lengthy history and neoclassical architecture make it a Midwestern hotspot with enough to offer year-round.
A college town with plenty to offer, this hip enclave just east of Kansas City, Missouri, is loaded with museums, coffee shops and parks, not to mention a thriving live music scene. Regularly regarded as one of the best places to live in the state, the fact that it’s a 40-minute drive from the heart of Kansas City makes it a sought-after location — and a great spot for a vacation home.
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