Hidden Gems Across the Midwest

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by Corinne Burgermeister, Mia Hanekamp and Chloe Karaskiewicz

photo from sharonlclemens.wordpress.com
photo from sharonlclemens.wordpress.com

Door County, WI

Door County is known as a popular vacation destination for many Midwesterners, but aside from being “up North,” what does Door County have to offer? Known for cherries and fudge, Door County also has 300 miles of shoreline. The coastlines are dotted with 11 historical lighthouses with three available for full tours. The collection of statuesque beacons stands as a reminder of times gone by and remains one of the largest collections of lighthouses in the United States. Some, like the Sturgeon Bay Pierhead Light, are still functioning in all of their glory.


Columbus, WI

Exposed to the world in the 2009 film Public Enemies is another hidden gem of Wisconsin: Columbus. The city, once known for its Redbud Trees and Columbus Carriage Classic, is now known for bringing Hollywood to the Midwest. The town of 5,000 people and several intact traditional buildings was an ideal place to shoot the Depression-era film. During the filming, many Midwesterners flocked to the area, but today the city continues to reap the benefits as many tourists hope to visit the locations shown in the film, such as the Historic Little Bohemia Restaurant, where bullet holes and other memorabilia from a 1934 shootout are visible.

image from images.dpchallenge.com
image from images.dpchallenge.com

Galena, IL

As you enter the giant floodgates enclosing the downtown area of Galena, IL, you’ll instantly be transported into a city of the past. Galena’s history appears to have been preserved in time, apparent by the feel of Main Street’s charming 19th century-style shops and many restaurants. The street is lined with tiny specialty shops and boutiques featuring unique gifts and novelty items that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. The central hub of the city is consistently voted “Best Main Street in the Midwest” and sits along the Galena River, which flows directly into the Mississippi. Additionally, Main Street is home to a winery and the De Soto House Hotel, the oldest operating hotel in Illinois. The hotel opened in 1855 and its history is pretty impressive, boasting a plethora of guests including Abraham Lincoln.

photo from moveablefeastgeneva.com
photo from moveablefeastgeneva.com

Geneva, IL

Tucked away a short 40 miles west of Chicago lies the quaint town of Geneva. Famous for its boutiques, cafes and small-town charm, Geneva is worth the trip from the city. One of my favorite parts of Geneva is a bakery with an influence greater than one might think for a town of just over 20,000 people. Moveable Feast prides itself as being an environmentally conscious bakery, cafe and catering company all in one. Plus, Moveable Feast’s brownies have been deemed Oprah’s favorites. Next time you’re thinking of taking a trip to Chicago, think slightly west instead and go to Geneva.

Check out this article in MODA’s winter/spring issue, now on newsstands all over campus.

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