The middle of America is no longer considered “flyover” country, despite the Great Plains’ wide-open prairies, rolling hills, and agricultural areas. Just an hour outside of Rapid City, South Dakota, is the austerely compelling Badlands National Park where landscapes of layered pastel rock formations, steep canyons, and sky-high spires are populated by bison and bighorn sheep.

The forested Black Hills, where iconic Mount Rushmore is located, is a quick jaunt away and a must-see of scenic Americana splendor. Your group will enjoy Rapid City’s many museums, which explore the gamut of human experience from art and archaeology to geology and space, while a world of restaurant experiences provides delicious fare for fueling not-so-far-flung day trips.

Willing to travel across the border into North Dakota? The Badlands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park are even more vibrant and otherworldly, with the city of Fargo on the state’s eastern edge ready to bring groups back down to earth. Here, the Plains Art Museum exhibits regional, contemporary, and Native American works in a revitalized warehouse. The Fargo Air Museum houses modern and vintage aircraft for groups to explore. The nearby Fargodome, an indoor stadium, hosts concerts and theatrical shows. A city on the rise, Fargo also boasts award-winning hotels and restaurants in repurposed historic buildings in its charming downtown.

Hailed as one of the premier places to enjoy a steak dinner in the U.S., Omaha, Nebraska, is still known for more than its beef. It’s also home to the Reuben sandwich, invented at the Blackstone Hotel. As a famous stop on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, the city makes the most of its pioneer history with museums and cultural centers. The first stop for any group should be the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Headquarters Visitor Center. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is a national conservation leader and features a big cat complex with an indoor jungle, rainforest, and desert habitats. Art museums and galleries, theater and musical events, gardens and lakes—multifaceted Omaha revels in its diversity.

Kaw Point Park, Kansas City, Kansas;
Credit: Kansas Tourism

As does Kansas City, Kansas, located at the heart of American life. An astonishing ethnic and culturally diverse city, it’s not just about the famously flavorful barbecue. A group of history buffs will love Kaw Point Park at the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri rivers, where Lewis and Clark camped before setting out for unknown territories. Learn about the Kansas River’s first ferry at Grinter Place or explore the Underground Railroad at Quindaro Ruins. Discover a plethora of murals celebrating life in the city, music venues, art museums, and even hoedowns and cuisine from around the globe.

By C. L. Lefevre

Main Image: The Badlands, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota; Credit: Unsplash/Kara Eads