The Hidden Gems of Flyover States

Middle America. Flyover country. In the minds of many, it’s simply an ocean of flat corn fields, pastures, no-name towns, and dullness. These are the places you travel through in order to get somewhere interesting. States like Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, the Dakotas, and Oklahoma come to mind. However, despite the commonly accepted belief that these states are boring and uninteresting, each of these places has something special to offer. What surprises do these often-overlooked locales contain? Pack your bags and read on to find out, as we discover flyover country. 

#1. Kansas. We begin our journey in Kansas, the sunflower state. A relatively flat state in the center of the country, Kansas is one of the most productive agricultural areas and is the number one wheat-producing state. This breadbasket of a state boasts several unique attractions, including the world’s first Pizza Hut. Indeed, the world’s largest pizza chain, with over 18,000 locations, had its humble beginnings as a simple brick building on the Wichita State University campus. It was here where the chain was founded in 1958 by brothers Dan and Frank Carney. Today, the building is a museum where curious travelers can learn more about the origins of Pizza Hut. 

#2. Nebraska. Continuing our journey, we move north into Nebraska, the cornhusker state. Nebraska is known for its vast expanses of prairie and grassland and is the only state in the country with a unicameral (one house) legislature. In addition, Nebraska is the birthplace of the popular sweet beverage, Kool-Aid. In fact, the town of Hastings, Nebraska boasts a Kool-Aid museum, which chronicles the history of the drink. The town even hosts an annual Kool-Aid festival that takes place in the second week of August. The festival is known as “Kool-Aid Days.”

#3. Iowa. Moving further along, we arrive in Iowa, the Hawkeye state. This state is famous for its endless corn fields, caucuses during presidential elections, and flat landscapes. It is the country’s largest producer of both corn and pork, and its capital city of Des Moines is a major insurance hub. But wait, there’s more! Iowa has the world’s largest truck stop, the Iowa 80 Truck Stop. Situated off exit 284 in Walcott Iowa, this two-story, 55,000 square foot facility features a trucking museum, restaurants, shops, and amenities of every kind for weary travelers and truckers. The stop includes a barber shop, showers, laundry, game room, chapel, library, hotel, and even a dentist. You can be sure to get the full rest-stop experience at this unique roadside attraction. 

#4. North & South Dakota. On the northern end of the great plains, we reach the Dakotas. Starting with South Dakota, the Mount Rushmore State, we will discover that this state offers more than the famous monument. Known for the Black Hills (a small mountain range and wilderness area in the western part of the state), Mount Rushmore (obviously), and Badlands National Park, the state also features a dinosaur museum. Located in Rapid City, the museum boasts a collection of 98 dinosaurs, an educational movie theater, mirror maze, and even a do-it-yourself fossil dig. Unlike most museums, which only have simple fossil collections, this museum features models which show what dinosaurs would have actually looked like. Moving further north, we reach North Dakota, the flickertail state. Known for its energy resources, expansive grasslands, and frontier heritage, the state also has the National Buffalo Museum. Here, guests can learn about our national mammal, the American Bison, and its importance both to our country and Native American heritage. The museum grounds also include several live buffalo, and even an albino buffalo. 

#5. Oklahoma. We finish our flyover state journey in Oklahoma, the sooner state. This state is well known for its cowboy culture, Native American heritage, and natural beauty. Oklahoma is also known for its location in tornado alley, and is a major energy producer. Oklahoma also boasts the largest preserved track of tallgrass prairie in the world, the Joseph T. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. Owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy, this 6,000 acre preserve protects a beautiful and diverse ecosystem, which features grasslands, wildflowers, wooded creeks, and gently rolling hills. It serves as a home to animals such as the endangered Greater Prairie Chicken, American Bison, and the Prairie Mole Cricket. 

In conclusion, although flyover states are often ignored, passed by, and dismissed, if one does some digging, they will discover that these states have interesting and special places all of their own, and are worth visiting and appreciating. Next time you hit the road in search of adventure, perhaps consider America’s flyover country. You won’t be disappointed!