The Midwest, particularly Missouri, is tremendously underrated. Having lived my entire life as a Midwest gal, I will vouch for that. Sure, we don’t have California’s sunny beaches, Colorado’s beautiful mountain ranges or New York’s shopping and Broadway—we have to go on vacation for that kind of excitement! But we do have beautiful lakes, luscious green, rolling hills and trees and a four distinct seasons of weather. I for one dislike Winter immensely, but I love how as much as we complain about the cold we complain about the hundred-degree days about six months later.
Missouri, one of the “flyover states”, particularly St. Louis, has a lot to offer that often goes overlooked. No, I’m not talking about the St. Louis Arch, although pretty awesome and unique, I’ve only been up in once when I was in high school, despite the fact I live about 45 minutes from downtown St. Louis. We have the world-renowned St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the St. Louis Blues hockey team and our beloved St. Louis Cardinals. St. Louis has Forest Park, where the 1904 World’s Fair was held and is now a fabulous place for early morning runs, home of the St. Louis Zoo (free admission!) and history and art museums.
If that’s not your thing, Missouri has Table Rock Lake—our family’s favorite lake, as well as the Lake of the Ozarks and Mark Twain Lake. There are tons of small lakes for fishing and boating. Almost every weekend there are organized races to run, from 5Ks and up. There are tons of great restaurants here—particularly Italian restaurants on the Hill. Yum!
I also really love Rednecks—or hillbillies or hoosiers—whatever your preferred term. Please note that I use it with affection. They are also underrated in our suit and tie society. If you were in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but friends, an ATV and some beer, would you rather be with a redneck or a Wall Street stockbroker? To be sure, a redneck would find a way to make some fun. (If you’re the timid sort you might want to make sure there aren’t any bullets in his gun first.)
All my love of my home state aside, I’m secretly glad Missouri is a little underrated. Despite what you’ve heard from our lovely media lately, Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, is a beautiful area that is not full of thugs that burn down QTs. (My lifelong home church is located there!) And while almost every year St. Louis shows up on a list of Most Murders in the country and that sort of thing, I’d like to point out that most of the crimes that make those awful lists happen in the wee hours of early dawn with people that are up to no good. (I know, I know…it happens in the suburbs, too—I don’t live in a bubble.) After all, if we were perfect, we wouldn’t be Midwesterners.