The Midwestern United States, affectionately deemed America's Heartland, is often overlooked in favour of the cosmopolitan east, the laid-back south or the star-studded west, but within its boundaries is a vast body of water that gives way to unsurpassed natural beauty. Sky-high Chicago and engine-revving Milwaukee make quite a splash with tourists, but the curving shorelines of the interconnected Great Lakes are dotted with countless urban centres where you can experience a unique side of the States.

Collectively, Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, Lake Michigan and Lake Ontario stretch over diverse landscapes from rocky outcrops to pine-speckled woodlands and sheltered beaches. Hardworking Midwesterns embrace their water-bound surrounds, with riverboats cruising alongside patient fishermen, hikers watching canoes glide past and cyclists navigating city streets arcing along the waterfront. Those who prefer to take it easy can enjoy a locally brewed beer at an iconic jazz club, or cosy into a lakeside cabin away from the hustle and bustle.

Get back to nature on the Fresh Coast

Eight states make up the mighty Midwest – Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin – where the lakes spill into Canada's Ontario region in the north. Canada and the United States share custody of four of the five lakes as well as several squiggling rivers, linking the basins to create the world's largest body of freshwater including Lake Superior, which measures over 480 kilometres across.

The lakes of the Midwest are ideal for nature lovers who dream of following the scenic 'Fresh Coast' and setting up camp on a leisurely journey through the American/Canadian wilderness. Rock-and-rollers can make the pilgrimage to Cleveland, while thrill-seekers can take in panoramic views from Cedar Point's soaring rollercoasters – dive into the Midwest and discover what makes the Great Lakes so great!