Everybody loves America's coastlines, but if you’re one of many who still consider the Great Plains “flyover country,” there’s a good chance you’re missing the point. “The beauty of the plains is not just in themselves but in the sky, in what you think when you look at them, and in what they are not," wrote Ian Frazier in his classic road trip book, Great Plains.
Hardly a flaw, the emptiness here is a treasure. In the Sandhills of Nebraska, for example, the largest intact grassland ecosystem in North America, the grass-covered sand dunes encompass an area of nearly 20,000 square miles. Stand in the middle, and you’ll meet the horizon in every direction without interruption, no buildings or droning interstates to distract you from the spectacle that is planet Earth.
And it’s the emptiness here in the Great Plains that lends many of the items on this list their marvel. Picture this: a green fairway stretching into the distance, a single flag waving in the wind beside a naturally shifting sand bunker, an array of mixed prairie grasses home to grouse, quail, deer, and more. Utilizing the pristine grassland ecosystem of north-central Nebraska, the Sand Hills Golf Club consistently ranks among the best golf courses in the world. And in the sparsely populated Flint Hills of Kansas, the organizers of the annual “Symphony in the Flint Hills” fill the void not with traffic and high-rise condos, but music.
From North Dakota to Texas, the Great Plains is dotted with gems reserved for those willing to venture inward. For a classy trip through so-called “flyover country,” start with these 13 unforgettable features.