RE: Midwest from North to Southwest
I'll begin this with the caveat that it's been ten years since I was here, BUT, if you are anywhere in the vicinity I would suggest a visit to Council Grove, Kansas and a meal, preferably dinner, at the Hays House. If I remember correctly it claims to be the oldest restaurant west of the Mississippi. Old west atmosphere and menu, including skillet fried chicken, beef brisket, etc. and homemade desserts. Council Grove was an important town on the Santa Fe Trail and has lots of related sites, so the town itself is worth a linger, and the drive through the surrounding Flint Hills is scenic. If you're looking for a hotel, the historic Cottage House around the corner is pleasant and reasonable.
Maybe someone who's been here more recently can either confirm or correct any of the above.