Travel isn’t easy these days. If your flight isn’t delayed, it’s canceled. And have you seen the cost of gas? Enter: Amtrak. Though not always the quickest or most glamorous mode of transportation, the humble train may be the least stressful way to travel to these four Midwest destinations this fall.


Travel time 5 hours 20 minutes
Round-trip ticket $80
Why now Create your own weekend-long folk music fest just over the Missouri border. On Friday, October 7, catch singer-songwriter S.G. Goodman (whose 2022 sophomore album, Teeth Marks, explores her childhood in rural Kentucky) at Off Broadway. On Saturday, see indie-folk mainstays the Head and the Heart in St. Louis Music Park. Sunday afternoon, the Missouri History Museum’s One-Day Folk Fest pairs live performances with St. Louis Sound, its exhibit on the city’s historic contributions to popular music.


Travel time 4 hours
Round-trip ticket $80
Why now From September 15 through October 2, Grand Rapids transforms into an enormous gallery for ArtPrize, a competition in which artists show their work in public spaces around town and attendees award cash prizes to their favorites. And while you’re in town, pop over to the Grand Rapids Art Museum for Imagination Unlimited, a traveling exhibition on puppeteer and Muppets creator Jim Henson. 


Travel time 1 hour 40 minutes 
Round-trip ticket $50 
Why now Explore the city’s coffee culture and music scene simultaneously. Start with a show at the Back Room at Colectivo, an intimate performance space in the Midwest coffee chain’s original location. If you go September 30, you can see North Warren and Social Cig, staples of the local indie scene. The next day, take a latte art class or an espresso-making tutorial at the local roaster Stone Creek Coffee. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Anodyne Coffee’s Bay View location, repurposed from roastery to pizza spot, for another cup and a wood-fired pie.


Travel time 5 hours 30 minutes 
Round-trip ticket $95
Why now Catch a show at the revitalized Detroit Opera, whose innovative artistic director, Yuval Sharon, learned to love the art form during childhood trips to Chicago’s Lyric Opera. This fall, it presents Opera Omaha’s rendition of Faust (November 12, 18, and 20). The production makes use of newly uncovered music from Charles Gounod’s original opera and features two Americans, soprano Talise Trevigne and tenor Jonathan Johnson, as Marguerite and Faust.