These Are the 11 Biggest Cities in the Midwest

Written by Em Thomas
Published: December 4, 2023
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The Midwest is home to some incredible cities. While the region has a reputation for farmland, the Midwest has some bustling urban hubs that are worth a visit. From Cleveland to Chicago, the Midwest region of the United States houses a lot of diversity in culture, food, and arts.

This article utilizes the United States Census Bureau for accurate facts on the population size of each city. The most updated census is 2020, so these numbers may be slightly outdated. Read on to discover the 11 biggest cities in the Midwest!

11. Saint Paul, Minnesota

St. Paul, Minnesota has the smallest spread of any city on this list, with an area of only 56.18 square miles.

©LAM-Photography/Shutterstock.com

The tenth-place city on our list is Saint Paul, Minnesota. Minnesota is one of two states with two cities in the top ten list. Saint Paul is the first of Minnesota’s cities, with a 2020 population of 311,527 residents. It’s the “Twin City” of Minneapolis, forming an iconic duo of cities known around America. St. Paul itself is known as a city made up of neighborhoods, mimicking the feel of a smaller town despite its size.

10. Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio, USA skyline on the Cuyahoga River.

Cleveland has a fairly small area, with a size of only 82.48 square miles.

©Sean Pavone/iStock via Getty Images

Ohio is the second state to have two cities on this list. The first city is Cleveland, Ohio. On the 2020 Census, Cleveland had a population of 372,624 residents. Ohio is home to a few different populated cities, including Cincinnati and Toledo, which didn’t make this list. Cleveland is a great spot to visit if you’re touring the Midwest. It’s known for its great sports teams, the Cleveland Metropolitan Zoo, and, of course, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! Whether you’re an athlete or a music lover, there’s plenty to do in Cleveland.

9. Wichita, Kansas

Wichita, Kansas, USA downtown skyline at dusk.

Wichita has a moderate population density. The city spans 163.59 square miles, which is about middle-of-the-pack for cities on this list.

©Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

The ninth-biggest city in the Midwest is Wichita, Kansas. Kansas is one of the most southern states in the Midwest, and Wichita is toward the southern portion of the state. The 2020 Census showed that the city had a population of 397,532 residents. Wichita, Kansas is the birthplace of a long list of well-known companies, including Pizza Hut! If you’re a food lover, Wichita is a great city to visit. Grab the state’s favorite food pairing, chili and cinnamon rolls, while you’re in town. If that’s not your style, you can, of course, enjoy some chicken fried steak!

8. Minneapolis, Minnesota

Ameriprise Financial Center

Despite its population, Minneapolis has a very small area. The city is only 57 square miles in size!

©Ken Lund / CC BY-SA 2.0 - License

The eighth-place spot is held by Minneapolis, Minnesota, the largest of the two “Twin Cities” of Minnesota. In 2020, Minneapolis had a population of 429,954 residents. It’s home to a long list of adorable, green parks, and there are great opportunities to dip your toes in the waters of the surrounding lakes and rivers.

7. Omaha, Nebraska

Omaha, Nebraska

Omaha, Nebraska is 146.3 square miles in size, making it the largest city in the state by area as well as by population.

©Pontus Edenberg/iStock via Getty Images

While Nebraska doesn’t have a reputation for big-city life, the state is actually home to the seventh-largest city in the Midwest: Omaha! Omaha is the biggest city in Nebraska and, according to the 2020 Census, had a population of 486,051 residents.

The city of Omaha has a few major talking points if you’re considering visiting. First and foremost, the city has some of the most delicious steaks in America!

If you’re a foodie, be sure to grab a plate in Omaha. Secondly, Omaha is home to an awesome, world-renowned zoo.

6. Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City, Missouri, USA Downtown Cityscape

Kansas City is a great place to visit if you have an interest in art or history. The city is home to a long list of great museums, spanning many topics.

©Sean Pavone/iStock via Getty Images

One of the most southern states in the Midwest possesses one of the biggest cities in the region. Missouri‘s Kansas City is the sixth-biggest city in the Midwest! In 2020, Kansas City was home to 508,090 residents. The population density of this city is pretty good, though, as these residents had 319 square miles to roam. Kansas City is an awesome destination for folks with a musical interest. The city is known for its vibrant jazz scene. While you’re in town, be sure to grab some burnt ends and a slice of Kansas City mud pie!

5. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Winter in the center of Milwaukee

Milwaukee has a large German population and is, in fact, known as the most German city in America. Grab some schnitzel and beer while you’re in town!

©benkrut/iStock via Getty Images

Head over to Wisconsin for the fifth-biggest city in the Midwest! That city is Milwaukee. Milwaukee is not the capital but is the largest city in the state. In 2020, Milwaukee had a population of 577,222 residents. These residents were packed into some tight quarters, with a city size spanning only 96 square miles, making Milwaukee one of the smallest cities in size on this top ten list. Milwaukee has a great reputation for art and history. The city is home to the Harley-Davidson Museum, as well as the beautiful Milwaukee Art Museum.

4. Detroit, Michigan

Detroit, Michigan, USA downtown

Despite being one of the largest cities on this list, Detroit has a fairly small land size. The whole city spans only 142.9 square miles.

©Sean Pavone/iStock via Getty Images

The biggest city in Michigan is the fourth-largest city in the Midwest. That city is Detroit! While Detroit is not the capital of Michigan, it’s extremely populous. The 2020 Census reported that 631,111 resided within the city. Detroit is an exciting city with a rich history. It’s not only the home of Motown, but the home of Detroit-style pizza, as well! Detroit is a beautiful city with rich diversity, producing great arts and food.

3. Indianapolis, Indiana

Indianapolis USA on the map

While Indianapolis is the third-most populous city in the Midwest, it’s the largest city in size on this list. Indianapolis is a whopping 367.9 square miles in size.

©Alexander Lukatskiy/Shutterstock.com

Yet another capital city on this list is Indianapolis, Indiana. Indianapolis is the third-most populous midwestern city, with a 2020 population of 887,642. It’s a well-known city, known for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, having two major sports teams, and of course, having the world’s largest children’s museum! Indianapolis is an awesome city for a family trip. Catch a Colt’s game and then head over to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

2. Columbus, Ohio

Aerial view of Columbus Ohio

Columbus is only slightly smaller than the first-place city, with a size of 226 square miles.

©espiegle/iStock via Getty Images

According to the United States Census Bureau, Columbus is the second-largest city in the Midwest. Columbus, Ohio is the capital city of Ohio, and in 2020, there were 905,748 residents recorded in the city. Interestingly enough, Columbus is also the 14th most populous city in all of America. Columbus has a bustling art scene and is a great spot for big thinkers. It’s also known for its incredible zoo!

1. Chicago, Illinois

A new supertall luxury residential tower rises in Chicago, IL.

Chicago is a pretty large city in terms of size, as well. The city is 228 square miles in size, making it the third-largest city on this list.

©Keith J Finks/Shutterstock.com

No surprise here, but Chicago, Illinois is the most populous city in the Midwest. The 2020 Census showed that Chicago possessed a population of 2,746,388 residents. That’s more than triple the population of the second-most populous midwestern state! Chicago is the capital of Illinois and offers great proximity to Lake Michigan. It’s a hub for art, cuisine, and sports, and definitely a spot worth checking out.

Summary of the Biggest Cities in the Midwest

Here’s a summary of the biggest cities in the Midwest:

City2020 PopulationSize
Chicago, IL2,746,388228 sq. mi.
Columbus, OH905,748226.3 sq. mi.
Indianapolis, IN887,642367.9 sq. mi.
Detroit, MI631,111142.9 sq. mi.
Milwaukee, WI577,22296.82 sq. mi.
Kansas City, MO508,090319 sq. mi.
Omaha, NE486,051146.3 sq. mi.
Minneapolis, MN429,95457.51 sq. mi.
Wichita, KS397,532163.59 sq. mi.
Cleveland, OH372,62482.48 sq. mi.
Saint Paul, MN311,52756.18 sq. mi.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Alanscottwalker / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License / Original


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About the Author

Em Thomas is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering places, travel, and chili peppers! She's an MBA student with a passion for storytelling. Though she's a Michigan native, she presently resides in Denver, Colorado. While she doesn't currently have any pets of her own, she's an avid dogsitter with an affinity for big dogs!

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