We have to start with a moment of honesty here. Iowa was our 36th state to visit and like most people, we considered it a “drive through” state. It was completely off our radar as an actual travel destination. With that being said…
Iowa was truly a pleasant surprise…
We initially made plans to visit Iowa solely for Winnebago’s Grand National Rally in Forest City. But then, we got the opportunity to partner with Travel Iowa and decided to turn our plans into a mini Iowa road trip.
We quickly found ourselves taking back everything we once believed about Iowa. The state’s slogan is “Fields of Opportunities” and it couldn’t be more accurate. There are so many opportunities for FUN and memorable experiences.
So, don’t be like us. Don’t pass on through. Do yourself a favor and pay this state a visit and here’s why…
5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Just Pass Through Iowa
1. Good Beer & Food
Iowa is right there on the craft beer bandwagon and opened nearly 40 new breweries throughout the state in the last three years! We were thrilled to stumble upon El Bait Shop in Des Moines, where they offer the largest selection of American craft beers in the world! They have 262 beers on tap and we were in beer lover’s heaven.
We didn’t have a single bad beer during our trip. We especially loved Lake Time Brewery in Clear Lake for their creativity. Their Peanut Butter Porter and Oreo Speedwagon (Chocolate Vanilla Milk Stout) were delicious!
But if you’re more of a wino, don’t worry. They also have wineries with stunning views, perfect for a fall getaway. To search Iowa’s full list of wineries and breweries, we’d highly suggest downloading the Iowa Wine & Beer App.
2. Classic Americana
All across the state are sites that depict popular American icons. For us, we loved visiting the Winnebago factory. Winnebago is a classic American brand that simply screams “freedom”, our nation’s symbol. But we didn’t know that Iowa is also the home to John Deere, another all American company.
The Buddy Holly plane crash site, the Field Of Dreams movie site, and the bridges of Madison county are other examples of fun pop culture sites to visit in the state!
3. Affordable Fun
It’s not common that we find destinations along our travels that are budget friendly. Typically, we stick to the free outdoor activities to avoid over spending. But, this wasn’t the case in Iowa. You can catch an Iowa Cub’s baseball game for only $12 a ticket or they have a variety of discounted ticket packages that are great for families. We couldn’t believe it when we found a movie theater that only charged $2 per ticket and had reasonable concession stand prices.
4. Rich Culture
It’s no secret that farming is the biggest part of Iowa’s history and culture. The pride that the local communities and farmers have in this industry is evident all across the state. In fact, Des Moines hosts one of the nation’s largest and best Farmers Market every summer. However, there’s so much more to Iowa than that!!
Not only can you visit Iowa’s Amish & Mennonite Communities and learn about their lifestyle, you can even find several worldly experiences. You can get a taste of Germany in the Amana Colonies, see an authentic windmill from Denmark in Elk Horn and Kimballton, and visit the Czech Village in Cedar Rapids. You can also take part in the cultural festivals throughout these parts Iowa.
Believe it or not, Iowa has a vibrant arts scene as well. We were even able to see original prints by Picasso, Rembrandt, and Dali in a public library! But there’s also the Clarinda Carnegie Art Museum as well as two impressive art museums in Davenport and Cedar Rapids.
And that’s still not all! There are several film festivals throughout the year, theatres to enjoy musicals and plays, rodeos and fairs, etc.
States like Colorado and Montana typically come to mind when you think of the great outdoors. But there’s no shortage of nature to explore in Iowa either. With 99 parks and everything from caves to fishing and even a whitewater park in Charles City, there’s something for everyone.
We’re hopeful that Iowa will forgive us for our false judgments :). We were even a bit sad to leave and have things we were bummed to miss and plan to come back to!
What are your favorite Iowa cities, sites, and attractions? We’d love to hear them in the comments.