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This is Iowa
This is Iowa
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Superlative Roadside Attractions

If you’re a seeker of the biggest, smallest, tallest, widest and weirdest, you’re in luck because Iowa is the land of roadside attractions. Take a selfie with the world’s largest concrete bull, tallest corn stalk, biggest Swedish coffee pot, most massive strawberry, a gigantic popcorn ball and the largest concrete gnome. Conquer your fear of heights on a train across the world's highest and longest double-track railroad bridge, or take a tram ride up the world's shortest and steepest railway.


Pop Culture and Historical Landmarks

Robert James Waller’s covered bridges of Madison County are right here in Iowa. So is the field of dreams baseball diamond featured in the 1989 Keven Costner film. Reserve a room at the Historic Park Inn Hotel, the only remaining Frank Lloyd Wright-designed hotel in the world. Visit the birthplace and presidential library of Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States. Characterized as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” the Grotto of the Redemption is a collection of handmade structures studded with millions of precious gems that depict the life of Christ.


Home-grown Flavors

The Midwest is famous for its fertile farmland and hearty foods, and Iowa is no exception. Gather up colorful produce at the Des Moines Downtown Farmers’ Market. The Gathering Table at Wallace House  in Orient serves up menu items featuring ingredients that were in the soil earlier that day. Iowa is the leading producer of pork, so don’t pass on the breaded pork tenderloin, a regional specialty. Sample freshly made cheese and ice cream at dairy farms and old-fashioned soda shops. Order a pint at one of the top-ranked breweries in the world at Toppling Goliath Brewery, or slow-sip “The Good Stuff” at Prohibition-era Templeton Rye Whiskey distillery.

This is Iowa
This is Iowa
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Fun Fact

Posing with a pitchfork, American Gothic-style, at the American Gothic House Center in Eldon, Iowa
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Grant Wood’s famous painting, “American Gothic,” was set in front of a rural home in Eastern Iowa. Pose with a pitchfork at the American Gothic House Center in Eldon.

Exploring exhibits at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa
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Famous Iowans include John Wayne, Ashton Kutcher, Johnny Carson, Elijah Wood and Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States.

Cycling up Snake Alley in Burlington, Iowa
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Ripley’s Believe it or Not named Burlington’s Snake Alley “The Crookedest Street in the World.” Snake Alley was constructed in 1894.

Must see places

Playing a game at the Field of Dreams Movie Site in Dyersville, Iowa

Field of Dreams

“If you build it, he will come” – a movie quote that, to this day, speaks to dreamers around the world. At the Field of Dreams Movie Site in Dyersville, you’ll recognize the film’s farmhouse (guided tours available), baseball diamond and corn fields. If you’re lucky enough to visit in September, reserve a ticket for the Team of Dreams, a day-long celebration featuring major baseball legends – think Wade Boggs, Reggie Jackson and Rod Carew. 

One of the famous covered bridges in Madison County, Iowa

Bridges of Madison County

Madison County is indeed known for its collection of picture-perfect covered bridges that served as the idyllic backdrop for the bestselling novel and popular movie. The Welcome Center in Winterset has maps for a self-guided tour. Set aside a few hours to photograph the old-fashioned bridges and enjoy the small-town shops and restaurants. In October, come for a weekend of family-friendly activities, special events, food and vendors at the Covered Bridge Festival. The pretty fall foliage makes for gorgeous photos to take home.

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Crowds explore the Iowa State Fair

Iowa State Fair

This is not your standard fair. With 11 days of unique foods, quirky contests, vendors, agricultural shows and thrill rides for all ages, the Iowa State Fair is considered one of the best in the USA. The concert line-up will surpass your expectations; past performers have included Elton John, Janet Jackson, Alicia Keys and Bob Dylan. Browse the flea market and play midway games while munching a pork chop on a stick, a fair favorite. Be sure to get a picture of the cow sculpture made of butter and watch a pie-eating, rooster-crowing or arm-wrestling contest.

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Scenic overlook at Bellevue State Park along the Mississippi River

Great River Road

The Mississippi River: It’s possibly the most definitive geographical feature in the USA. To follow its path is to touch the heart of U.S. history and culture. The Great River Road spans a total of 3,765 kilometers, with 528 kilometers of it tracing the eastern border of Iowa. 16 interpretive centers on the Iowa portion of the byway offer diverse educational opportunities including sacred Native American sites, museums, nature preserves and historic mills.

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A trail in the Loess Hills alongside the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway

Loess Hills National Scenic Byway

Loess Hills isn’t just a place, it’s a thing. Loess hills are made of windblown soil dating to the end of the last ice age. Western Iowa has the second-highest concentration of them in the world. The Loess Hills National Scenic Byway has an impressive array of attractions, from museums and interpretive centers to parks and pristine prairieland. When hunger strikes, you’ll find breweries, wineries and regional flavors in towns along the way. Do the drive in autumn if your plans allow – the fall colors are breathtaking.

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The Legend wooden rollercoaster at Iowa’s Arnolds Park Amusement Park

Arnolds Park Amusement Park

Situated next to Lake Okoboji, Arnolds Park is a throwback to the amusement parks of yesteryear. It’s home to The Legend, one of the oldest wooden rollercoasters in the world, as well as a variety of kid- and family-friendly rides for all ages. Cruise the lake on the Queen II steamship and see marine antiques at the maritime museum. Bring a bathing suit – Arnolds Park offers free access to its sandy, lakeside beach.

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Biking the High Trestle Bridge along Iowa’s High Trestle Trail

High Trestle Trail

For runners, bikers and explorers, the High Trestle Trail is not to be missed. Spanning 40 kilometers from Ankeny to Woodward, this hugely popular trail follows a former Union Pacific Railroad line through farmland, prairies and small towns. Near the Woodward terminus is the trail’s centerpiece, the High Trestle Bridge. Towering 13 stories above the Des Moines River Valley, one of the largest trail bridges in the world is topped by an unusual, spiraling archway that shines with funky blue LED lights at night.

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A trail in Effigy Mounds National Monument along Iowa's Driftless Area Scenic Byway

Driftless Area Scenic Byway

Driftless refers to an area around Northern Iowa and surrounding regions that was bypassed by glaciers during the ice age. Unlike surrounding land that was flattened by glacial movement, this terrain is characterized by a rugged topography of tall bluffs carved out by rivers, limestone outcroppings, caves and rivers teeming with trout. The 161-kilometer Driftless Area Scenic Byway is designated the state’s most scenic. Enjoy spectacular overlooks, quaint river towns, outdoor recreation and historical points of interest such as the sacred Native American mounds at Effigy Mounds National Monument.

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Strolling Main Street in one of the Amana Colonies in Iowa

Amana Colonies

Founded in the 1850s by German Pietists, the seven villages of the Amana Colonies have transformed from isolated, self-sufficient religious communities to a popular travel destination known for traditional handcrafts and food. Pick up a map at the Visitors Center (you’ll need to drive between towns to experience it all) and indulge in German sweets, explore historic buildings, watch craftspeople at work and attend a German holiday festival. The shopping is second to none; locally owned stores carry specialty products that make the perfect souvenir or gift.

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Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, Iowa

The Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption

Iowa has a lot of fascinating and unexpected attractions, and the Grotto of the Redemption just might top them all. This spiritual landmark consists of nine grottoes depicting the life of Christ. What makes it so unusual? It’s built entirely of minerals, precious and semi-precious stones set in concrete forming mind-boggling structures unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Not surprisingly, the Grotto is often called the Eighth Wonder of the World. The free, guided tour is highly recommended.

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Explore Iowa destinations

Suspension bridge along Iowa’s High Trestle Trail
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Explore Iowa destinations