Favorite thing: Visit the National Farm Toy Museum in Dyersville. Since its establishment in 1986 it has showcased over 30,000 toys and exhibits which include, tractors, trucks, implements, and miniature farm scenes. there is also a ten minute movie.
Visit the frontier Fort Museum and Historic Village at Fort Dodge It is a replica of an 1862 militia fort with two original cabins within the stockade.
The Village has a drugstore, jail, log chapel, and general store among other buildings all with period furniture.
In DesMoines visit Living History Farms (in Urbandale)and the governor's mansion, Victorian Terrace Hill.
At the Farms there are actually three working farms where you see crops and livestock. There is the Farm of 1700, the Farm of 1850 and the Farm of 1900.
This is a view of my parents' house one cold winter. This was the year I decided i wanted to go some where warm for a while. Not all winters have this much snow but they are usually very cold. These snow drifts are 6 feet high. You can not see the 4 foot high landing on the front of the house.
Fondest memory: I remember building tunnels in snow drifts as high as the house when I was a child but there was also no school.
Quad Cities area (Davenport)...nothing interesting, it's definitively not worth to stop here..
IOWA CITY...this is a beautiful town (the most in Iowa for us). The Old capitol (PICTURED) being great, as well as some downtown buildings. There should be some fun at night since it's something like a 'college town' (lots of teenagers...).
South of Iowa City, you'll find the area where there is the biggest Amish settlement west of the Mississippi river.
North of Iowa City and of the IS highway, you may do an excursion to the AMANA COLONIES. It's a 'rebuilt' old German village, showing German crafts and food. A lot of German emigrants showed up in Iowa during the 1800's (also numerous Scandinavians). Amana is extremeley touristic if you compare with other Iowa places but I guess it's worth the detour.
DES MOINES...Nice capitol but the city itself is not really interesting apart some nice churches. Still it's the only 'big' city in Iowa and about 25% of all Iowans are living within the metro area of Des Moines.
South of Des Moines, go to Winterset in Madison County. This is the place where famous actor John Wayne is born !!! The house doesn't look really nice but you can come back home telling that YOU SAW John Wayne's birthplace !!! Within the Madison county are beautiful and photogenic 'covered bridges'.
Also not far from Winterset, you may see the Amish with their carriage and old 'dressing' way. The image of a huge modern American truck passing this small 'Middle-Age' carriage is really great....
West of Des Moines, on the IS highway, exit at AUDUBON, a few miles north of the IS, you will enter this small town which of interest is : ALBERT THE BULL !!! Piece of kitsch, it's actually a giant plaster statue of a bull. This shows how important is ranching in Iowa.
SIOUX CITY...well sorry for my friend who is living there right now...but this city is NOT BEAUTIFUL. It's a purely industrial city with lots of factory's chimneys throwing out bad fumes. Downtown is nothing to talk about (apart maybe the coffee bar where we had a drink...Uncle...John ?).
Still we were positively impressed by an unusual thing...Sioux City holds an 'open-air' cathedral, yes ! It's called Trinity Heights and it's located north of the city...Really nice place even if you're not into religion. And good views from there since it's on a hill. The bad point being that road signs are not very popular around !!! We spent a long time trying to find the way.
Fondest memory: Hundreds of farms located in the middle of nowhere, with green fields all around...silos and agricultural machines.
One way to see Iowa is from the seat of a bicyle. And every year for the past 30 years, there has been a great bike ride across Iowa from west to east. The Route is different every year. It is called RAGBRAI(Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa). It is sponsored by the Des Moines Register Newspaper. It has become such a big deal that now you must register almost a year in advance. But there are people that only ride for one leg of the trip.
www.ragbrai.org/ is their web site.
Favorite thing: Willkommen! (or so the sign reads) Amana Colonies are a nice place to spend some time, located in the southeastern part of the state. The colonies are actually a cluster of seven villages that formed a communal society for German settlers seeking religious freedom in the mid-1800's. The main town, Amana, offers a winery, a small brewery, several good German restaurants, as well as a few shops that offer such things as leatherworks, wool, or fudge candy. The town is not touristy at all, or at least there didn't seem to be a lot of tourists, so it was kind of nice and relaxing. The other nearby towns have some historic structures, but probably aren't worth more than a drive by, as they are still very much farming communities. I would highly reccommend this place if you happen to be in the area near Iowa City.
Fondest memory: I was just talking to my roommate from southern Missouri and was really surprised that she had never been snow skiing! It boggles the mind...skiing was one of my favorite things to do as a child! Please keep in mind that skiing in the Midwest is nothing like skiing in Colorado or Europe or really anywhere that has anything more than a few hills:) But, if you're a fellow Midwesterner and you happen to be bored one day, I recommend going skiing at Sundown Mountain in Dubuque, IA, or one of the other major ski places around here (search Yahoo for others, this is the one we always went to):) It's fun, and people won't laugh at you, because, frankly, Iowans aren't known for their skiing:)
visit the Iowa State Fair! I suppose it could also be characterized as a tourist trap, but I love it in all of its tacky glory. Steer away from the overpriced junk, but do visit the butter cow (yes, it truly is a cow made out of butter) and the fun exhibitions that you could only appreciate in Iowa, like the contest for who can grow the biggest pumpkin and make sure to check out a hog show!
There is awesome junk food, like the usual drum sticks and funnel cakes, but there is also some really good sit-down food, such as all kinds of BEEF. My advice: try not to eat at a restaurant near the cow barn! For more info, check out www.iowastatefair.org/index.html
Iowa (means: beautiful land), the Hawkeye state (I would have called it the corn state, but that´s already taken by its neighbor Nebraska!) has got a population of almost 3 million, the Capital and biggest city being Des Moines, other 'big' cities are: Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Sioux City, Waterloo, Iowa City, Council Bluffs, Dubuque, Ames, and Cedar Falls. State motto 'Our Liberties We Prize, and Our Rights We will Maintain.' State flower: Wild Prairie Rose. State tree: Oak. State bird: Eastern Goldfinch (whatever that is ;-) ) Economy: Agriculture: Hogs, corn, soybeans, oats, cattle, dairy products.
Industry: Food processing, machinery, electric equipment, chemical products, printing and publishing, primary metals.
Participate in RAGBRAI. Young or old, fast or slow, expensive bike or klunker, just do it.
Fondest memory: This event attracts the friendliest people from all over the world, in a state with the friendliest people in the USA.
See the state capitol building. It has several cupolas and is Gold topped. The only other gold topped capitol dome I ever saw was in West Virginia. It is really different from any other capitol building.
Fondest memory: Shooting shotguns in a long quonset hut style building.
Favorite thing: While Iowa holds true to its image as being a major producer of corn and other agricultural products, there are some neat places to visit so don't immediately disregard Iowa as a possible destination. Besides visiting Grinnell College, we went to a neat little town called Amana. We found this to be a very inexpensive, relaxing and overall fun experience. While Amana is famous as a brand-name for household appliances, Amana is also amidst Iowa's Amish community. As some may know, the Amish community in the states is a peaceful, agrarian group that doesn't fully endorse the lifestyle of industrialized, modernized and commercialized America. So while hotels in Amana will likely offer such amenities for the traveler, it is nice to visit this town where the pace of life is a little slower.
Pass through quickly. This is one of the few places I have visited in my life that I found to be totally dull. I actually lived in DesMoines for several months and the only good thing I can say about the experience is that I learned to appreciate California.
Fondest memory: Leaving. I would assume that the majority of accidents on Iowa roads are caused by boredom from driving for miles and miles between fields of corn, wheat or other uninteresting things.
I must add an apology to CLDCLD (Cheryl Dieter)on this page as she has shown me an aspect of Iowa that I had not seen when I was there. Do take a look at her page if you want the positive side of Iowa.
Live and learn, and learn to live.
Just to show you that CLDCLD is right, here is a picture from Maquoketa Caves State Park.
When I was fourteen I bought a moped and I would drive out in the country on the gravel roads. One day I stopped at the top of a high hill and I had one of those mystical moments when everything seemed so much more than beautiful. I remember it now as the first time I actually saw and recognized the curve of the earth.
As Plato said,'What if man had eyes to see the true beauty,... pure and clear and unalloyed,.. - thither looking, and holding converse with the true beauty simple and divine?
Remember how in that communion only,beholding beauty with the eye of the mind, he will be enabled to bring forth, not images of beauty, but realities (for he has hold not of an image but of a reality)'
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