Iowa is the only state bordered by two navigable rivers (the Missouri River and the Mississippi River) and two National Scenic Byways (the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway and the Great River Road). In between, it is packed with quirky and renowned destinations, including the birthplace of and library for U.S. President Herbert Hoover, the Historic Park Inn Hotel (the last remaining hotel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright) and the world’s largest statue of a bull.
You’ll know you’re here when…
… you see cyclists in every community and on the trails that connect them. Iowa has an estimated 1,200 miles of multi-use trails such as rail-trails and city trails used for bicycling, walking, in-line skating, etc.
Don’t leave without tasting…
The seven villages that make up the Amana Colonies were a former commune, home to Germans who fled their native county in the mid-1880s. A traditional meal offers German classics such as schnitzel and sauerkraut, along with salads, mashed potatoes, bread and pie. Choose from a handful of restaurants, including the popular Ox Yoke Inn.
Put these events on your calendar
- RAGBRAI, The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa is a seven-day bicycle ride across the state. Heading into its 40th year, RAGBRAI is the oldest, largest and longest bicycle touring event in the world
- Nothing compares to the annual Iowa State Fair, the August extravaganza that inspired the novel State Fair and three motion pictures.
Top photo opportunities
- Burlington’s tiny Mosquito Park offers a spectacular view of the Mississippi River. It’s a popular spot for weddings and, in winter, watching eagles soar overhead
- Located in Madrid, the High Trestle Trail’s half-mile long, 13-storey high bicycle-pedestrian bridge affords trail users spectacular views of the Des Moines River Valley
- The house in Eldon that Iowa artist Grant Wood painted American Gothic provides various sizes of the apron, overalls, suit jackets, antique glasses and hay forks so visitors can pose for a photo in front of the house
- Knoxville’s 106-foot Cordova Park Observation Tower —the tallest observation tower in the Midwest—has unparalleled views of the Des Moines River Valley and Lake Red Rock
- Albert the Bull, the world's largest bull, is on the south edge of Audubon. This 30-foot-tall concrete and steel structure salutes the area's beef industry.
Fun and learning flow together at the 10-acre National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in the Port of Dubuque. There are 12 aquariums, numerous galleries, interactive components, a state-of-the-art 3D/4D theatre, a boatyard plaza with working blacksmith shop and boat shop, wetland area and National Historic Landmark vessel, The William M. Black.
Classic road trip
More commonly known as U.S. 30, the Lincoln Highway is America’s first transcontinental highway, and 472 miles of it span Iowa from Clinton to Council Bluffs.
The Highway 141 Garage Sale stretches nearly 100 miles and includes 13 communities, from Grimes to Manilla. The event includes vendors, flea markets and food and beverage booths.
The Historic East Village in downtown Des Moines is located between the Iowa State Capitol and the skyscrapers of the city core. Diverse shops, restaurants, bars and residents bring a comfortable feel to this pedestrian-friendly village.
Only have one day here?
This 500-acre open-air Living History Farms in Urbandale tells the amazing story of how Iowans transformed the fertile prairies of the Midwest into the most productive farmland in the world. Travel at your own pace through five time periods spanning 300 years: the 1700 Ioway Indian Farm, the 1850 Pioneer Farm, the 1875 town of Walnut Hill, the 1900 Horse-Powered Farm and the modern crop centre.
Films shot here
- Field of Dreams, Dyersville: ‘go the distance’ and visit this family farm with a baseball diamond carved into its heart. There are no organised activities—bring your own baseball equipment
- Bridges of Madison County: the six covered bridges are the sites of legendary love stories, even before the novelist Robert Waller and Hollywood romanticised them.