Has a bite from the travel-bug left you itching to explore, but you don’t have the time or money to take a real vacation? No worries, that’s what day trips are for! Gather up your traveling companions and hit the highway for these 10 unique day trips in Iowa.
1. Cheer on the underdog at a camel race
I bet you never thought you would see a camel race in Iowa, huh? Well you were wrong! Prairie Meadows Race Track in Altoona, Iowa conducts camel, zebra, and ostrich races one night a year.
2. Eat, drink and be merry at the old Dubuque Star Brewery
The historic Dubuque Star Brewery, now the Stone Cliff Winery, is a great place to spend a day. They serve food, beer and wine, and the area is just beautiful. Spend the rest of the day checking out the city, there is enough to keep you for days.
3. Be Dutch for a day in Pella
The town of Pella is well-known for its Dutch heritage. This is a great place to spend the day walking down cobblestone streets in your wooden clogs, visiting the windmills and eating dutch letters fresh from one of their many bakeries.
4. Tour the birthplace of John Wayne
To get a taste of fame in Iowa, check out the birthplace of John Wayne in Winterset. After touring The Duke's birthplace, check out the famous Bridges of Madison County, which also made it into a Hollywood movie.
5. Explore the magical caves at Maquoketa Caves State Park
This subterranean paradise is a must-see. Spend the day climbing down into dark caverns, or up onto the highest peaks.
6. Check out an Iowa Cubs game
Spend the perfect day at a ball game, eating popcorn and cheering on the Iowa Cubs at Principal Park in Des Moines. This is something all Iowans need to do at least once in their life, even if they don't like baseball.
7. Take a trip into the past at the Motor Mill
The historic Motor Mill, located in Clayton County, is an old 1860's flour mill known for it's amazing architecture. They offer free tours, and the area is surrounded by a 155-acre park that offers hiking, kayaking, fishing, camping, bird watching, and more.
8. Rock out at the Hard Rock Cafe
The Hard rock Hotel & Casino in Sioux City is a great place to do a little gambling, listen to live music and even stay a night or two if you want to extend your day trip!
9. Climb to the top of this giant bell tower
The Mahanay Bell Tower in Jefferson is 14 stories tall, and has 14 bells that chime the time of day every 15 minutes. Visitors can ride the elevator up to the 120-foot high observation deck, and see the lovely scenery for miles.
10. Take a cruise
Take a cruise without going all the way to some port in Texas or Florida. The Riverboat Twilight offers 1 and 2 day cruises down the Mississippi River, from Le Claire to Dubuque. This is a really fun and unique experience, and the boat is gorgeous. The fares cover food, lodging, entertainment and activities.
What are some of your favorite unique day trips in Iowa? Share them in the comments section below!