1. Get your bike and join RAGBRAI.
RAGBRAI, or Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, is a long-held Iowa tradition. It’s a non-competitive bike ride that takes riders several hundred miles across Iowa. And every town that hosts overnight RAGBRAI participants holds local events and festivities, so if you’re not into the actual ride, you can join in on the party at any number of small towns across Iowa.
2. Visit the Buddy Holly Crash Site and Surf Ballroom.
Pay your respects at the crash site in the farm field where Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.P. “the Big Bopper” Richardson and pilot Roger Peterson were killed in a plane crash in 1959. Then, get a fascinating history of music at the Surf Ballroom and Museum in Clear Lake.
3. Check out the butter cow at the Iowa State Fair.
A real butter sculpture in the shape of a cow! This is an Iowa State Fair tradition and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see 600 pounds of actual butter in one place. Did you know you could butter roughly 19,200 slices of toast with the contents of the butter cow? That's a lot of toast! And, when you’re done checking out this unique attraction, go and visit the rest of the rides and events that the fair has to offer.
4. Play catch on the real movie set of the Field of Dreams.
This is the real set of the academy award nominated film, Field of Dreams, in Dyersville, IA.
5. Learn about farm life at the Living History Farms.
The Living History Farms are a rare opportunity to experience what Midwestern rural life was like during different time periods throughout history. Among many interesting and educational interactive exhibits, you can visit a general store, blacksmith, schoolhouse and more.
6. Check out the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum.
You can tour the museum and library to learn about Hoover’s life and presidential legacy, and visit his birthplace cottage and grave, as well.
7. Ride the Monster roller coaster at Adventureland.
This brand new roller coaster will definitely give you a thrill, and when you’re done, you can ride many of the other rides and attractions at Adventureland theme park and water park.
8. Peer down on Iowa from a hot air balloon at the National Balloon Classic in Indianola.
Scheduled for July 29th - August 6th this year, you can take part in all kinds of fun activities, including music, fireworks, and more. However, the star of this show is an actual hot air balloon ride, where you can gaze out over the beautiful Iowa farmlands from high up in the sky.
9. See an amazing collection of motorcycles at the National Motorcycle Museum.
The National Motorcycle Museum was founded in 1989 and features exhibits from around the world. In 2010, the museum moved into a larger location which has allowed the museum to expand its visitor capacity and its exhibits.
10. Let your inner trekkie shine at the annual Trek Fest.
While the Riverside Trek Fest is over for 2016, you can catch it next year, as it’s an annual tradition. At the future birthplace of Captain Kirk, you can participate in many activities, such as a parade, trivia contest, carnival and much more.
11. Spend the night in The Villisca Axe Murder House.
In 1912, an entire family in Villisca was brutally murdered with an axe. To this day, the murder has never been solved. It has since become a regular investigation site of paranormal investigators, and many have reported that the house is haunted by a dark spirit. If you’re looking for a bone-chilling adventure, you can rent out the house for $428 a night and sleep in the rooms where the murders took place.
12. Take a ride on the world’s shortest, steepest railway.
Hopefully you’re not afraid of heights, because the Fenelon Place elevator is the world’s shortest, steepest railway. At 296 feet in length, it lifts its passengers 189 feet from Fourth Street to Fenelon Place. It’s worth it, though, because when you get to the top, you’ll have breathtaking views of Dubuque and the Mississippi River.
13. Take a scenic train ride through Boone County.
On the Boone and Scenic Valley Railway, you can choose from many different journeys, from basic rides to trips that serve dinner, or dessert, or even picnics. Make sure to visit their website to make reservations first!