There’s more to Iowa than miles of corn fields, the yearly state fair, and occasional visits from presidential candidates. Here are 11 epic things to do in Iowa that even the locals may be unaware of.
1. World's Largest Frying Pan
The world's largest frying pan is in Brandon, Iowa. You can stop by and see it any time. The pan provides a roadside promotion for the small town's semi-annual Cowboy Breakfast event.
2. World's Tallest Concrete Gnome
You'll find Elwood, the world's tallest concrete gnome, in Reiman Gardens at Iowa State University, in Ames. Elwood is 15 feet tall and is made of fiberglass, concrete, and rebar. Weighing in at 3,500 pounds, this garden gnome is fairly theft-proof.
3. Bily Clocks Museum
Located in the Czech town of Spillville, the Bily Clocks Museum features a 9'10" tall clock named, Apostles' Parade. Featuring the twelve disciples of Jesus, Apostles' Parade is an American masterpiece created by Frank and Joseph Bily in the late 19th century. It is on display, among many other famous clocks created by the Bily brothers in the Bily Clocks Museum.
4. The World's Largest Truck Stop
Just off of Exit 284 on Interstate 80 in Iowa is the world's largest truck stop. Established in 1964, this tiny city, sometimes called a "trucker's Disneyland" is a one-stop shop for everything you'll need on your roadtrip. A game room, barber shop, eight restaurants, laundromat, library, chiropractor, chapel, and even a movie theater are all on-site.
5. Pottawattamie Squirrel Cage Jail
Holding criminals in rotary jails was a brief fad in prison design; see it for yourself in Council Bluffs. Designed to minimize interaction between jailer and inmate, these rotating jails exposed only one criminal at a time to the jailer. The central carousel turns with the spin of a hand-crank. This giant metal turntable is on display courtesy of the Historical Society of Pottawattamie County.
6. World's Shortest and Steepest Railroad
The world's shortest and steepest railroad is in Dubuque, Iowa and you can take a ride. The Fenelon Place Elevator operates from April to November. A round trip will set you back $3.
7. Grundy Center Barn Quilts
The Barn Quilts of Grundy County are on display; over 60 corn cribs and barns near Wellsburg, Conrad, and Grundy City feature these beautiful designs. Make it a day trip and stop at the many quaint Iowa restaurants and shops along the way.
8. Buddy Holly Crash Site
Just eight miles north of Clear Lake, Iowa is the crash site of the February 3, 1959 airplane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.P. Richardson, and their young pilot. Music fan Ken Paquette created the memorial in 1988. The access point is marked by a giant pair of black reading glasses, like the ones Buddy Holly wore during his short life.
9. Black Angel of Oakland Cemetary
Located in Iowa City, the Black Angel is a monument for the Feldevert family and was erected in 1912. Local legend warns that if you kiss the Black Angel, you'll be struck dead.
10. Field of Dreams Movie Site
Located near Dyersville, the Field of Dreams movie site is a destination for fans of the film. Guided tours of the farm house, a gift shop, and even occasional comedy shows all bring this destination to life for visitors.
11. Hobo Museum
See original artifacts from legendary hobos like Connecticut Slim, Hard Rock Kid, and Pennsylvania Kid at the Hobo Museum in Britt, Iowa. Purchased by the Hobo Foundation, the museum is a tribute to the hobo lifestyle, culture, and languages.