1. Elwood, The World's Tallest Concrete Gnome, Ames
Yep, Elwood’s for real. He’s big, he’s charming, and his name is even more endearing. You can find him at Iowa State University’s Reiman Gardens. At 15 feet, he’s the tallest concrete gnome in the world.
2. Grotto of the Redemption, West Bend
A huge and valuable collection of gems, the Grotto of the Redemption is as gorgeous as it is large. It’s the biggest man-made grotto in the world, and it will definitely take your breath away.
3. American Gothic House, Eldon
This is the house that inspired Grant Wood’s painting, American Gothic. When you visit, you can take a tour of the American Gothic House Center which contains displays about Grant Wood’s life and the house’s history. You can even pose in front of the house to recreate the painting, so practice your stern face!
4. The Hobo Museum, Britt
The Hobo Museum in the Chief Theater was purchased by the Hobo Foundation with money that was donated to them by an anonymous hobo. This truly fascinating museum features collections from all over the world, including books, music and crafts created by hobos.
5. Captain Kirk’s Future Birthplace, Riverside
Steve Miller, a Riverside councilman and Star Trek fan, read in Gene Roddenberry's book, Making of Star Trek, that Captain Kirk would be born in a small town in Iowa. Miller thought, why not Riverside? He proposed to the city council that Riverside declare itself the future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk, and the motion passed. Now, instead of Riverfest, the town’s annual festival is Trekfest.
6. National Balloon Museum, Indianola
Check out this cool museum that features all things related to hot-air balloons, including interactive displays and artifacts and memorabilia depicting the history of hot-air balloons dating all the way back to 1783.
7. Matchstick Marvels Museum, Gladbrook
This museum is truly marvelous. Here, you can look Pat Acton’s work, which includes some of the most intricate, remarkable models and sculptures made from wooden matchsticks that you’ve ever seen. Acton’s work is so amazing, Ripley's Believe It or Not actually bought 20 of his models for their museums throughout the world!
8. Formations at Crystal Lake Cave, Dubuque
Very slow-moving groundwater has carved Galena limestone into the spectacular formations at Crystal Lake Cave. This natural wonder is truly a sight to behold.
9. Albert the Bull, Audubon
30 feet tall and 33 feet long, Albert the Bull is as impressive as he is imposing. He’s the world’s largest bull, is made of solid concrete and has baby blue eyes.
10. World’s Largest Popcorn Ball, Sac City
The previous world’s biggest popcorn ball is gone, but if you’re willing to wait until August, you’ll see an even bigger, more impressive popcorn ball. You know, if you like to brag about things like seeing the world’s biggest popcorn ball.
11. World’s Largest Frying Pan, Brandon
And, because why not, there’s the world’s largest frying pan, which could, theoretically, make the world’s largest 44 egg omelet. That’s a lot of eggs!