People who aren’t from Iowa tend to think that our state is one boring, endless field of corn. But little do they know that we have plenty to offer – with everything from magical waterfalls to historical landmarks and unforgettable views. Next time your family from out-of-state comes to visit, take them off the beaten path a bit and make their visit one they’ll never forget by taking them to these 11 places in Iowa:
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1. The Iowa Great Lakes, Dickinson County
The Iowa Great Lakes are easily one of Iowa's best vacation destinations, and a great place to show off to your out-of-town visitors. Thousands of people come every year to go boating, swimming, and water skiing, or to see Arnold's Park, Iowa's oldest amusement park.
2. Crystal Lake Cave, Dubuque
Crystal Lake Cave in Dubuque is easily one of the most magical caves in Iowa. Spend a day here spelunking and exploring the caverns - there is also a newly added gem mining sluice to keep the kids busy.
3. The World's Largest Truck Stop, Walcott
Especially if your visitors come by car, it would be silly NOT to show them the world's largest truck stop. Iowa 80, located in Walcott, sprawls over 220 acres, and their 450 employees serve 5,000 customers a day. They even have a movie theatre, dentist, chiropractor and museum!
4. The Blue Bunny Ice Cream Barn, Le Mars
Maybe your guest has a sweet tooth? Well they've come to the right place. Iowa is home to the ice cream capital of the world: Le Mars, where Wells Dairy (most famous for their Blue Bunny line) originated. If you want the best ice cream in the world, you don't have to go far.
5. Effigy Mounds National Monument, Harpers Ferry
Effigy Mounds National Monument, located in Allamakee and Clayton Counties, contains 191 prehistoric Indian mounds, making Effigy Mounds National Monument the largest known concentration of mounds remaining in the United States. It's a truly fascinating and underrated spot to check out for visitors and residents alike.
6. The Hobo Museum, Britt
Britt is home to the only hobo museum in the world, so why wouldn't you show your visitors something they couldn't see anywhere else? Britt is also home to the National Hobo Convention and the only Hobo Memorial in the world.
7. The Villages of Van Buren, southeast Iowa
The Villages of Van Buren are definitely a hidden gem. Plan a trip with your guests, and visit as many of the villages as you can. In Bentonsport, stay at the historic and haunted Mason House Inn, in Bonaparte, find some delicious grub at the Bonaparte Retreat, and check out the Strawberry Festival in Farmington.
8. The American Gothic House, Eldon
Grant Wood, one of the most well-known artists of our time, was from none other than Anamosa, Iowa. His most famous work,"American Gothic" featured the house shown above, forever making it an iconic image for people across the world. People now visit from far and wide to pose in front of the house for a photo (with pitchfork and all).
9. Sergeant Floyd River Museum, Sioux City
The Sergeant Floyd River Museum in Sioux City is an old army inspection boat turned museum that sits on the riverfront. It is named for Sergeant Charles Floyd, the only man to have died on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. This is a great place to learn about area history, and being on an old boat makes it that much more fun.
10. Grotto of the Redemption, West Bend
Often called the Eighth Wonder of the World, the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend is the largest man-made Grotto in the world, and contains the largest collection of precious stones and gems found anywhere in one location. This site is sure to be one your guests will remember.
11. Beulah Spring Falls, McGregor
Don't let your guests miss out on seeing the beauty that Iowa has to offer, including the Beulah Spring Waterfall. Located in Clayton County, this magical, mossy waterfall can be seen on your next visit to Spook Cave in McGregor.
What are some more underrated spots in Iowa to take your out of town guests? Share your thoughts with us!