From a notorious location for UFO sightings to a museum dedicated completely to the hobo way of life, Iowa is home to some true oddities. Some of these places are creepy, some are silly, and all of them are weird!
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Galleria De Paco, Waterloo
If you've always wanted to visit the Sistine Chapel, but just don't have the kind of money for a costly trip to Europe, we have your solution. A graffiti artist named Paco Rosic bought an abandoned warehouse in Waterloo and recreated Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling. Then he turned the place into a restaurant, which you can now go eat at.
2. The Future Birthplace of Captain Kirk, Riverside
For anyone who has ever seen Star Trek, you will know that Captain Kirk is from Iowa, he just works in outer space. And according to the show, he will be born in Riverside, Iowa in about 213 years.
3. The Hobo Museum, Britt
That's right, a whole museum dedicated to hobos, and it's right here in Britt, Iowa. Britt is also home to the National Hobo Convention and the only Hobo Memorial in the world. Every year, the town has a Hobo Days festival where they crown a hobo king and hobo queen.
4. Zombie Burger, Des Moines
Have you ever wanted to eat a burger, but also be surrounded by the undead? Well Zombie Burger is just the thing for you! The restaurant itself is filled with zombie-themed decor, and their food is to die for - no pun intended.
5. The World's Largest Popcorn Ball, Sac City
Sac City, Iowa is home to the worlds largest popcorn ball, which weighs 3,100 pounds. This record-breaking ball of popcorn is worth the visit if you're ever in the area.
6. Fong's Pizza, Des Moines
The story of Fong's is a funny one; the legend goes that the restaurant used to serve Chinese food, but when the new owners bought it to turn it into a pizza place, they didn't want to change the decor, and so Fong's Pizza was born. Fong's is popular for their fun, Asian-inspired theme, and their delicious pizza.
7. The Ice Cave, Decorah
This cave in Decorah is frozen all year round, due to the glacier it sits on, though it tends to start melting during the summer. Unlike many of the others on this list, this unique and weird destination in Iowa is one that is completely natural.
8. Grotto of the Redemption, West Bend
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. Now if that's not unique and weird in the coolest way possible, I don't know what is.
9. The Squirrel Cage Jail Museum, Council Bluffs
The Squirrel Cage Jail Museum in Council Bluffs is an old jail turned museum, where visitors can see the only 'squirrel cage jail' on this side of the Mississippi.
10. Mars Hill Church, Bloomfield
Just southeast of Ottumwa is the Mars Hill Church, which is the oldest log cabin church west of the Mississippi River. The church and surrounding area have a somewhat creepy history. Near the church is what the locals call Cry Baby Bridge. The story goes that many years ago, a young woman had her baby baptized in the church and then for some reason, walked to the bridge and threw in into the water, drowning the child. Legend says that on certain nights, you can hear the sound of a scream while crossing the bridge. Now the area is notorious for ghost, and even UFO, sightings.
11. Maharishi Vedic City
Maharishi Vedic City is a small city near Fairfield that was inspired by meditation guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who recommended that its development be based on ancient Vedic literature. The city lives according to this lifestyle, and has banned the sale of non-organic food and the use of cars other than electric ones.
12. Maharishi University, Fairfield
Specifically, the Golden Dome of Pure Knowledge and the Maharishi Tower of Invincibility are two very unique things to see at the university, which focuses a lot of their teaching on meditation guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's idea of Transcendental Meditation.
13. The tree in the road, Cass County
The big tree in the road separates the border of Cass County and Audubon County, and is one of Iowa's many weird and wacky wonders that you must see at least once in your life.
Anyone else up for a Tour de Weird through Iowa? What are some more places you would add to the list? Share your suggestions with us in the comments section below!