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. The Loess Hills
The Loess Hills provide some truly unique and beautiful landscape that’s different from any other area of Iowa. The Loess Hills were formed when the glaciers started to melt, the valleys flooded and the sediment formed deposits that dried out and eventually became covered by grass. There are plenty of trails to explore, as the Loess Hills stretch all along the western Iowa border.
2. Des Moines Art Center
The Des Moines Art Center contains galleries that possess a large collection of 20th and 21st century modern and contemporary art. Also, check out the sculpture park outside the center. Best of all, this amazing attraction is totally free! 4700 Grand Ave., Des Moines, IA.
3. Mississippi River Museum
The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium is a fascinating museum where you can learn about the history of American rivers. There are also exhibits in the museum with aquariums and wildlife that can be found in the Mississippi river. 350 E 3rd St., Dubuque, IA.
4. Bridges of Madison County
These picturesque bridges inspired a best-selling novel and movie, and they’re definitely worth a visit. If you can time it right, there’s a covered bridge festival in October, where you can take a guided bus tour of the bridges and enjoy music, a quilt show, local artists, and even a parade.
5. The Amana Colonies
The Amana Colonies are comprised of seven charming villages: Amana, East Amana, High Amana, Middle Amana, South Amana, West Amana and Homestead. They provide a taste of history and European charm, with interesting shops and restaurants serving authentic German food.
6. Maquoketa Caves State Park
Maquoketa Caves State Park is easily one of the most beautiful destinations in the state. It’s located in the Driftless Area of Iowa, which escaped the glaciation during the ice age that flattened most of the state. The park is filled with a series of caves and trails to explore, and it’s definitely a must visit in 2017. 10970 98th St., Maquoketa, IA.
7. Devonian Fossil Gorge
The Devonian Fossil Gorge is one of the most fascinating natural wonders of Iowa. The gorge was exposed by flooding and was actually once the floor of an ocean. It is filled with 375 million year old fossils to explore. 2850 Prairie Du Chien Rd. NE, Iowa City, IA.
8. Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor
This isn’t just a trip to an ice cream parlor, it’s a trip to Le Mars, the ice cream capital of the world. The Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor offers numerous options of some of the best ice cream Iowa has to offer. 115 Central Ave. NW, Le Mars, IA.
If you’re looking for an island getaway but don’t want to leave Iowa, make sure to pay a visit to Sabula, Iowa’s only island. While you’re there, make sure to explore South Sabula Lakes Park and pay a visit to Bombfire Pizza for some delicious wood fired pizza.
10. Barrelhead Winery
You may not think of wineries when you think of Iowa, but there are actually numerous thriving wineries throughout the state. Barrelhead Winery is a great place to visit to sample the local vintages. They’re known for their educated staff and their dry red. 9995 Laudeville Rd., Dubuque, IA.
11. Pikes Peak State Park
Pikes Peak State Park is a place of great natural beauty, with some of the most spectacular views of the Mississippi River in the Midwest. There’s plenty of hiking, and you’ll want to make sure to go to the 500-foot overlook. 32264 Pikes Peak Rd., McGregor, IA.
12. Grotto of the Redemption
Often referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World, the Grotto of the Redemption is definitely a destination worth stopping at. The grotto is a religious shrine with nine grottos depicting scenes from the life of Jesus Christ. The grotto also houses the largest collection of precious stones and gems that can be found in one location anywhere, so there’s no shortage of interesting things to look at. 300 N Broadway Ave., West Bend, IA
13. Vesterheim Museum
The Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum in Decorah is a fantastic museum that gives a glimpse into Norwegian life. The museum was also named one of the "15 Best Small Town Museums in the U.S., so you know it’s worth a stop. 520 W Water St., Decorah, IA.
14. West Lake Okoboji
Water lovers must go to West Lake Okoboji. Known for its pure, blue water and great water activities and fishing, there’s plenty of fun to be had here. Plus, there are a lot of great restaurants, shops and other activities in the area.
15. Arnolds Amusement Park
While you’re in the area, you should definitely check out Arnolds Park Amusement Park. Built in 1889, it is one of the oldest operating amusement parks in the world and has a wooden roller coaster called The Legend that was first in operation in 1927. 37 Lake St., Arnolds Park, IA.