These 9 awesome places may be way out in the boonies, but they’re so worth the drive.
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. Little House on the Farm & Guest Barn Bed & Breakfast
Located a few miles outside the small town of Postville, this farm refuge will make you feel like you’re miles and miles away from everyone and everything. This unique B&B was opened with the intention of giving people the opportunity to feel what life in the country is really like, and that’s what you’ll get.
Whether you rent the little house or the guest barn, you’ll be treated to true sights and sounds of farm life, like the farm dog, Rover, many cats, farm fresh eggs and garden veggies, not to mention a clear sky full of stars at night. You’ll have privacy, peace and quiet, plenty of nature and a warm breakfast brought to you every morning. Heaven.
Address: 892 Pole Line Rd., Postville, IA
2. Sutliff Cider Company
While it’s a winding road that will lead you to the Sutliff Cider Company's rural Lisbon location, you’ll definitely enjoy the scenery along the way. The beauty of the setting once you arrive also won’t disappoint.
The cider company is located in two historic farm buildings. One is used for pressing, bottling and fermenting their cider. The 120 year old barn is now a tasting room where you can relax and enjoy some delicious cider and take in live music. The cider company’s season runs April 17th through October 31st and is open on Sundays only, from 11am to 6pm.
Address: 382 Sutliff Rd., Lisbon, IA
3. The Swinging Bridge
This enchanting bridge is set in a lovely remote setting situated amongst a beautiful canopy of trees, and it hovers over a steep ravine. Also known as Lover’s Leap Bridge, the area is known to be haunted.
The legend goes that a heartbroken young Native-American maiden jumped off the bridge and to her death after learning her lover had died in battle. Some say that her spirit still roams the area. Address: 226 Elm St., Columbus Junction, IA
4. Loess Hills Lavender Farm
When you encounter the Loess Hills in western Iowa, it’s easy to imagine that you’re the last person on earth. This unique natural area is home to some of the largest remaining prairie remnants in Iowa, and is home to plants and animals that can be found nowhere else in the state.
The Loess Hills Lavender Farm is a family owned farm with plenty to see and explore. The farm offers tours, hosts events and sell a variety of items in the gift shop. It’s definitely a one-of-a-kind Iowa experience to visit. Address: 2278 Loess Hills Trail, Missouri Valley, IA
5. Backbone State Park
It’s easy to get lost in this beautiful and rugged state park. Backbone State Park is Iowa’s very first state park, and it has 21 miles of hiking trails, as well as scenic limestone bluffs. It’s named for a narrow, steep ridge of bedrock carved out by the Maquoketa River known as the Devil’s Backbone. Address: 1347 129th St., Dundee, IA
6. Ladora Bank Bistro
Ladora, Iowa, home just 283 people, is also home to one of the most historic, beautiful, unique and delicious restaurants you’ll find here in Iowa. This hidden gem serves delicious and contemporary food in a renovated 1920s building that used to be a bank.
The food alone is worth a stop, with mouth-watering shared plate choices like seared scallops wrapped in bacon, crab cakes and Moroccan lamb meatballs.
But the architecture is the icing on the cake. The building is built in the classic revival architectural style, with Doric columns, mosaic tiled floors, marble walls and restored bank vaults.
Address: 811 Pacfic St., Ladora, IA
7. Valle Drive In
This old-fashioned drive-in theater provides nostalgia and entertainment in a wide open, scenic setting. Whether you want to sit on a blanket under the stars or stay cozy in your car, at this drive-in, you’ll enjoy a double feature, as well as a variety of tasty concession stand snacks.
Valle Drive-In shows a variety of films, and hours vary by season. Their last showing of the year is held on the last weekend of October.
Address: 4074 Highway F48, W Newton, IA
8. The Grotto of the Redemption
This amazing destination is in the tiny town (population 785) of West Bend, Iowa. The grotto is often called the Eighth Wonder of the World, and it’s a breathtaking destination that is truly a must visit.
The grotto is a religious shrine with a conglomeration of nine grottos depicting scenes from the life of Jesus Christ. This spot houses the largest collection of precious stones and gems that can be found in one location anywhere.
Address: 300 N Broadway Ave., West Bend, IA
9. Bluff Lake Catfish Farm
The setting of this destination restaurant is as beautiful as it is unusual. The farm is tucked away in a secluded rural area between a 50 foot waterfall and the Maquoketa River. The restaurant started out as a small snack stand on Clayton Kuhlman’s catfish pond, and it was so popular it expanded into the restaurant it is today. The drive there will take you past many classic Iowa sights, like farms, cornfields and the gorgeous Maquoketa Caves State Park.
The restaurant specializes in All-You-Can-Eat meals. The whole or filleted Catfish special is on Friday nights from 4pm to 10pm, and there’s a filleted Haddock special on Saturday nights from 4pm to 10pm. There’s also a regular menu with plenty of options, like burgers, sandwiches, steaks, fish and more. The restaurant is only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and make sure you have plenty of time, because this popular spot draws big crowds.
Address: 9343 95th Ave., Maquoketa, IA