Put these sights on your list this summer, and you’ll wonder how Iowa got so lucky. Why do we get all the best stuff?
1. Matchstick Marvels, 319 2nd St, Gladbrook
See the work of Iowa artist Patrick Acton, who has created over 65 detailed scale models using over four million wooden matchsticks. His work has been featured on Ripley's Believe It or Not, and is on display in museums in Europe, Asia, North America, and Australia. His 12-foot miniature replica of the United States Capital (with lights) is one of his most popular displays.
2. Black Angel of Oakland Cemetary, 1020 Ronalds Street, Iowa City
This locally famous statue stands 8 1/2 feet tall and is situated in a cemetery. It's made of bronze, so the oxidation process has rendered it black. Mario Korbel is the artist, and the monument towers over the graves of Nicholas and Theresa Feldevert and Theresa's son Edward Dolezal. Local legend has it that if you kiss the statue, you'll be struck dead.
3. The world's largest bull, South Market Street, Audubon
The world's largest bull has been taking up quite a bit of space in Audubon since 1964. Albert the bull is 33 feet long, 30 feet tall, and has a 15-foot-wide head. His blue eyes are simply charming.
4. University of Iowa Museum of Natural History, 17 N Clinton Sreet, Iowa City
Here, you'll see 115,000 specimens, many of them works of patient and talented taxidermists. This unique museum also has artifacts from the Philippines displayed at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904. The museum was founded in 1858.
5. Snake Alley, Columbia Street, Burlington
This street is just 300 feet long, but has two quarter-curves and five half-curves. A group of German immigrants designed it in 1894 to echo the vineyard trails of Europe. The limestone bricks are placed at a specific angle to make it easier for the horses at the time to make the journey up and down the road. Snake Alley is the crookedest street in the United States, and some claim it also holds the title for Crookedest street in the world.
6. Hawkeye Point, 130th Street, Sibley
At 1,670 feet above sea level, this piece of ground once owned by Donna and Merrill Sterler was once home to a hog feeding trough. Now, the beautiful mosaic monument marks the spot.
7. Maharishi Vedic City
The Maharishi Vedic City, a town built by the rules of ancient Hindu Veda principals, was established in 2001. It's actually Iowa's newest city. The Maharishi International University in Fairfield, established in the 1970's, by the late guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, is host to transcendental meditators who hope to facilitate world peace with their work. They meet twice each day for group Yogic Flying.
8. Pottawattamie Squirrel Cage Jail, 226 Pearl Street
This is one of three remaining rotary jails in the world. Built in 1855 to minimize interaction between criminals and jailers, the jail cells are situated on and axis that can be turned by the jailer at will. This particular rotary jail is even more unique in that it has three levels.
9. "The Day the Music Died", 22728 Gull Ave, Clear Lake
This monument marks the spot in Clear Lake, Iowa, where on February 3, 1959, Ritchie Valens, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, and Buddy Holly were killed in a plane crash. Their pilot, Roger Peterson, also died in the crash. The event is referred to in the popular song by Don McLean, "American Pie."
10. Site of the West's first train robbery, 1156 Anita-Adair RoadAdair
This portion of Old U.S. Highway 6 was the place where the first moving-train robbery in the West took place. We have Jesse James and his gang to blame. There's a single upright train car wheel here to mark the spot.
What other offbeat Iowa attractions do you wish more people knew about? Let us know in the comments!