Iowa, mile for mile, offers some of the most beautiful sights in the country. With so much to see, we found 12 great places you can visit in all areas of the state. From the rolling Loess Hills of western Iowa to the Mississippi river-towns of the eastern part of our state, take one of these road trips to enjoy the beautiful scenery found in Iowa.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. The Iowa Great Lakes
The Iowa Great Lakes are easily one of Iowa's best vacation (or road trip) destinations. Thousands of people come every year to go boating, swimming, and water skiing, or to see Arnold's Park. While you're there, soak up the sun on one of the beautiful beaches, and stay at one of the beachside resorts.
2. The Amana Colonies
Entering the little German villages of the Amana Colonies is like taking a step into a different world. The colonies are as picturesque as it comes, and you can spend days just visiting all the little shops, where almost everything is handmade. The Woolen Mill is especially fun to see, and their products are sold all over Iowa. If you get a chance to take a road trip over here, take it!
As Iowa's oldest city, Dubuque is bursting with history and culture. The city has so much to do, you could spend an entire week here and still not get to see everything! Some highlights to check out are: the Fenelon Place Elevator Car, the Mississippi River Museum, the historic Dubuque Star Brewery, and the Five Flags Theatre. While you're there, stay in the Hotel Julien, a historic gem of the city.
Decorah is a little taste of Norway in Iowa. The city is home to the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, which was named one of 15 Best Small-Town Museums in the U.S. by the world-respected travel guide, Fodor’s. When you're done at the museum, go explore the Ice Cave, check out the trout hatchery, and have a glass of wine at the Winneshiek Wildberry Winery.
Pella is easily one of the most unique towns in the state, and is definitely worth a road trip. Spend your day here eating a Dutch letter from Jaarsma Bakery, taking a tour of the Vermeer Windmill, and going for a walk by the Molengracht Canal.
6. Maquoketa Caves State Park
Every year, the Maquoketa Caves draw visitors from all over the state, and even the country. These are by far Iowa's best caves, and if you're looking to have a fun outdoor adventure, Maquoketa Caves is the place to go. It is truly stunning to see, and every Iowan should visit at least once in their life.
7. The Loess Hills
The Loess Hills of Iowa are truly majestic, and it's totally worth it to take a road trip to see them. The 220-mile main route and the additional 185 miles of excursion loops offer a beautiful view no matter where you're at, and there are several scenic outlooks that you can get out of the car to enjoy.
8. Grotto of the Redemption
The Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend is considered the Eighth Wonder of the World. The Grotto is a religious shrine that was painstakingly created by a priest back in 1912, in a construction that lasted 42 years. It's the largest grotto in the world, and it's also the largest collection of gemstones in one place.
Another fantastic road trip destination is Winterset. While you're there, check out the birthplace of Hollywood legend John Wayne, and take a tour of the beautiful and covered bridges of Madison County.
10. The Villages of Van Buren
The Villages of Van Buren are definitely a hidden gem. Plan a road trip, 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.
Dyersville is most famously known as the home of the Field Of Dreams movie site. Of course you have to make a trip to see that, but afterwards, check out the National Farm Toy Museum and the beautiful St. Francis Basilica, then grab a bite to eat at the Palace Saloon.
12. The World's Largest Truck Stop
What road trip would ever be complete without making an honorary stop at the world's largest truck stop, Iowa 80 in Walcott. This place is so massive, there is a museum, a theatre, a barber, and even a dentist. You could practically live in here!
What are some more spots to add to your list of road trip destinations? Share your thoughts with us!