This blog post was updated on September 7, 2018.
Maybe you didn’t notice from the TV, or the blogs, or on social media, but the state of Iowa was just in the news. And while we’re sure being in the Hawkeye State during presidential primary caucus season is fun and all, there’re plenty of other reasons to visit this iconic Midwestern state. There’s a lot of home town charm to be discovered.
Don’t believe us? Here are just five reasons that’ll convince you:
1.) The Field of Dreams Movie Set—Dubuque County
Honestly, who doesn’t love Field of Dreams? The 1989 movie starring Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, and Ray Liotta that blends baseball and the afterlife. Anyone who claims to have dry eyes at the end of that movie is either lying or a robot. And now you can relive your favorite celluloid tear jerking moment, in person. The baseball diamond, farmhouse, and barn used for filming are all there for visitors to check out.
You can catch a game or two and may find yourself asking—is this baseball heaven? Almost. It’s Iowa.
2.) National Balloon Classic—Indianola
You’ll never hear anyone exactly praise the Iowa landscape. It’s pretty much flat and lined with crops, but that’s what makes it perfect for a hot air balloon festival, and the National Balloon Classic is a pretty sweet one. For nine days, hot air balloons (some with pretty unusual designs), fill the skies in the southern part of the state. Visitors can take balloon rides, jam out to live music, nosh on offerings from food vendors, and take in a nighttime balloon flight amidst the fireworks!
This year’s National Balloon Classic takes place from July 29 to August 6. Just look up!
3.) National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium—Dubuque
An ever present entry on lists of kid-friendly destinations for the regions, the National Mississippi River Museum is a combined zoological and historical exhibition center, exploring American rivers. It features both permanent and temporary interactive exhibits, including live wildlife showcases, historic train and riverboat displays, and a current interactive Sherlock Holmes mystery!
4.) Iowa State Fair—Des Moines
There are state fairs and then there are State Fairs, and the Iowa State Fair is one of the latter. It’s been the setting for numerous novels, plays, musicals, and films over the years. Spread over 450 acres, the fair features a midway, rides, food vendors, live music, butter sculptures, a talent contest, a parade, livestock, agriculture, art shows, and much much more. This year’s edition runs from August 11 to 21. Don’t miss Des Moines!
5.) West Bend Grotto—West Bend
If you’re more into history than funfairs, then West Bend Grotto is the place for you. This Shrine is often dubbed the eighth wonder of the world and will make you wonder why you never visited before. Considered to be the largest man made grotto in the world, this Miracle in Stone occupies a full city block and is comprised of 9 separate and unique grottoes. The rock formations and precious stones that adorn each space, attract over 25 thousand visitors a year to West Bend.
Are you a frequent flyer to Iowa? Did we miss a must-visit destination? Let us know in the comments section below.