Take Your Pick
Adair, IA
James Gang Train Robbery
Jessie James' First Train Robbery in the West - On July 21, 1873 Jessie James (1847-1882) derailed and robbed a Rock Island Lines train, making this the first train robbery west of the Mississippi. The gang robbed the express manager of his cash and helped themselves to the passenger's cash and jewelry. The $3,000 in cash and jewelry was far short of the $75,000 Frank and Jessie expected to be on the train. The James Gang is said to have robbed a dozen banks and half a dozen trains. There is a monument and the piece of actual railroad track that the James' Gang separated to derail the train.
Amana, IA
Delicious Amana Colony Food
Amana Colonies - The Amana Colonies were settled over 150 years ago by German immigrants escaping persecution and depression in their own country. The colonies then became one of the longest-lived communal societies in America. The name "Amana" means "remain faithful" and was chosen from the Song of Solomon 4:8. Today when you visit you will find seven unique villages with restaurants, specialty shops, antiques, wines, and much more. You can spend days roaming the streets for treasures or hike the many wooded trails in the area.
Cedar Rapids, IA
Czech Village
National Czech and Slovak Museum - A visit to the National Czech and Slovak Museum will give you a little background on the history and culture of the Czech and Slovak people. The museum houses a permanent collection of folk costumes, art, and books, along with a continuously updated special collection highlighting a wide range of political and social events. The museum is located in the Czech Village where you can enjoy some great European food.
Clear Lake, IA
The Winter Dance Party Tour
Surf Ballroom - "The Winter Dance Party Tour" was scheduled for 24 cities in 3 weeks featuring Buddy Holly, Waylon Jennings, Tommy Allsup, Dion and the Belmonts, Ritchie Valens and Big Bopper. It was the last place Holly, Valens, and the Big Bopper ever played - their plane crashed just after the concert. Today the Surf Ballroom is part Historical Landmark and part functioning concert hall. Hundreds of photos of performers line the walls of the ballroom, signatures grace the walls backstage and rock and roll memorabilia is everywhere. You can also catch live performances of your favorite current bands.
Clear Lake, IA
The Day the Music Died
Buddy Holly's Crash Site - Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, JP Richardson (The Big Bopper) and the pilot Roger Peterson crashed near Clear Lake on February 3, 1959. Don McLean called it "The Day the Music Died" in his classic song "American Pie". The day of the crash Waylon Jennings gave up his seat on the plane to an ill Big Bopper and decided to take a bus instead. Upon hearing Jennings wasn't going to fly, Buddy Holly said to him, "Well, I hope your bus freezes up." Jennings replied, "Well, I hope your plane crashes." A monument and four trees (one for each victim) mark the site.
Davenport, IA
The Davenport Skybridge
Skybridge - This pedestrian suspension bridge is a beautiful addition to the downtown area of Davenport. It is particularly dazzling at night, when it is illuminated in an ever changing festival of colors. The bridge spans nearly 600 feet and stands roughly 50 feet in the air - and while looking good, it also serves pedestrians walking to and from the River Music Experience on one side to the Rhythm City River Boat on the other. The bridge offers some great views of the Mississippi river and the downtown Davenport through the glass windows and observation deck. While there, be sure to stop in at the Redstone Room for some great live music.
Des Moines, IA
The Hawkeye State Capitol Building
Capitol Building - Construction of this one and only five domed Capitol Building began in 1871 and was completed in 1886. Four smaller domes made of tarnished copper grace the corners of the structure and a 23-karat gold leaf dome rises 275 feet from the middle. Inside you will find dozens of varieties of marbles, fine wood furnishings, and elaborately painted walls and ceilings - in addition to statues, mosaics, and paintings. The grounds of the capitol are filled with over 45 different structures including statues, a time capsule, military cannons and monuments.
Des Moines, IA
America at it's Best
Iowa State Fair - One of the largest state fairs in the USA, attracting over one million people from around the nation, is the Iowa State Fair. Here you'll enjoy great fair food, live entertainment and Midway carnival-style rides. But what I like the best about the Iowa Fair are all of the fun-lovin', can-only-be-found-in-the-mid-west competitions like the buffalo chip throwing contests, hog and turkey calling, a fiddler's competition, and beard growing contest. This is just good clean American fun. And let's not forget the biggest draw of them all, the world famous 600 lb famous Butter Cow made entirely of pure cream Iowa butter.
Des Moines, IA
The History of Iowa
State of Iowa Historical Building - Over 15,000 years ago mammoths roamed this part of the Earth and the Iowa Historical Building gets you in touch with that time. In the exhibit "Mammoth: Witness to Change" you can hear, see, and feel what it was like back when these enormous beasts roared across the plains. Other permanent exhibits include a replica coal mine, greatest inventions of the 20th century, and a collection of oddball odds-and-ends including George Washington's hair and Daniel Boone's rifle.
Dubuque, IA
World's Shortest Elevator
Fenelon Place Elevator - The Fenelon Place Elevator (4th Street Elevator) is known as the world's shortest and steepest scenic railway. The little fella travels a total of 296 feet while climbing 189 feet up. From the top on a clear day you can see three states, Iowa (of course), Wisconsin, and Illinois. There are two cars on two separate tracks that travel in opposite directions to counter-balance each other. You can just as easily drive up the side street, but why do it when you can take a mini railroad car?
Dyersville, IA
Build it and They Will Come
Field of Dreams - The baseball field in the 1989 film "Field of Dreams" starring Kevin Costner and Ray Liotta is still well maintained and a popular tourist attraction. Over 50,000 people annually drop by the magical ball field giving credence to the phrase "build it and they will come". On the diamond you can run the bases, hit balls, play catch or you can just sit in the bleachers and watch the ghosts play. The best time to visit is in late summer or early fall when the corn is high and the field is green. Be sure to visit the original house and buy a little movie memorabilia on your trip.
Le Claire, IA
Birthplace of Buffalo Bill
Buffalo Bill Museum - William F. Cody (1846-1917) aka "Buffalo Bill" was born in the small town of LeClair Iowa and spent his early years growing up there. From here he went on to be a scout in the US Army (serving in the Civil War), delivering mail as a Pony Express Rider, panning for gold during the California Gold Rush and killing thousands buffalo. The latter experience earned him his nickname "Buffalo Bill". Of course this was all just preparation for his greatest work, being a charismatic and popular Wild West entertainer. The Buffalo Bill Museum in Le Clair features exhibits of its favorite son.
Le Mars, IA
On the Milk Delivery Truck
Ice Cream Capital of the World - Le Mars produces more ice cream than any other location in the world. To celebrate this fact, Blue Bunny who has two of its three ice cream plants in Le Mars, opened the "Ice Cream Capital of the World Visitor Center". Inside you will find a production theater, history room, gift shop, and most importantly an ice cream parlor. When ordering, there is no need to super-size your order, it is already done for you. Do you remember this old jingle, "How do you eat Blue Bunny? No trick to it, just open up a carton, dig in and do it. Well's Blue Bunny hop right to it." Crazy rabbit...ooops, that's a different bunny.
Riverside, IA
Socko's Log Star Date 41386.4
Future Birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk - According to Gene Roddenberry, Captain Kirk was born in Iowa. So the town of Riverside decided (with the permission of Gene Roddenberry) to officially proclaim Riverside his birthplace. The town now holds an annual "Trek Fest" where you can see characters from the original and subsequent Star Trek programs. While in Riverside you can visit a large stone plaque commemorating Kirk's birthplace and an Enterprise like spaceship named the U.S.S Riverside.
Sioux City, IA
Lewis and Clark Exhibit
Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center - The 20,000 square foot Lewis and Clark Interpretative Center gives a great day-in-the-life of the Corps of Discovery team as they passed through the Sioux City area. During your visit be sure to pick up an "Official Visitor's Journal" and stamp it as you browse the exhibits, such as the ones where Lewis and Clark bury Sgt Floyd and where they elect Sergeant Patrick Gass to take his place. Right next door to the Interpretive Center is the Betty Strong Encounter Center. Through photographs and exhibitions the center further explores the lives touched by the Lewis and Clark team.
Sioux City, IA
Burial Site of Charles Floyd, Jr.
Floyd Monument - A 100 foot sandstone obelisk inside a 23 acre park marks the burial site of Sergeant Charles Floyd, Jr., the only person from the Corps of Discovery (the Lewis and Clark expedition) to die during the journey. It is believed that he died from appendicitis, based on notes from his journal, an affliction that was untreatable at that time. A traveler while living and even after he died in 1804, his bones were moved and buried four times. Finally in 1901, his official resting place was secured over looking the Missouri River with the Floyd Monument.
Urbandale, IA
Broom Making at the Living History Farms
Living History Farms - Located just a stone's throw from the big city life in Des Moines is the land-that-time-forgot-500- acre-open-air Living History Farm. This indoor-outdoor museum gives visitors a glimpse at farm life during different centuries. There is a 1700s Iowa Indian Farm, a 1850s Pioneer Farm, and a 1900 Iowa Farm, each highlighting the machinery and techniques of the respective periods. You can see domestic chores being performed in the early 1900s and you can learn different crafts such as candle stick making, butter churning and broom making.
West Branch, IA
Our 31st President
Herbert Hoover Presidential Library - Herbert Hoover was the 31st President of the United States, and led during some of the toughest economic times in US history. He was President from 1929-1933, with the Great Depression occurring in October of 1929 and the Dust Bowl beginning in 1930. A humanitarian and a strong believer in volunteerism, Hoover tried to lead the nation out of its economic woes with those principles, with little success. The great thing about visiting Herbert Hoover's Presidential Library is that you can visit his birth place on one end, the library in the middle, and his gravesite on the other end. It's a 184 acre summary of a great man's life.
Winterset, IA
Visiting the Duke's Birthplace Pilgrim
Birth Place of John Wayne - Movie star and film producer John Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison on May 26, 1907 in a small four-room home right here in Winterset Iowa. The 6' 4" rough and rugged actor starred in film greats such as "Stagecoach", "The Searchers", and "True Grit" just to name a few. The Duke's birthplace is open daily, and for a small fee you can see John Wayne's personal and movie memorabilia. The eye patch from the original "True Grit" movie is my favorite. OK, one John Wayne quote with the word pilgrim in it - "I haven't lost my temper in 40 years; but, Pilgrim, you caused a lot of trouble this morning".
Winterset, IA
Imes Bridge with Sleeping Monkeys
Bridges of Madison County - The Bridges of Madison County have been around for over 130 years, but they were made famous by Robert James Waller's novel and Hollywood's film featuring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep aptly entitled "The Bridges of Madison County". Visitors can pick up a map of all the bridges and locations of Robert and Francesca's love affair anywhere in Winterset. Get there fast, there are only 6 remaining covered bridges of the original 19 remaining, Roseman (1883), Cedar (1883), Cutler-Donahoe (1870), Holliwell (1880), Hogback (1884) and Imes (1870). They are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places.