Iowa is normally not high on people's bucket lists of places to go on vacation. Iowa is famously flat with a lot of corn, but could there be more to this Midwestern state? Iowa is bordered by the Mississippi River, the Missouri River, and the Big Sioux River and is in the heart of the Corn Belt.
Iowa may be in the Corn Belt, but the largest corn maze is in California, it is a must for those with patience, a sense of adventure, and those who don't get too frustrated! Iowa is not likely to be anyone's destination, but on a road trip across the states, there are some things to do while passing through.
What to Know About Iowa
Iowa has been greatly changed by settlement. Its natural vegetation is tall grass prairie and savanna in uplands with dense forests and wetlands in flood plains and in its protected river valleys. Today crops over 60% of the land while grasslands over another 30% (mostly pasture and hay). Less than 1% of the tallgrass prairie that once covered Iowa remains today. Don't expect too many parks here as Iowa ranked 49th of the states in public land holdings.
- Capital: Des Moines
- Population: 3.2 Million
Iowa's tourism site is built around suggesting a road trip through the state. Perhaps because there are no major attractions here like Yosemite National Park or Yellowstone National Park. But while there may not be so many major attractions, it turns out there are some attractions. When driving through this state, one could consider taking some time rather than just zipping through as fast as possible.
State Parks And Hiking
There are no national parks in Iowa, but there are a number of state parks offering refreshing and picturesque views with some short hikes. Some of these are:
- Wapsipinicon State Park: Known For Having A Great Spring Hike On Its 1.4 Mile Trail. Located Just South Of Anamosa. Has Streams and Small Caves
- Ledges State Park: Named After its Sandstone "Ledges" And Has 13 Miles of Scenic Hiking Trails. Most of the Trails Are Steep, But It Does Have An Fully Accessible Interpretive Trail
- Backbone State Park: Iowa's Oldest State Park With Over 20 Miles of Trail. The Short Backbone Trail Is One Of The Most Rocky In Iowa. The Park Has A Boat House and Cabins
- Pine Lake State Park: Offers More Than 10 Miles Of Trails and 250 Year Old White Pine Trees
- Waubonsie State Park: Located On the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail And Offers Scenic Overlooks Of Four States. Camping Cabins are Available in the Park
- Yellow River State Forest: Includes over 25 Miles of Trials, and the Backpack Trail Is Considered One Of The Best In Iowa
- Hillview Recreation Area: 6 Miles of Hiking Trails, It Also Boasts A Resident Elk Herd and a Butterfly Garden. Activities Include Horseback Riding, Hunting, Cross-Country Skiing, and Cabin Camping and A Campground
- Hitchcock Nature Area: One of the Last Remaining Prairie Remnants In Iowa With Over 10 Miles Of Trails
There are a number of wineries in Iowa and they feature prominently on their website, there they have a full list of wineries in Iowa. The oldest operating winery in Iowa is Ackerman Winery that opened in 1956. It is recognized for its exotic fruit wines like rhubarb, mango, red raspberry, and dandelion. They also offer an exhibit of the History of Winemaking in the Amanas complete with winemaking equipment on display.
- Hours: Saturday to Thursday 10.00 am to 5 pm; Friday 6 am to 5 pm
- Open: Year-Round
- Established: 1956
- Famous For: Exotic Fruit Wines
Take A Cruise
Iowa Is bounded by some of America's largest and most iconic rivers. One of the things to do in this state is taking a cruise. Celebration River Cruises boasts a 750 passenger paddlewheel boat called the "Celebration Belle". It was specifically designed for cruising the waterways of the Mississippi. It offers casual sightseeing, luncheon, and dinner cruises.
- Cruise: Take A Short Or Overnight Cruise Of the Mississippi River
They have many cruise options including overnight cruises and dance cruises. Their Narrated Sightseeing Cruise is an hour and a half long and explores the Rock Island Arsenal, Lock and Dam #15 and Roller Dam, Colonel Davenport's Home, the location where the bridge to cross the Mississippi was built.
One can take a 14-day cruise down the Mississippi following America's largest river almost all the way to the sea. It is another great way to explore a different side of the United States.
Other activities in the state include camping, visiting the museums and botanical gardens, and Iowa 80 - the World's Largest Truckstop. So it would seem there are some things to do in this maize-covered Midwestern state. While one needn't just drive through without stopping, but don't spend too much time here.