5 Can't-Miss Day Trips in Iowa

Follow the beaten path to gorgeous sights and exhilarating experiences across the Hawkeye State.

By
Kevin Litwin
On Tuesday, January 5, 2021 - 13:36
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Iowa offers plenty to do in every corner of the state, with a bevy of easy-to-get-to attractions. Here is just a small sample:

1. Backbone State Park

Dedicated in 1919, Backbone State Park in Dundee is Iowa's first state park and best known for its Devil's Backbone, a narrow limestone ridge that can be reached by climbing up a steep, rocky staircase. This northeast Iowa park offers camping, spelunking, 21 miles of hiking trails and a lake for boating, fishing and swimming.

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Lothar Beyer

2. The Amana Colonies

Established in 1855 by a group of German Pietists, the Amana Colonies are a collection of seven historic villages near Cedar Rapids that have been declared a National Historic Landmark. Located in east-central Iowa, these colonies have become popular destinations for their unique restaurants, craft shops, furniture stores and clothing shops.

3. Clear Lake

Visitors to the city of Clear Lake can take a paddlewheel boat tour around the large lake and visit the Surf Ballroom, the site of Buddy Holly's last concert in 1959 before he died in a plane crash. Today, numerous lake activities and attractions, including restaurants and resorts, make Clear Lake a popular stop along Interstate 35.

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Carl Wycoff/Flickr.com

4. Mount Vernon 

Located 20 miles from Iowa City, Mount Vernon is a quaint town known for its tree-lined streets and historic uptown district. The community is a popular tourism spot with attractions such as Palisades- Kepler State Park, the American Gothic Barn and Mount Vernon Nature Park. Lincoln Wine Bar and Fuel are charming places for cocktails, coffee, and good food.

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Bill Nellans/Iowa Tourism Office

5. Pella 

Founded in 1847, this charming town in south-central Iowa boasts an opera house and the tallest working windmill in the U.S. It is home to the headquarters for Pella Corporation, a well-known window/door manufacturer. In May, Pella comes alive with thousands of tulips, and area residents celebrate Pella's Dutch heritage with a Tulip Time Festival.

If you'd like to learn more about Iowa, check out the latest edition of This is Iowa

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin Litwin is the author of Crazy Lucky Dead and a freelance feature writer with a career spanning more than 20 years.