Iowa Bucket List ~ East Region

Today we move into our final region of Iowa, the east region that includes the Quad Cities. Tomorrow we head into the neighbor to the east, Illinois.


  • Whitewater Canyon Wildlife Area: Great area for some scenic hikes.


  • Cascade Historic Limestone Silo and Agricultural Interpretive Center: Part of the Silos and Smokestacks National Recreation Area, this gives insight to the farms of the area.


  • Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens: Largest Arboretum in the US staffed entirely by volunteers.
  • Fenelon Place Elevator: Take a ride on the world’s shortest, steepest scenic railway.
  • Mines of Spain Recreation Area: Great area to hike along the river bluffs.
  • National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium: Helps to explore the history and culture of the river.
  • William M. Black Steam Dredge: Steam propelled museum ship located in the Dubuque harbor.


  • Field of Dreams Movie Site: Come see the famed baseball field and house featured in the Field of Dreams movie.


  • Maquoketa Caves State Park: A 6 mile trail system takes you through caves and along the bluffs.

Mt. Vernon

  • Palisades-Kepler State Park: Beautiful wooded park located along the river.

Quad Cities

  • German American Heritage Center: Museum that details the heritage of German-Americans in the Midwest area.
  • Iowa 80 Truckstop and Trucking Museum: You won’t regret a stop by the World’s Largest Truck Stop!
  • Palmer Museum of Chiropractic History: The first ever chiropractic museum details the history of this career.

All attractions found in the Travel Iowa Vacation Guide.


Iowa Bucket List ~ Northeast Region

Today I get to write about another area of Iowa near and dear to my heart! I spent four years living on the campus of the wonderful Luther College in Decorah, Iowa and this area is just so so beautiful to explore! Definitely way more than the corn fields everyone envisions when thinking about the state!

Burr Oak

  • Laura Ingalls Wilder Park and Museum: Come explore and learn about the time the Ingalls family spent in Burr Oak, a time not mentioned in the books series.


  • Dunnings Springs Park: Gorgeous park just off the main road with a beautiful waterfall.
  • Vesterheim Norwegian-America Museum: Explore this museum about the town’s Norwegian heritage. Disney even visited this museum while working on Frozen!

Fort Atkinson

  • Fort Atkinson State Preserve: This area contains remnants of Fort Atkinson, built as a fort to help keep pioneers safe.

Harpers Ferry

  • Effigy Mounds National Monument: Beautiful area to hike near the Mississippi River and learn about the ancient mounds left behind my Native Americans.


  • Cedar Rock State Park: This park houses a residence designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.


  • Pikes Peak State Park: This park sits on a bluff that overlooks the confluence of the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers.
  • Spook Cave: Take a boat tour of this flooded cave.


  • Bily Clocks Museum and Antonin Dvorak Exhibit: Explore these hand made clocks and also learn about the time composer Antonin Dvorak spent in the area.


  • Bluedorn Science Imaginarium: Small hands on science museum.
  • Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area: Experience the agricultural history of the area by visiting one of many locations in this area.

All attractions found in the Travel Iowa Vacation Guide.

Iowa Bucket List ~ North Central Region

Today we head further north into the state of Iowa again before making our way back to the eastern portion of the state.

Charles City

  • Carrie Lane Chapman Catt Girlhood Home and Museum: Visit the home of this spunky woman who helped bring all women the right to vote!

Clear Lake

  • Buddy Holly Crash Site: Visit this memorial area to the famous Buddy Holly who died in a plane crash at this location.
  • Central Gardens of North Iowa: Explore the gardens maintained by several volunteers.
  • Surf Ballroom and Museum: Explore the grand location of Buddy Holly’s final concert.

Forest City

  • Winnebago Industries Visitor Center: Visit the factory where Winnebago campers are made!

Fort Dodge

  • The Fort Museum and Frontier Village: Explore this replica village and fort to go back in time to the town’s early years.

Mason City

  • Lime Creek Nature Center: Explore nature trails along the limestone bluff.
  • The Music Man Square and Meredith Wilson Boyhood Home: Tour the home of the playwright of “The Music Man” and enjoy the fun of the town square dedicated to the same!
  • Rancho Deluxe-The Original Bicycle Garden: Explore this unique art garden that is ever changing and always full of new projects.


  • Fossil and Prairie Park Preserve and Center: Hike trails through the prairie and quarry and collect your own fossils.

All attractions found in the Travel Iowa Vacation Guide.

Iowa Bucket List ~ Central Region

Today we head to the area of Iowa that is probably one of the more highly visited areas. The Central region is home to Des Moines, the capital of Iowa, and therefore is home to several popular attractions.


  • Reiman Gardens: Beautiful indoor/outdoor botanical garden located on the campus of Iowa State University.

Dallas Center

  • The Brenton Arboretum: Explore the native trees and plants located in this garden setting but walking along the trails.

Des Moines

  • Blank Park Zoo: Visit the only accredited zoo in Iowa!
  • Great Des Moines Botanical Garden: Visit this small garden area located near the river.
  • Iowa State Capitol: Take a tour of the gorgeous state capitol.
  • John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park: Check out this unique sculpture park located in the heart of downtown Des Moines. Lots of great photo ops!
  • Science Center of Iowa: Explore this interactive science museum.
  • State Historical Museum of Iowa and Research Center: This museum details out so many things unique to the history and culture of Iowa.


  • Matchstick Marvels: This museum features models made entirely out of wooden matchsticks.


  • Jefferson Rooftop Art: Several buildings in town have works of art painted on their rooftops.
  • Mahanay Bell Tower: Take an elevator to the top of the tower. It’s a great place to view the rooftop art!


  • High Trestle Trail: This 25 mile trail has an iconic footbridge located near Madrid.
  • Ledges State Park: One of Iowa’s oldest state parks, come explore this sandstone gorge and the surrounding cliffs.


  • Traer Salt and Pepper Shaker Gallery: Explore the Midwest’s largest collection of salt and pepper shakers!

All attractions found in the Travel Iowa Vacation Guide.

Iowa Bucket List ~ East Central Region

Today we move into a region of Iowa that we called home for a year while Andrew was on vicarage. We loved our time in the university city of Iowa City!


  • Amana Colonies: Take a step back in time and visit the historic streets of the Amana colonies that are now filled with little art boutiques, wineries, meat shops, and more!

Cedar Rapids

  • Cedar Rapids Museum of Art: Unique art museum featuring many works from Grant Wood.
  • National Czech and Slovak Museum: Museum dedicated to the heritage and culture of the Czech and Slovak people.

Iowa City/Coralville

  • Devonian Fossil Gorge: Beautiful nature area created following the flood of 1993. Walk along the old fossils of shells in the area.
  • Old Capitol Museum: Iowa City was once the capitol of the state and you can still tour the building that is now located on the University of Iowa campus.


  • Wildcat Den State Park: Features beautiful cliffs and rock formations along with some historic buildings.

West Branch

  • Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum: This quiet unassuming town was home to former President Hoover. See his childhood home and explore the museum/library that shows his accomplishments in his time leading up to and including his presidency and beyond.

All attractions found in the Travel Iowa vacation guide.

Iowa Bucket List ~ Southeast Region

Headed into another corner of the state today, this time on the Mississippi River side. Today we explore southeast Iowa.


  • Snake Alley: Built in 1894, this “unbelievably crooked” street as since been recognized by Ripley’s Believe it or Not.

Columbus Junction

  • Swinging Bridge: Popular roadside attraction, this swinging bridge is in a beautiful area.

Fort Madison

  • Old Fort Madison: First U.S. Military fort in the Upper Mississippi region.


  • George M. Verity Riverboat Museum: Paddleboat built by the U.S. government to revive river transportation.
  • Keokuk Observation Deck: Overlook the bridge, river, and lock and dam area.


  • Swedish American Museum: Museum is dedicated to the first Swedish immigrants who settled in the area.

All attractions found in the Travel Iowa Vacation Guide.

Iowa Bucket List ~ South Central Region

It’s a very short bucket list today! Works perfect for my busy Monday!


  • American Gothic House: Come see the famous American Gothic House made famous in Grant Wood’s painting!


  • Cordova Park Observation Tower: Tower overlooks the lake as the park sits atop the bluffs.


  • The Klokkenspel: Daily perfomances of the Klokkenspel detail the history of this Dutch town. This whole town is a gem, so be sure to do some exploring around the town square! Come in spring to experience the tulips!

All attractions found in the Travel Iowa Vacation Guide.

Iowa Bucket List ~ Southwest Region

Today’s list is short and sweet for the southwest corner of the state!


  • Waubonsie State Park: Located in the Loess hills, a unique landform found only in Iowa and Missouri along the Missouri River.


  • Mount Pisgah/Mormon Trail: Semi-permanent settlement located along the Mormon Trail.


  • Southern Loess Hills Interpretive and Welcome Center: Small museum exhibit about the Loess Hills area.


  • World’s Largest Swedish Coffee Pot: This large Swedish coffee pot is incorporated into the town’s water tower.

All attractions found in the Travel Iowa vacation guide.

Iowa Bucket List ~ West Central Region

Today’s Iowa region is a little longer as we move further south into the state. This region contains the city of Council Bluffs, which is just across the river from Omaha, Nebraska, so it has a bit more to offer!


  • Albert the Bull: Come see the World’s Largest Bull!
  • John James Audubon Plaza and Birdwalk: Beautiful plaza area with tile murals.

Coon Rapids

  • Whiterock Conservancy: Lots of hiking trails available in this river valley.

Council Bluffs

  • Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge: Pedestrian bridge that crosses the Missouri River and connects Council Bluffs to Omaha, NE.
  • Kanesville Tabernacle and Visitor Center: This was a hastily constructed log building created for the event of reorganizing the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
  • Lewis and Clark Monument and Scenic Overlooks: Offers great views of Big Lake Park.
  • Union Pacific Railroad Museum: Interactive museum about the history of the railroad.
  • Western Historic Trails Center: Explores the area’s pioneer history.

Elk Horn/Kimballton

  • Danish Windmill and Welcome Center: America’s only authentic working Danish windmill.
  • Little Mermaid Sculpture Garden: Replica of the Little Mermaid stature found in Denmark.
  • Museum of Danish America: Celebrates those with Danish roots who came to live the “American dream.”

Honey Creek

  • Hitchcock Nature Center: Prairie Refuge featuring 10 miles of trails.

Missouri Valley

  • Loess Hills Lavender Farm: Visit a lavender farm with gift shop.
  • Watson Steam Train: Take a ride on this miniature train.


  • Lewis and Clark Visitor Center, Keelboat and LMC Watercraft Displays: Features replicas of many watercraft used by the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

All attractions found in the Travel Iowa vacation guide.

Iowa Bucket List ~ Northwest Region

New state today! Headed into Iowa! Iowa is split into 10 different travel regions, so each of these lists is a little smaller because it is split into so many different regions!


  • Blood Run National Historic Landmark: Archeological site located on the Iowa and South Dakota border.

Le Mars

  • Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor and Museum: Blue Bunny Ice Cream all began in this small town! Enjoy a scoop at the parlor and check out the history exhibits on the floor above.
  • Le Mars Ice Cream Sculptures: Fun sculptures are located all over town in honor of Blue Bunny!

Orange City

  • Windmill Park: Cute little park in the town square.


  • The Kaleidoscope Factory: Stop in for a little “tour” of this shop. The owner will show you how he makes gorgeous kaleidoscopes.


  • Hawkeye Point: Tallest point in the state.

Sioux City

  • Jolly Time Pop Corn Museum: Museum dedicated to the history of Jolly Time Pop Corn.
  • Sergeant Floyd Monument: Honors Charles Floyd, a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, who died on the journey upstream.

All attractions found in the Travel Iowa guide.