For more information about travel and tourism in Iowa, contact the Iowa Division of Tourism at: 200 East Grand Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50309; 1-800-345-IOWA or (515) 242-4705; web site:

Iowa has something for everyone. For visitors and residents alike, Iowa offers many opportunities to explore its varied landscape and interesting history. From the countryside's rolling hills, to beautiful rivers and lakes, to miles of recreational trails, to modern urban centers and small farming communities, Iowa offers refreshing vacation spots and some of the friendliest people you will ever meet.

Loess Hills Scenic Byway
photo courtesy of Iowa Division of Tourism

To help you better understand what Iowa has to offer, it can be divided into ten travel areas; all of which offer something different and exciting for travelers. Northwest Iowa is home to Sioux City, where explorers Lewis and Clark left their mark, and where you can learn about the history of the Missouri River at the Sergeant Floyd Riverboat Museum and Welcome Center. And if you are still interested in history, move inland to Orange City, where Dutch heritage, architecture, bakeries, restaurants and imported goods continue to play an important role in the community. More water? Northwest Iowa is also home to Iowa's Great Lakes Region - where a multitude of activities await you in Okoboji. From Arnolds Park Amusement Park, to excursions on the lakes, to a host of water sports, this resort area offers fun for the whole family.

West Central Iowa is rich in history and natural wonders. Historic Council Bluffs has long been a "Gateway to the West" along the Missouri River; and De Soto National Wildlife Refuge in Missouri Valley offers a wonderful look at migratory waterfowl and bald eagles each year. The Loess Hills are also very important to the area. These unusual, windblown silt bluffs are a geological rarity and offer beautiful views all along the nationally recognized Loess Hills Scenic Byway. And for a closer look at Iowa's diverse history, visit the Danish Windmill Museum and Welcome Center and the Danish Immigrant Museum, in Elk Horn, where residents celebrate their Danish heritage daily. Or check out the Donna Reed Center for the Performing Arts in Denison, where a turn-of-the-century soda fountain, a restored 1914 Germaine Opera House and an arts center add to the photos and memorabilia from Donna Reed's life and acting career.

During a trip through Southwest Iowa, you can sway to the sounds of big band music when you visit the Glenn Miller Birthplace Home in Clarinda. Visits to other small towns in the area will also bring pleasant surprises and encounters with friendly people.

Carry yourself back to the 19th century in the French communal of

Icaria located just east of Corning. Here you can trace French ancestors and colonial histories at the Icaria Museum and Research Center. Or look for the world's largest Swedish coffeepot in Stanton, a coffeepot-shaped water tower that, along with the Swedish Heritage & Cultural Center, honors the town's rich immigrant heritage. If planes interest you, then a stop at the Iowa Aviation Preservation Center in Greenfield will make a Southwest Iowa visit worthwhile. One of only two airplane museums in the state, the center is also home to the Iowa Aviation Hall of Fame.

Music, transportation history and natural beauty are all highlighted in a trip to North Central Iowa. Home to the ever-popular Clear Lake and its water-based fun, the City of Clear Lake is also home to the Surf Ballroom, where Buddy Holly gave his last concert and where bands continue to entertain music fans of all types. Just down the road in Mason City you can visit the boyhood home of Meredith Willson, who immortalized his hometown in "The Music Man," or see a large display of old commercial vehicles at Van Horn's Antique Truck Museum. For something unique, visit the Dows Depot Welcome Center in Dows for a bit of railroad history, or take a look at the Hobo Museum in Britt - the only museum of its kind in existence. And you cannot miss an opportunity to take-in the scenic Iowa River, where canoeing, fishing and other outdoor activities await outdoor enthusiasts.

Central Iowa offers something for everyone! Whether it is a ride on the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad, or a visit to the Mamie Doud Eisenhower Birthplace, the City of Boone is rich with history. And for more train-related enjoyment, you will want to see Trainland U.S.A. in Colfax, where a toy train museum depicts the development of the railroad across the United States. While in the area, Des Moines is a perfect place to spend time - especially with Adventureland, the Des Moines Art Center, the Des Moines Botanical Center, Blank Park Zoo, the Science Center of Iowa and Living History Farms all at your disposal. Not to mention visits to the State Capitol and the State of Iowa Historical Building.

For more aquatic fun, visit Lake Rathbun or Red Rock Lake in South Central Iowa - for boating, fishing and/or lakeside excitement these are two spots you will not want to miss. And if you like racing, make sure you see the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum in Knoxville - the only museum of its kind in the world. Scenic countryside drives also lead to Pella, where the sights, sounds and tastes of Holland are a part of everyday life, and Madison County, where the historic covered bridges have become known worldwide due to the tremendous success of "The Bridges of Madison County" book and movie.

Known as "Little Switzerland," Northeast Iowa is noted for its scenic beauty and history. In Decorah, the immigrant story comes alive at the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, one of America's oldest and largest museums devoted to an immigrant group. Nestled amongst spectacular river bluffs near Marquette is Effigy Mounds National Monument, where you can view prehistoric American Indian burial and ceremonial mounds as you hike 11 miles of scenic trails. A drive along the Mississippi and heading inland will allow you to see Iowa at its finest - with rolling farm fields and attractions for everyone, including the Bily Clocks Museum & Antonin Dvorak Exhibit in Spillville and the Grout Museum of History and Science in Waterloo.

The "Old World" comes alive in East Central Iowa where the Amana Colonies, with its German heritage, continue to attract thousands of people each year to its interesting shops, quality restaurants and ethnic celebrations. And do not leave the area without visiting the Kalona Historical Village where you can learn firsthand about Mennonite life-style and history. In Cedar Rapids, the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library displays the largest collection of Czech and Slovak costumes in the United States and the Ushers Ferry Historic Village allows you to step back in time to a small turn-of-the-century Iowa town. And for a more comprehensive look at Iowa history, be sure to visit the Old Capitol Museum in Iowa City and the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, Museum and National Historic Site in West Branch.

Eastern Iowa is Grant Wood country, so take a drive along the Grant Wood Scenic Byway and see what the area has to offer. Along the "Mighty Mississippi," Dubuque is full of San Francisco-like scenery, river history and charming Victorian mansions on dramatic bluffs. As Iowa's first city, Dubuque has many things to see, including the Mississippi River Museum and the Mathias Ham House Historic Site. Not far away in Dyersville you can still experience the "Field of Dreams" movie site and even take a peak at the National Farm Toy Museum. And for some adventure and a look at one of Iowa's natural wonders, head toward Maquoketa to explore the unusual rock formations and 13 limestone caves of Maquoketa Caves State Park. Southeast Iowa offers a host of historical communities - all with their own character and charm. As Iowa's first territorial capital, Burlington has a number of must-see historic areas; and don't forget to see what is perhaps the city's most famous landmark: Snake Alley, called by many the "Crookedest Street in the World." In Fort Madison, you can still hear cannons and muskets roar and experience living history demonstrations at Old Fort Madison, the first outpost west of the Mississippi River. Keokuk offers the Keokuk National Cemetery and the Keokuk River Museum. Mount Pleasant is the site of the Midwest Old Threshers Heritage Museums, where you can view scores of steam engines, antique tractors and agricultural implements and tools. Finally, you cannot leave the area without experiencing the Villages of Van Buren, where resident artists, craftspeople, antique sellers and history buffs make these quaint quiet, former riverboat ports worth a visit.

Friendly people, ten travel areas and hundreds of things to see and do - this is what Iowa is all about. For anyone interested in exploring the state, many resources are available to help plan a trip along Iowa's scenic byways and country roads. With an adventure around every corner, Iowa truly offers something for everyone. We invite you to experience Iowa!

"Field of Dreams" movie site
photo courtesty of Iowa Division of Tourism