Road Trippers in Iowa!! At times, road tripping is tough. Though many regard driving as one of the most rewarding ways to travel, on any road trip there are bound to be long stretches of monotonous landscape that seem to lack opportunities for excitement and adventure. However, nearly every place you can drive contains hidden sights worth exploring.
Road tripping through the Midwest can be the most tiresome travel experience for those unwilling to venture off the beaten path. These Iowan attractions prove that there is always entertainment and beauty on the open road ― if you know where to look.
Secret Sights for Road Trippers in Iowa
1. Castles of Ida Grove
Far into western Iowa, the quiet town of Ida Grove has slowly slipped backwards in time.
From the highway, visitors can see the massive battlements of a medieval-style castle and structures housing siege engines ready for pitched warfare, all guarded by knights in full mail and armor.
Even mundane construction details, like a bridge over a golf course, have been remade in medieval fashion, making for an over-the-top stop on your road trip.
2. All-State Barn Tour
You can probably imagine a barn ― the red paint, the gambrel roof, the smell of farm animals. However, you’ve probably never seen the types of barns you can find in Iowa. Every year, the state ranks and organizes its barns into a massive tour, including only the most beautiful and most historic structures, like the Handsaker Barn built in 1853. For the best tour, you should select a centrally located hotel on Expedia and explore the countryside from there.
3. Albert the Bull
You might know about Babe ― Paul Bunyan’s giant blue ox ― but the world’s largest bull, Albert, is probably a surprise. Standing over 30 feet tall and 33 feet long, Albert is Audubon, Iowa’s peaceful guardian and a perfect representation of what Hereford bulls should be. When you visit, you can’t miss the informative kiosk next door that tells of Albert’s past and future.
4. The World’s Largest Strawberry
Though the strawberry that Strawberry Point, Iowa is known for was not grown, but made, the gigantic red berry atop a post before City Hall is certainly worth a short detour on your road trip. Created in the late 1960s, the fiberglass strawberry is more than 15 feet tall and will probably inspire your next dessert choice.
5. Grotto of Redemption
For 42 years, a German priest named Paul Dobberstein worked tirelessly to construct a shrine to the Virgin Mary as repayment for saving him from death by pneumonia. More than half a century later, Dobberstein’s Grotto of Redemption in West Bend, Iowa stands as a tribute to his religious fervor. The largest grotto in the world, this shrine is covered in precious gems and rare rocks, but its story is the most compelling reason to schedule a visit.
6. Field of Dreams
The memorable phrase “If you build it, he will come,” remains truer than ever. In 1988, Hollywood constructed a baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield, and movie buffs and baseball fans still flock to the site for a visit. In fact, this simple ball field in Dyersville, Iowa is one of the state’s biggest tourist attractions. Still, the place has some magic; during lazy summer Sundays, most guests swear they see a ghost ballplayer or two.
7. The Future Birthplace of James T. Kirk
The most prominent captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise, James T. Kirk’s life is as well-known as any historical figure. The only problem is Captain Kirk’s story takes place in the distant future.
Yet, that doesn’t stop legions of Trekkies from visiting Kirk’s future birthplace, in Riverside, Iowa, every summer. One of the biggest Star Trek conventions on Earth, Trek Fest commemorates Kirk’s birth most of all, and fans can journey to see his eventual birth site in the town park.
8. Villisca Ax Murder House
There is nothing creepier than an unsolved murder spree. Such an event took place in Villisca in 1912, and despite the supreme violence, the murderer remains unknown. You can visit the house, learn the gory details, and decide for yourself who killed the Moore family while they slept.
9. Spook Cave
Spook Cave is a tourist trap at its finest; with barely a billboard advertising its whereabouts ― and absolutely no material explaining who the spooks are or why they dwell in the cave ― the site attracts millions of visitors every year. Still, the journey through the cave is thrilling, like an amusement park ride before safety standards.