Iowa Off the Beaten Path

Photo by Phil Roeder

Heartland road trip: hot air balloons, windmills, apple fritters and cherry pie

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No state provides a more concentrated taste of America’s Heartland than Iowa. Home to one of the country’s classic state fairs and Kevin Costner’s corn field-turned-baseball-diamond from Field of Dreams, Iowa serves up memory-packed road trips.

Day 1: Iowa off the beaten path

Begin your adventure in Des Moines. Arrive in the late afternoon for an overnight at the new Hotel Renovo before heading out in the morning to Winterset.

Arrive in Winterset for a breakfast of apple fritters from The Bakery Unlimited. These tasty fritters are made from red delicious apples, which were first discovered in Madison County. Take a tour of the Bridges of Madison County and enjoy lunch at the Northside Cafe. Following lunch, shop the Winterset square and tour the John Wayne Birthplace Museum and Birthplace Home.

Next, travel to the Henry A. Wallace Country Life Center in nearby Orient. Dinner is a unique culinary experience made with fresh ingredients organically grown in the farm’s eight-acre garden and orchard.

Overnight in nearby Greenfield where you can stay in the restored 1896 Warren Opera House in a special balcony bedroom overlooking the Norman Lear Theater at the Warren Cultural Center.

Day 2 in Iowa

Rise early and travel to nearby Indianola for a hot air balloon ride (weather-permitting) or a tour of the National Balloon Museum and US Hall of Fame. Have lunch at the Crouse Cafe, well-known for their homemade food and award-winning cherry pie.

Continue east to Pella for a real Dutch experience. See the tallest working windmill, try on wooden shoes, and enjoy the museums, boutiques, bakeries, meat markets and the Dutch canal. Stay at the Royal Amsterdam Hotel.

Day 3 in Iowa

Travel to Eldon and strike a pose at the American Gothic House, the inspiration behind Grant Wood’s painting, American Gothic.

Then, travel to Honey Creek Resort in Moravia to relax by Iowa’s largest lake – Lake Rathbun. You can stay in a luxury cabin, resort room or rough it in the campground. Boat and bike rentals are available, as well as guided hikes, a nearby golf course, luxurious spa and an indoor waterpark for the kids.

For more information on what to see and do in Iowa, visit the Travel Iowa website.

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