Looking for a destination that’s different? A place that’s peculiar? Somewhere that’s truly off the beaten path? Iowa has you covered. Here are some spots that have stories and sights you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
Hobo Museum & Gift Shop, Britt
Hop on over to the Hobo Museum – the only hobo museum in existence. There, you’ll learn how American hobos have lived and worked throughout history. For even more hobo history, visit during Britt’s annual Hobo Days.
Avenue of Flags, Brooklyn
Fantastic flags. That’s what you’ll find in Brooklyn, where they display flags from all 50 states, the Armed Services and special interests, all which surround a huge United States of America flag. The display is lighted year-round.
Buddy Holly Crash Site, Clear Lake
Take a day to remember the day the music died in 1959. That’s when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper died in a plane crash north of Clear Lake after playing their final shows during the Winter Dance Party at the legendary Surf Ballroom.
Niland's Cafe and the Colo Motel, Colo
Ever since the early days of highway travel, Niland’s Café and the Colo Motel have been a haven for travelers. At the crossroads of the historic Lincoln and Jefferson highways, this corner provides a "one-stop" experience for vacationers looking for a hot meal and comfy bed.
Swinging Bridge, Columbus Junction
Take a swing by walking across the 262-foot swinging bridge, also known as the “Lover’s Leap Bridge.” Originally built in 1886, legend says a lovesick Indian maiden jumped to her death from the bridge.
Squirrel Cage Jail, Council Bluffs
No, this isn’t a jail for squirrels. Although, wouldn’t that be cute? This rotating jailhouse is one of the only jails of its type left in existence. Tour the inner workings of this unique jail built in 1885 and learn about the prisoners it held.
Dunning's Springs, Decorah
What a waterfall! This spectacular 200-foot waterfall just minutes from downtown Decorah is something you have to see to believe. Bring a picnic lunch and take a hike in the surrounding park.
Fenelon Place Elevator, Dubuque
When you get to the top of the Fenelon Place Elevator, you’ll be able to see not one…not two…but THREE states! Take a ride on the shortest, steepest railway in the world that elevates passengers almost 200 feet in the length of one city block.
American Gothic House, Eldon
Grab a prop pitchfork and strike a pose in front of the house made famous by Grant Wood’s iconic American Gothic painting. If you want to go all out, they even have costumes you can change into to create your own unique American Gothic portrait.
Twister Movie House, Eldora
Remember the chills you felt watching Twister for the first time? Relive those chills at the Twister Movie House, where you can see the house that withstood the final storm in the popular 1996 movie.
Maharishi Vedic City
Are you interested in holistic health and eco-friendly activities? At the Maharishi Vedic City, you can learn more about these topics. Established in 2001, this is Iowa’s newest incorporated city and was created as a model of ideal city life.
Matchstick Marvels, Gladbrook
Since 1977, Gladbrook artist Patrick Acton has created dozens of intricate models and sculptures – constructed entirely of ordinary wooden matchsticks. See scale models of the Challenger spacecraft, Notre Dame Cathedral and more – all made with millions of matchsticks.
National Sprint Car Hall of Fame, Knoxville
Vroom, vroom to the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame. This museum preserves the history of sprint car racing and achievers. Held in August, the Knoxville Nationals draws thousands of racing fans to Knoxville each year.
Castles of Ida Grove
Castles in Iowa? You bet! The castle-like architecture of Ida Grove is credited to resident and business owner, Byron Godbersen. Although many of the structures are privately owned, it truly is a sight to behold.
Museum of Religious Arts, Logan
Spectacular stained glass windows. Realistic wax figures depicting biblical scenes. Tremendous outdoor crosses. Those are just some of the exhibits that wait for you at the Museum of Religious Arts.
High Trestle Trail Bridge, Madrid
The High Trestle Trail is a nature lover’s paradise. But it’s also a work of art, specifically its half-mile-long, 130-foot-high bridge that gets bathed in blue light at night. Bike, walk or jog across it for a one-of-a-kind experience.
Big Treehouse, Marshalltown
You’ll feel like a big kid when you visit the Big Treehouse in Marshalltown. You name it, and chances are this 12-story treehouse has it – electricity, running water, refrigerator, grill, 13 porch swings and a connected museum, to be specific.
Future Birthplace of James T. Kirk, Riverside
Are you a Trekkie? Then of course you have to visit the birthstone of Starfleet Captain James T. Kirk, who according to the popular TV show Star Trek, will be born in Riverside on March 22, 2228. Celebrate during the annual Trek Fest.
Trinity Heights, Sioux City
At Trinity Heights in Sioux City, you’ll find gardens and shrines that are used for areas of prayer and reflection at this peaceful setting, which also includes a life-size replica carving of The Last Supper.
Salt & Pepper Shaker Gallery, Traer
Kitschy? Definitely. Cool? Oh, absolutely! Started in 1948 by Traer resident, Ruth Rasmussen, this collection features 16,000 sets of salt and pepper shakers…and it’s still growing!
Villisca Axe Murder House, Villisca
This isn’t for the faint of heart. But those who love to be spooked will want to book a stay at the Villisca Axe Murder House. In 1912, this was the site of brutal axe murders that took the lives of two adults and six children. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
Iowa 80 Trucking Museum, Walcott
The Iowa 80 Trucking Museum just happens to be located inside the World’s Largest Truckstop. Here, you’ll find many rare and one-of-a-kind trucks on display. Watch a short film about trucking history and learn even more about the unparalleled magnificence of the trucks of yesteryear.
Grotto of the Redemption, West Bend
Set your sights on the largest collection of precious stones and gems found anywhere in one location at the Grotto of the Redemption, which is the largest man-made grotto in the world.
Clark Tower, Winterset
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You’ll feel like you’ve meandered back to medieval times when you visit the Clark Tower in Winterset – because the tower looks like it came right off the top of a castle. Be sure to climb to the top to take in the view.