Stray from the beaten path and discover some of Iowa's best hidden gems. Scattered throughout the state, they offer a unique look into Iowa's history, culture and recreation, making them a great addition to any road trip. Download the full list here.
Iowa Aviation Museum, Greenfield
Features vintage aircraft and the Iowa Aviation Hall of Fame, dating back to 1990.
French Icarian Village, Corning
The longest lasting French Icarian Village of five in the country, tours by appointment.
Trout Fishing, Dorchester
Quiet, meandering cold-water streams make the area around Dorchester a trout fishing hot spot.
Majestic Theater, Centerville
Historic theater offering live productions, films, concerts and events.
Taylor Hill Lodge, Audubon
English barn converted to modern lodging with six guest rooms.
Nathan's Miles Glow Trail, Vinton
Longest glow-in-the-dark trail in the country, which stretches two miles through town.
Hansen's Dairy kangaroos, Hudson
Black Hawk County
Dairy farm offering interactive farm tours where guests can get up close with dairy cows and the farm's kangaroos.
Whatcha Smokin' BBQ & Brew, Luther
Great eatery that features weekly/monthly flavored sausages.
Bremer County Historical Society, Waverly
Highlights county history through various unique exhibit rooms.
Cedar Rock State Park, Independence
Home of Cedar Rock home by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Allee Mansion, Newell
Buena Vista County
Historic home on the National Register of Historic Places, it's also open for tours and events.
New Day Dairy GuestBarn, Clarksville
A one-of-a-kind bed and breakfast experience on a working dairy farm.
Carnegie Bistro & Ale House, Lake City
A locally-owned restaurant located inside an old Carnegie library.
Manning Hausbarn, Manning
Guided or self-guided tours of the heritage park offer a glimpse of German heritage in the late 1800's and early 1900's.
Hitchcock House, Lewis
A historic home that was as stop on the Underground Railroad, assisting in the safe passage of fugitive slaves on their way east and north to freedom during the mid-19th century.
Grant Wood Art Gallery, Tipton
Includes 21 charcoal sketches and two oil paintings on display at the 1903 Carnegie Library.
MacNider Art Museum, Mason City
Cerro Gordo County
Home to a permanent collection of American art and the famous Bil Baird puppets.
Sanford Museum & Planetarium, Cherokee
Opened in 1951 as Iowa's first planetarium, and today features exhibits and activities on a variety of subjects.
Little Brown Church in the Vale, Nashua
Made famous by the song "The Church in the Wildwood," today it's a popular wedding site, open year round.
New Deal Mural, Osceola
A New Deal mural that was the result of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal" programs to spur economic growth.
Vermeer Glass Art Studio, Spencer
Stop in and create a one-of-a-kind glass piece, explore the gallery and shop for already-made creations.
Spook Cave, McGregor
A cave that's open for 35-minute guided tours by boat; cave temperature is always 47 degrees, year round.
Sawmill Museum, Clinton
Learn more about why Clinton, Iowa ruled the lumber industry from 1870-1900.
Klondike Hotel, Manilla
Historic hotel restored to 1897 Italianate origin and has a great deal of paranormal activity; tours are available by appointment.
La Poste, Perry
Historic 1913 post office that was renovated to be an event space for live events and art galleries.
Amish Shops, Bloomfield
Home to a large Amish population that operating a variety of shops.
Explore Hwy J20 to find the Mormon Pioneer Historic Trailside Park and the J.J. McClung House, a 1908 classical-revival-style home; tours of both sites available by appointment.
Widner Drug Store, Manchester
Historic pharmacy that houses a soda fountain and gift shop.
Anne Frank Connection, Danville
Des Moines County
Danville is one of two places in the world to view the pen pal letters between an Iowa student and Anne Frank.
Classic Car Museum, Okoboji
The ultimate destination for classic car enthusiasts and families to tour the museum and its collection of classic cars for sale and the replicated streets of downtown Spencer.
American Lady Cruises, Dubuque
Offers 1.5-2 hour cruises on the Mississippi River in the form of public sightseeing, lunch, happy hour and dinner cruises.
Estherville Meteorite Site, Estherville
The site of the largest known meteorite to have fallen in North America, which hit a few miles north of Estherville.
Heaven Boutique Winery Airbnbs, Fayette
Offers unique lodging opportunities in a converted chicken coop (tiny house) and corn crib suite, both are steps away from the winery.
Prologue Books & Wine, Charles City
Female-owned, independent bookstore that sells books, gifts and quality wine by bottle or glass.
Sheffield Shopping District, Sheffield
Charming shopping district with various unique boutiques and eateries.
Home of Iowa's championship rodeo, the museum includes rodeo and county history and genealogy.
Greene Bean Coffee, Greene
A historically renovated coffee shop that roasts their own coffee beans from all over the world.
Clock Tower Suites, Grundy Center
Loft Airbnb in historic Grundy Center that's within walking distance to restaurants, shopping, bars and coffee shops.
Springbrook State Park, Guthrie Center
A quiet state park with camping, hiking, fishing, swimming and cabins with close proximity to the Raccoon River Valley Bike Trail and Whiterock Conservancy.
Juniper & Olive, Jewell
Small-town restaurant featuring small plates, delightful flavors, charcuterie boards and craft beverages.
National Hobo Museum, Britt
The National Hobo Museum began as the dream of three life-long hobos and former Hobo Kings who tasked themselves with sharing the stories of the American Hobo and Britt Hobo Days.
Tower Rock Park, Steamboat Rock
Features exposed sandstone and limestone cliffs, modern cabins, hiking and fishing and kayaking on the Iowa River.
JC's Dairy Den, Missouri Valley
An ice cream and sandwich shop that's known for serving their infamous Twin Bing tornadoes.
Midwest Old Threshers Heritage Museums, Mount Pleasant
Museum featuring old agriculture equipment, implements and tools and steam engines.
Norman Borlaug Boyhood Home, Cresco
Offers private tours for a look into the life of the man who is credited with saving millions of lives by developing a wheat hybrid that could grow in adverse conditions
Three Rivers Trail, Rolfe to Eagle Grove
A 33-mile rail to trail that crosses 36 railway bridges.
Ida Grove Castles, Ida Grove
Explore the community's castle architecture theme.
Ladora Rolle Bolle Courts, Ladora
A site intended for guests and members to enjoy the historic sport of Rolle Bolle, also known as Belgian Bowling.
Codfish Hollow Barnstormers, Maquoketa
A live entertainment venue that hosts local and national indie bands in the barn April through October.
Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, Prairie City
Wildlife viewing area featuring four hiking trails and a five-mile wildlife drive that travels through the bison and elk enclosure.
Fishback & Stephenson Cider House, Fairfield
A 33-acre cidery that presses, ferments, ages and packages its own apples and serves food Tuesday through Saturday.
Devonian Fossil Gorge, Iowa City
Walk the Devonian-age sea floor and enjoy a self-guided tour; open daily.
National Motorcycle Museum, Anamosa
Home to more than 500 rare and vintage motorcycles dating from 1902 alongside photos, memorabilia and a toy motorcycle collection and gift shop.
Yenruogis Lake, Sigourney
A quarry-turned-lake that features 76 acres of land with a 17 acre lake with good fishing.
Camp Algona POW Museum, Algona
A museum dedicated to preserving the forgotten stories of POW camps in Iowa during WWII.
Harvestville Farm Mercantile, Fort Madison
A destination for beautiful farmhouse style décor, unique gifts, dishware, linens, jewelry, soap, lotions and fresh in-season produce.
African American Museum of Iowa, Cedar Rapids
The only museum in the state that's dedicated to preserving Iowa's African American history.
Swinging Bridge Park, Columbus Junction
Home of the Lover's Leap Swinging Bridge and various hiking trails.
Piper's Grocery & Candy Store, Chariton
An old-fashioned grocery store and deli best known for its delicious handmade candy that's made right in the store.
Blood Run National Historic Landmark, Larchwood
Once a large village and ceremonial site of ancestors of Omaha, Ponca, Iowa and Oto-Missouri tribes.
Speckled Hens Farms, Winterset
A tiny produce farm and funky farm store located that's open May-October on weekends and is a great place to buy fresh produce, baked goods and fun merchandise.
Book Vault, Oskaloosa
An independent bookstore inside a renovated historic downtown building.
National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum, Knoxville
The world's only museum dedicated to preserving the history of "big car" and sprint car racing.
The Flying Elbow, Marshalltown
Wrestling themed hot dog joint whose dishes are all named after pro wrestlers.
Art Church, Malvern
Built in 1873 as a Presbyterian church, today the building is a painting studio with an Airbnb on the lower level; tours available by appointment.
Limestone Brewers, Osage
Brewery that serves craft beer and pizza and has ax throwing lanes.
Downtown Coffee and Cream, Onawa
Serves specialty coffee and espresso plus hand-dipped ice cream.
Buxton Historic Townsite, Albia
Now a ghost town, this site is on the National Register of Historic Places and pays homage to a town that thrived during the 1870's and was seen as a Utopia where segregation didn't exist.
FiveOne8, Red Oak
Located in Historic Downtown Red Oak, this art gallery offers a makers space, classes and events.
Wilton Candy Kitchen, Wilton
Listed on National Register of Historic Places, this community staple has been serving visitors ice cream, candy and old fashioned soda for over 150 years.
Grounded Coffee & Junk, Hartley
Coffee house selling breakfast items, repurposed furniture and vintage paintings.
Ocheyedan Mound, Ocheyedan
A 29-acre historic site where a mound was formed by the Wisconsin Glacier approximately 13,000 years ago.
Tour Lisle Corporation/EZ Way Inc., Clarinda
This locally-owned corporation was founded in 1903 and produces automotive specialty tools; tours available by appointment.
Lost Island Lake, Ruthven
Palo Alto County
Iowa's 6th largest natural lake may be more quiet, but it offers just as many outdoor recreation opportunities as the more popular lakes.
Kellen Ponderosa Swimming Hole, Le Mars
A unique swimming destination.
Paintings in Oil, Pocahontas
An art gallery/store featuring local artwork on a variety of objects and art classes.
Iowa Gold Star Military Museum, Johnston
Museum depicting military experience of Iowans in local, state and national conflicts.
Bregant House, Council Bluffs
A historic home for the community's smallest couple, the house's fixtures were altered to accommodate the couple's size; open for tours by appointment.
Built in 1914, it is one of eight Jewel Box banks created by Louis Sullivan; open for tours daily.
Dragoon Trace Nature Center, Mount Ayr
An environmental education museum with live animal exhibits and native Iowa habitat displays, and hands-on programming held year-round.
Metal Sculptures/Public Art, Sac City
A collection of metal sculptures crafted by a local artist, located on the east entrance into town and throughout Main Street.
Blue Grass Drive In, Blue Grass
Opened in 2014, it is one of the newest drive-ins in the country featuring a giant cube and 2 elevated screens plus an 18-hole mini golf course.
The Anchored Collective, Harlan
Home and lifestyle shop featuring unique array of clothing, home goods, t-shirts, gifts and more.
Trattoria Buon Gusto, Ireton
A delicious locally owned, authentic Italian restaurant.
Story City Antique Carousel, Story City
A restored 1913 Hershel-Spillman carousel that features hand-carved wooden animals and a 1936 Wurlitzer band organ; operates daily throughout the summer.
Matchstick Marvels, Gladbrook
Local craftsman Patrick Acton has used over seven million wooden matchsticks to create detailed models of sculptures both large and small, from the U.S. Capitol to the Notre Dame Cathedral.
Ladoga LaBlanche Farms, Bedford
A full farm experience complete with an orchard, fresh produce, a farm cabin for rent, free planting and pruning tutorials and acres to explore.
Adams County Espresso & Soda Shop, Creston
An old-time soda fountain setting serving coffee and tea drinks, breakfast goodies and lunches.
Dutchman's Store, Cantril
Van Buren County
A Mennonite-owned store that carries a large selection of fresh produce, deli and grocery items plus Fabric and craft supplies, shoes, boots, homemade items and a variety of unique gifts.
Interactive museum that explores the history of video games and Ottumwa's gaming legacy while playing everything from Pong to Virtual Reality.
Iowa Distilling Company, Cumming
Creates and serves Iowa's top shelf spirits with a down home spin; enjoy a drink in the craft cocktail lounge that overlooks the whole distilling process.
Golden Delight Bakery and Gifts, Kalona
Amish bakery specializing in cinnamon rolls, pies, donuts and breads plus specialty quality-made gifts and toys.
Hotel Rea, Corydon
Beautifully renovated boutique hotel that offers the best of modern amenities engulfed in exquisite architectural detail and historic charm.
Located in Kennedy Park, the Children's Forest features tree stumps carved into characters from The Lorax book; the park is also home to the Storywalk trail.
Heritage Park of North Iowa, Forest City
A 91-acre outdoor museum dedicated to the preservation of America's rural heritage; tours available by appointment.
Bily Clocks Museum, Spillville
Exhibits clocks that were made from hand between 1913 and 1958 by the Bily brothers and the history of the famous Czech composer Antonin Dvorak on second floor, where he lived with his family in summer of 1893.
Sioux City Railroad Museum, Sioux City
Explores railroad history associated with the tri-state region of western Iowa; it also contains one of Iowa's best collections of steam-era railroad buildings.
Worth Brewing Company, Northwood
A locally owned brewery known for serving locally brewed, hand-crafted, high quality, distinctive beers in their new historic building.
Granny's Iowa Market, Clarion
Specializes in Iowa made products including in-season fresh produce, meat and cheese plus soaps, lotions, candles and seasonal home décor.