With the start of a new year comes the fun of crafting brand new resolutions to dream up and aim for in 2022 and beyond. As for us, we can’t wait to try and experience new adventures, places and people. If you’re hoping to be more intentional with your time in the new year, then consider immersing yourself in one of these five must-do Iowa experiences for a taste of the state’s inimitable culture and flair.
Take a scenic drive through the bridges of Madison County.
Long before The Bridges of Madison County was a household book (and film), it was just a quirky, quaint Iowa destination known for its seasonally picturesque views, small-town charm and cozy Iowan vibe. Opt for a scenic drive on this 82-mile plus byway for a more secluded glimpse of the state—and see some old-school bridges along the way.
Admire the world’s tallest concrete gnome in Ames.
Iowa is home to a lot of quirky stuff—including, among other things, the world’s largest concrete gnome. Random perhaps, but still definitely a can’t-miss destination. The garden gnome is located in Remain Gardens at Iowa State University, and also neighbors the nearby Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing and Dr. Griffith J. Buck Rose Collection. Stroll through the luscious spot and grab a cute, gnome-centric selfie while you’re at it.
Play ball at the Field of Dreams movie site.
If you’re a Kevin Costner fan (or just a lover of cult-favorite flicks), then it’s well-worth your time to visit the actual Field of Dreams filming location made famous by the movie—and play a game of baseball while you’re at it. The popular Iowa site even plays host to interactive exhibits and the occasional Ghost Sunday Show—a reenactment experience inspired by the movie.
Embrace Iowa’s ethereal side at the Shrine of the Grotto of Redemption.
Built in 1912, the Shrine of the Grotto of Redemption—designed by Father Paul Dobberstein—is a charming, West Bend-based destination that was promised to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and pays homage to the rich design trends seen throughout ancient Europe. With its base composed of unique stones and shells, the shrine feels like an ethereal (and Italian-inspired) escape from the otherwise rural ambience of Iowa.
Hop on the Fenelon Place Elevator in Dubuque.
Iowa’s history tour continues with a visit to the Fenelon Place Elevator in Dubuque—with the current (and still operational) model having been built in 1893. The Fenelon Elevator is actually the steepest, shortest railroad in the entire world—but the trip up is well-worth it once you see the sweeping views of the Mississippi River.