My 2015 Iowa travel planner


2015, so far, has been cold, snowy, and encouraging me to do nothing but sit in my living room and read. (And make pots of soup and drink what’s left of the good Christmas booze and occasionally venture out to the cineplex to see last year’s Oscar-worthy movies that are slowly making their way to Iowa.)

January may be the worst month to actually do anything exciting, but it’s the best month to plan fun stuff to do for the rest of the year.

A few months ago, when I was thinking about places to visit for the blog this year, I ran out a map of Iowa and put dots everywhere I’ve written about. No surprise to me that more of the dots were in central Iowa than anywhere else, because that’s where I live. I also have lots of dots in northeast Iowa, dots along the western border, dots all along the Hwy. 30/I-80 corridor, and dots in southeast Iowa. I have a few others here and there, but with this stark black-and-white map and these bright red dots, it’s easy to see where I HAVEN’T been, so that gives me a start on my planning. Plus, there are several really obvious Iowa places and events that I still haven’t checked off my list.

Here are my thoughts for 2015:

  • Spend some time in the Quad Cities, and all along Iowa’s far eastern corridor, in places like Muscatine, Clinton, and Maquoketa. This area is totally devoid of red map-dots. I’m especially looking forward to visiting the Figge Art Museum in Davenport.
  • Stay overnight at Honey Creek Resort and explore the area around Lake Rathbun. This should be fun in any season.
  • Drive another Iowa scenic byway. Last year I did the Loess Hills in western Iowa and Historic Hills in southeastern Iowa. I’ve driven much of the Grant Wood and Western Skies byways, the northern section of the Great River Road, and parts of several other scenic drives. Which one should I do next? I’m leaning toward the Glacial Trail in northwest Iowa because the route seems so unfamiliar to me.
  • Speaking of routes, I still want to drive the entire RAGBRAI route this summer, just before RAGBRAI actually begins. I’ve wanted to do this for several years, and for one reason or another there just never seems to be enough time. A couple of years ago I drove the first couple of “days” in just a few hours – car days are a lot faster than bike days – and it was so much fun. As soon as the Register announces the exact route, I’m going to start planning.
  • Another trail I’d like to do (these are so much fun for me!) is the historic Dragoon Trail, a 200-mile corridor along the Des Moines, Boone, and Raccoon Rivers. I’ve seen the signs for years but never bothered to follow them or learn more about the Dragoons, a mounted infantry unit.
  • I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage area. This National Park Service National Heritage Area seems to encompass pretty much everything from Des Moines to Clear Lake, Decorah to Davenport, and everything within those boundaries. A brochure describes the area as “where the story of American agriculture comes to life,” but many of the sites and attractions are anything but agricultural. Maybe I’ll use the planning guide to locate interesting places to stop when I head over to Davenport.
  • I’ve been to Fairfield a number of times, but I’d like to really explore the town and nearby Maharishi Vedic City. Fairfield also has what sounds like a terrific first-Friday art walk, with lots of art galleries, plus great restaurants.
  • How many years have I had “Orange City Tulip Time” on my list of things to do? Um, at least six years, maybe longer. Will this be the year? I really hope so, but it’s going to be a busy spring, so who knows?

I have lots more on my list, but I’d love to hear what readers think I should do this year. Give me your suggestions!



2 comments so far

  1. Teresa on

    I see that you have indeed ventured outside of Iowa. Why not wander NE and dare to cross the Mississippi to Jo Daviess County, IL?
    Love your website, BTW.

  2. Sophie (Amaryllis) on

    Hi Carole! I’m a high school student from NC doing Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man” for a school play. I just wanted to tell you that I am loving reading your blog to find out a little more about Iowa. Who knew that such a pleasant midwestern state could be so very interesting?

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