What did we like (and dislike) about Iowa? Read the answers to our All50 Questionnaire to discover what surprised us, what went exactly as planned and other details that might be useful as you plan your own trip (like how much we paid for parking and where we wished we would have spent more time). We answer the same set of questions for each state independently so you'll get two unique perspectives.
When did you visit?
August 18th-19th, 2017 (and also for the afternoon a few years ago and a couple church youth winter retreats)
How long was your time in the state?
Less than a day on average, except for camp retreats
Why did you visit?
We went for the first time to tour a maternity home for work and the second time we went was on our way to Nebraska for the eclipse
Describe Iowa in five words.
Andrea: Spacious, quaint, low-key, uneventful, pockets (of interesting areas)
Brandon: "Corn and bridges."
What surprised you about Iowa?
Andrea: The town of Winterset was pretty quaint and had some interesting things like John Wayne's birthplace
Brandon: That there's more than corn; it is actually a beautiful place and a lot less flat than one might expect
What was exactly what you expected?
Andrea: How wide open and underwhelming a lot of the state is
Brandon: That there was a lot of corn
How was the driving, roads, parking, etc.?
Andrea: Not very notable, driving and parking were always easy although our app did get us lost on the way to our Airbnb
Brandon: There happened to be a fair amount of construction and traffic on one of the roads we took, but other than it didn't seem too bad. The roads seemed to be in fairly decent shape and I don't remember there being parking problems.
One a scale of one to five (five being the safest), how safe did you feel throughout your stay?
Andrea: 5. I never felt unsafe.
Brandon: 5. I don't remember ever feeling like we were in a dangerous area.
What was your favorite attraction?
Andrea: Either the red covered bridge we visited or the sculpture garden in Des Moines our first time there. There are some really unique pieces there.
Brandon: I really liked the bridge. Not only was a bridge that was at least mentioned in the movie The Bridges of Madison County but it just kind of exemplifies the ingenuity of the time.
What was your favorite meal?
Andrea: We've only eaten one meal there (other than breakfast at a coffee shop) but it was really good at Table 128. It was their restaurant week so the menu was more limited but I got the trout which was very good and something I had never had before. It came with a pureed potato cake and roasted cauliflower.
Brandon: The food at Table 128 was pretty good
Where would you have liked to spend more time?
Andrea: Seeing more of the covered bridges
Brandon: I would have liked to see all of the bridges of Madison County
What would you do if you could go back that you didn’t do this time?
Andrea: I would like to tour the state capitol
Brandon: I feel like we haven't given Iowa the time of day. I've been through there on the way back from Ft. Leonardwood and we've been there together a few times (if we include some church youth retreats), but I would like to see the place where the music died (for those of you who don't know, in Northern Iowa is the site of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens and this is the event referred to in the song American Pie by Don McClean)
What was an interesting thing you learned?
Andrea: We learned that John Wayne's birthplace was in Winterset and we got to see it
Brandon: That at least one of the bridges has been relocated but is still structurally complete
What would you like to learn more about?
Andrea: Their bridge and quilt history
Brandon: I'd like to learn about more interesting places that should be visited in Iowa, its history and what makes it unique
What kind of wildlife did you see?
Andrea: Our Airbnb host had a dog. That was pretty much it. Oh, and a chipmunk at the Madison County Courthouse
Brandon: I don't remember seeing any
What kind of nature did you see?
Andrea: Crops, nothing out of the ordinary
Brandon: Corn, I can't really think of anything unique to Iowa that we saw
What did you like least about the state?
Andrea: How little there seems to be to see/do
Brandon: What we saw was pretty flat
Describe a funny memory from your trip.
Andrea: Trying to find a castle structure. We never did and Brandon walked into a spider web walking through the woods/meadow looking for it. It wasn't exactly funny, but if you can't laugh at situations like that you'll just get crabby.
Brandon: Finding a hundred dollar bill that we had given up for lost weeks ago. We found it in Andrea's pants pockets while visiting the Hogback Covered Bridge
Did you fly or drive?
What souvenirs did you bring home?
Andrea: a dried flower stem (I'm not sure what it's called)
Brandon: I don't remember getting any souvenirs from Iowa
One a scale of one to five (five being the most eager) how eager are you to return and why?
Andrea: 1 - even though it's so close to home there don't seem to be very many reasons to go there
Brandon: 2 - I would have said one, but I feel like there's probably at least a little bit more to Iowa than what we saw and I would like to give it a chance to shine