We've been to Iowa together twice, but even if we combine the time spent there from both trips, it's probably still the shortest amount of time we've stayed in any one state (except maybe Wyoming). The first time we went was to tour a maternity home while I was still working for my local pregnancy resource center. We got to spend some time in downtown Des Moines, but were there and back in less than a day. The second time we went was just to stop over on our way to Nebraska for the Great American Eclipse in 2017. We thought it would be fun to leave Friday afternoon, have dinner in the Des Moines area, stay at an Airbnb in Winterset and wake up bright and early to watch the sunrise from one of the covered bridges of Madison county.
Everything went mostly according to plan except that there was no sunrise to be seen. A fairly thick fog had enveloped the area which ended up being pretty cool and picturesque. We were on a schedule (of course) so we didn't stick around too long that morning but we did drive around the little town of Winterset and enjoyed breakfast from a local, non-profit coffee shop before making our way over into Nebraska.
We haven't given Iowa a fair chance yet so this might be a little unfair, but it's my least favorite state so far. Its natural beauty, in my opinion, doesn't compare to its neighbors like Nebraska, South Dakota and (I might be biased here) Minnesota. And as far as we can tell it has far less to do than any other state we've visited. We've enjoyed the things we have seen in Iowa but it's hard to imagine spending a whole trip there. If there's a next time (which I can't imagine there won't be since they're our neighbors to the south), we will really need to spend a couple days there and do some better research ahead of time.
Dear [Itinerary] Diary,
Friday, August 18th
I picked up Brandon from work and we left the Minneapolis area around 2:30 pm
Some friends of our had recently been assigned foster children and since they were on the way down, we made a very enjoyable pit stop at Walmart to pick up some things they would need (who doesn't love shopping for baby clothes?)
We got A&W freezes (a blended root beer float) for the road and arrived in the Des Moines area around dinner time
After dinner at Table 128 just west of Des Moines we arrived at our Airbnb in Winterset around 9:30 pm, just in time to go to bed
Saturday, August 19th
It was an early start! We wanted to catch the sunrise so we packed up early and made our way to the Hogback Covered Bridge that was only about five miles away from our Airbnb
Despite the fog we spent some time photographing the bridge and surrounding area; it was nice and peaceful
Our next stop was Clark Tower which is somewhere in Winterset City Park. We never did locate it (the reviews warned us that it was difficult to find) but weren't willing to spend a lot of time looking
We headed from there back into the town of Winterset to grab breakfast from The Cellar
Having driven past the John Wayne Birthplace Museum earlier, we thought it was worth a look and we wandered around the outside of the musem and over to the actual home where he was born which was adorable with a corner entrance and porch
Nearby the Madison County Courthouse caught our eye and we stopped to snap a few pictures and admire the beautiful, old architecture
The morning had hardly begun but we were off to cross the border into Nebraska
See our "Favorite Fifteen" photos of Iowa below (and check out our other posts about Iowa for more)!