Visit 5 of Iowa’s spookiest attractions this Halloween

Haunted Iowa

I’m not usually one for haunted houses or scary movies, but in the spirit of Halloween spookiness I decided to make an exception. While I haven’t visited all of these (and I probably don’t plan to), here are five of Iowa’s most notoriously haunted spots.

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POP! Party with Art Noir

POP! Party

Last weekend I had the rare opportunity to dress like my favorite Lichtenstein, and snack on popcorn balls and spray cheese at one of my favorite places in Des Moines. As part of the Des Moines Art Center’s Art Noir programming we spent the evening creating our own comic book strips, donning Pop Art face paint and wandering the Halston & Warhol: Silver & Suede exhibit.

So today—in honor of Roy Lichenstein’s birthday—I decided to share some of my favorite snaps from the evening.

POP! Party

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The Week: October 24, 2014

All Rights Reserved Megan Bannister

Lately I’ve taken a little bit of a hiatus from blogging. For someone who spends all day writing as part of their career, I find that sometimes it’s important to step back and remember why I enjoy stringing words together so much. And then one morning I just wake up, itching to start scribbling something new, click-clacking on my keyboard to share a new adventure.

So hello there, I’m back. And while I get to writing, here are my favorite bits of Internet from the last week (or five):

Exciting extras: I wrote my first post for the Travel Iowa blog awhile back. You can read it and (if you enjoy it) help vote it into the top posts section, here.

Also, if you haven’t already, be sure to check out Olio in Iowa’s brand new Complete Guide to Roadside Attractions.

This is the smartest I’ve ever felt about finance.

Sometimes the right words find you instead. “And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens—The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.”

A linguistic history of some of our favorite foods. Continue reading

Introducing Olio in Iowa’s Guide to Roadside Attractions

Guide to Roadside Attractions

It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than three years since I started Olio in Iowa as a way to document my life and adventures in Iowa. In that time I’ve come to love the roadside oddities and little quirks that make the Midwest the place I love calling home.

I’ve also discovered how much I enjoy sharing tips, origin stories and favorite moments from the road trips I take. For awhile, that meant strictly blog posts about my experiences at different attractions and World Largest things. But now, there’s an easier way to follow my roadside adventures with Olio in Iowa’s Complete Guide to Roadside Attractions.

Currently—and logically—Iowa is the most complete collection of road trip essentials and must-see stops. But in the coming weeks, stay tuned for more from the Midwest and eventually, my favorite attractions from all across the country.


The Week: September 19, 2014

All Rights Reserved Megan Bannister

While I was out of town last week it seems that autumn crept up on Iowa and I couldn’t be happier. While I’m out enjoying the changing leaves, shopping the Farmers’ Market for my fall favorites and curling up with a good book this weekend, here’s a few of my favorite bits of Internet from this past week:

“The three dots shown while someone is drafting a message in iMessage is quite possibly the most important source of eternal hope and ultimate letdown in our daily lives.” This is the most on-point story I’ve read in a long time.

Disregard what you’ve heard: millennials are better-read than any other age group.

This is on the older side, but I’m mildly obsessed with 40 Days of Dating recently.

How being a nerd became cool. Continue reading

Eats: Tony Packo’s

All Rights Reserved Megan Bannister

As I quickly learned, there aren’t a lot of interesting stops heading west along I-80 from Chicago to Connecticut, but one sunny afternoon of our road trip we stopped in Toledo, Ohio for a bite to eat and were charmed by Tony Packo’s.

We opted for a stop at the location across the street from Toledo’s Fifth Third Field (home of the Toledo Mud Hens) and ordered the fan favorite Original Hungarian Dog, which was really more a chili dog but still super delicious after so much time in the car.

One of Tony Packo’s claims to fame comes from the hit TV show M*A*S*H Continue reading

A visit to Gobbler’s Knob

All Rights Reserved Megan Bannister

All Rights Reserved Megan Bannister

Last week while I was trekking east, we made a quick detour in Punxsutawney, PA, the home of Phil the weather-predicting groundhog. We stopped in the adorably quaint downtown before heading south toward Gobbler’s Knob, the wooded location where hundreds flocked each Feb. 2 to see Punxsutawney Phil’s annual weather prediction.

Apparently, the tradition of Groundhog Day stems from the German Candlemas Day, which instead involved a hedgehog. Since it was probably a bit difficult for early Pennsylvania settlers to stumble across a wild hedgehog, they settled on a more easily found groundhog instead and the tradition was born with the holiday’s first observation in 1887. If you choose to believe local lore, there has only ever been one Punxsutawney Phil Continue reading

Welcome to Punxatawney, PA!

All Rights Reserved Megan Bannister

All Rights Reserved Megan Bannister

There’s not a lot happening along I-80 between Chicago and Connecticut, at least that’s what we found earlier this week when my mom and I made the road trip trek. So on our second day, as we were driving for what seemed like an eternity across Pennsylvania, we decided to make a detour to visit the Weather Capital of the World: Punxsutawney, PA.

Now, I’m not a person who gets particularly excited about rodents (of any kind), but Punxsutawney just happens to be the home of famed groundhog Punxsutawney Phil. Continue reading

The Week: September 5, 2014

All Rights Reserved Megan Bannister

I can hardly to believe that autumn is just around the corner, but I’m starting to feel little signs of it everywhere. A few golden-hued leaves, a crisper chill in the mornings and advertisements for any and all things pumpkin. Next week I’ll be taking some time to recharge adventuring out East and visiting family (stay tuned!), but in the meantime, here are my favorite bits of Internet from the last week:

John Oliver and Cookie Monster are quite the duo.

Ikea hits a home run: One book book, please!

You’re a wise man, Andy Dwyer.

It’s never too late to start being more creative. Continue reading

My must-see vendors at Renegade Craft Fair Chicago

I’ve written about my love for Renegade Craft Fair before, and this weekend I’m headed east for a quick stop in Chicago before heading on toward Connecticut. Coincidentally, Renegade’s September market will be taking over Division this Saturday and Sunday so it only makes sense to make a trip before I leave town.

While I’m a sucker for Black Dog Gelato, there’s also quite a few vendors on Renegade’s fall roster whose work makes me swoon. Before I hit the streets to (most likely) spend any of the money I managed to save over the summer, here’s a look at a few of the vendors I’m most excited to see:

1. Alisa Bobzien


I’ve loved Alisa Bobzien’s works since I bought one of her Ruth Bader Ginsburg Valentine’s Day cards for a friend earlier this year. Did I mention she also has Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman cards? Yeah, pretty fantastic. Continue reading