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Olio in Iowa’s 2018 Travel Bucket List

It’s taken me a few years to realize that I don’t have the best track record when it comes to completing my annual travel bucket list. Inevitably other plans get in the way and I don’t end up making it to the places I set out to visit.

But nevertheless, I love the process of creating travel goals for the new year. It’s exciting to create a list of places to explore in the coming months and (at least this year) a fantastic way to force me to plan out my year a bit earlier.

When it comes to my 2018 travel, I’ve already got quite a few big trips on the calendar. From Iowa adventures to exploring more Midwest, there are lots of new places I’m looking forward to visiting in 2018.


Despite having living in Iowa for almost eight years, there are still tons of places I’ve yet to explore. In the new year, I look forward to revisiting old favorites and exploring new corners of my adoptive home state.

Clear Lake, Iowa

Exterior of the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa

While I’ve been to Clear Lake before, I’m so excited to spend more time in this beautiful lakeside community in the new year. I’m hoping to visit the community’s annual Color the Wind winter kite festival this February. Fingers crossed the weather stays cold enough for it to happen! I’ll also be returning when the weather warms up for the inaugural Building Community conference in May.

Ice Cream Capital of the World (Le Mars, Iowa)

Photo Credit: The Des Moines Register

The Ice Cream Capital of the World (aka Le Mars, Iowa) has been on my bucket list for awhile now. Because what’s not to love about an attraction centered around ice cream? Im hoping to plan a summer road trip to this northwest Iowa town that will include a little history and a lot of ice cream.

And Beyond…

I already have a few big trips outside of Iowa planned for 2018. From the southwestern U.S. to neighboring Nebraska, I’m looking forward to the places outside of Iowa that the new year will bring.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Ugo Rondinone's "Seven Magic Mountains" near Las Vegas, Nevada
Photo Credit: Visit Las Vegas

I’ll be the first to admit that Las Vegas would not be my typical pick for a weeklong vacation. But when it’s winter in the Midwest, anywhere with temperatures above 50 degrees sounds like heaven. In February I’ll be heading to Nevada to experience Las Vegas for the first time and see what kinds of offbeat attractions I can discover in this energetic city.

Casey, Illinois

World's Largest Rocking Chair in Casey, Illinois
Photo Credit: Big Things in a Small Town

I’m almost ashamed to admit that I still haven’t been to Casey, Illinois, home to no less than six “world’s largest” things. This small Illinois town is basically a dream come true when it comes to oversized attractions. I’m hoping we can make a long weekend road trip to Casey part of our 2018 travel plans!

Kearney, Nebraska

Exterior wall of Fort Cody Trading Post in Kearney, Nebraska

The last time I visited Kearney was more than five years ago when I was en route to San Francisco. I’m looking forward to returning this spring for the Great Plains Symposium, an ecotourism conference where I’ll be speaking along with some other Midwest travel bloggers. While reading Gretchen Garrison’s book Detour Nebraska last year I realized there is still so much of this neighboring state I’ve yet to see!

Cleveland, Ohio

Greetings from Cleveland mural in Cleveland, Ohio

While heading east on a road trip to Connecticut, my mom and I spent a few hours in Cleveland to grab dinner and stretch our legs. We were instantly charmed by this incredible city and almost immediately decided we’d need to return for a longer visit.

Share Your Thoughts

I would love to hear from you! What places are on your 2018 travel bucket list?

Where will the new year take you? Discover the places on my 2018 travel bucket list.

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