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Olio in Iowa’s Best of 2014

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In the past 12 months, I’ve explored lots of corners of Iowa and even checked a few new states off my bucket list. I’ve marveled at new giant, roadside oddities and learned more about Iowa’s history. I’ve put a few too many miles on my already tired car and traveled to both ends of the state.

But of all those adventures, a select few rose above the rest as clear reader favorites. So in celebration of all of this year’s adventures (and what’s to come in the next one), here are the 10 most-read Olio in Iowa adventures of 2014:

10. Volkswagon Beetle Spider (Avoca, IA)

All Rights Reserved Megan Bannister

This unusual arachnid was constructed by Travis and Angela Campbell across the street from their father Darwin’s home, where it still sits today in Avoca, Iowa. Read more…

9. The Bridges of Madison County (Winterset, IA)

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The Bridges of Madison County are easily some of my favorite Iowa attractions. Gorgeous and picturesque no matter what time of year you visit, these historic bridges are great road trip go-to’s. Read more…

8. Summerset Winery Fall Harvest (Indianola, IA)

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I’m an unabashed lover of wine so finally finding the time to pick and stomp grapes at one of my favorite Iowa wineries with a great friend was a 2014 highlight for sure. Read more…

7. Fenelon Place Elevator (Dubuque, IA)

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The Fenelon Place Elevator combines everything I love about Iowa’s practicality and its kitschy charm. Plus at $3 per roundtrip, you can’t beat the price (or the view of the Mississippi from the top). Read more…

6. Cordova Park Observation Tower (Otley, IA)

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Speaking of amazing views, the Cordova Park Observation Tower offers an amazing view of the Des Moines River Valley and Lake Red Rock. Take a climb to the top (don’t forget your quarters!) to cap off a day of hiking of picnicking nearby. Read more…

5. Crystal Lake Cave (Dubuque, IA)

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While I still can’t say that I’m a huge fan of caves or small spaces, Crystal Lake Caves was one of my more unique trips this year. First opened to the public in 1932, the cave’s crystal formations are some of the largest (and oldest) in the country. Read more…

4. Freedom Rock (Menlo, IA)

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While I haven’t visited again to see the Freedom Rock’s 2014 design, this roadside piece of public art is a great annual staple for anyone who makes frequent trips along I-80. Read more…

3. Tree in the Middle of the Road (Brayton, IA)

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For an attraction that nabbed the third-most read slot, visiting the Tree in the Middle of the Road was one of my year’s more underwhelming adventures. While I’m still not convinced the detour was worth our time, I’m glad this unique western Iowa feature has been so well-received. Read more…

2. Field of Dreams 25th Anniversary (Dyersville, IA) 

All Rights Reserved Megan Bannister

Without a doubt, one of the most exciting trips I took in 2014 was to western Iowa for the 25th anniversary celebration of the Field of Dreams. From watching the movie on the field to seeing Kevin Costner and Bob Costas field grounders during a charity baseball game, we had a great long weekend in Dyersville. Read more…

1. Villisca Ax Murder House (Villisca, IA)

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Apparently all of you really love reading about grisly 1912 murder scenes, because my visit to the Villisca Ax Murder House was by far the most-read adventure of 2014. While I can’t promise I’ll be hunting out too many haunted locations in 2015, Villisca’s infamous attraction was definitely worth the trip to learn about a unique (and unfortunate) part of the town’s history. Read more…

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