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Visiting the Vesterheim Museum

What do you do while celebrating Decorah, Iowa’s 50th annual Nordic Fest? Visit the Vesterheim Museum—the National Norweign-American Museum and Heritage Center—of course! But even when it’s not the town’s biggest summer celebration, the Vesterheim Museum is a great place to learn more about the area’s rich heritage.

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Sips: SingleSpeed Brewing

A few months ago, we made a detour in Cedar Falls for lunch on our way back to Des Moines and stumbled across a welcome surprise: a craft brewery. Not only is SingleSpeed Brewing a great place to grab a drink it’s also home to some truly delicious brews.

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Blown Away by the Bily Clocks Museum

If you would have told me a few months ago that one of the world’s most incredible handmade clock collections is located in a small northeast Iowa town, I’m not sure I would have believed you. But after stumbling upon Spillville’s Bily Clock Museum I was blown away.

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Shopping the Seed Savers Exchange

Northeast Iowa is full of hidden gems, but Decorah’s Seed Savers Exchange is an easy favorite. If you have even half an interest in horticulture, this heritage farm is a necessary stop if you happen to be in the area.

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Finding the World’s Smallest Church in Festina, Iowa

While it’s no secret that I love “world’s largest” things, I also can’t say no to an adorably small attraction. Recently while roadtripping through northeast Iowa, I took a detour to visit the St. Anthony of Pauda Chapel, which claims to be the world’s smallest church.

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Honor the Day the Music Died at the Buddy Holly Crash Site

On February 3, 1959, Buddy Holly and his band played the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa as part of their Winter Dance Party tour across the Midwest. Frustrated with uncomfortable travel conditions on the tour bus, Holly chartered a small plane to the band’s next venue in Moorhead, Minnesota.

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Seeking Out the Surf Ballroom & Museum

Growing up, we spent most summers on the banks of Lake Michigan, sun kissed and sand covered as we wandered our small summer town. Stepping out of the car in Clear Lake, Iowa, I was immediately transported back to those sprawling summer days, and a visit to the Surf Ballroom and Museum seemed like the ultimate necessity.

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Wandering Cedar Rapids’ Czech Village

One of the things I love most about Iowa is its unique neighborhoods and unexpected heritage sites located within larger cities. In Cedar Rapids, one of those cultural influences happens to be Czech.

Today the area just across the river from the thriving New Bohemia neighborhood is known as the Czech Village. Once home to many Czech and Slovak immigrants, this part of Cedar Rapids is filled with interesting architecture, cultural symbols, and restaurants and bakeries serving traditional delicacies.

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Exploring the National Czech & Slovak Museum

If you’re not from Iowa, you might not know about the different pockets of European immigrants who have settled all across the state. There are the Danes in Elk Horn and the Swedes in Swedesburg, but did you know that Cedar Rapids is home to a large number of Czech and Slovak immigrants?

Earlier this summer we embarked on an adventure to explore the eclectic Czech Village starting with the neighborhood’s National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library.

Cornstalks at the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa

A RAGBRAI Road Trip: 2016 Edition

If you’re not from Iowa and not into cycling, chances are you’ve probably never heard of RAGBRAI. Each summer, thousands of (potentially crazy) cyclists embark on a week-long ride across the state of Iowa. RAGBRAI (which stands for the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) began in 1973 when Des Moines Register feature writers John Karras and Donald Kaul decided to go on a bicycle ride across Iowa.

While I won’t be riding this year, I thought it might be fun to create a road trip inspired by the 2016 route, which winds through the small towns of southern Iowa.