"Iowa" Top 5 Page for this destination Iowa by deecat

Iowa Travel Guide: 1,145 reviews and 2,689 photos

Idyllic Iowa

"The fertility of the soil of Iowa is unsurpassed--not merely by that of her kindred States--not merely in our Union--but throughout the world!"--Iowa promoter Nathan H. Parker, 1856

Iowa is certainly an agrarian state. The largest number of foreign-born immigrants who came to Iowa were from Germany {1890-1910], and by the 1920's "over half of the farmers in Iowa were of German descent." They brought with them such religions as the German Inspirationist who started the Amana Colonies and the Amish and Mennonites who still live in the area of Kalona. Jill and I visited both of these areas and learned a great deal about their religions and their impact on this agrarian state called Iowa.

Iowa entered the Union about 1846 as a free state. Many locations around Iowa became shelters for runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad. John Brown stayed in Tabor and Springdale while making plans for the raid on Harpers Ferry in Virginia

Some of the state's most lavish mansions are found in the Mississippi River town of Dubuque, which we also visited. We also managed to see beautiful GRISTMILLS (built by early settlers on the banks by streams and rivers in the 19th century) in both Bellevue and Muscatine.

Metal structures often take the place of frame barns {but not always, thank goodness] in Iowa today, but many nineteenth-century farms are still actively used and dot the landscape as the main photograph shows.

Most books suggest starting a tour of Iowa along the bluffs of the Mississippi River because it was the first area of Iowa to be settled. Next, it's wise to move to cities in the eastern and central portion of the state with such cities as Bellevue and Muscatine before touring the rural south-central Iowa, including the Amana Colonies, and the Amish center of Kalona. Jill and I were fortunate enough to do just that. These pages on Iowa cover these areas, and I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Diversity Within the Landscape

Iowa's regions are testament to how powerful the glaciers were.

There are rocky bluffs & cliffs that rise abruptly from the banks of the Mississippi River [they reach heights of 400 feet]. This is the northeastern section of Iowa and is known as "Little Switzerland"

North-central Iowa is flat. There are marsh, little lakes. It has some of the world's richest soil.

The extreme northwest that borders the Missouri River has the Loess Hills that resemble giant snow drifts. These wind-made dunes are only found in Iowa and some parts of China!

The rest of the state has gently rolling hills.

Lack of "Sprawling Metropolitan Areas"

Photo from "Celebrate the States Iowa book"
Note: Click to read statistics.

Iowa lacks a real sprawling metropolitan area. The bigs area is in the greater Des Moines area, and the state's other urban areas are Cedar Rapids, Davenport, and Sioux City.

Perhaps because of this lack of huge cities, nearly 97% of Iowans are Caucasians. Many are descendants of pioneers and immigrants from the mid-nineteenth century. Literature says that "one in five Iowans has a German ancestor"! Other nationalities are English, Irish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish.

Iowa has a small African-American population, which is less than 2%, and they are concentrated in cities such as Des Moines and Sioux City.

Even though Iowas was once home to about 20 Native American tribes, only one is still here: the Mesquakie.

Hispanics are some of the newest Iowans (about 35,000).

But, the lastest group to settle in Iowa are Bosnian refugees. "This happened in 1996 when 47 Bosnian refugees took jobs at Waterloo's IBP meatpacking plant."

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Beautiful landscapes, rugged Bluffs along the Mississippi
  • Cons:Not Enough Time to Tour All of It
  • In a nutshell:Agrarian State with Friendly Midwestern people
  • Last visit to Iowa: May 2007
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (46)

Comments (34)

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Nov 11, 2011 at 1:45 PM

    Hi Dee, I see that you have added even more updates to your splendid Iowa page. When I first read this page I was of course glad to learn that they have restored the Grand Opera House in Dubuque. (Not that I knew they had one, but still.) That "Heritage Trail" for cycling sounds really nice.

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Apr 22, 2010 at 9:24 AM

    Hi, Dee! Great place to visit! Thanx a lot! We also have refugees here...They are from the Caucasus and feel quite comfortable here...

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Jan 26, 2010 at 2:11 PM

    YOur descriptions of the sites is fantastic. It sounds like the cable car area is a nice place to stop and enjoy for a while, and then on to Victorian homes to tour. Great work

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Dec 28, 2009 at 2:26 AM

    Golly, there is a lot to see and do here, so many nice things, and the shopping sounds pretty good too! Nice page!

  • Dec 21, 2009 at 11:31 AM

    You and Jill had such a good time on that trip. Good to see her so healthy at that time. Wow, what a presentation of the state of Iowa. Who knew that there was this much to do?

  • Trekki's Profile Photo
    Jun 28, 2009 at 12:17 PM

    What a beautiful page about Iowa! I wasn't aware how many settlers came from Germany! The Beiderbecke Inn looks so cute and oh well, I could shop and eat here forever, love the quilts and the colonies' shops :-)

  • jillzi's Profile Photo
    Apr 18, 2009 at 10:22 AM

    Jill looks so healthy in these photographs. This was your last trip, right. It was a beautiful one. I remember all the "stuff" that Jill bought.

  • Arkeolog's Profile Photo
    Feb 23, 2009 at 8:16 AM

    Farm scene looks beautiful. Best wishes from Istanbul.Bora

  • Jul 14, 2008 at 11:28 PM

    Sri lankan information portal Important information about sex, tips, accounting, news, BPO http://www.singhalaya.blogspot.com

  • Jun 26, 2008 at 2:16 PM

    DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT stay at the Uptown B&B. The owners are crooks who don't accept credit cards or checks and will refuse to give you a receipt for your cash.


“Yesterday is a cancelled check; tomorrow, a promissory note; today is the only cash you have; spend it wisely. Kay Lyons”

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