Next week more than 10,000 bicyclists will participate in The Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, better known as RAGBRAI. The week-long event is the world’s oldest, largest and longest bicycle touring event. Riders will ceremoniously dip their rear tire in the Missouri River on the western edge at the beginning of the route and their front tire in the Mississippi River when they reach the eastern border. Along the way they’ll enjoy Iowa’s world-famous hospitality and some of Iowa’s hidden gems.
Here are some attractions worth hopping off the bike seat for in the pass-through towns. (Not riding RAGBRAI? You can visit any of these destinations by car, too!)
Breezy Hills Vineyard, Minden
This family-owned winery on the edge of the Loess Hills offers a variety of handcrafted wines using grapes and other fruits. Their hilltop location affords a beautiful panoramic view of the area.
Little Mermaid and other Danish attractions, Kimballton
See a replica of The Little Mermaid statue of Copenhagen Harbor, the “Bondehuset” (farmer’s house), historic Danish Village Church and General Store Museum.
Danish Windmill & Welcome Center, Elk Horn
This authentic windmill from Denmark was built in 1848 and transported to Iowa in 1975 and rebuilt. The mill grinds wheat and rye by wind power.
Bob Feller Museum, Van Meter
Memorabilia from Feller’s Hall of Fame baseball career with the Cleveland Indians. Displays include old uniforms, photographs, trophies, special awards and the bat Babe Ruth was leaning on during his retirement ceremony in June 1948. (The bat was Feller’s!)
National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum, Knoxville
World’s only museum dedicated to presenting the history of “big car” and sprint car racing. The Hall of Fame honors outstanding achievers in the sport. (The annual Knoxville Nationals are held every August.)
The Klokkenspel, Pella
Designed and created for Pella, the carillon clock has eight, four-foot mechanical figures and 147 bell chimes that perform at regular intervals.
Indian Artifact Museum, Bentonsport
Unique log cabin includes an impressive display of arrowheads against intricately designed inlaid plaques and wood showcases.
Jessica O’Riley, Iowa Tourism Office