If you’re looking for something fun, cheap, and family-friendly to do over Thanksgiving weekend, consider a quirky road trip in some of Iowa's most interesting locations. Road trips don't have to be long - a short day excursion around Iowa, especially for family members who live out of town, is the perfect way to spend time on Thanksgiving weekend! So grab that Ram truck (Iowa’s unofficial state car) and explore some of Iowa’s treasures.
1. The Day the Music Died:
On an epic day in February 1959, a plane crashed into a field near Clear Lake. The plane was carrying Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper, and Buddy Holly. This say would later come to be known as “The Day the Music Died”. Today, a trail leads up to a small memorial, marked by gigantic black-rimmed glasses at the start!
2. Swinging Bridge in Columbus Junction:
An attraction with a tragic myth to go along with it, The Swinging bridge was originally called Lover’s Leap Bridge because of a legend that a heartbroken Native American woman jumped to her death in the ravine. As Columbus Junction’s website says “Only the trees know and they’re not telling.” It was originally made of barrel staves and wire, then replaced by a bridge on stilts. Since then, it has been refurbished many times and has seen plenty of safety improvements.
3. Grotto of the Redemption:
The Grotto of the Redemption was created by German immigrant Priest, Paul Dobberstein. It is located in West Bend. The Grotto is an offering made by Father Dobberstein to honor the Virgin Mary who he believed interceded when he was critically ill with pneumonia. In design, the Grotto actually combines nine grottos depicting scenes in the life of Jesus, and is believed to be the largest grotto in the world. The Grotto itself is worth more than $4million, and is made of petrified wood, geodes, jasper and quartz among many other minerals and stones.
4. Hawkeye Point:
Hawkeye Point is natural highest point in Iowa, standing at 1,670 feet. Visitors can climb up to an observation tower, and stare at the vastness of the state from above, or view the educational exhibits that fill the area.
5. The Future Birthplace of Captain Kirk:
The famed Riverside - a small town with a bright future, only 20 minutes away from Iowa City. Why a bright future, you ask? Well, because on March 22, 2288, James T. Kirk, future captain of the Starship Enterprise will be born in Riverside. The town even celebrates a Trekfest in late June - this would be the perfect place to take some fellow Star Trek lovers!