Tired of watching Friends re-runs on Netflix? Have you cleaned the house too many times? Is cabin fever setting in now that the holidays are over? Given that Iowa weather (no matter how beautiful) can be down-right cold, winter is not generally observed as prime touring time. However, I’m here to convince you that winter is a perfect time to visit Iowa! Break out your comfy boots, grab your favorite scarf, and don’t forget your camera! There are many fun things to do throughout the state, so I’ll share some of my favorites.
Winter is a great time to visit museums! Sometimes it can be difficult to prioritize museum visits (especially during the summer) since the weather is gorgeous. But winter makes a perfect setting for a museum crawl! There’s nothing like a toasty warm museum to shatter the “winter blues.” Iowa is not short of top-notch museums.
I enjoy the Museum of Danish America (MoDA) in Elk Horn, Iowa. Just a short jaunt off of I-80, this museum is well worth the stop. Gorgeous collections display Danish heritage in a perfectly professional way. This modern museum has become a treasure of Western Iowa. In order to have the “complete experience,” don’t forget to visit The Danish Windmill and the Danish Inn restaurant (perfect for families).
Explore the cultural heritage of Central Iowa. Make a stop at the Polk County Heritage Gallery in Des Moines, Iowa. Admission is free and the gallery's great locale makes for an easy lunch break! Be sure to stop at one of the Court Avenue restaurants. Want to continue your cultural experience? Grab lunch at Hessen Haus, a German-inspired venue with great eats and beer!
If you make your way east, be sure to stop at the Pella Historical Society and Museum and the Historical Village Complex in Pella, Iowa. Learn about Iowa’s rich Dutch history and Pella’s Tulip Time festival which is usually held in May. Need a quick snack while in Pella? Make a stop into Smokey Row Coffee Company in the heart of Downtown Pella.
Now remember, this is not an exhaustive list of cultural experiences. There are many more museums to visit. The cultural influences of Iowa go way beyond the few suggestions mentioned here. Travel to the Amana Colonies for a rich Amish experience. Travel to Decorah, Iowa for a rich Norwegian-American experience. For an extremely rich (though less-traveled) option, I would encouraged you to visit some of Iowa's county museums! There are amazing cultural experiences to be had in the smallest of venues.
Harp & Ange
PHOTO: The Advance Flying Shuttle Loom (Deen Loom) was invented in Harlan, Iowa. See this exact loom, on display at the Shelby County Historical Museum in Harlan, Iowa.