Just a note, 100 Things to Do in Iowa Before You Die Book landed on my steps free of charge
A few months ago, I heard the news that my friend Sara Broers, a lifelong Iowan, wrote about all things Iowa. Sara is the voice of TravelwithSara.com, a co-founder of the Midwest Travel Blogger community, but most importantly, Sara Broers is an excellent Midwest Travel writer!
Back in 2018, I found myself landing in a tiny plane on the landing strip in the middle of the cornfield. It was my first visit to Iowa, where I joined twenty other Midwest travel writers in the Historic Surf Ballroom, beautifully described by Sara on page 51 of the 100 Things to see in Iowa, for the Midwest Travel Conference. This was also my first look into a world that looks nothing like the suburbs of Chicago. I have since stayed in many Iowa hotels, listened to the stories of countless Iowans, and visited enough Iowa attractions to write a book, or so I thought…
I don’t usually read books with a pencil in my hand, but this book was here to tell me what I have yet to see in Iowa, and the quick answer is A LOT.
The book s broken down into Food, Entertainment, Recreation, Culture, and Shopping sections, making it easy to find activities based on interest. At the end of the book, you can find activities by season and Suggested Itineraries.
But let’s look at a few activities Sara shares in her book.
FOOD IN THE BOOK
Enjoy one of several sandwiches from #1- Starboard Market in Clear Lake, Iowa. Pair it with a bowl of Sara’s favorite soup, chicken enchilada, and a mint brownie. Take your lunch to the Seawall in Clear Lake and enjoy lunch with a view. (Excerpt from the book)
I have to attest to both the Clear Lake view and sandwiches. I liked their lunch boxes, which give you a delicious to-go box with a sandwich, a signature salad, and one of their delicious dessert. However, plan your lunch ahead – as this place gets quite busy.
Ice cream shops are fun places to visit, and Iowa is home to several that will leave your mouth watering. Birdsall’s, in Mason City, is where you can indulge in banana fudge ice cream and a “turtle” sundae. (Excerpt from the book)
That’s another great pick, and I would also suggest trying Fresh Peach or Black Raspberry Sundae (if in season)
ACTIVITIES IN A BOOK
Winter is an incredible time to visit Clear Lake, Iowa. From the Winter Dance Party to the Colors of the Wind Kite Festival. When was the last time you flew a kite on a frozen lake or danced the night away at the legendary Surf Ballroom, reliving the music and life of Buddy Holly?
Book a stay at the Historic Park Inn Hotel in Mason City. This is the last known hotel in the world designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Indulge in a steak from the Northwestern Steakhouse before calling it a night.
While I haven’t stayed at the Historic Park Inn or attended the Clear Lake Wind Kite Festival, I have heard a lot about them and have seen both the hotel and the lake to know that it is an experience you will want to have.
What do I like about “Things in 100 Things to do in Iowa…?”
Farm-to-Table. There are a lot of food recommendations, from sandwiches to ribs and desserts. However, Sara also dedicates a lot of time to authentic Dutch food and Farm-to-Table experiences. I love family-style dining on numerous trips to the Ox Yoke Inn (page 22).
Iowa and the US History. While we sometimes like to pretend that this area is only good for its corn, the country’s history is here. From the John Deere to Meredith Wilson and President Hebert Hoover, Iowa is much more.
Things I wish Made 100 Thins to do in Iowa…
- Walking Stick Adventure – a fantastic tipi experience with a considerable lot of private land and a pond in Williamsburg, IA – perfect for a family with kids.
- Renaissance Festival in Amana, IA – I just visited a few weeks ago, and it was lots of fun.
- Bed and Breakfast in Amana – there are many options, but it is a great experience to stay in an old Amish home and have authentic Amish food for breakfast.
- Mississippi River Water Taxi – I enjoy riding the water taxi while a part of their Quad Cities transit system. Whichever way you decide to use it, it is still a fantastic experience.
Want to learn more about Iowa? Read 100 Things to Do in Iowa Before You Die Book and go explore!