I am currently living in the Los Angeles area but grew up in a rural part of the west – I still wonder sometimes how I ended up here!
My quest is for my city-bred 9 year old son who doesn%26#39;t know the difference between a hen and a rooster – this is quite unacceptable to me (smile)! I would love to bring him to the Iowa state fair and then find a way to stay in a rural area that is beautiful and still has family farms.
I have always heard that the State Fair in Iowa is one of the best. Is this true??
Is there a town within driving distance to Des Moines ( 3 – 4 hours max) where we would be able to find lodging or, better yet, a farm stay? I%26#39;m looking for small town America…corn fields, tractors, big sky, and quiet open space…
Thanks! Any advice you can give would be helpful!
Anita who is longing for the country!
Iowa state fair and farm stay
The Iowa State Fair is great! Whether you are city or a farm kid, you will find something of interest. The website iowastatefair.com has pictures and a good map of the fair grounds. The 2008 Fair will be Aug. 7-17. A new feature this year was the Learning Center. It is a new air conditioned building with pens that have a cow, horse, sheep, hogs, goat that are ready to give birth. Babies being born every day.
Also had an egg incubator and over 30 baby chicks. Two large screen TVs showed replays of that day%26#39;s births. There were 4 generations of families there watching! The cattle, horse, sheep, and swine barns are good to walk through and watch the 4-H and FFA members feed, groom, and clean up after there animals.
For B%26amp;B%26#39;s near Des Moines check out iabedandbreakfast.com/.
Iowa state fair and farm stay
The Iowa State Fair is in the book 1000 Places To See Before you Die. Allow more than one day for the Fair. Another suggestion for farm life is the Living History Farm in Urbandale. Check out the web livinghistoryfarms.org/
Thanks so much to both of you! I love getting first-hand info and what you told me confirms that I should make the trip next summer.
What are the most ‘;picturesque’; towns in Iowa – are there any towns or areas of the state that are particularly nice from a farm/small town standpoint?
As others have said, the Iowa State Fair is a ‘;must’;!
There are many picturesque small towns that would give you and your son a good taste of life in a farming community. I%26#39;m sure you%26#39;ll get many opinions, but a few that I think are nice that are within a few hours%26#39; drive of Des Moines are:
- Kalona – Located SW of Iowa City, with the added attraction of being in Amish/Mennonite country, so you can see contemporary and more traditional farming practices in action. Kalona has a local department store and other businesses that have a very Norman Rockwellian, 1950s atmosphere. This is approx. 2 hrs. from Des Moines. The visitors center can even arrange for you to have dinner with an Amish or Mennonite family at its farm.
- Winterset – Located approx. 1/2 hour SW of Des Moines. This is where John Wayne was born and is in Madison Co. (as in ‘;The Bridges of…’;).
- Anamosa – Located NE of Cedar Rapids. It%26#39;s located in Grant Wood (of American Gothic fame) country and is hilly and scenic. This is approx. 2 1/2 hrs. from Des Moines.
- Dyersville – Located west of Dubuque, this is approx. 3 1/2 hrs. from Des Moines. This is where the movie ‘;Field of Dreams’; was filmed. Your son might get a kick out of playing on the ball diamond. There%26#39;s a good little country cafe noted for its pie there, as well as a farm toy museum.
Thanks so much Prairiedog!
This is exactly the kind of info I am looking for – - – I can%26#39;t wait for next summer. I didn%26#39;t realize there were Amish/Mennonites in Iowa! My son is a baseball nut so we%26#39;ll definitely check out the ‘;Field of Dreams’;.
Glad to help, Anita40! I applaud you for planning this type of a trip for your son. Enjoy your trip and let us know if you need any other tips or suggestions!
I have only missed one state fair in my life and still regret it! The Iowa State Fair is a great place to go. I would suggest staying around the Williamsburg area, it is close to Des Moines (88 miles), the Amana Colonies (10 miles) and Kalona (25 miles). There are a few good bed and breakfasts around the area – I would suggest Loy%26#39;s Bed and Breakfast – virtualcities.com/ons/ia/i/iai2601.htm. If you want a farm – you can%26#39;t get much better than this! If you mention it when you call, I bet Bob would be happy to give you an in-depth tour. And when you are ready for a break from the country, it is about 10 minutes to the Tanger Outlet Mall.
Best of luck and enjoy your visit!
I think that the Dubuque area or really any town in the Northeast part of the state is the prettiest countryside we have in Iowa.
Northeast Iowa is gorgeous, especially the drive along the Mississippi; however, I grew up along the Missouri River in Council Bluffs. Omaha Nebraska is just across the river and has one of the best zoos in the country. But if it%26#39;s beauty you%26#39;re looking for, follow the ‘;Loess Hills Byway’; all throughout the western bluffs of Iowa. There are a ton of lookout points–great places to take gorgeous pictures of lush river valleys and farms. Council Bluffs is two hours west of Des Moines and it%26#39;s a good place to start the Loess Hills Byway going north and/or south. Once outside of Council Bluffs on this byway, it%26#39;s all rural farmland. You%26#39;ll love it.
I would recomend going to the iowa tourism site traveliowa.com
My son had to list 100 places to visit in Iowa for a school project and we orded the free publications. It is amazing all the things there are to see and do in iowa.