I’ve lived in Iowa my whole life (except for a 6-month stint in Wisconsin) and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. When people hear I am from Iowa, they wonder what there is to do here, we are just farms and fields. But, there are so many neat things to do and see in our great state, and today I have two books to share that will show you how fun Iowa can be.
100 THINGS TO DO IN IOWA BEFORE YOU DIE
By: Sara Broers
Published: May 15, 2022
Publisher: Reedy Press
With categories including Food and Drink, Music and Entertainment, Sports and Recreation, Culture and History, and Shopping and Fashion there is something featured in every corner of our great state. With one-page features on each location, you get a brief summary of the location and highlights of what makes it great. The author also includes a complete address, phone number, and website or social media tag if available. In our ever-changing climate of small businesses struggling, I find this helpful before we head out to visit a new place. Unfortunately, some of our local favorites have recently closed and I’m sure it is happening everywhere else too.
One of my favorite features in the book is the Barrel Drive-In located in West Union, Iowa. I grew up going to the Barrel, often on Sundays after church. It is a true drive-in where you pull in and the servers come outside to take your order and bring it back on a tray that hooks onto your window. They had the best malts and Dole Whips as well as pizza burgers. This is a seasonal restaurant so you want to be sure to call or check out their Facebook page before you head north.
One item on my Iowa Bucket List that is mentioned in the book is attending the Hot-Air Balloon Festival in Indianola and maybe even taking a ride inside a Hot-Air Balloon. This event is a short drive from the Des Moines metro area and is an easy drive for us as well. One item that probably won’t ever make my Iowa Bucket List is Camping in a Yurt. But, I have friends who would love this experience in the McIntosh Woods State Park near Ventura. I’m sure it is a peaceful and beautiful experience but not for me.
The end of the book offers activities listed by season as well as some suggested itineraries related to music or family fun or outdoor adventures. I wish there was a map with each place marked so you can see about possible day trips hitting a local restaurant, hiking a trail, touring a historic location, and ending the day with an ice cream cone. But, a reader could do that with their own map, but it would be a neat feature at the beginning of the book. It would especially make it easier to see the places near you or in an area that you want to visit. Color photos of highlighted places in the center of the book are a nice addition.
This book covers a wide range of places to see in Iowa. As you are planning your next adventure, pick up a copy and keep it in your car for the next time you are near a town with a great restaurant you could try.
Sara Broers is a social media enthusiast that resides in North Central Iowa. She has a passion for connecting people online and offline. She shares her love of travel through social media and is passionate about the midwest. Sara is a connector and she will help you find the connections to help you grow as a person and in your business. Check out her website, HERE. Sara is also touring local libraries and other destinations to share about her experiences. Stay tuned to her social media for updates.
Since I lived for several years in Cedar Rapids and now live in a small town outside of Cedar Rapids, I also had to share this book from the same publisher about all the wonderful things to see and do in and around Cedar Rapids. Katie Mills Giorgio and I wrote for The Gazette at the same time but we never met until recently. I am thrilled to share her book with you and encourage you to grab a copy from any of the local shops in the Cedar Rapids area such as Next Page Books, Scribe Stationer, Scout Marion, and Barnes and Noble.
Katie is also making visits to local libraries including ours in March. Be sure to follow her on social media to stay up-to-date on all her events.
100 THINGS TO DO IN CEDAR RAPIDS BEFORE YOU DIE
By: Katie Mills Giorgio
Published: October 1, 2022
Publisher: Reedy Press
Since I have lived in the Cedar Rapids area for over 30 years, I assumed I had tried or knew about all the things there were to do in the area. I was surprised to see I have not. Even though the title says Cedar Rapids, you’ll find events and places in the Cedar Rapids area. In fact, my friend’s flower farm is mentioned just outside of Van Horne. I have never heard of the Prairie Patch Farm near Swisher where you can hike with a llama. What a fun experience that would be when I have my nieces here for a few days.
One of our favorite things to do is try a new restaurant when we go out with friends. The Food and Drink section offers a great selection of places we’ve loved and ones we still have yet to try. Sadly, one of the restaurants listed has just recently closed, so it’s important to use the phone number or social media tags of each location to check hours and availability. I appreciated being reminded of a restaurant I had forgotten about and was a favorite one to go to, Vino’s Ristorante and R.G. Books. I think I’m going to suggest going there for our anniversary this year.
Now that we will have many more free evenings as we are soon-to-be empty nesters, I’m excited to try the Jazz Under the Stars in the warmer months. I had no idea there was a Cedar Rapids Astronomers Club and they run their own Eastern Iowa Observatory. Two large telescopes allow viewers to see more than the average glimpse into outer space.
Activities by season and created itineraries allow readers to spend a day trying several things in one day or a weekend since they are all close by. Be sure to check out all the tips on the pages for extra ideas and ways to make the day even more special. Including Food and Drink, Music and Entertainment, Sports and Recreation, Culture and History, and Shopping and Fashion the Cedar Rapids area has lots to offer visitors and those of us who live here.
For the Iowan who has everything, this Cedar Rapids area book offers all kinds of good ideas to boost the local economy. Add in a gift card to one of the featured restaurants and you have a great gift for the hard-to-buy-for person on your list!
Katie Mills Giorgio is a freelance writer, editor, and nonprofit professional living and working in her hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She’s been creating content for newspapers, magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations for more than two decades, getting her start writing concert reviews for the Cedar Rapids Gazette while still in college. She’s written for a wide variety of publications, including WashingtonPost.com, BHG.com, and U.S. News & World Report. 100 Things to Do Before You Die: Cedar Rapids is her first book. Katie, an aspiring children’s book author, is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. But her favorite role is the mom of two teenagers. Learn more at katiemillsgiorgio.com or follow her on Instagram at @ktmgiorgio. Share your own Cedar Rapids adventures on Insta using #100ThingsCedarRapids.