Indian Sioux Tribe “beautiful country”
Nickname: Hawkeye State
State bird: Eastern Goldfinch
State flower: Wild Rose
Capital: Des Moines
Time: Central (GMT – 6)
Almost 95 per cent of Iowa’s gently undulating land is given over to agriculture, but dotted across the landscape are many scenic parks, lakes and recreation areas, such as East Okoboji, West Okoboji (Iowa’s deepest natural lake), Spirit Lake and Clear Lake. Its rich cultural heritage can be seen in the German Amana Colonies, with their many historic sites and museums.
The tulips of Pella reflect the town’s Dutch past and Des Moines, Iowa’s capital, was clearly named by French explorers. Des Moines has a great selection of amusements for children including the Science Center of Iowa, which transports visitors out of this world with impressive laser shows and simulated space shuttle flights. Other sights in Des Moines are the State Historical Museum and Archives, Botanical Center, Des Moines Art Center and Jordan House in West Des Moines.
The city also hosts a number of annual events such as the Iowa State Fair in August and a Jazz in July celebration, with free daily jazz concerts throughout the city. Just out of town, the community of Indianola is the setting for the National Balloon Museum, which holds the colourful National Balloon Classic in August.
Iowa City is dominated by the University of Iowa campus. The city also boasts the beautiful Old Capitol building among the cluster of historic buildings called the Pentacrest. Museums include the Museum of Natural History and the Medical Museum in the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
The Amana Colonies are seven villages situated along the Iowa River. They welcome tourists to the Museum of Amana History,Community Church, Communal Kitchen Museum and the Cooper Shop Museum. They are renowned for their friendly nature, and their German heritage is evident in the local restaurants, which serve family-style portions of traditional dishes. The South Amana Barn Museum in South Amana is an unusual museum that depicts the history of rural USA in miniature.
Other Iowa attractions include the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad; Effigy Mounds National Monument, with its relics of ancient Native American culture; and Fort Museum, a replica of the town of Fort Dodge in the 1800s. Also worth a visit are Iowa’s two national scenic byways: the Loose Hills Scenic Byway along the Missouri River in western Iowa and the Great River Road along the Mississippi River on Iowa’s eastern border.