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Iowa Travel Guide

Iowa — Things to Do

If you love the outdoors, you’ll be in very good company in Iowa. This state thrives on its recreation and most things to do involve being outside. That’s a win-win for visitors because the state is packed with parks ideal for hiking, fishing, boating, and camping. Like to golf? So do Iowans.

The flat topography of Iowa makes it ideal for biking, as well. The state has hundreds of miles of dedicated bike paths, some of them long enough for full day ride or overnight adventure. The best way to get around and see all the pastoral scenery is by cruising one of Iowa’s National Scenic Byways. There are eight of them, each with their own unique character and theme.

With the most golfers per capita of any state in the country, you’re never far from a nine-hole or 18-hole course. Golf is arguably the most popular sport in Iowa, and most of its excellent rounds are public and very affordable. From the beautiful oak forest course at Amana Colonies to the world-class Preserve on Rathbun Lake, Iowa has an incredible golfing scene. Visit the Iowa Golf Association’s website to map out which of the 250 courses to play.

There are hundreds of miles of multi-use trails that weave across Iowa, many of them dedicated biking routes that run along recovered railway beds or abandoned roadways. Between the state parks and these state-managed routes, Iowans have a place to ride just about anywhere they go. Northeast Iowa Outfitters and River & Trail Outfitters are just two companies that can rent gear, offer advice, and guide you on any kind of excursion.

The rivers of Iowa are ideal for kayaking and canoeing. There are more than 1,800 miles of navigable waterways in the state, most of which are mellow and relaxing. There are guide companies in every river town across the state, from Outback Canoe in Monticello to Chimney Rock Canoes on the Upper Iowa River.

There are eight official Scenic Byways in Iowa and many more country roads that are just as pretty and fun to drive. Rent a car and go cruising back through history, exploring the covered bridges of Madison County or the forest-studded hills of the Historic Hills Scenic Byway. The state’s tourism board has free maps and brochures on all the routes for these self-drive adventures.

It may come as a surprise, but Iowa grows wine. There are five official Wine Trails in the state, each of which connects several wineries in one region for a superb day tasting the creations across the beautiful countryside. The Scenic Rivers Wine Trail is one of the most popular and accessible, but you shouldn’t overlook the Amana Colonies Wine Trail or the Western Iowa Wine Trail for a less traveled adventure.

Both hunting and fishing are major outdoor activities in Iowa. Hundreds of lakes and rivers provide incredible bass and North Iowa Fishing can show you the best spots. In the fall, hunters flock to Iowa to track everything from pheasant to whitetail deer. There are plenty of companies to choose from such as Iowa Trophy Whitetail Outfitters who can arrange permits, guns and guides.

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