U.S. Virtual Road Trip- Day 15- Iowa

Today we are in Iowa a state I don't know much about but am excited to find out. Our tour guide today is, Terri from Second Run Reviews. Over to Terri.

Check out yesterday's stop in Indiana with author Mike Mullin here

Welcome to Iowa! Land of dreams, corn and college football. A small confession here, folks, I'm not a native Iowan. I'm from Minnesota originally. I came down here to attend Cornell College (the older, better Cornell) and never left.

I live in eastern Iowa in a suburb of Cedar Rapids, the City of Five Seasons. We have tons of things to do in this part of Iowa.
Things To Do
    Marion Art Festival Painting
  1. Mount Vernon and Marion. Wonderful, friendly downtown areas with lots of walkable shopping. Mount Vernon hosts a Chalk the Walk event and Marion hosts an art festival. Both of them happen in May.

    This is the painting I bought at the Marion Art Festival this past May.

  2. The Field of Dreams. Field of Dreams entrance taken by terri m leblanc That's right, folks, you can run the bases and enjoy an old fashion day in the sun. This is a fun site to visit and sit and watch the families play ball.
    "Is this heaven?" "No, it's Iowa."

  3. The Amana Colonies. If you like small breweries, crafts, fruit wines and antiques, the Colonies are a must stop. It's fun to venture to this area and just wander through the shops. Don't forget to grab some local root beer (or beer if you are of age) and some fresh pastries. Oh, so good!
Things To Eat
Oh my goodness, I could do an entire post on my favorite places to eat. I love food. I love trying new food. Our local community college has culinary arts program and there are so many great restaurants, I'm not sure where to start!
    This is how Fridays are meant to be enjoyed.
  1. Ramsey's Metro Market. My go to place for sandwiches, wine and local music. It's my Cheers. Just tell Conrad, LuAnn and Josh that half of the Dynamic Duo sent you in.
  2. Zoey's for pizza. I eat here once a year on my birthday. The place is tiny and always packed. Everyone raves about the Zookie, a dessert item. Unfortunately, I've never had one as I'm always stuffed with pizza.
  3. Villa's Patio or El Perico for Mexican. It's a toss up for me. Villa's is a cheaper and faster than El Perico, but both of them have excellent food that I crave.
  4. NewBo Market. I love venture down to the Market in the summer. There are permanent vendors and visiting ones so you have the option to choose from lots of great local food as well as arts and crafts.
  5. Hy-Vee Chinese. Okay, laugh at me. I love the sesame chicken from Hy-Vee, our locally owned grocery store. I do love sushi as well and if that's what I'm craving, I head to The Sushi House.
Other traditional Iowa food...sweet corn, pork tenderloins the size of dinner plates (Season 2, Episode 5 of Feasting on Asphalt, kolaches and Blue Bunny Ice Cream!
Quirky Things about Iowa
These might only be quirky to me since I'm not a native Iowa, but coming from a state with lots of lakes, snow and professional sports teams these things are weird to me.
  • It's all about the Hawkeyes and the Cyclones. College football is big here. I don't get it, but apparently it is a requirement to cheer for one of these two teams. I refuse and just wear my dad's Vikings jersey on the Hawkeye vs. Cyclones day at work.
  • The lack of snow. That's right folks, there's isn't much snow here in Iowa. Not compared to Minnesota. It's also not as cold here. It's not Hawaii here in December, but I remember colder days growing up just a few hours north. And while there is a lack of snow and it's not as cold, I don't complain any less!
  • It's all about the Presidential Race. Yes, folks, our little state is the home of the Presidential Caucuses. We endure the brunt of who is gonna win that coveted seat in the Oval Office every 4 years. We've got a sense of humor about it. Check out these Iowa made t-shirts for sale in Des Moines.
Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous
Here's a short list of famous people from Iowa...

John Wayne. Herbert Hoover. Ashton Kutcher. Tom Arnold. Johnny Carson. Donna Reed. Glenn Miller. Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren. Meredith Wilson. Kate Mulgrew. George Reeves (Superman). Elijah Wood.
The Reading and Writing Famous People
The University of Iowa is home to The Writers Workshop, a pretty famous writing program that has produced some pretty famous authors like Joe Haldeman. And since I started volunteering and attending ICON, I've gotten to know some Iowa based authors. I'm sticking to authors I've actually read, but I've had the chance to interview quite a few Iowa authors via my In the Spotlight feature.
  • Dennis W. Green. Genre: Science fiction crime thrillers. Read: Traveler.
  • A.R. Miller. Genre: Urban fantasy. Read: Disenchanted.
  • Tamara Siler Jones. Genre: Horror. Read: Spore.
  • Jolene Buchheit. Genre: Young Adult Contemporary. Read: Best Foot Forward.
And if you are looking for an excellent book set in Iowa, check out Ashfall by Mike Mullin. Set in Iowa and Illinois after the super volcano blows under Yellowstone, it will give you a new perspective on young adult survival fiction. It is an amazing series.
Wit's End Goodies
What's So Great About Iowa?
So what's so great about Iowa? Well, I live here. Isn't that enough? All joking aside, it really is about the people, who are warm and welcoming. It's a pretty easy state to get around. We've got lots of farmland and a few larger cities. The weather is nice most of the time (just ignore the winter cold and summer humidity). It's a great place to visit (or so my relatives tell me). I think it is an even better place to live. So give me a holler if you are driving through my neck of the woods. I'd love to take you for coffee at Wit's End or for a glass of wine (or beer) at Ramsey's.

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Terri M., the Director at Second Run Reviews
Home of Scenic Sundays and In the Spotlight

By day, Terri M. is a project manager and software specialist. By night, she’s a reading wizard. Residing in eastern Iowa, in her spare time, she spends time with Jezebel, takes pictures and watches movies with her equally nerdy husband and adorable cats.

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All the images in this post are owned by Terri M. LeBlanc.
This post was originally published on Reading the Days Away on July 15, 2015.

Thanks Terri, Iowa sounds like a great place. The field of dreams I need to visit. Love that movie. What do you think of IOWA. Leave me a comment below.

Check out Day 16 in Kansas with author Tessa Gratton here

Follow all the road tripstops here


  1. Doesn't sound like enough shopping places for my wife!

  2. Hey, I am from Iowa and although I think sometimes it is boring compared to other places, we are all about the people. Like you mentioned we have great people here in Iowa: friendly, helpful and welcoming. There is always something to do in Iowa if you want to do something. We are in the middle too - four hours to get to Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis and other bigger cities, so everything is within a day's drive. We do have shopping as we have Coralville Mall, Tanger Outlet Mall, Jordan Creek plus many great shops in Iowa City, Des Moines, Kalona and other cities. Great article on Iowa.