Retrace and retread tractor history at this Dyersville museum, located 90 minutes from downtown Cedar Rapids. With thousands of toys and exhibits scattered throughout its two-floored exhibition space, the National Farm Toy Museum pays tribute to historic and contemporary crop contraptions. Fun-loving farm enthusiasts may peruse the museum's frenzy of farm implements, including trucks, pedal tractors, and life-size John Deer soil-sifters. Original artwork, dioramas, and two Doug Schlesier sculptures artfully express anecdotes of American agriculture, while miniature farm replicas and Ertl Company toys convey while miniature-sized farm replicas and Ertl Company toys convey to visitors the life-sized growth of American farming. The National Farm Toy Museum is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
The Mississippi River meanders its way through the midwestern United States, fed by dozens of tributaries on its 2,500-mile sojourn from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium pays tribute to this mighty waterway with an array of immersive exhibits.
Six large aquariums house river creatures from all over the world—giant catfish, turtles, and sturgeons—as well as saltwater inhabitants such as sharks, rays, and the retired cast of One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. A touch tank invites little ones to handle snails, freshwater mussels, and crawfish. The Woodward Wetland gives vistiors a boardwalked path through a natural river ecosystem. Equally sensory is the 3D or 4D theater, which screens popular kids' flicks and documentaries. Other interactive exhibits allow visitors to pilot a barge, learn about floods, and walk along a 92-foot map of the river.
Not all the museum's stars have fins, however. The National Rivers Hall of Fame honors the famous Americans who lived or worked along the Mississippi, such as Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain. The Fred W. Woodward Riverboat Museum similarly offers a closer look at the historic schooners that once traversed the waterway.
Visitors to Centennial Acres work with experienced riding instructors and four resident horses—Trixie, Pita, Autumn, Chip, and Kid. These steeds and their riders ride through a small indoor arena and in an outdoor arena at Centennial’s 19th-century farm, depending on the weather, all under the watchful eye of owners Matt and Emily Williams.
Matt has converted the farm—once used for raising livestock and cultivating crops—into riding stables where Emily and other instructors teach proper horsemanship, safety, grooming, and tacking to students as young as 4 years old. Drawing on more than a decade of experience in training for equitation, showmanship, and breaking in new horses, Emily coaches students in Western and English riding styles, hunter and hunter-jumper styles, and dressage.
Since Freeport Art Museum opened in 1975, its collection has ballooned to include nearly 4,000 pieces. The number is apt, since the artifacts – from Hellenistic gold jewelry to 19th-century Italian marble statues – encompass 4,000 years of work from all continents and time periods. The nonprofit museum reserves its remaining gallery space for work by contemporary regional artists, as well as travelling exhibitions.
Said space once belonged to a historic elementary school, a lineage that befits the museum's mission to inform visitors about art's global history and future. Through its educational programs, Freeport continues fulfilling that mission with events such as artists talks and classes on subjects such as graffiti art.
It may sound clichéd, but ask the staff members at The Play Station about their most memorable experience, and they'll probably say a new one happens every day. Specifically, it's the moment when a child walks in, sees the three-level play center, and lets out a gasp of excitement. The 12,000-square-foot facility's tube slides, ball pits, and other recreational equipment blossomed from the owners' relatively simple idea: create a place where our kids can be active whenever it's yucky outside. Today, kids 12 and younger climb, crawl, and slide through the play center or hit the game room to win tickets redeemable for prizes such as toys and an all-inclusive weekend in Moon Vegas.
While kids expend their energy, parents can relax nearby and socialize, watch television, or enjoy a menu of snacks, such as mozzarella sticks, grilled cheese sandwiches, and nachos. The Play Station's crew includes a team that organizes children's parties and books the facility for field trips, fundraisers, and private rentals.
A family-owned paradise of 10-pin punishment since 1972, the friendly atmosphere at Lancer Lanes promotes spirited competition for alley cats of all ages and abilities. Prospective strike pilots strap on their slick slippers and take to the lanes, guiding spherical saucers towards pin-shaped invaders on 1 of 24 hardwood runways. Bumpers are on hand to level the playing corridor for pint-sized players, while automatic scoring keeps track of points gained, aiding both arithmophobics and those just scared of pencils. While winter ushers in nightly leagues at 6 p.m., buyers who nab today's deal can redeem their Groupon during any open bowling hours, including glow bowling on Friday and Saturday nights.