Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad & Museum’s campus features 9,000 square feet of exhibits, classrooms, and libraries dedicated to all eras of Iowa’s railway history. But the museum campus is one part of the organization’s attractions, since the it keeps actual 1920s-era coach cars coasting the tracks, chugging past sights and recreating the experience railway riders have enjoyed for nearly 100 years. The ancient engine follows the tracks in the Des Moines River Valley, taking visitors to old coal towns or allowing them to soak in scenic views. After their ride, travelers can return to the museum, where they can view track equipment, ogle dining car china, or learn why one has to wear coveralls to steer a train.
Kil'n Time's clay shapers provision guests with imagination-stoking ceramic canvasses and finished artifacts alike in a creativity-inducing studio. Daily studio fees ($8 for adults, $5 for kids) include both painting materials and final firings, inviting paint-it-yourselfers to pick from shelves of unfinished earthenware finery ($8–$75). Stripe mugs to match kitchen counters, speckle an eye-catching keychain, or openly flaunt your title as “World’s Greatest Third Cousin Once Removed” by splashing it across a vase for all to see.
With locations dotted along the country, Funny Bone Comedy Clubs host local and nationally touring comedians plucked from sources such as Comedy Central and Last Comic Standing. Over the past three decades, these hallowed stages have served as a launching pad for up-and-comers and have been graced by the likes of Ellen DeGeneres, Kathleen Madigan, Jim Breuer, and the clown from It, who is no longer welcome at birthday parties. Funny Bone Comedy Clubs stay involved in their respective communities by also hosting numerous charitable functions, magic shows, and children’s comedy.
The artist-run Works of Glass studio burnishes custom stained-glass pieces and extends materials and advice to hobbyists of the semitranslucent arts. Each Make 'n' Take stained-glass class provides all of the materials and guidance for six students at a time to create a three-piece heart-shaped sun catcher using the same copper foiling method used in Tiffany glass production. After a practice cutting session with old windowpanes and the walls of glass houses, students select their favorite shade from the studio's spectrum of glass and cut it themselves to form the base of the heart. Like soldering a rainbow and heart together to create the ultimate T-shirt logo, students solder two clear half-circle bevels to the sun catcher, which will make it cast rainbow shadows on sulking rooms. Students will get to do their own foiling and soldering—the processes used to bring pieces together—and will finish off the piece with a metal filigree. Finished works measure 5 inches at the widest point and are 4.5 inches long, with every square unit of surface area declaring undying love to a favorite window. Just like remedial woodshop, classes take place on the weekends.
The Gladiator Assault Challenge confronts racers with a 5- to 7-mile course surrounded by scenic woodlands, cheering spectators, and up to 30 intense obstacles. Gladiators aged 18 and older go solo or join forces with other competitors to ford the waist-high waters of Mud Mayhem, rope-swing through Jungle Love, and use oversize novelty scissors to break the finish tape. Additional obstacles test physical stamina with 12-foot vertical walls, fallen trees, and cargo nets that act as moats blocking the finish line. After the Slideway ushers racers to a skidding finish, a complimentary beer and raucous after party lend ample time to scrawl "wash me" on opponents' backs.