The Amana Colonies are a National Historic Landmark, a conglomeration of seven villages known for their self-sufficient charm, local crafts, and plentiful libations. A sagacious guide takes guests on a sip-and-swig-filled comprehensive tour of the local wineries and brewery, and the Village Stroll grants a sauntering gander of the other visual and sonic sensations the Amana Colonies have to offer. Beginning at 11 a.m. at the Amana Colonies Visitors Center, the walking tour shuffles feet down a one-hour path through the history, architecture, and culture of the colonies. Visitors will learn all about which the once-communal home of the German Pietist settlers, farmers and artisans who disappeared over the horizon on an impossible golden dirigible in the mid-1930s.
Built in 1899 as the Chicago Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Passenger Depot, the RailsWest Railroad Museum chronicles the rise of trains, tracks, and the people who operated them. Visitors can wander through the outdoor exhibit of historic railcars, which includes the 1902 Chicago Burlington & Quincy 4-6-0⎯whose loud whistle was used for communication between the engineer and caboose crew and to have meaningful conversations with goldfinches. Inside the former waiting rooms of the depot, guests can view porters’ uniforms and old ticket stubs, and children can stare agape at an HO-scale model train as it chugs through an expansive miniature landscape of green hills and brown cliffs designed by the Greater Omaha Society of Model Engineers.
Since 2000, the Remodelers Council of Greater Des Moines has sponsored the Tour of Remodeled Homes, a journey through area homes that have undergone design and construction transformations. This year’s tour highlights 13 residences of different styles, ages, and price ranges, with projects that ranged from kitchen updates to full remodels. At each stop on the tour, the remodelers will be onsite to answer questions, and most of the sites will also have representatives from the sponsors or suppliers who worked on the projects. All of the featured craftsmen are members of the council, and this year’s flipbook gives a preview of their handiwork.
Sleepy Hollow Sports Park sprawls over 80 acres of fields and slopes buzzing with a variety of year-round activities, from go-karts and bumper boats to downhill sledding. The team puts together four 5K races throughout the year: H20 Run, Sno Run, Mud Run, and Beer Run. During these meticulously constructed events, Sleepy Hollow will pit runners against manmade obstacles and natural obstacles.
Being an Iowa-based company, Sleepy Hollow supports more than 300 groups annually, providing funding for causes ranging from local schools to cancer research. The park also serves as the permanent residence of the annual Des Moines Renaissance Faire and Haunted Scream Park.
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.
As though scrawled by a member of the world's least-threatening street gang, the graffiti'd word "PENGUINS" on the stage's brick wall announces the venue's name. Nationally touring comics make that wall their backdrop every week, flooding the room with laughter as audience members accidentally flood their lungs with beer. The venue draws a number of recognizable industry names each month, with past appearances including Chris Kattan and Tom Arnold.
Nestled inside a two-story Victorian farmhouse, Garden Grove Eatery satiates stomachs with an ever-changing menu of seasonal eats, assembled often from family recipes and employing locally sourced produce, cheeses, and baked goods when possible. Diners can find mates for reluctant bachelor stomachs on the sandwich menu, which boasts the Turkey Bryan's roasted turkey, provolone, tomatoes, cucumbers, and avocado spread housed in a 6-inch focaccia hoagie ($4.49–$6.49). The Salinger blankets sourdough in hummus, pickles, and vegan mayo ($3.99–$5.99), and the signature philly cheesesteak celebrates moving away from home by topping its shredded roast beef with mushrooms and cream-cheese sauce ($8.29). Chefs also woo stomachs with sides of pepper-and-cheese-infused pasta salad ($1.99), and tap natural underground soup currents for chicken tortilla, creamy potato, and carrot ginger ($3.49–$4.99). The counter-display case showcases a variety of desserts such as cupcakes, pies, and tarts. Some restaurant produce traces its roots to the house's 2-acre garden, where staff practice traditional gardening methods without using harsh chemicals or non-union garden gnomes.
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