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.
In 2007, the Pub Crawl Kings organized a casual pub crawl right around Thanksgiving time. Every November since, that crawl has grown larger, enabling its founders to add more events to their calendar throughout the year. That success has also allowed them to add on a commemorative t-shirt with pub crawl admission—a less costly tribute than a face tattoo. Today, the Pub Crawl Kings continue to engineer themed pub crawls, as well as networking events and charitable efforts.
To create small batches of wines and spirits at Infinity Beverages Winery & Distillery, the proprietor draws upon the best raw materials available throughout the United States. But those aren't always the raw materials you'd imagine: Spirits include vodka made from fruit rather than grain, and original wine recipes are equally distinctive, ranging from sweet-tasting pinot noir and zinfandel blends to port-style moscato.
At Infinity Beverage's Tasting Lounge, tasters enjoy free samples of wines, specialty cocktails, and the occasional taste of libations in development. Besides a place to unwind with a drink, the tasting lounge is home to weekly entertainment and specials, including live music every Friday and special chocolate-based martinis every Wednesday.
Travelers follow Jo Daviess County's sprawling fields and undulating hills toward Massbach Ridge Winery’s 18+ acre estate. Founded by the Harmston family in 2003, the winery’s proprietors select grapes grown in Jo Daviess County to concoct their batches of reds and whites. Members of the winery family escort guests on impromptu tours before rendezvousing in the tasting room or on the patio for samplings. The outdoor patio grants a heightened view of the vineyards below, which visitors can wander through on quests for vine-ripe copies of The Grapes of Wrath. In addition to its frequent tastings and tour sessions, Massbach Ridge Winery hosts a number of wine-related events each year.
A lot has changed for the Spahn family over the years. Starting out as a vineyard that strictly grew grapes for nearby wineries, Rocky Waters Vineyard—established by Jared and Phyllis Spahn in 1994—soon became much more. From their 112 acres, they now harvest 25 to create 14 varietals throughout the year. Working with guidance from local winemaker Philippe Coquard, the Spahns have crafted their own wines since 2004. They range in style from the full-bodied Homestead red to the sweet, fruity Cedar Lakes blush.