Azul World Treasures drapes necks and wrists with gleaming semiprecious stones, fills cupped palms with geodes and fossils, and entertains children with educational archaeology kits. Wristlets ($7.50–$14.95) of smooth, buttery Costa Rican wood make wearers' forearms look as smooth and elegant as a dolphin at a royal ball, and Azul creations with beaded details ($19–$293) bewitch lobes, necks, and arms alike. Azul’s gem-chip necklaces come in a full rainbow of stones, from eggplant-purple amethyst to the pale-pink-and-green unakite ($4.95–$12.50). Polished minerals, such as chunks of quartz crystal ($1) and iridescent peacock ore ($1.55), cascade throughout the emporium, wending through pyramids of Iowan geodes ($2–$25). Meanwhile, Dig it Out! Kits ($4.95–$24.95) let young ones excavate, paint, and name dinosaur skeletons with scientific monikers such as "Tyrannosaurus Rex" or "Robocop," and soapstone boxes ($4.95–34.95) provide storage for the bones.
Iowa Book outfits University of Iowa students and sports fans with UI-centric gear and books. Within the shop’s stacks, textbooks can be purchased, rented, or sold, and a host of newly released and signed books fuel extracurricular reading or book-fort-building sessions. Hawkeye supporters of all ages can announce their athletic allegiance by donning black-and-yellow apparel from brands such as Nike, Russell, and Under Armour, or doling out team-branded gifts such as jewelry, tailgating accessories, and holiday decorations.
Backyard Candle Co. owners and votive lieges Tricia Whisler and Linda Messer hand-pour 100% soy candles into attractive container sets of numerous sizes (5–16 ounces, $7.99–$15.99). Before getting their candles, guests take in wafts of the scent menu, which drifts with 50 different aromas that include the sweet Pink Sugar, the delectable Coconut Cream Pie, and the soft Country Clothesline. Lotions and shower gels douse bodies in fragrances (two for $15.99), while tarts ($1.50) and scented room and linen sprays can be used to freshen up an office or mask the scent of a secret horse stable ($4.99). With creative graphics and images, Papaya cards greet loved ones with a nod toward style and a nudge toward creatively abandoning the envelope ($2.50). Under its vintage pressed ceilings Backyard Candle Co. also stocks a vast array of rotating eclectic home decorations.
The Niabi Zoo houses 900 animals from 160 species hailing from a quintet of continents on its 40-acre grounds. Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, this Midwestern menagerie abides by rigorous standards for bird and beast welfare. Traverse the educational trails, sighting zebras, ostriches, and giraffes trying on oversized bowties in the African exhibit or large cats such as the jaguar, leopard, and bengal tiger. The Niabi Zoo also protects 200 acres of area land for native wildlife preservation and bocce-ball tournaments.