An award-winning organization, the Iowa Children’s Museum engages and expands the imaginations of youngsters with interactive exhibits and hands-on programs. The Move It! Dig It! Do It! event invites pintsized minds to stretch themselves around the enormous equipment wielded by construction professionals, farmers, and bus drivers, and then witness how each vehicle fits into the next to defend the galaxy as Voltron. More than 40 activities and machines ensure all-day entertainment. Tots can scramble into the driver’s seat of a fire truck for a hero’s-eye view of the engine’s three-alarm chili dispenser or enjoy a haystack ride. Create your own cement garden stone before retiring to the Volunteer Guild’s Dig It! Café for purchasable snacks and water divvied up out from under a big tent.
Nestled on the banks of the Cedar River, the 17,000-square-foot nonprofit museum educates more than 30,000 people annually through tours, exhibits, and community programs celebrating African-American heritage and culture. Packed with more than 2,000 artifacts, 200 oral histories, and a library with more than 1,000 volumes covering African and African American topics, the museum crams craniums full of historical knowledge. Endless Possibilities, part of the flagship permanent collection, traces the history of Iowa's African American citizens through photos, objects, stories, and multimedia. A rotating lineup of compelling exhibits includes Unconditional Loyalty, running through December 17, which pays tribute to African-Americans who've served in the U.S. military from the Revolutionary War era to the present day. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday
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.
Hoisting a digital trophy for being awarded the Best Museum in 2009 by CityVoters, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art delights culture connoisseurs of all ages with 16 exhibition galleries comprised of more than 7,200 pieces of art that span 2,000 years. The century-old building is home to the largest collection of works by American Gothic artist Grant Wood, and it offers tours of his antique local studio, during which a scholarly docent fields questions, admires its décor, and monitors the progress of Wood's 80-year-old reality show. Current exhibits include the pastoral photography of Joan Liffring-Zug Bourret and David B. Heusinkveld and an assembly of more than 50 Roman busts, coins, lamps, and sculptures that produce a glimpse into ancient Romans' daily lives and oddly-specific obsession with torso-less models.
There’s no turning back once visitors are wheeled via pallet jack into The Slaughterhouse, not unlike pigs being carried to their bloody end. Once inside, visitors must navigate a winding, cavernous fortress of solid steel, careful to avoid whirring chainsaws, murderous madmen, and adorable teething puppies.
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 1909 as a mission-style mansion—now listed in the National Register of Historic Places—the August Bergman Inn & Suites house private guest rooms, each with its own unique, antique charm. Two of the guest rooms—the Ryan and Captain's suites—are housed in the David Ryan home, an 1868 brick federal. A wood-burning fireplace and mosaic-tile floor decorate the Bergman suite and its king-size, mahogany sleigh bed often flies out the window, pulled by reindeer auditioning for Santa's new reality show. In the Ryan suite, guests can share a double whirlpool bathtub set in imported Italian tile behind glass french doors. A vintage cast-iron soaking tub, updated with a modern showerhead, anchors the Captain suite, whose brass-trimmed iron furnishings glint amid the flicker of a gas fireplace. All three rooms feature modern amenities such as cable TV and digital gravity.Prepared by the innkeeper—an experienced gourmet chef—breakfast includes coffee, juice, and a chef-selected entree, such as old-fashioned pancakes. Dinner is available for an additional fee, and throughout their stay, guests are encouraged to check out Jasper County's various attractions, from the Iowa Speedway to the Newton Arboretum and Botanical Garden. If arranged beforehand, the staff will gladly pick up guests from nearby Newton Airport, though the flying Pegasus may have to find its own accommodations.