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.
Though it has pastures, cornfields, and livestock, Bloomsbury Farm isn't your average farm—in fact, it's an agritourism destination. The farm boasts more than 20 attractions, including a 10-acre corn maze and a giant jumping pillow popular with kids and flightless birds alike. For the more adventurous, a newly installed zipline speeds people across the farm at a height of 40–50 feet, offering bird's-eye views of the land below. Throughout the year, special events celebrate the seasons with wine tastings, concerts, and breakfasts with Santa.
Grape Escape Winery’s name isn’t simply a boozy play on a Steve McQueen movie. For its vintners, planting their own vineyard signified the chance to break free from the typical work routine and spend more time together. From their 8 acres of grapes—supplemented by pickings from 15 other Iowa vineyards—the crafters fill their casks with 13 varietals ranging from sweet to dry. Visitors to the winery may saunter through the pastoral rows of vines, savor tastes of a red, white, or blush over the fire pit, or, on Saturday nights in summer, take in a movie right in the vineyard.
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.