The only sounds louder than balls smacking into pins at Midway Lanes are the groups of people cheering each other on. The bowling alley incites some friendly competition accented with high-energy tunes and a spinning disco ball. Beer pours freely from the bar, and chefs whip up daily specials that range from stuffed jalapeno burgers to pulled pork sandwiches. And on Sundays, the alley hosts Bingo and opens a bloody mary bar that provides guests with all the ingredients necessary to concoct their own mixed drink in a chilled glass.
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.
Marlene La Fleur?s equine epiphany struck in 1963, when an American Saddlebred steed named Mr. Sandman motivated her to open a stable and breed her own army of championship horses. Since then, Marlene and her husband?s stable has grown by leaps and bounds, with the rein-tuggers moving into an ultramodern barn and training facility in 2001 that allowed them to expand their English-style riding lessons. Placing an emphasis on horsemanship and equitation, Marlene?s daughter Neva leads hands-on lessons that cycle through proper grooming, tacking, and riding techniques catered to each student?s individual skill set. Pintsized riders may also celebrate birthdays or visits from John Wayne?s ghost during group parties replete with barn tours, breezy trots, and a party room that boasts a full kitchen. The stable?s stylish and well-mannered steeds kick up their hooves in spacious 144-square-foot stalls, which are built from southern yellow pine and equipped with individual windows overlooking the grounds? picturesque rolling hills.
Black Forest blossomed from its beginnings as a traditional stable and training facility to a center for equine-assisted learning and healing. Though plenty of guests still visit the picturesque farm for riding lessons, visitors also come to connect with a host of friendly farm animals. That's because the facility gives people the unique chance to feed treats to horses, walk among stunning peacocks, and discuss their favorite books with goats whether you're child or an adult. But perhaps the stables' biggest source of pride is its outreach in the wider community, contributing to programs such as the I Am Magic Foundation for children and with veterans' groups.
Visitors to Centennial Acres work with experienced riding instructors and four resident horses?Trixie, Pita, Autumn, Chip, and Kid. These steeds and their riders ride through a small indoor arena and in an outdoor arena at Centennial?s 19th-century farm, depending on the weather, all under the watchful eye of owners Matt and Emily Williams.
Matt has converted the farm?once used for raising livestock and cultivating crops?into riding stables where Emily and other instructors teach proper horsemanship, safety, grooming, and tacking to students as young as 4 years old. Drawing on more than a decade of experience in training for equitation, showmanship, and breaking in new horses, Emily coaches students in Western and English riding styles, hunter and hunter-jumper styles, and dressage.