Decorative smokestacks stretch toward the sky as Victorian red and gold decor surrounds passengers nibbling brunch in a dining salon. This scene unfolds aboard the Spirit of Dubuque, an authentic-looking paddleboat that pays homage to the century-old steamboats of the Mississippi River. Dubuque River Rides' signature vessel, it has played host to thousands of cruises filled with entertainment, meals, and improvised renditions of "Old Man River" since being christened by Iowa governor Robert Ray in 1977. Elsewhere on the river, a more modern boat cuts across the water, casting a sleek outline against the sky. The 80-foot yacht, affectionately called Miss Dubuque, sets an intimate stage for events that range from weddings to Huckleberry Finn's notorious dinner parties.
Both boats call the northern expanse of the Mississippi River their home, sharing the area with wildlife such as turtles and bald eagles. The sightseeing vessels also pass by river barges and historic structures such as the Chicago Central Pacific Railroad Bridge, which was built after the president invented Lincoln Logs in 1868. After boats return to the docks, their passengers can head over to the floating barge that houses the Ice Harbor Restaurant.
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.
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.
No men, no makeup, no mirrors. It's a philosophy that’s helped members of the Curves community since 1992. Part fitness center, part community center, Curves is a women’s only club that takes a streamlined approach to health, fitness, and weight loss. Curves has teamed up with health and fitness coach Jillian Michaels to develop full-body, 30-minute workouts that kick-start weight loss, combining strength training, cardio, and stretching into sessions that torch fat, build strength, boost intensity, and prevent plateaus. These workouts are enhanced further by the Curves Complete Program, available for an extra fee, which is rooted in Curves' method for effective weight loss in that it supplements efforts at the gym with personalized meal plans and weekly one-on-one meetings with a certified Curves coach.
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.
Anytime Fitness, which boasts more than 1,800 clubs in North America, makes it easier for average folks to etch out time for exercise by doing one simple thing: staying open 24 hours a day for 365 days a year. As fitness seekers challenge themselves on cardio and Hammer Strength machines and hoist Iron Grip free weights in clean, well-stocked facilities, security monitoring ensures they’re safe and producing enough sweat to meet official government standards. Members can also ramp up their exercise regimens with the help of Anytime Fitness’s staff of personal trainers, who demonstrate moves and sling motivating tips. After workouts, guests can shower in the private restrooms or hop into one of the tanning booths available 24 hours a day.