Iowa offers authentic homesteads, animal encounters and delectable signature food tastings
For Midwesterners, there’s nothing better than fresh squeaky cheese curds, smooth sweet ice cream and supporting local family-run farms and educational sites. Iowa is brimming with interactive and educational agritourism experiences that will leave you filled with cultural, local and historical knowledge of the area, and full from sweet and savory dairy products too.
The Best IOWA DAIRY PRODUCTS
WW Homestead Dairy in Waukon started in 2011 with three farmers that had a mission to provide fresh, great-tasting natural dairy products for their community. Their dedication to their craft has allowed for quality products like ice cream, milk and cheese to come from cows that are maintained with care and deliberation. While visiting, customers are encouraged to tour the creamery and farm to learn about the process of making dairy products and view the cows. You might even get the chance to bottle-feed a calf or milk a cow. Be sure to pick up some award-winning dairy products at the retail store, grab a scoop of ice cream at the ice cream parlor and try locally roasted coffee at the coffee bar. Call WW Homestead Dairy to reserve a tour time during their April through October tour season.
Wells Visitor Center & Ice Cream Parlor, previously named Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor, was founded in 1913 by Fred H. Wells. What started out as a milk delivery service grew into the world’s largest family-owned ice cream producer, helping Le Mars be named the Ice Cream Capital of the World. When you visit the Wells Visitor Center & Ice Cream Parlor, you won’t just be getting a delicious scoop of ice cream, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in interactive activities like a flavor personality quiz and photo booth, and learn about the process of making ice cream with a virtual production line. Sample as many flavors of ice cream as you’d like and customize your order to get the most out of your time at the ice cream parlor. Enjoy your sweet treat overlooking downtown Le Mars from the second-story rooftop. Wells Visitor Center & Ice Cream Parlor offers a theater show of the history of their business and of Le Mars.
Hansen’s Dairy is a seventh-generation dairy farm that serves and sells its products locally. You’ll get a chance to view the animals up close, bottle feed calves, milk a cow by hand and pet and feed the kangaroos. The trolley will take you around the farm showing you the facilities where the dairy products are produced. Ever wonder how butter is made? You’ll get the chance to learn and make some yourself.
Iowa ANIMAL ENCOUNTERS
The Manchester Trout Hatchery has functioned as a broodstock station where trout are spawned, incubated and hatched since 1976. The hatchery produces over 600,000 rainbow, brook and brown trout for stocking every year. The Manchester Trout Hatchery offers guided tours, public presentations and educational class assistance.
Hawkeye Buffalo & Cattle Ranch have been producing quality and ethically raised meat products as a family since 1854. Their farming philosophy is to create an even balance between nature and nurture when it comes to their herds while connecting old-fashioned farming techniques to new innovations. The ranch’s priority of a high-quality diet and environment for their stock ensures the best quality in their meat products, all while encouraging purchases from a family-run farm. Take a tour of the ranch and hand-feed buffalo and cattle while learning about the ranch’s history.
Iowa AGRICULTURAL ADVENTURES
Living History Farms creates an interactive learning environment that educates, entertains and connects people to Midwestern rural life experiences. The outdoor museum’s interpretations of over 300 years of a farming lifestyle will paint a picture of the advances and changes that Midwesterners saw throughout the centuries. With the museum’s goal of connecting people to the rural way of life, visitors will get the chance to experience three working farm sites and learn from costumed museum staff through demonstrations of the time period each farm focuses on.
Enjoy a hayride, pick your own pumpkins and browse the Apple Market Store at Center Grove Orchard in Cambridge, which can accommodate groups with a cozy campfire and access to the hay maze.
In Manning, a 350-year-old authentic German hausbarn was brought over from Germany in 1996. Manning is home to a large German-American population, and the Manning Community Foundation’s Heritage Park works hard to preserve the cultural and traditional atmosphere in the community. The German Hausbarn gives visitors a glimpse into life on a German homestead with the well-preserved features and architecture that has survived centuries, wars and traveling from across the Atlantic. While visiting the German Hausbarn, see the Manning Hausbarn Heritage Park’s other attractions like the 20th century bungalow, Trinity Church and gift shop.
The National Farm Toy Museum in Dyersville is a collection-based museum that preserves and educates people on the history of agriculture through toy models. The museum offers group reservations, birthday parties and field trips. There are many showcases and events to take part in, including the Summer Farm Toy Show.
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