Meet some of the Iowa Group Travel Association’s newest members offering unique things to do in Iowa
IGTA is constantly expanding its membership to promote the best destination management associations, attractions and hotels in the state. Some of this year’s newest members include relaxing Driftless Region escapes, quirky museums and welcoming hotels that can accommodate groups of various sizes.
Allamakee County Economic Development & Tourism
Tucked away in the heart of northeast Iowa, this serene county features meandering trout streams, rugged sandstone bluffs and springs that will especially appeal to nature lovers. Groups will want time to explore the Effigy Mounds National Monument, the only national monument in Iowa. Hundreds of mounds, many shaped like animals, dot a landscape intersected by hiking trails, peaceful marshland and the Yellow River. Other stunning nature areas for exploration include Yellow River State Forest, the Driftless Area Scenic Byway and Black Hawk Bridge, which offers uninhibited views of the majestic Mississippi River. The region’s newest attraction is the Driftless Region Education & Visitor Center.
Baymont Inn & Suites Bellevue
Welcoming hospitality and spectacular views of the Mississippi River await guests at this exceptional hotel in Iowa. Guests will enjoy free Wi-Fi and breakfast in addition to an indoor pool, a fitness room, guest laundry and a 24-hour market kiosk with items for purchase. The property welcomes groups and offers two meeting rooms: a 550-square-foot conference room and the 3,500-square-foot Riverfront Event Center, which can accommodate 50 to 350 guests. Local attractions include River Ridge Brewing, the South Bluff Nature Center (which features a butterfly garden and fishing locations) and the Young Museum (a restored residence that features turn-of-the-20th-century antiques).
Seven generations have called this Hudson farm home since 1864, and the creamery continues to produce high-quality butter, ice cream and milk on-site. The family is happy to welcome groups for a tour of the property, which includes a behind-the-scenes look at the milking and bottling processes. You can also meet and feed the dairy’s mascots: a pack of playful kangaroos. Tours conclude at the Tour Center, a monolithic concrete dome that serves fresh ice cream and chocolate milk for visitors. The center is available for event rental and can seat up to 90 guests with a full kitchen, restrooms and AV capability.
Traer Shaker Gallery
The Midwest’s largest salt and pepper shaker gallery is a pure slice of Americana and houses over 16,000 sets of shakers, nesters and and condiment containers to admire. The collection is the lifelong passion of Ruth Rasmussen, who has been collecting the ceramic keepsakes since 1946. Themed areas focus on famous politicians, the 50 American states and farm animals, and Rasmussen’s most-prized pair depicts Princess Diana and Prince Charles. Other highlights include a collection of ornate beer steins, a shaker shaped like Grant Wood’s famous American Gothic painting and a sports section with shakers shaped like bowling pins and famous football players.
Eastern Iowa Muscatine
Surrounded by river bluffs and rolling hills, this charming city in eastern Iowa has been at the crossroads of history for centuries. Mark Twain wrote of its unique sunsets, abolitionists developed Underground Railroad stops here and Al Capone used the city’s secret tunnels during the peak of his mob power. Today, visitors can appreciate the Muscatine Art Gallery (a restored Edwardian mansion that showcases the decorative arts), the Environmental Learning Center (85 acres of pristine prairie land that contains fishing ponds and an arboretum) and beautiful Mississippi River views along the Great River Road.
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