This is the fifth year making this list and it gets harder to do every time. We have met so many amazing people and experienced some of the greatest locations the Midwest has to offer to countless travelers like us. Here is your top 20, folks. Thank you to everyone that has helped us out and supported our gallivants. Now, let’s get to the list!
20. Time To Be 20 Again: Sac City, IA
The pleasure was all ours as we unveiled the new slogan for Historic US Route 20-Iowa at Sac County Cattle Company in Sac City. Bryan Farr (holding the sign), National President of America’s longest HWY, made the trip from Massachusetts to help us all celebrate. I can’t wait to start more travels on Iowa’s 333 miles of Old 20. Time to be 20 again!
19. Haunted Klondike Hotel: Manilla, IA
You know a place feels a little haunted when it gives you the chills in the middle of the day. The Historic Klondike Hotel is said to be portal of countless spirits both permanently here and ones who are just traveling through this one of a kind museum. Our kind of ghosts.
18. Snowy Mississippi: Burlington, IA
Burlington has some of the most beautiful views along the Great River Road and one place you don’t want to skip is Aspen Grove Cemetery. The history of old Iowa is told here in visible and silent ways.
17. Downtown-Iowa City, IA
RAGBRAI overnight’ed in Iowa City for the first time in 42 years and this town was ready! Downtown-Iowa City brought out all the greatest ways to enjoy a massive party that was 42 years in the making!
16. Crab Rangoons in Onawa, IA
Let me be very clear about this. Small towns in Iowa have some of THE BEST Chinese food. Bamboo Village in Onawa, Iowa produced the a Rangoon tutorial you should all take in. This is for you shrimp lovers too!
15. Turkey & Dressing in Dubuque, IA
This was our first time getting the sandwich that Dubuquers love. The iconic Turkey & Dressing Sandwich at Cremer’s Grocery was worth the drive. Family owned businesses will always have a sweet spot on The Iowa Gallivant.
14. Downtown-Ames, IA
Historic Downtown-Ames is making more history every year and we discovered it all when we were there. Craft beers, gourmet pizza, incredible coffee houses, iconic pancakes and so much more!
13. Clear Creek BBQ Cook-Off: Harper, IA
The folks that organize this annual cook-off invited us to judge the food smoked by the contestants and just try to say no to that. This BBQ council meets every summer at historic Sts Peter and Paul Catholic Church in a beautiful rural Keokuk County, IA setting.
12. Proposing 99 Times Over
The quest to propose to my wife in all of Iowa’s 99 counties is picking up steam. We’re only have 94 left!
11. Downtown-Davenport, IA
My wife and I hit-up Davenport and rediscover one of the Midwest’s best downtown districts all over again. It had been a few years since our last trip and there was so much more awaiting our arrival. Make this weekend happen you party goers!
10. Downtown-Jefferson, IA
Where do we start on this one??? Jefferson, Iowa is a small town with many places to experience and eat! Another RAGBRAI mission brought us here and we piled on the pizza, Chinese food, fresh donuts and a trip up the cant miss bell tower in the center of town.
9. Market on Main-Ottumwa, IA
Where do you go for authentic Filipino food, huge burritos with made from scratch tortillas, wood fired pizzas, local beer, great wine and more? You better get to Market on Main in Ottumwa and get all of this under one roof!
8. Christmas in Boone, IA
One of Iowa’s best places to spend a holiday weekend is the town of Boone and they know how to keep everyone entertained. A Polar Express themed train ride through the beautiful Des Moines River valley headlined this trip and produced one of the best Christmas weekends we’ve ever had.
7. Iowa’s Wurst Road Trip
Iowa’s Wurst Road Trip has been a project that has produced some of the greatest local sausage makers Iowa has to offer. You better click on the link above and start your own tour and truly shop local.
6. George & Rosemary in Sigourney, IA
Please watch the video and see a couple who absolutely loves their business and town. Fresh pizza dough, great tenderloins and a positive attitude that keeps you open for decades.
5. Two Rounds of Denison, IA
Not one but two trips to Crawford County this year and they made for some long lasting family memories we’ll always love. Denison gave us another proposal to my wife, a stay in a Victorian B&B, cabin at Yellow Smoke County Park, tons of the best BBQ in the country and much more!
4. Valle Drive-In Theater-Newton, IA
This isn’t the tailgating you see before an Iowa-ISU game. This has its own charm and summertime style. Bring your favorite food, beverages and the whole family to Newton, IA this up coming summer and experience a movie event you’re going to love! The atmosphere was like nothing we have seen anywhere else. Put this on your bucket list!
3. Building Community-Clear Lake, IA
If you ever told me that I would be delivering a speech on the same stage that has hosted some of the biggest stars in music history….Let’s just say that happened and I’m still getting chills thinking about it. Building Community’s inaugural meeting launched at the Historic Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, IA and I was proud to represent The Iowa Gallivant and more importantly, the Midwest where I call home and always will no matter where I am. 2019’s conference is set for beautiful Medora, North Dakota and so many of you can learn from the bloggers, writers, speakers and community leaders that will be attending. See you in June, Midwest Travel Network!
2. Audubon County, IA
Off the beaten path exploring can bring pure rural beauty like Iowa’s Tree in the Road and what I believe is America’s most majestic roundabout. Audubon County is right in between the metro areas of Omaha and Des Moines and is ready for your discoveries. We will be back here and take in more of this beautiful county all over again. Be sure to click on the link above and see what this Western Iowa treasure has to offer.
1. Kansas Takeover of The Iowa Gallivant
Eastern Kansas showed a part of the Midwest that we never imagined as we left Iowa’s state line and ventured west. A certain connection we never knew we had was felt in so many places here in the Sunflower State. The jaw dropping architecture of Atchison and its haunted history gave us the unique trip you can only get there. Leavenworth’s National Cemetery inspired us to come back for the nearly 1,600 unknown soldiers buried there along with a downtown district that made us want to spend 24 hours at each block. One of the most spectacular overlooks in America lured us to its platform at Four State Lookout in White Cloud where we saw Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa all in one giant prairie landscape. All these unbelievable memories coupled with some of the tastiest food we devoured this year and all the locals that made this trip happen and heartwarming. This region welcomed us in like old friends and the people here are the true representation of this number one ranking. Many of you have seen “purple mountains majesty”. The time has come to experience “amber waves of grain”. We’ll gallivant again, Kansas!