Eastern Iowa: More than Food and Fairs - My Family Travels
Pleasant Creek Park in Iowa.
Pleasant Creek Park in Iowa.

I have lived in Iowa all of my life. Some people say that it’s in, or even is, the middle of nowhere. This where I come in. I hope to banish the misconceptions people have about Iowa, and prove that it is a very fun and exciting place to visit and live. I grew up in Marion, Iowa, which is in eastern Iowa by Cedar Rapids. I now live in Des Moines, which is the one place in Iowa people have probably heard of. Therefore, I decided I will describe the Cedar Rapids and the Eastern Iowa area. I hope I can convince you to come out for a visit.

Semi Finalist 2013 FTF Teen Travel Writing Scholarship

There are many places in Iowa that are well known. For one, it has some of the best fairs in the country. Most people know about the Iowa State Fair, again, in Des Moines, but there are other fairs in Iowa that are truly little gems. Just because they’re smaller, doesn’t mean they’re not better. The Jones County Fair in Monticello, Iowa is very popular. It attracts a lot of big-name artists. Another local event is the Hog Wild Days in Hiawatha. It may be a smaller celebration, but has fun rides, games, and attractions. There’s also the Sweet Corn Festival in Cedar Rapids. The best thing of all at any of these attractions is the food. This includes mouth watering barbeque pork sandwiches, rich homemade ice cream, and Iowa’s infamous sweet corn, most of which can be found at any of these events.

Nearly every town or city also has a Farmer’s Market. Jesup has its popular Farmers’ Days, and the area I’m from has very popular local Farmer’s Markets. There are fruit and vegetable stands on most local street corners in the summer. Farmers come from miles around to sell their fresh produce. You may pay a tad more, but it’s worth it. Not only is eastern Iowa great for its food, fairs, and traditional agricultural activities, it is great for other recreational activities as well.

There are several fantastic State Parks and rivers in the area. Many people boat, fish, camp, hike, and canoe. Eastern Iowa’s most popular rivers are the Cedar, Wapsipinicon, and Mississippi Rivers. My stepfather’s family frequently has their family reunion in the Pleasant Creek Park in Palo, Iowa. It is well know for its lake. We have a great time searching for frogs and taking boat rides.

There are also many botanical gardens, environmental centers, summer/horse camps, and local parks all over Iowa to visit. The Noelridge Park Garden in Cedar Rapids is an indoor greenhouse and outdoor sanctuary popular through out the year. The Botanical Garden Center in Ames is quite spectacular. There is a horse stable camp in Springfield, Iowa, as well as a miniature zoo in Beaver Park in Cedar Rapids.

Last but not least, eastern Iowa has its sophisticated side as well. The newly redone US Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids is very popular. It books main attractions throughout the year, such as Monster Truck Rallies, rodeos, concerts, large sports events, children’s events, and conventions. I went to see The Globetrotters there when I was 9. The Paramount Theatre and The Theatre of Cedar Rapids present big names such as Harry Connick Junior, as well as productions such as Spring Awakening and Les Miserables, respectively. Eastern Iowa boasts many wonderful attraction and activities.

There are so many fun things to do and see. It is a wonderful place to get away from the “big city” atmosphere, and enjoy the smaller-scale activities that dot the area. So come on out!

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