Boasting undulating hills and acre upon acre of verdant pastures, IOWA lacks the glitz and glamour of America’s more widely visited states. Indeed, Iowa represents as vivid a portrait of quintessential rural America as you’re likely to find; crimson barns, big blue skies and vast fields of corn with only grain elevators breaking the horizon. Even writer Bill Bryson, who grew up in Iowa and didn’t like it much in Lost Continent – he calls Des Moines “the most powerful hypnotic known to man” – remarks on the friendliness of the locals. There’s a sense of humour too; Iowa is not only the birthplace of Hollywood cowboy king John Wayne (in 1907), but is also the “future birthplace” of one Captain James T. Kirk (expected in 2228), celebrated with a marker and annual Trekfest in the small town of Riverside.

Travellers usually experience Iowa by heading west along I-80 via Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, collegiate Iowa City and Des Moines, or heading north along the Mississippi to Dubuque.

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