27 Things Iowa is Known and Famous For

Please note that some posts may contain affiliate links. We may earn a commission should you choose to purchase using these links but at absolutely no extra cost to you.

Iowa is a beautiful Midwestern state that is bordered by the states of Nebraska, South Dakota, and Minnesota. Located in the heart of the Midwest region of the United States, Iowa is known for its lush green fields, rolling hills, and picturesque farmland. There are many things that make an experience in this underrated state a worthwhile trip.

What Iowa Is Known For?

Iowa is known for its diverse agricultural production, making it the ‘’Food Capital of the World.’’ It is also known as the Hawkeye State with its rich Native American history. The state also made history by being the first in the Midwest to legalize same-sex marriage and is home to the first electronic digital computer. Iowa is also home to amazing natural beauty including the Tallgrass prairies and the beautiful Mississippi River.

If you are planning a trip to Iowa, these are just some of the things that Iowa is known for and can make a great experience.

Famous Food In Iowa

chili-with-cinnamon-rolls

Chili with Cinnamon Rolls

Chili with cinnamon rolls is a popular dish in Iowa. It literally consists of chili with cinnamon rolls. The cinnamon rolls are used as a topping or side dish for the chili. The chili is usually made with ground beef, beans, tomatoes, and spices. Some might find it a weird combination but this is popular in Iowa. This dish is served hot and is often eaten as a winter meal.

Taco Pizza

Iowa is also known for its taco pizza. Taco pizza is a pizza that is topped with ground beef, tomatoes, lettuce, and cheese. It was invented in the town of Bettendorf, Iowa, in the 1970s.

Taco pizza is now commonly found in pizzerias across the United States. It is also a popular menu item at many schools and hospitals.

Scotcheroos

Scotcheroos are a type of Rice Krispie treat that is made with butterscotch peanut butter and chocolate. Some say the fancy name is derived from butterscotch being one of the main ingredients. These tasty treats were invented in Iowa in the 1960s, with the recipe being printed on Rice Krispies boxes.

Scotcheroos are a popular dessert in the Midwest, particularly in Iowa. They are often served at potlucks and church functions. Scotcheroos are also a popular school lunch treat.

Production and Inventions

people-handshaking-in-farm

Agriculture Sector

Iowa boasts a strong and major agriculture sector, accounting for almost 10% of food production in the United States. This includes over 10% of the US corn and soybean supply. In addition to these two crops, Iowa is also a top producer of pork, eggs, and ethanol. These products contribute significantly to the economy of the state as they are exported to different parts of the world.

Top Pork Producer

Iowa is the top pork-producing state in the US by a huge margin. It is also a leading producer of corn, eggs, and soybeans. The state’s diverse agricultural production earned it the title, ‘’Food Capital of the World.’’

Iowa exported $15 billion worth of products in 2015 alone. Pork is the leading agricultural commodity in the state, with hogs outnumbering humans by more than 6 to 1. More than 24 million pigs are raised in Iowa each year with over 5000 pig farms in the state.

man-carrying-corns

Corn Production

Iowa is one of the leading states in corn production. Corn is a major crop in the state, and Iowa farmers produce more corn than any other state in the country.

Iowa produces more than 2 billion bushels of corn each year. This is enough to fill more than 4,000 football stadiums. Iowa exports its corn to more than 50 countries around the world.

Corn is used for many different things, such as livestock feed, ethanol production, and human consumption. Corn is also used to make corn syrup, which is a common sweetener in processed foods.

Iowa’s climate and soil are ideal for growing corn. The state has an average of 30+ inches of rain each year, which is perfect for corn production. Iowa also has more than 10 million acres of farmland devoted to corn production.

gas-station-fuel

Ethanol Fuel Capital Of The World

Unsurprisingly, Iowa is the leading producer of ethanol fuel in the United States. Ethanol is a type of alcohol made from corn and other plant materials. It can be used as a fuel for cars and trucks. About 57% of the corn grown in Iowa is used to make ethanol.

laptop-and-coffee

Home Of The First Electronic Digital Computer

In 1939, John Atanasoff and Clifford Berry developed the first electronic digital computer at Iowa State University. They used vacuum tubes to create a machine that could solve complex mathematical problems. The machine was called the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC).

slices-of-breads

The Birthplace Of Sliced Bread

Iowa is known as the birthplace of sliced bread. Commercial bread slicing was invented by Otto Frederick Rohwedder in Davenport, Iowa, in 1928. Rohwedder’s invention revolutionized the bread-baking industry and made sliced bread more convenient for consumers.

Rohwedder’s first bread-slicing machine was installed in a Davenport bakery in 1928. The machine was an instant success, and Rohwedder soon began selling his machines to other bakeries across the country. By 1930, there were more than 500 bread-slicing machines in operation in the United States.

Sliced bread quickly became popular with consumers and became the standard for bread packaging. It was not long before sliced bread was being sold in all 50 states.

Events In Iowa

child-in-amusement-park

Iowa State Fair

The Iowa State Fair is an annual event that takes place in late August. The fair attracts about a million visitors annually, making it one of the biggest events in the state. It is held at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines and features various forms of entertainment such as carnival rides, grandstand shows, food, exhibits, and livestock shows.

The first Iowa State Fair was held in 1854 in Fairfield city. It was organized by the Iowa State Agricultural Society to promote the state’s agriculture. The fair was initially held in various cities across the state before it found a permanent home in Des Moines in 1886.

The Iowa State Fair is one of the biggest events in the state and attracts visitors from all over the country. It is a great place to learn about Iowa’s agriculture and history, as well as enjoy some good food and entertainment.

Des Moines Art Festival

The Des Moines Art Festival is an annual event that takes place in downtown Des Moines. It is one of the biggest art festivals in the Midwest and features artists from all over the country. The festival also includes live music, food vendors, and a kids’ zone.

The Des Moines Art Festival was first held in 1958 and was known as the All Iowa Art Fair then. It was organized by the Des Moines Art Center in celebration of its 10th anniversary. The event has since grown to become one of the biggest art festivals in the Midwest, attracting over 200,000 visitors each year.

The Des Moines Art Festival is a great place to see some amazing art and support local artists.

woman-smiling-while-biking

RAGBRAI Bike Race

RAGBRAI is an annual bike race that takes place in Iowa. It is one of the longest and largest bike races in the world. The race is usually held every year on the last full week of July. Riders start from different points all across Iowa and ride to a central location, where they camp for the night. The next day, they ride to another central location, and so on. The race covers a different route each year, but it is always around 400 miles long.

The first RAGBRAI was held in 1973 and it has been held every year since then. The race attracts riders from all over the world and of all levels of ability. It is a great way to see Iowa and experience the state’s hospitality.

Other History, Culture, And Traditions

The Hawkeye State

Iowa is known for being the Hawkeye State. However, the origin of the Hawkeye State nickname is unclear, and there are many legends about it. Some say it is named after the Native American tribe that lived in the area. The name “Iowa” is actually derived from the word “ioway,” which means “sleepy ones” in the Ioway language. While others reckon it is named after the Sauk tribe leader, Chief Black-Hawk.

The Iowa flag features a field of blue with a hawk in flight carrying a bundle of arrows. The state motto, “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain,” is written on a ribbon below the hawk.

Political Caucuses

The first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses are a series of political meetings held by the United States Democratic and Republican parties in the state of Iowa. The caucuses are used to select delegates to attend the party’s nominating conventions, where the delegates vote on the party’s presidential nominee. The Iowa caucuses are considered an important indicator of a candidate’s strength in the presidential nomination process.

The Iowa caucuses first gained national attention in 1972, when Democrat George McGovern and Republican John Ashbrook emerged as the victors.

In 1976, Jimmy Carter’s victory in the Iowa caucuses helped to propel him to the Democratic nomination and eventually the presidency. In 1980, Ronald Reagan’s victory in the Iowa caucuses helped him to secure the Republican nomination and eventually the presidency.

Therefore, the Iowa caucuses have been considered an important indicator of a candidate’s strength.

old-oak-tree

Oak Tree

The oak tree was adopted as the official state tree of Iowa in 1961. It is a symbol of strength and durability, which is fitting for the state of Iowa. The oak tree also represents stability and grounding, which can be seen in the way that Iowans value their families and communities.

The oak tree is not just native to Iowa but is a popular choice for landscaping as it is adaptable to a variety of soil types and climates. It is also a good choice for woodworking, as it is a strong and sturdy wood. The oak tree is an important part of Iowa’s history and natural ecosystem.

goldfinch-state-bird-of-iowa

Goldfinch State Bird

The American Goldfinch is the state bird of Iowa. The state bird was adopted in 1932 through a committee vote. The initial idea in 1927 was to have the schoolchildren of Iowa make a selection via voting within a set of 5-6 shortlisted birds. That campaign failed for unknown reasons.

The topic was left untouched for another 5 years until it was brought up again in 1932. Ultimately, the goldfinch was selected as it is not just native to Iowa and often even stays in the state throughout the winter months!

lgbt-women-hugging

The First Midwest State In The US To Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

In 2009, Iowa became the first state in the Midwest to legalize same-sex marriage. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled that a state law banning gay marriage was unconstitutional. Since then, other states in the region have followed suit, including Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

hiker-smiling-near-river

Navigable Lakes and Rivers

Iowa is home to many navigable lakes and rivers, making it a great place for boating and fishing enthusiasts. Some of the most popular lakes in Iowa include Clear Lake, Spirit Lake, and Okoboji Lake. The state is also bordered by the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers. Iowa also has over 90 state parks, which offer a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy.

Cities And Travel Destinations

des-moines-city-view

Des Moines

Des Moines is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Iowa. It is also the county seat of Polk County. From its world-renowned museums to its beautiful parks and gardens, There are plenty of attractions and activities to keep you busy in Des Moines.

Some of the main sights and attractions in Des Moines include the State Capitol Building, the Des Moines Art Center, the Science Center of Iowa, and the Pappajohn Sculpture Park. For those who enjoy the outdoors, there are plenty of green spaces to explore, such as Gray’s Lake Park and the Trestle Bridge Trail.

And no visit to Des Moines would be complete without a trip to the world-famous Iowa State Fair.

Iowa City

Iowa City is the county seat of Johnson County and home to the University of Iowa. It was founded in 1839 and was the first capital of the Iowa Territory. The city is perhaps best known for its world-renowned university, which is one of the top research universities in the country.

Iowa City is also home to many cultural and historical attractions, such as the Iowa City Public Library, which is the oldest public library west of the Mississippi River. The city also has a vibrant arts scene, with several art galleries and performance venues. And for those who enjoy the outdoors, there are plenty of parks and trails to explore, such as the Iowa River Corridor Trail and the Coralville Reservoir.

The Amana Colonies

The Amana Colonies are a group of seven villages located in Iowa County, Iowa. The villages were founded in 1855 by German immigrants who were members of the Society of Separatists of Zoar.

The Amana Colonies are a popular tourist destination and are known for their German heritage, architecture, and food. The colonies are home to several restaurants, hotels, shops, and museums. It also plays host to various annual events like the Amana Oktoberfest.

Travel Insurance

Famous People From Iowa

Herbert Hoover

Herbert Hoover was the 31st President of the United States. He was born in West Branch, Iowa, and grew up in a Quaker family. After attending Stanford University, he worked in various mining companies before becoming the head of the U.S. Food Administration during World War I.

Hoover served as the President of the United States from 1929 to 1933. During his time in office, the country was hit by the Great Depression. Hoover later served as Chairman of the Commission for Relief in Belgium and as U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union.

ashton-kutcher
Photo Credit: everett225/Depositphotos.com

Ashton Kutcher

Ashton Kutcher is an actor, producer, and model. He was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and began his career as a fashion model. He later transitioned into acting and starred in several films and television shows, such as That ’70s Show and Two and a Half Men.

Kutcher is also known for his work as a producer, with credits on shows such as Punk’d and Beauty and the Geek. He is also the co-founder of the venture capital firm A-Grade Investments.

Architecture And Landmarks

 The Grotto Of The Redemption

The Grotto of the Redemption is a Catholic shrine in West Bend, Iowa. It is considered one of the largest grottos in the world and is a popular tourist destination.

The Grotto of the Redemption was built between 1912 and 1984 by Paul Dobberstein. Dobberstein was a German immigrant who came to the United States in 1881. He was a stonemason by trade and used his skills to build the grotto.

The Grotto of the Redemption is made up of nine grottos, each representing a different scene from the life of Jesus Christ. The largest grotto, the Passion Grotto, contains a life-sized statue of Christ on the cross. The shrine also contains a museum with exhibits on the history of the grotto and Dobberstein’s life.

Herbert Hoover National Historic Site

The Herbert Hoover National Historic Site is located in West Branch, Iowa. The site includes the Presidential Library and Museum, as well as the Boyhood Home of Herbert Hoover.

The Herbert Hoover National Historic Site was established in 1965 to preserve the legacy of President Herbert Hoover. The site includes the Presidential Library, which contains a research center and museum with exhibits on Hoover’s life and Presidency. The Boyhood Home of Herbert Hoover is a restored farmhouse where Hoover lived from 1874 to 1891.

The site also includes the gravesites of President Hoover and his wife, Lou Henry Hoover.

maquoketa-caves-state-park
Photo Credit: Wirepec/Depositphotos.com

Maquoketa Caves State Park

Maquoketa Caves State Park is located in Jackson County, Iowa. The park is home to a network of caves and hiking trails.

Maquoketa Caves State Park was established in 1949. The park is named for the Maquoketa River, which flows through the park and is a tributary of the Mississippi River.

The park is home to a network of caves, including the Dancehall Cave, which is the largest cave in the park. The caves are formed from limestone and are accessible via hiking trails.

In addition to the caves, Maquoketa Caves State Park also features hiking trails, picnic areas, and camping sites.

Many More Things Iowa Is Known And Famous For

There is just a surface of many items Iowa is known for. This Midwestern state is home to a variety of fascinating landmarks and attractions, from the Grotto of the Redemption to Maquoketa Caves State Park. You can also visit the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site or check out one of the many annual events, such as the Iowa State Fair. Whether you’re interested in history or nature, Iowa has something to offer everyone.

If you’re looking for an interesting and offbeat destination to explore, consider traveling to Iowa. You will discover many more things Iowa is known and famous for on your trip.


WHAT IS IOWA KNOWN FOR? PIN IT FOR LATER!

PLANNING YOUR TRIP? CHECK THESE RESOURCES!

Book Your Flight

I usually use a combination of 2-3 of the following search engines to find cheap flights: Skyscanner, Momondo, Google Flights

Find Your Accommodation

Booking.com is my usual platform for finding accommodation options as they have one of the largest selections. Hostelworld is great for booking hostels. For more private or long term accommodation, Airbnb is my go-to platform.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is important for to protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances. I usually look at a few insurance companies depending on my travel needs.
  • SafetyWings for Travel Health Insurance
  • IMG Global for added Insurance when doing activities outside of usual coverage
Packing for your trip? Check out the packing list for ideas on what to bring

For more travel resources, check out my resources page for best platforms and companies to use when you travel.

More Adventures

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.

LONG TERM TRAVEL INSURANCE

other stories