Welcome to Iowa
Ask Americans which state comes to mind when they hear the
phrase 'nation's heartland' and most will answer Iowa. Iowa's
reputation reflects that part of the American identity that
celebrates small-town life, where friendly, hard-working families
live against a backdrop of rolling farmland and virgin prairie:
picture the white farmhouse amid endless cornfields in the film
Field of Dreams(the site of which can be visited in
To some extent, the ideal is true. Farms account for 89 percent
of Iowa's land. And the desire to retain at least some of the
traditional elements of farm life, rather than capitulating to
big-business agriculture, is strong. Organic operations are
springing up across the state, and visitors will find there is
nothing more pleasant than spending a weekend morning wandering
through one of Iowa's many local farmers markets, like the Downtown
Farmers Market, which sets up right at the centre of Des Moines,
the state capital. Efforts to preserve Iowa's rural heritage
abound. The Iowa Barn Foundation, out to save and restore these
structures, sponsors the free All-State Barn Tour every September.
The Madison County Covered Bridge Festival has been a time-honoured
tradition in Madison County since 1970. The Neal Smith National
Wildlife Refuge has reconstructed the tallgrass prairie ecosystem,
complete with bison and elk.
Iowans have also embraced change in certain areas, which is a
boon for visitors. An initiative to plant alternative crops has
resulted in a fledgling wine industry. Today, travellers can
explore three different wine trails. At the famous Iowa State Fair,
the tradition of sculpting a cow from butter remains, but it has
been joined by a line-up of the latest rock 'n roll stars. Along
the Mississippi River, visitors can choose between watching the
sunset from the stands at a minor-league baseball game in Davenport
and trying their luck aboard a luxury riverboat casino in
For a real taste of America, visitors should head to the Hawkeye
State during a presidential election year to witness some good
old-fashioned stumping. The Iowa caucus is the country's first
major electoral event for candidates seeking their parties'
nomination, so contenders (one the future US president) usually
make numerous appearances at local diners and town halls, lead
parades, host barbecues, even clamber atop bales of hay to address
voters. Around the 4th of July, campaigning reaches a fever
Information & Facts
Iowa lies on the humid continental zone and generally has hot
summers, cold winters, and wet springs. Summers are warm and humid,
with daytime temperatures averaging 74°F (23°C) in July but varying
from region to region. Tropical air masses from the Gulf of Mexico
bring frequent thunderstorms, with persistent rain in June. Winters
are cold, with January temperatures averaging about 14°F (-10°C) in
the northwest and 22°F (-6°C) in the southeast. Snowfall is light
compared to other states.
English is the most common language but Spanish is often
spoken in south-western states.
The US Dollar (USD) is the unit of currency and is divided into
100 cents. Only major banks exchange foreign currency. ATMs are
widespread and credit cards and travellers cheques are widely
accepted. Travellers cheques should be taken in US Dollars to avoid
hassles. Banking hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.
GMT -6 (GMT -5 from March to November).