Cheap Family Vacation

Best Tourist Attractions in Iowa

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Always searching for cheap family vacation options, and knowing that our family vacation would pass thru the state of Iowa, I put on my road trip planner hat and got to work, searching websites, pouring over visitor brochures, and asking people who had been there.

What great family vacations things to do in Iowa?

From everything I could find, it appeared that Iowa would be a perfect spot for my history and antique loving friends to visit for a girl's trip. It seemed that every county and community had a historical museum with local history museums and a dedication to homespun crafts like quilting.

But what about family friendly vacations?

Iowa Sign, Cheap Family Vacation

We have a rule of "if you see something that looks interesting, let's stop!"

That was how we decided to approach Iowa as we looked for best cheap family vacation spots.

And we did find lots of interesting things!

For one thing, we found that Iowa was one of the most picturesque places. Beautiful rolling farmland, and at the time we were visiting there were little blue wildflowers beside the road everywhere we went. I later found out that 25% of America's best farmland is in the state of Iowa. Everything was green and lush, and we found the people to be friendly.

Iowa, farm, view

Beautiful Iowa Farmland

No wonder Iowa is called the Heartland of America!

We brought along a book on tape and listened to it while enjoying the scenery.

Oh yes - we found some interesting spots to visit as well!

John Wayne Birthplace

Visit the humble birthplace of John Wayne. Around the corner in a statue dedicated to the Duke, and you can walk the streets of his downtown square, just a few blocks away.

If you kids don't know who John Wayne is, this is the perfect opportunity to educate them on this American icon.

You'll find his birthplace home in Winterset, Madison County, Iowa. For more info, visit

While in Winterset, you'll also want to visit the Winterset City Park to explore their English hedge maze.

Take these sites, along with the covered bridges (see below) and you have some inexpensive family vacations sites to visit.

John Wayne Birthplace, Iowa

John Wayne Birthplace

Covered Bridges of Madison County

Did you notice that John Wayne's birthplace in is Madison County, Iowa?

If you've read the book Bridges of Madison County or seen the film, you'll know about the bridges. But even if you haven't heard of them before, you'll enjoy visiting them. Some you can only walk across but there is one available to drive across.

For a fun and free cheap family vacation idea, include a visit to the covered bridges.

We got a map in the visitor center which was located in an old church. The center also housed a lot of antiques for sale, and we had some fun shopping!

Learn more about this fun family vacation attraction at

Covered Bridges of Madison County, Iowa

One of the Covered Bridges of Madison County

Great Family Vacations include Music

Actually, make that Mason City, Iowa.

Meredith Wilson, creator of The Music Man, modeled fictional River City, Iowa after his hometown of Mason City, Iowa.

We were passing nearby, so we took this opportunity and made a pilgrimmage to see Music Man Square. This is where you can visit a recreation of the film sets of River City which are next to the home of Meredith Wilson.

One of my children had been in a school play of The Music Man and she found the visit to be really special because of her connection with the musical.

For more info about visiting this Iowa tourist attraction, visit

Music Man Square, Meredith Wilson, Iowa

Music Man Square, Mason City, Iowa

Music Man Square, Meredith Wilson, Iowa

Meredith Wilson Statue
Music Man Square, Mason City, Iowa

Meredith Wilson House, Music Man Square, Iowa

Meredith Wilson House, Mason City, Iowa

Wilton Candy Kitchen, Wilton, Iowa

Founded in 1860, The Wilton Candy Kitchen is the oldest Ice Cream Parlor and Soda Fountain in the world!

Family friendly vacations have got to include lots of sweet treats, and you'll find them at this place. Visit them for a cheap family vacation thrill!

Road Trip Planner: Cheap Travel

We came thru Iowa from Missouri on I35 headed North. We spent a night in Osceola, Iowa, and found plenty of affordable family lodging and fast food restaurants making it a good stop for best vacation deals while traveling on a road trip. I always love finding towns with good choices of motels and places to eat for quick stops on our cheap family vacation travels.

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