Iowa is my residence state, and you may expertise European attraction without having a passport. A number of cities provide a European really feel via their festivals, outlets, and parades. When you have wished to journey abroad and aren’t certain in the event you would benefit from the lengthy journey, come and expertise these Iowa cities. All of them have one thing that they’re very happy with: their heritage. The folks of those Iowa cities with European attraction will roll out the purple carpet once you roll into city. The saying “Iowa good” applies to every of those cities and their residents. Embrace the meals, tradition, and folks for an epic expertise that’s reasonably priced and in the course of America. 

1. Elk Horn

Elk Horn is the place the Danish neighborhood involves life, as greater than half of the city of 650-plus claims to be of Danish descent. The attraction of the city will sweep you into Danish life as quickly as you drive into city. Elk Horn is a brief drive off of I-80 in Southwest Iowa. When you hop off of I-80, you’ll come to the Danish Windmill Museum inside a matter of minutes. The Danish Windmill additionally homes one in every of Iowa’s welcome facilities. You’ll discover all sorts of Danish memorabilia, in addition to candy treats, together with kringle from The Kringle Man. This scrumptious, butter-layered Danish kringle is assured to get up your style buds. When you arrive after the Danish Windmill has closed for the day, take the time to walk the grounds. A number of buildings surrounding the Danish Windmill provide perception into the lifetime of a Dane.

The Museum of Danish America is accessible to folks with disabilities and positioned on 30 acres in Elk Horn. It’s a nationwide heart that acknowledges the lifetime of the Danish-American neighborhood. This attraction showcases how life has developed with expertise within the Danish households within the Elk Horn space. The Family tree Heart is positioned on Essential Road and is likely one of the finest locations to find out about your Danish ancestry. The employees within the family tree heart went above and past once I stopped in for a go to. Plan to go to each of those museums and stroll alongside Essential Road for a chance to really feel like a Dane for the day. This charming city will lure you in as you drive into city. Spend half a day or a full day to expertise all that Elk Horn has to supply.

Sunken Gardens Park in Pella, Iowa.
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2. Pella

Pella, Iowa, is sometimes called America’s Dutch Treasure. The Dutch heritage museums, beautiful flower gardens (together with hundreds of tulips), boutique buying, and unimaginable bakeries make this an reasonably priced Dutch getaway in america. The Pella Historical Society Museums and Vermeer Windmill are highlights of Pella. The Vermeer Windmill is the tallest working grain windmill in america. The 21 buildings that make up the Historic Village embrace a blacksmith store, wood shoemaker store, church, bakery, puppet theater, and the childhood residence of Wyatt Earp. 

While you spend time in Pella, you will note the Klokkenspel. This carillon clock goes off on odd hours and may be heard all through the downtown space. The murals, flowers, and fountains on this space are enjoyable and can take you to the land of the Dutch. Molengracht Plaza includes a working drawbridge that’s surrounded by beautiful Dutch-inspired structure. Take pleasure in Dutch pastries from Jaarsma Bakery and Vander Ploeg Bakery. A fan favourite are the well-known Dutch Letters. Plan to eat one whereas in Pella, and take a field of them residence with you to take pleasure in later. Every Might, the city involves life with the annual tulip competition. The competition consists of dancing, a parade, and tulips galore.

Downtown buildings in Decorah, Iowa.
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3. Decorah

Decorah, Iowa, is positioned in Northeast Iowa and provides experiences that showcase Norway. Nordic Fest is an annual competition that celebrates the Scandinavian international locations, with a deal with Norway. Annually, hundreds of individuals flood the city to expertise Nordic Fest on the final weekend in July. Festivities embrace dwelling traditions of the Scandinavian tradition on the Vesterheim Museum and an unimaginable arts and crafts complicated. With greater than 30 artisans that includes their work, you can see it straightforward to take slightly little bit of Norway again residence with you. The Grand Parade is a fan favourite that many return yr after yr to expertise.

Plan to go to the Vesterheim Museum while you’re in Decorah. This museum showcases the lives of Scandinavian-heritage folks, and the artwork shows are out of this world. I’m of Norwegian heritage, and I’ve all the time appreciated rosemaling. The rosemaling that’s on show within the Vesterheim is alone value a go to to the museum. Stroll the grounds and think about the development of the easy buildings which can be on website. You’ll shortly see that Norwegians have been easy folks and made use of every part that they owned. The one factor that I feel that everybody must do once they go to Decorah is to enjoy some lefse. This scrumptious Norwegian deal with will discover you wanting extra. 

Historic homes located in Amana Colonies in Iowa.
Amdizdarevic / Shutterstock

4. Amana Colonies

You’ll be able to expertise Germany once you visit the Amana Colonies, between Cedar Rapids and the Iowa Metropolis space. For greater than 90 years, this German tradition was rooted in Germany and has continued to develop in america. While you go to the seven colonies, you will note how this communal space thrived and the way it got here to be. The folks in these colonies are happy with their heritage and proceed to work laborious to share their tales with the entire guests to this space of Iowa.

A spotlight for a lot of visiting the Amana Colonies is a go to to Center Amana, the one surviving intact communal kitchen is on this colony. Think about eating with others at a special time and what mealtime was like. It’s not every single day that you’ll spend time in a communal kitchen, as our kitchens immediately are a lot completely different. One other well-liked cease the place you may see craftsmen at work is AJ’s Copper Garden. Steel has been utilized in artwork creations for a few years and continues to be part of the Amana tradition. When visiting the Amana Colonies, a spotlight for me is to take pleasure in a meal on the world-famous Ox Yoke Inn. Expertise a German meal, together with schnitzel cutlets, Amana brats, and rhubarb custard.

Aerial View of Cedar Rapids, Iowa during Summer
Jacob Boomsma /

5. Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is residence to hundreds of Bohemian, Moravian, and Slovak immigrants. Many descendants have lived in Cedar Rapids and the encircling space because the flip of the century. In the present day, guests can expertise Czech historical past via a museum and an space of city dedicated to this tradition: the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library. Step into the 1800s Sleger Immigrant Home on the museum. 5 generations of the Sleger household lived right here from the Eighteen Nineties via 1984. This household emigrated to Cedar Rapids from Bohemia to make a life in america. See the consequences that struggle had on this tradition and the way these folks overcame a few of their trials. Wheelchairs can be found to be used on the museum on a first-come, first-serve foundation without charge. The parking storage provides free parking, and the museum is accessible to folks with disabilities. 

The Czech Village/New Bohemia District is an space that prides itself on the way it has carried on the legacy of the Czech neighborhood. There’s a mixture of small companies, arts, tradition, leisure, and eating places on this Essential Road space. A number of occasions happen all yr lengthy, together with Meals Truck Tuesday and a chance to take an artwork class or two. Spend a day exploring the Czech space of Cedar Rapids for a chance to journey without having a passport. 

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Every of those communities is happy with their heritage and the place they arrive from. In addition they delight themselves on annual occasions the place folks have returned yr after yr. Annually, the occasions appear extra important and extra outstanding, as extra folks inform others about them. You may additionally end up immersed within the tradition, together with the language. 

The folks inside every of those cities are greater than keen to share their love of their neighborhood with you. If you wish to know the place the locals are consuming, ask a neighborhood. The residents of every of those charming European cities in Iowa are filled with delight and can present you a good time. 

One of the best tip that I can provide is to go to all year long. The seasons change, and the occasions change with the calendar. What are you ready for? Plan your go to to 1 or all of those charming European cities in Iowa.

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