Iowa City

Overview

Introduction

Iowa City was the site of the original state Capitol. The old Greek Revival building has been restored and is now a museum offering guided tours. Today, the city is better known as the home of the University of Iowa. Two of the university's museums are worth seeing: The Museum of Art has an excellent collection of both European and African works and the Museum of Natural History offers a good introduction to the geology, flora and fauna of the state. If these two museums don't satisfy your Iowa curiosity, we suggest you head to the well-regarded Prairie Lights Bookstore, located near campus, where the helpful staff can make recommendations for further reading.

There are a couple of interesting possibilities for day trips from Iowa City. U.S. President Herbert Hoover was born 20 mi/32 km east of Iowa City in West Branch. The Herbert Hoover National Historic Site features a library, museum, lectures, walking tours and the graves of Hoover and his wife. The site also includes the Quaker meetinghouse and the school Hoover attended as a youth. There are places for picnicking and trails for cross-country skiing as well. Cedar Rapids, 25 mi/40 km north of Iowa City, was once the home of American painter Grant Wood. Several of Wood's works hang in the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. The city's Czech heritage is preserved in a museum and an old-world-style neighborhood along 16th Street. The Cedar Rapids Kernels play minor-league baseball in town during the summer. In Riverside, south of Iowa City, you can see the future birthplace of Star Trek's Captain Kirk; the TV show's creator, Gene Roddenberry, wrote that Kirk would be born in a small Iowa town in the year 2228, and Riverside claimed the right (with Roddenberry's official permission). Trekkies celebrate Kirk's future birthday the last weekend in June. Iowa City is 110 mi/180 km east of Des Moines.

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