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Iowa's Eccentric Extravaganzas: 5 Hidden Gems for the Curiously Inclined

submitted on 22 April 2023 by
As you traverse the rolling fields and picturesque landscapes of the great Hawkeye State, you may be shocked to discover that tucked away in this seemingly quiet land lies a treasure trove of bizarre and fascinating spectacles. So, fasten your seatbelts and get ready for a wild ride as we venture into the peculiar world of Iowa's hidden gems.

The World's Largest Cheeto (Algona)

In the land of cornfields and silos, one might not expect to find the king of all cheesy snacks. Well, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Algona, where the world's largest Cheeto has taken up residence. This gargantuan, neon-orange snack measures an astounding 18 inches in circumference and weighs a solid 2 pounds. A local pub called The Pump is the proud owner of this crunchy titan, so stop by for a pint and an up-close encounter with the cheesiest royalty you'll ever meet.

The Hobo Museum (Britt)

If you've ever longed to embrace your inner vagabond and explore the romance of the rails, look no further than the Hobo Museum in Britt. Housed in a former theater, this monument to wanderlust is dedicated to preserving the history and culture of hobos and their nomadic lifestyle. Explore hobo artifacts, photographs, and memorabilia while learning about the legends of the rails, like Boxcar Willie and Steam Train Maury. Don't forget to pencil in a visit during the National Hobo Convention in August, where you can revel in hobo camaraderie and perhaps even be crowned "Hobo King" or "Hobo Queen"!

The Grotto of the Redemption (West Bend)

A collision of geology, theology, and sheer human determination, the Grotto of the Redemption is a sight to behold. This colossal rock formation, crafted by Father Paul Dobberstein, a German priest, took over 40 years to complete. Composed of millions of rocks, shells, and precious stones, the grotto is a dazzling representation of the Christian story of redemption. Though you may not find the meaning of life here, you'll certainly be awestruck by the audacious artistry of one man's lifelong labor of love.

The Future Birthplace of James T. Kirk (Riverside)

Calling all Trekkies! If you're a fan of the original Star Trek series, you simply must make a pilgrimage to Riverside, the future birthplace of Captain James Tiberius Kirk. According to Star Trek lore, the intrepid captain will be born here on March 22, 2228. To celebrate this momentous occasion, the town has erected a monument bearing the captain's name, along with a small Star Trek museum. Don't forget to attend TrekFest, Riverside's annual Star Trek-themed extravaganza, where you can boldly go where no fan has gone before.

The Bily Clocks Museum (Spillville)

Imagine a world where time is marked by intricately carved, whimsical clocks that could have sprung from the pages of a fairy tale. Enter the Bily Clocks Museum in Spillville, where you'll find a collection of stunning, hand-carved wooden clocks crafted by two Czech-American brothers, Frank and Joseph Bily. Their enchanting creations, adorned with intricate details and whimsical themes, tell the story of the brothers' rich cultural heritage and vivid imaginations. The pièce de résistance is the Apostles Parade Clock, which chimes every hour as miniature apostles emerge from the clock's interior. It's a timely reminder that art and craftsmanship can indeed stand the test of time.

There you have it, folks! A whirlwind tour of Iowa's hidden eccentricities that will leave you marveling at the peculiar and fascinating surprises tucked away in this seemingly unassuming state. Whether it's sharing a pint with the world's largest Cheeto, discovering hobo lore, marveling at a grotto's kaleidoscopic splendor, venturing into the future birthplace of a legendary starship captain, or losing yourself in the enchanting world of hand-carved clocks, Iowa offers a smorgasbord of offbeat attractions that are sure to delight and amaze even the most seasoned of travelers.

So, the next time you find yourself yearning for a detour from the mundane, let the peculiar and intriguing sights of Iowa ignite your curiosity and whisk you away on an adventure like no other. Trust us, you'll never look at the Hawkeye State the same way again. Happy exploring!
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