The farm kid who grew up in the northeast Iowa community of Anamosa had the talent to make the rest of the nation see his birthplace's pastoral beauty.
The region that served as the model for the artist's work -- including his magnum opus, American Gothic, deserves closer inspection. Within a circle extending roughly 40 miles in any direction from Cedar Rapids, you'll discover historical attractions and welcoming communities. Most promise plenty of antiquing, crafts and gift shopping, good food and autumn festivals. In fall, vast, rolling fields of corn fade to a soft gold, and pockets of trees that mark small towns burst into color.
Wood (1891-1943) taught in the Cedar Rapids public schools for years. You'll find some of his best works downtown among collections in the sleek, multigabled Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. Iowa's second-largest city is also well known for its rich Czech heritage. Kolaches (pastries), goulash and fine crystal number among discoveries in Czech Village (pictured), three blocks of shops and restaurants in south-central Cedar Rapids.