In the storied college town of Iowa City, nostalgia lingers around the state's original capitol building, a campus centerpiece. The vaudeville-era Englert Theatre still hosts exceptional performances. And the wine, woodworking and wonder of Amana Colonies (a 30-minute drive from town) feel a world away.
The Ped Mall area abuts the University of Iowa campus and holds many of the city’s best shops. Spend the morning at boutiques (Textiles Inc.), galleries (Iowa Artisans Gallery) and bookstores (Haunted Bookshop).
True to its Spanish influences, Devotay encourages sharing of its pintxos (tapas-style little bites).
Retrace the footsteps of Iowa's founding fathers at the free Old Capitol Museum (Iowa’s original capitol).
Devour a cupcake or three at Molly’s Cupcakes, where floor-to-ceiling swings bring out the kid in you, and dine on steak, Creole shrimp and other artfully presented fare at Atlas World Grill.
Catch a reading or dance performance at the 1912 Englert Theatre, then sleep on pillow-top mattresses at chic, ecofriendly Hotel Vetro (from $229).
Fuel up on savory sausage and eggs in an excellent hollandaise at Bluebird Diner, then head 12 miles east to West Branch to visit the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, the childhood home, library and burial site of the first U.S. president born west of the Mississippi.
In Coralville, just west of Iowa City, Mendoza Wine Bar serves tapas and pizza.
Strap on skates at the indoor ice arena at Coral Ridge Mall.
Expansive views of the Iowa River accompany delicious prime rib at Iowa River Power Restaurant.
More information: (800) 283-6592; iowacitycoralville.org
The seven German villages of the Amana Colonies still evoke the self-sufficient philosophy behind their creation more than 150 years ago. Just off Interstate-80, 25 miles northwest of Iowa City, the Amana General Store sells old-fashioned toys and soaps, and tasty brews draw patrons to popular Millstream Brewing Company.
Cruise the pastoral scenes of the Iowa Valley Scenic Byway to Fireside Winery in Marengo for a sip of Cordovan and warm Brie dip.
More information: (800) 579-2294; amanacolonies.com