Are you over in the merge lane? You know that spot where you are still social distancing, but just starting to get out and about? Cruise into some family fun by checking out these landmarks from the comfort of your car. All of these sights are less than 90-minutes away from Des Moines. The sights we’ve chosen have a good mix of peculiarity, folklore, history and adventure. Also, several of them coincidentally happen to be on the western side of the state, so you could potentially create a route to hit several of the sites in one day.
Be sure to be prepared. Have everyone use the restroom before you venture out to limit stops. (Iowa rest stops are open.) And just in case you need to stop, pack the car with the pandemic in mind. Stock your car with everything your family will need, including personal protective equipment (face masks and hand sanitizer), drinks and snacks.
Looking for even more summer-time family fun? Check out our Summer Fun Guide to help you plan your perfect summer!
Here’s nine Iowa landmarks you can enjoy from your car:
Shelby’s Agricultural Symbol is listed as The World’s Largest Corn Stalk at Worlds Largest Things. This 76′ steel sculpture along Shelby’s Interstate 80 exit, symbolizes the importance of agriculture.
Albert is a 45-ton, 28-foot-tall concrete replica of the perfect Hereford bull. Push a button and he’ll tell you his story. Steer (see what I did there;) toward Albert the Bull Park on the south edge of town.
Bonnie and Clyde engaged in a shoot-out with approximately 50 area men and law enforcement officers leading to the mortal wounding of Buck Barrow and the capture of his wife Blanche. Markers Stones have been placed and are available for public viewing. They commemorate the Barrow gang capture.
This looks like something out of a Harry Potter movie. What do you get when you mix a spider with a beetle? A giant Volkswagen Beetle Spider, of course! Drive by and see the “Spider Car” located on South Chestnut Street in Avoca.
At the west entrance to town, you’ll find a historic rotating ear of corn that has been a mainstay in the community dating back to the Garst Seed corn company era. While in Coon Rapids, you might also want to drive on over the the east side of town where the Roadside and Sculpture Park is located.
Adair’s smiley face reminds passersby to look on the bright side of life. You can’t miss this happy water tower as you drive by it on I-80.
This statue is a replica of the famous Little Mermaid that stands in the Copenhagen harbor and honors the famous storyteller Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale “The Little Mermaid”. She’s located in The Little Mermaid Park which also includes the Audubon County Freedom Rock and eight other bronze sculptures depicting Hans Christian Andersen’s famous tales.
The cottonwood tree is around 100-feet tall and has a circumference of about 18-feet, all of it smack dab in the middle of two gravel roads (350th St. and 710 St./Nighthawk Ave.) outside of Brayton. It may be nature’s only roundabout. The tree sits just north of I-80 on the county line between Audubon and Cass counties.
The Danish Windmill is an authentic windmill imported from Denmark. The windmill was built in Denmark in 1848 and reassembled in Elk Horn in 1976.
Are you ready to hit the road?