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Bison on the Prairie ©U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters

Ask Americans which state comes to mind when they hear the phrase 'nation's heartland' and most will answer Iowa. Iowa's reputation reflects that part of the American identity that celebrates small-town life, where friendly, hard-working families live against a backdrop of rolling farmland and virgin prairie: picture the white farmhouse amid endless cornfields in the film (the site of which can be visited in Dyersville).

To some extent, the ideal is true. Farms account for 89 percent of Iowa's land. And the desire to retain at least some of the traditional elements of farm life, rather than capitulating to big-business agriculture, is strong. Organic operations are springing up across the state, and visitors will find there is nothing more pleasant than spending a weekend morning wandering through one of Iowa's many local farmers markets, like the Downtown Farmers Market, which sets up right at the centre of Des Moines, the state capital. Efforts to preserve Iowa's rural heritage abound. The Iowa Barn Foundation, out to save and restore these structures, sponsors the free All-State Barn Tour every September. The Madison County Covered Bridge Festival has been a time-honoured tradition in Madison County since 1970. The Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge has reconstructed the tallgrass prairie ecosystem, complete with bison and elk.

Iowans have also embraced change in certain areas, which is a boon for visitors. An initiative to plant alternative crops has resulted in a fledgling wine industry. Today, travellers can explore three different wine trails. At the famous Iowa State Fair, the tradition of sculpting a cow from butter remains, but it has been joined by a line-up of the latest rock 'n roll stars. Along the Mississippi River, visitors can choose between watching the sunset from the stands at a minor-league baseball game in Davenport and trying their luck aboard a luxury riverboat casino in Dubuque.

For a real taste of America, visitors should head to the Hawkeye State during a presidential election year to witness some good old-fashioned stumping. The Iowa caucus is the country's first major electoral event for candidates seeking their parties' nomination, so contenders (one the future US president) usually make numerous appearances at local diners and town halls, lead parades, host barbecues, even clamber atop bales of hay to address voters. Around the 4th of July, campaigning reaches a fever pitch.

Climate Info

Iowa lies on the humid continental zone and generally has hot summers, cold winters, and wet springs. Summers are warm and humid, with daytime temperatures averaging 74°F (23°C) in July but varying from region to region. Tropical air masses from the Gulf of Mexico bring frequent thunderstorms, with persistent rain in June. Winters are cold, with January temperatures averaging about 14°F (-10°C) in the northwest and 22°F (-6°C) in the southeast. Snowfall is light compared to other states.

Des Moines International Airport (DSM)

LocationThe airport is located three miles (5km) from downtown Des Moines.
Time DifferenceGMT -6 (GMT -5 from mid-March to the first Sunday in November).

Tel: +1 515 256 5100

Getting to city

The Des Moines Area Transit Authority (DART) Route 8 offers service to and from the airport to downtown Des Moines. A one-way fare is $1.75. The Heart of Iowa Regional Transit Agency (HIRTA) provides door-to-door service to all counties within the Greater Des Moines Metro Area, while intercity connections can be made via the Greyhound, Jefferson, or Trailways bus lines.

Car Rental

Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National and Thrifty counters are located in the baggage claim area.

Airpor Taxis

Metered taxis are available from the airport. Officially recommended companies include Capitol, City Cab, Freedom TaxiCab, United, and Yellow Cab.

Airport Facilities

Facilities at the airport include restaurants, a food court, shops, a meet and greet area, ATMs and conference rooms. Disabled facilities are good.

Car Parking

Several parking garages are located adjacent to the terminal, with rates starting at $1 per 20 minutes and $14 per day in the long-term parking lot and $1 per 20 minutes or $26 per day for short-term parking. A free shuttle service operates from the economy lots, which offer lower rates starting from $2 per hour up to $5 per day. Cash and major credit cards are accepted.


Eastern Iowa Airport (CID)

Time DifferenceGMT -6 (GMT -5 from mid-March to the first Sunday in November).
Getting to city

Cedar Rapids Transit Route 11 provides service to the airport roughly every half hour between around 5.35am and 6.40pm on weekdays, and once per hour between around 8.45am and 4.35pm on Saturdays, dependent on demand. One way fares are $1.50 and correct change is required.

Car Rental

Car rental companies at the airport include Avis, Budget, Hertz, Alamo, National and Enterprise.

Airpor Taxis

Taxis are available at the airport. Officially recommended companies include American Class, Yellow Cab, Master Cab and Marco's Taxi.

Airport Facilities

Airport facilities include an ATM, a business centre, charging stations, a gift shop, restaurants and bars, an information centre, a lost and found, and public phones.

Car Parking

Short and long-term parking is located adjacent to the terminal building; the first 20 minutes are free. Short-term rates are $2 for 30 minutes, $3 for the first hour and $1 for each subsequent 30 minutes up to a daily rate of $11. Long-term parking has a daily rate of $6.


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