May 24, 2024 - News

These Iowa staycations are unique and inexpensive

A photo of Sara Broers petting a cow.

Sara Broers (right) recently recommended Radiance Dairy in Fairfield to her social media followers. Photo: Courtesy of Broers

Memorial Day weekend is here and if you're not one of the estimated 44 million Americans with out-of-town plans, no worries — local excursions abound and are monstrously underrated, Iowa travel writer Sara Broers tells Axios.

Why it matters: Staying close to local attractions can benefit your community by generating interest and income while saving money and reducing stress.

Catch up fast: Broers launched a travel blog about 20 years ago after a health issue caused neurosurgeons to doubt she would walk again.

  • She said in a podcast with the DSM Public Library last year that after proving them wrong, she felt emboldened to pursue her passion for travel writing.

State of play: Broers' latest book, "Perfect Day Iowa," was published in March and focuses on quick getaways like Lake Red Rock, the state's largest lake.

  • Plus, she suggests stops for culinary treasures along her route, like VanVeen Chocolates in Pella.

The intrigue: People are sometimes unaware of what's in their area, especially as attractions like state or county parks evolve with improved or unique offerings, Broers said. Here are a few of her examples:

  • Lake of Three Fires State Park in Bedford is a hotspot for equestrian trail riding and offers modern cabins for around $75 a night. Fishing jetties provide shoreline access and there is horseshoe pitching at the beach.
  • Cottages at Lake Icaria can fit up to 10 people and include fully stocked kitchens, satellite TV and private docks for $300 a night. Water skiing, disc golf and hiking trails are among the park's attractions.
  • Along the Glacial Trail Scenic Byway, cabins made from grain bins at Dog Creek Park in Sutherland have six queen beds each for $150 a night.

What we're watching: Broers' upcoming book, "Iowa Unique Eats and Eateries," which is scheduled for publication next year.

Here are a few of her tips for making the most out of local travel, per the library podcast:

Travel with your passions

Keep an open mind

  • Everyone has regional perceptions, but try to experience what places like Music Man Square in Broers' hometown of Mason City offer.

Take the road less traveled


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