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Have You Planned Your Iowa 'Staycation?' Our Patch Pros Offer Oodles of Suggestions

This week, “Iowa Boy” Chuck Offenburger leads our team of experts on the best places to spend the long, hot days ahead.

Never mind that the summer solstice isn’t until June 20 – 6:09 p.m. CDST, to be exact. It has felt like summer for a couple of months now, the final school bell will ring in a few days and Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer, is just around the corner.

How will you fill the long, hot days ahead? What are the best “staycation” bets in Iowa? What's the best-kept secret in your town? Tell us in comments.

So with the kids about to be free of school, where should you take them for a day trip? Have you made plans for a vacation in Iowa.

If you haven't, pick the brains of our experts.

This week, we turn to former Des Moines Register columnist Chuck “Iowa Boy” Offenburger and a team of experts from convention and visitors’ bureaus, nature preserves and public libraries in our central and eastern Iowa Patches.

Joining Offenburger are:

  • Michelle Schlicher, marketing manager for Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Shawne Ungs, communications director for Ames Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Allie Howarth, director of membership and marketing at Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Chris Anderson, program coordinator at Hartman Reserve Nature Center, Cedar Falls/Waterloo area
  • Olivia Stoner, children’s services coordinator, Marion Public Library
  • Susan Dunn, of Travel and Transport Vacations in Urbandale.
Olivia Stoner May 24, 2012 at 02:57 PM
I mentioned Palisades-Kepler State Park (http://tinyurl.com/bvo9fxs) in my comment about my hometown of Mt. Vernon, but it should be mentioned here too. If you're looking for a hike with beautiful views of the Cedar River, and a fun place to camp check it out!
Frederick L. Anderson May 28, 2012 at 01:54 AM
I now live in Georgia, but I grew up in eastern Iowa and I am surprised that no one has mentioned the Maquoketa Caves State Park just about 7 miles northwest of the town of Maquoketa. I used to ride my bicycle over there as a boy. The caves are fascinating and cool with natural, underground, air-conditioning! - Fred Anderson
Iowa City/Coralville Area CVB May 31, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Here is a great map of the Johnson County Bicycle trails if you are heading our way this summer. The Iowa Bicycle Coalition has a lot of great information on their website for all of our biking enthusiasts! http://www.jccog.org/docs/file/transportation/trailsMapltr.pdf
Iowa City/Coralville Area CVB May 31, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Everyone should make a trip to see The Gardens at Gazebo on the Green in NE Iowa City. The gardens are absolutely beautiful and the owner Mary Ellen Hill does all of the gardening herself! There are 14 gorgeous gardens to enjoy with friends and family. You can even schedule a formal 'English Tea' to have while you visit. The gardens are available 7 days a week May 1 - October 1. You don't want to miss them! http://www.iowacitycoralville.org/index.aspx?NID=323
Iowa City/Coralville Area CVB May 31, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Also- don't forget about the Coralville Lake and Devonian Fossil Gorge! Explore the area geology before taking a dip in the lake with the family! http://iowacitycoralville.org/index.aspx?NID=182

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