Best Day Trips to Get Off Campus and Relax

People always say that college is one of the best times in your life, but they always forget to mention how hard it can be. It’s easy to lose the fun when you are studying for a long essay test or running for an early morning class. Fortunately, there are lots of day trip opportunities not far from Upper Iowa University that provide a welcome respite from the stresses of seemingly-endless homework. Take a look at some of these amazing day trips to help you recover a little sanity and come back energized for a brand-new week.

Maquoketa Caves State Park, Maquoketa

Imagine a place where a long wooden staircase takes you away from the concrete and cornfields and into a moss-covered world with towering stone walls and an emerald green canopy overhead. The idyllic atmosphere of Maquoketa Caves State Park will make you feel like a true explorer. Bring your flashlight and comfy shoes so you can duck under low-hanging rocks and wander through the caves and crawl spaces. With lots of trails, campsites, and wildlife to enjoy, it’s easy to forget the busyness of your hectic week.

Brucemore, Cedar Rapids

Nestled among 26 acres of lush park, Brucemore is a 19th century Queen Anne Mansion that tells the story of three of Cedar Rapids’ most notable families. Guided tours allow you to investigate all that the mansion has to offer, including the art, furnishings, technology, architecture, and surrounding landscape that the Sinclair, Douglas, and Hall families grew to love. Throughout the year, Brucemore plays host to outdoor theater productions, concerts, specialty tours, festivals, garden walks, and so much more!

Field of Dreams Movie Site, Dyersville

Whether you are a baseball fan or simply love movies, you are in for a singular experience when you visit the place that gave birth to the iconic line, “If you build it, he will come.” The Field of Dreams movie site has been attracting crowds since the Academy Award nominated film came out in 1989. Go behind the scenes and see how the movie was made and learn more about the stars who helped make it great. Stand in Shoeless Joe’s place and take a few pitches, schedule a home tour, and participate in the Ghost Hour Comedy Show. Admission is free!

The Many Wonders of Dubuque

As the state’s oldest city, Dubuque is overflowing with history and interesting things to see… and you don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy your time here. Take in beautiful panoramic views of three states, the Mississippi River, and Dubuque’s historical business district while riding on the wooden cable cars of the Fenelon Place Elevator. The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium is another main draw, offering touch pools, tours on a 1934 steamer, and six huge aquariums full of river creatures. Get in your culture fix at the Dubuque Museum of Art, sip on a glass of Riesling at the Stone Cliff Winery, enjoy a picnic in Eagle Point Park, or view the amazing foliage in the Dubuque Arboretum & Botanical Gardens.

Cedar Valley Trails, Cedar Falls

Want to get away from tests and classes and get back to nature? Then take a well-deserved break wandering the trails of Cedar Falls. With over 100 miles of multi-use paved trails, an abundance of soft hiking trials, and 5,000 acres of lakes, the Cedar Valley Trail System is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year! Discover picturesque views as you bike throughout Black Hawk County, explore the winding rivers as you kayak down the Cedar River Water Trail, or get in a great workout cross-country skiing during the colder months. It’s no wonder that Cedar Valley Trails was named Iowa’s Outstanding Tourism Attraction of the Year!

Amana Colonies, Amana

Founded in 1855, the Amana Colonies offer lots of Old World charm, allowing you to step back in time and escape your daily routine. When persecution and economic depression first drove this community of Pietists from Germany, they settled near Buffalo, New York before moving to their permanent home near the Iowa River valley. Their thriving community represents the true American Dream while holding onto their main tenets of faith and community spirit. Spend the day in this quiet community sampling locally crafted food and drink, browsing through an impressive selection of handcrafted furniture and art, and taking in the local history.

Day trips are an ideal way to catch your breath after a long week of classes. Whether you are into history, the outdoors, or culture, you are sure to find exactly what you’re looking for within a short 1-2-hour drive from the Upper Iowa University campus.