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  • Overview

    Between the Mississippi and Missouri river, in the heart of the Corn Belt, lies the state of Iowa. Its reputation reflects that part of the American identity which celebrates small-town life amid the rolling farmland and patch work countryside. It also contains several bustling cities, such as the state capital of Des Moines, where tradition and innovation are perfectly combined.

    Nothing is more traditional than visiting one of Iowa's many local's farmers markets. The rural meets the urban in the most popular of the markets, like the Downtown Farmers Market, which sets up right at the centre of Des Moines, the state capital.

    Throughout the state, there are efforts to preserve Iowa's rural heritage and tradition. The Iowa Barn Foundation sponsors the free All-State Barn Tour every September, aimed at saving and restoring these structures.

    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 innovation in various areas. 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 well-known musicians.

    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, travellers 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.

    Thus, contenders, one of which is the future US president, make numerous appearances at local diners and town halls, lead parades, host barbecues, and even clamber atop bales of hay to address voters. Around the 4th of July, campaigning reaches a fever pitch, not to be missed.

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    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 common but light compared to other states.

    Des Moines International Airport
    Location: The airport is located five miles (8km) from downtown Des Moines.
    Time: GMT -6 (GMT -5 from mid-March to the first Sunday in November).
    Getting to the 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 and taxi options are available.
    Car Rental: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Thrifty counters are located in the baggage claim area.
    Airport Taxis: Metered taxis are available from the airport. Officially recommended companies include Capito and Yellow Cab. Both Uber and Lyft operate at the 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.
    Parking Several parking garages are located adjacent to the terminal, with rates starting at $1 per 20 minutes and $15 per day in the long-term parking lot, and $1 per 20 minutes or $36 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 $6 per day. Cash and major credit cards are accepted.
    Eastern Iowa Airport
    Location: The airport is about eight miles (13km) from Cedar Rapids.
    Time: GMT -6 (GMT -5 from mid-March to the first Sunday in November).
    Getting to the city: Cedar Rapids Transit Route 11 provides service to the airport roughly every half hour between around 5.40am and 6.40pm on weekdays, and once per hour between around 8.40am and 4.40pm on Saturdays, depending 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.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis are available at the airport. Officially recommended companies include American Class, Yellow Cab and Master Cab.
    Facilities: Airport facilities include an ATM, a business centre, charging stations, a gift shop, restaurants and bars, an information centre, a lost and found, a mothers' room, and public phones.
    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 $14. Long-term parking has a daily rate of $8.
    Website: www.flycid.com
    Iowa