History and monuments dot this landscape almost as often as the golden farmlands. Learn about America’s 31st president at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch. In northeast Iowa is the Effigy Mounds National Monument, a group of prehistoric American Indian burial and ceremonial mounds. This part of Iowa is also home to the Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage. The 37-county region tells the story of American agriculture, agribusiness and farm life and is affiliated with the National Park Service. In addition, there are five national wildlife refuges here. If you love history, imagine seeing the Amana Colonies, consisting of seven historic villages in 1855 by German immigrants as a religious communal society. Here you can also buy antiques, hand-woven baskets, furniture and clocks and locally made wine and beer. In Ames, take the family to see the Christian Petersen Art Museum, a newer structure that exhibits works of art by Christian Petersen and contemporary artists. You won’t want to miss the state capital of Des Moines, home to Blank Park Zoo with its naturalistic exhibits and more than 800 animals from five continents. You also should enjoy the Brenton Skating Plaza, an outdoor family entertainment venue.
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