If you've ever wanted to see the Midwest at its folksy, small-town finest, there is no better way to do it than RAGBRAI, the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.
What is now the world's oldest and largest non-competitive bike ride started as a hare-brained idea in 1973, when two staffers at the Des Moines Register newspaper finagled a way to take a bike vacation on the company's dime. More than 40 years later, the week-long ride at the end of July is now a can't-miss tradition for more than 10,000 riders from around the world, their support teams, and the locals who roll out the red carpet for the spandex-clad hordes.
The route changes each year, but it always starts with a ceremonial tire-dip in the Missouri River (on Iowa's western border) and ends with another tire-dip in the Mississippi (on Iowa's eastern border). In between are 475-some miles of rolling farmland, small towns and the best BBQ pork, ice cream and homemade pie you will ever eat in your life. It's a rolling feast.
Many of the towns were settled in the 1800s by European immigrants, like the Dutch who landed in Orange City (pictured here in 2012).