The Most Unexpected Midwest State Has A Secret Island To Add To Your Bucket List

Iowa is probably best known for its fields of corn (or maybe its very real "Field of Dreams"), but many people may not know that it is also home to an island. In the Mississippi River is the island city of Sabula, a popular town for locals from Iowa and Illinois to visit. Sabula Island is relatively small, so it's not surprising that most people haven't heard of it. Its total area is less than a square mile, and as of 2010 fewer than 600 lucky people were living there. For visitors to Sabula, that only adds to its charm.

Getting to Iowa's secret island paradise is easy. There are several vehicle routes for residents to get off the island and tourists to get on. Those who are drawn to Sabula because of the river can choose to take a boat instead. If you are tempted by the idea of sailing your boat on your vacation, the Island City Harbour Marina allows you to moor your boat while you enjoy everything Sabula has to offer.

Exploring Sabula Island

For a very small place, Sabula Island has a lot of things for visitors to do — and all of them provide the opportunity to appreciate this unique Iowa landscape. The main attraction for many of Sabula's tourists is the opportunity to enjoy the Mississippi River from a different perspective. Many guests spend their entire trip lounging on the beach or admiring the scenery from a rowboat. Even though Sabula is a hub for nature lovers, if you don't want to go out on the water or hike through one of the island's many parks, there is still plenty to do around the city. For those visiting the island in late summer, the Island City Days festival is an unmissable event, during which the island transforms into one big party with fun for the whole family.

For visitors looking to spend more than a quick day trip in Sabula, there are a few different options for spending the night. If you came to Sabula Island to be close to the river, you may want to rent one of the local beach houses or even a floating cabin directly on the water. Those looking to get close to nature in the warm weather may prefer the campsites on the south side of the island. Anyone looking for a unique experience should also consider staying at The Castle Bed and Breakfast, an old estate transformed into a hotel resembling a small castle.

An island with a fascinating history

The coastal community that would become Sabula has been around for a long time. According to one popular piece of local folklore, the first European settler accidentally drifted up the Mississippi River on a log and was so taken with the land and the people who lived there that he decided to stay. The town was called Carrollport in the 1800s, then Charlestown, and ultimately, Sabula. How the community settled on this name is unknown, but some believe it may have been inspired by an indigenous word for sand.

Considering the community dates back to the 19th century, visitors may be surprised to learn that the island itself has only existed since 1939. While it might sound impossible, the city was once a part of the mainland. The mighty Mississippi is controlled by a series of dams and locks, and when they were built, the landscape was considerably altered. One of these changes was flooding in the area near Sabula, expanding the river and leaving the land that had once connected the city to the rest of Iowa covered in water.