The “Locals” are a new, exciting, and unstoppable arm of the Roadtrippers Team. The pilot group of “Locals” know it’s all about the open road. They’re out there, driving down long stretches of asphalt, stopping at the roadside diner to grub, and unearthing the most incredible roadside wonders. We’re excited to introduce some of our newest members over the next few weeks! 

Our first Local is the intrepid and industrious Megan Bannister. Check out her Roadtrippers profile and find out what inspires her to explore!

Tell us about yourself:

I was born and raised in Chicagoland, but relocated to Des Moines a few years ago and have been an adopted Iowan ever since. While I still don’t understand the rivalry between the Hawkeyes and the Cyclones, I’m a big fan of the Iowa State Fair (especially the Butter Cow) and all of the other quirky charms Des Moines has to offer.

I’m a compulsive list-maker, voracious reader and on any given day, chances are I’ve had one too many cups of coffee. When I’m not road tripping, I work as an editor for a new media company called Silicon Prairie News. 

World's Largest Ball of Stamps

What is your road trip specialty?

When it comes to “World’s Largest” things or similar roadside oddities, I’m your girl. If you think I’m above dragging my friends an hour out of our way to see the World’s Largest Loon  you’d be mistaken. 

I’m also a sucker for a good old-fashioned ice cream shop. Snookies Malt Shop in Des Moines has my heart (and my sweet tooth) forever. It’s a personal goal mine to be their first customer of the season one of these years. 

World's Largest Loon

What are some of your favorite road trips? 

My favorite road trip is easily one I took with a group of friends last spring. We drove from Des Moines to San Francisco and back on I-80—yes, that’s about 26 hours each way and yes, I know it sounds crazy. Along the way we visited every state capital and stopped at places like the World’s Largest Ball of Stamps and Lehi Roller Mill, where Kevin Bacon danced in “Footloose.” I’m also pretty sure we consumed a five-pound bag of Haribo Gummi bears (my go-to road trip snack) along the way. 

On a more regular basis, I like to take day trips around Iowa and cross things off my bucket list . When I first moved here, I realized that my new home state has a ton of quirky attractions and historical oddities. Some of my favorites reside in South-central Iowa and are best visited during the summer months.

San Francisco

What are your favorite places to visit?

It’s hard to play favorites, but here are some of the places I love best when it comes to eating, drinking and playing tourist in Iowa: 

Fong’s Pizza: Chinese restaurant turned late-night pizza joint, Fong’s is the perfect blend of classic and over-the-top. Plus it’s one of the only restaurants open until 3 a.m. My go-to slice is the honey garlic on alfredo.

Up-Down: Des Moines’ “barcade” opened at the end of last summer and I’ve been addicted ever since. From their ‘90s themed Halloween party (I went as Blossom) to Monday night Skeeball League (our team name is “Kelly Kapowskee & ASkee Slater 4 eva”), there’s a lot I love about this bar. 

Grotto of the Redemption: Even if you’re not a particularly religious person, this manmade wonder is worth a trip north. Constructed from an estimated $4.3 million in stones and precious gems, it’s near impossible not to marvel at the intricate mosaic work that went into the grotto’s creation.

Downtown Farmers’ Market: I may be slightly biased because I occasionally work there on Saturdays, but Des Moines’ Farmers’ Market is like no other. Rated second in the country only to Seattle’s Pike Place, the Market is easily one of my favorite things about Des Moines.

Lake Tahoe