This scenic county, about 30 miles southwest of Des Moines, slumbered for half a century until Robert James Waller's blockbuster, tear-jerking novel The Bridges of Madison County and its 1995 Clint Eastwood/Meryl Streep movie version brought in scores of fans to check out the covered bridges where Robert and Francesca fueled their affair.
The farms and open land in this area are pleasantly bucolic, and the towns postcard-perfect. St Charles is home to the oldest of the six surviving covered bridges, while tourism-hub Winterset has the rest, as well as a gorgeous silver-domed courthouse.
In between the two you'll find a few vineyards, breweries and cideries. Pick up a county map (or download one) from the Winterset Chamber of Commerce.