The scenic northeast corner of Iowa, part of the unglaciated Driftless Area, has fostered an unusual number of people who became known world-wide.
In Burr Oak, young Laura Ingalls endured a year so difficult she never included it in her famous "Little House'' books. Near Decorah, a couple began rescuing heirloom seeds from around the world.
In Decorah, Norwegians tenaciously preserved Old World traditions. In the Czech town of Spillville, a pair of bachelor farmers carved extraordinary clocks and Antonin Dvorak composed music.
A visit to the sites makes a great fall road trip; they're open daily through October.
What to do: Visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Park & Museum in Burr Oak. Buy seeds for heirloom vegetables at Seed Savers Heritage Farm near Decorah (pictured). Tour Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah. Tour Bily Clocks/Dvorak Exhibit in Spillville.
In Decorah, walk along the blufftop in Phelps Park or hike along the Upper Iowa River on the Oneota Trail. Go to a free concert at Luther College.
Details: See Illustrious in Iowa.