You don't have to go far to get the ocean experience if you live in Eastern Iowa.

In Dubuque, sitting right on the river, is the National Mississippi River Museum. Home to dozens of animals and fish you wouldn't normally see in Iowa, they're offering an experience you probably never knew you could do.

On top of being able to look at stingrays, for just $10, you can have them literally eating out of your hand.

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During the day, they offer two timeslots for feeding the stingrays. You get pieces of shrimp, which you hold on the back of your hand.

Sticking your hand flat against the glass, the "dogs of the sea" (as they're called by caretakers) bring themselves over, and suck the shrimp out of your hand.

While feeding, you'll also have the opportunity to pet the backs of the stingrays as they swim up to you to say hello.

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On top of all the hands-on educational exhibits around the facility, the museum also is home to an alligator that eerily keeps an eye on you as he floats around his tank, watching for its next meal. Obviously, there's no hands on experience with this guy.

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Another highlight of your visit will be a memorable interaction with their two juvenile otters, who like to swim up to the glass and show off their flip turns and quick speeds to visitors.

When you're there, be sure to look around for some of the other unique exhibits with some creatures you wouldn't see in the Midwest, like:

  • Epaulette Shark
  • Green Sea Turtle
  • Multiple Types of Tarantula
  • Stingrays
  • Giant Pacific Octopus
  • Alligator Snapping Turtle

There's plenty to see and do at the National Mississippi River Museum, and it's just a short drive away.

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Museums Within Driving Distance of the Quad Cities

"There isn't a museum I won't go to. The stupider, the better."
Michaels' statement this morning sent us into a good hour of discussion about museums within driving distance of the Quad Cities. Our listening family has clued us in on little hole-in-the-wall museums we never even knew existed, and they're just a hop, skip and a jump away from us. 
Here's our highlights.