Skip Navigation
Iowa State University Extension

New Elderhostel program demonstrates successful Iowa tourism

Elderhostel participants

Why are people traveling from New York to Bloomfield or Guttenberg, Iowa – and paying more than $1,000 for the privilege? They are participating in ISU Extension’s new Elderhostel program that offers themed educational travel courses for people age 55 and older. With the aura of utopian societies and the beauty of the Mississippi River, the Iowa Elderhostel programs are “spectacular in all aspects,” participants say.

A weeklong course about utopian societies was conducted in southeast Iowa and two eight-day courses about the Mississippi River were held in northeast Iowa, said Diane Van Wyngarden, the ISU Extension community and economic development specialist who coordinates the program. “All 128 seats were filled by participants from 32 states, with an additional 97 people on the waiting list.”

Van Wyngarden said the Elderhostel courses give her an opportunity to teach communities group hospitality practices. The program also presents a positive image about Iowa to a national audience and demonstrates the potential of Iowa as a national tourism destination.

ISU Extension will offer five Elderhostel courses in 2008 in eastern and central Iowa. Van Wyngarden is researching the potential of a new 2009 course about the Loess Hills and Missouri River Valley and soliciting input on possible sites and attractions for senior bus groups in this region. For more information or program suggestions, contact Van Wyngarden at or check ISU Extension’s Elderhostel Web site.

This article appeared in January 2008 -- From Jack Payne Newsletter