The story of Don Browning, a middle-aged writer, who returns home and decides to finally take his father's ashes to his childhood home, as requested. But when Don discovers Grandma's house is now a grocery store, he begins traveling across Iowa searching for a proper resting place for his father. This father-and-son road trip shifts unsmoothly from the present to Don's memories of the annual, torturous vacations of his childhood. Don's existential journey leads him to reconcile his past and present at the center of the United States. Leaving Iowa is a postcard to anyone who has ever found himself or herself driving alone on a road, revisiting fond memories of his or her youth.