Best 20 Places To Visit In Iowa, USA

best places to visit in iowa

Located in the midwestern part of the USA, Iowa is ranked as one of the safest states in the country. Named after a Native American tribe, Iowa is home to loads of iconic attractions, superb eateries, and a distinct, unbeatable charm. From visiting the world’s tallest garden gnome to taking part in the bike races of Ragbrai, the nation’s top corn producer has plenty of cool attractions and experiences that make visitors keep coming back for more. Here is a list of the best places to visit in Iowa, USA that will let you make the most of all the things that make the Hawkeye State more than just a flyover state.

1. Iowa City

As the county seat of Johnson County, Iowa City is home to the University of Iowa and impressive attractions such as the Museum of Natural History that takes visitors on an interesting adventure t the past. With epic eateries in about every downtown street and a number of festivals all year round, Iowa City is never short of things to do. With rich cultural experiences and the production of more than 250 independent films, it is little wonder that the city is called “the Athens of the Midwest”.

Iowa City

Address: Iowa 52240, USA

Website: Iowa City

2. Le Claire

With a population of over 3,700, the city of Le Claire is home to superb shopping destinations, eclectic eateries, and cultural attractions. Named after a French-Canadian trader and incorporated in 1855, the city is now a sensational center of unique experiences. Le Claire is considered as a part of Quad Cities Metropolitan Area and offers diverse events and activities that range from weekly wine tastings to basketball tournaments. The city is also home to a number of attractions that include local breweries, golf courses, museums. and parks and recreation centers. Stroll down the Cody Road Historic District or visit the famous Buffalo Bill Museum to make the most of this city full of local history and annual events.

Le Claire

Address: Iowa 52753, USA

Website: Le Claire

3. Mount Vernon

Check out this amazing view of the completed "Cinco de Mayo" community piece at Chalk the Walk last weekend! #visitmvl #ctw2018

Posted by Mount Vernon-Lisbon Community Development Group on Saturday, 12 May 2018

Situated in Linn County in Iowa, Mount Vernon is filled with great restaurants serving ethnic food, funky art galleries, and streets lined with historic homes. Home to a number of annual events, Mount Vernon hosts the sidewalk chalk festival that attracts more than 300 artists that create their own artwork on the main street every year. From catching your favourite game at Lisbon City Park, to being amazed by the stunning Sts. Paul and Peter Church, Mount Vernon is full of attractions that make it one of America’s coolest small towns that should not be missed.

Mount Vernon

Address: Iowa 52314, USA

Website: Mount Vernon

4. University Heights

Located in Johnson County near the campus of the University of Iowa, University Heights is a city that is part of the Iowa Metropolitan Statistical Area with a population of around 1,000. It has peaceful suburban vibes. University Heights has close access to the Mormon Trek nature trail, Duane Bank Field stadium, Melrose and Hawkins Drive, and loads of beautiful biking and walking trails. University Heights is a great place to stay for those looking to visit Kinnick Stadium, the home stadium of the Iowa Hawkeyes.

University Heights

Address: Iowa 52246, USA

Website: University Heights

5. Grimes

Posted by City of Grimes, Iowa on Thursday, 12 October 2017

Named after the third governor of the state of Iowa, Grimes is situated in the Dallas and Polka counties and is a part of the Des Moines region. With several parks and a public library, Grimes is home to a sports park, a waterworks park, and a community complex. Clive Greenbelt Trail is a popular trail that runs through the city and is flush with picturesque landscapes and connections to nearby neighbourhoods. The parks and the recreation centers in the region include Autumn Park, Beaverbrook Park, Shawyer Park, Glennstone Park, Northpoint Park, Grimes Community Complex, and Grimes Sports Complex.


Address: Iowa 50111, USA

Website: Grimes

6. Sioux City

Situated in the counties of Woodbury and Plymouth, Sioux City is home to plenty of cultural attractions such as Sioux Art Center, Sioux City Public Museum, and the Seargent Floyd Monument. Whether you are looking for points of attractions for history, dining, leisure, or nightlife, Sioux City offers everything that you will need for a fun-filled holiday. Sioux City is also a great destination to go picnicking with your family in one of its many parks such as Stone State Park, Pulaski Park, Latham Park, and Riverside Park. The region along with the areas of northeastern Nebraska, northwestern Iowa, and southeastern South Dakota are called Siouxland. It has been historically inhabited by speakers of the Siouan vernacular language. Located in a Victorian mansion, Sioux City Public Museum features Native American exhibits and is ideal for anyone looking to learn about the region’s history.

Sioux City

Address: Iowa 51101, USA

Website: Sioux City

7. Orange City

Posted by Bonnie Breuer Huygens on Sunday, 22 September 2019

With a population of just over 6,000, Orange City is one of the cleanest and safest towns in the country. The city is home to an 18-hole golf course, a 5-screen movie theatre, nature and recreation trails, and a variety of restaurants. It also hosts a range of events and performances every summer that feature professional and semi-professional artists from the surrounding areas. Originally called Holland, the city was later named after the Dutch sovereign prince, William of Orange. The region still maintains some of its Dutch traditions, features Dutch architecture in its structures, and hosts a tulip festival every year.

Orange City

Address: Iowa 51041, USA

Website: Orange City

8. Ankeny

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has relaxed the fishing regulations at Hawkeye Pond, located at 400 NW...

Posted by City of Ankeny - Government on Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Situated in Polk County, Ankeny has plenty of developed parks, aquatic centers, more than 80 miles (128 km) of trails, golf courses, dog parks and cultural organizations such as art centers, community theatres, and historical societies. With a population of more than 40,000, the city is a part of the Des Moines-West Des Moines region and is the fastest growing city in the midwest. The city is also home to a range of sports facilities such as baseball fields, soccer fields, softball fields, and football fields. The recently sprouted-up Prairie Tail district is filled with diverse restaurants, bars, public libraries, boutique shops, bowling alleys, green spaces, movie theaters, and loads of options for entertainment.


Address: Iowa 50023, USA

Website: Ankeny

9. Robins

Situated in Linn County, Robins is a small, welcoming city with a population of just over 3,500 residents. The city is home to plenty of parks and walking trails that run through the city and are ideal for outings and reunions. Robins also has several developed sports facilities for baseball, softball, and soccer fields so kids and athletes could hold games and practice.


Address: Iowa 52328, USA

Website: Robins

10. Cedar Rapids

Posted by Cedar Rapids Parks and Recreation on Tuesday, 20 August 2019

As the second-largest city in Iowa and the county seat of Linn County, Cedar Rapids is situated on the banks of the Cedar River and is a thriving center for arts and culture. The city is home to attractions such as Paramount Theatre, the African American Museum of Iowa, Theatre Cedar Rapids, and National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library. The city is also known as “the City of Five Seasons”, with the fifth season being a little extra time for those who live in the area to enjoy the four seasons.

Cedar Rapids

Address: Iowa 52227, USA

Website: Cedar Rapids

11. Bettendorf

Posted by Bettendorf Parks and Recreation on Sunday, 6 October 2019

Bettendorf is the 15th-largest city of Iowa and is a part of a large metro area called the Quad Cities. With a population of more than 30,000, the riverfront town offers loads of cultural experiences, family activities, four-star restaurants, diners, golf courses, aquatic centers, and parks. Home to several verdant parks, a public library, a casino, and a family museum, the city has so much to offer for its visitors and residents alike.


Address: Iowa 52722, USA

Website: Bettendorf

12. Ames

Located in Central Iowa, Ames is 48 km (30 miles) to the north of Des Moines and is the home of Iowa State University. With a population of over 60,000, Ames is home to more than 30 parks and shared-use trails that offer plenty of opportunities of family-friendly and recreation activities perfect for a day out. Ames is well-renowned for its progressive, inventive, and interesting community that provides activities for entertainment, shopping, and dining for all seasons.


Address: Iowa 50010, USA

Website: Ames

13. Des Moines

Here comes the snow! The City of Des Moines Snow Ordinance will go into effect at 4 p.m. today (Friday, Jan. 18)....

Posted by City of Des Moines on Friday, 18 January 2019

As the capital and the most populous city in Iowa, Des Moines is a cultural center and is home to several history and art museums. Named after the Des Moines River, the city is part of the fastest-growing area in the Midwest and hosts a number of events all year round. The city is filled with plenty of biking and hiking trails and farm-to-fork restaurants and offers its visitors plenty of opportunities for fun and adventures for travellers of all ages.

Des Moines

Address: Iowa 50301, USA

Website: Des Moines

14. Asbury

Posted by City of Asbury, Iowa on Thursday, 1 December 2016

Located in Dubuque County, Asbury is a bedroom community with a number of subdivisions in the city of Dubuque. The city is sprinkled with old Victorian buildings and is often used as a movie set. The relatively young city is made of neighbourhoods of single-family homes and loads of parks and pedestrian and mountain bike trails for recreation.


Address: Iowa 52002, USA

Website: Asbury

15. North Liberty

Located in Johnson County, the suburb of North Liberty was once the second fastest-growing city in the city and the most educated city in the midwest. Also known as the Big Bottom or the North Bend, North Liberty is a family-friendly small town with easy access to all the amenities of a big city. The city is also home to an aquatic center, baseball fields, plenty of neighbourhood parks, and recreational trails.

North Liberty

Address: Iowa 52317, USA

Website: North Liberty

16. Davenport

Posted by City of Davenport Government on Wednesday, 9 October 2019

As the county seat of Scott County, the city of Davenport lies along the Mississippi River and is the largest among the Quad Cities. With a population of just over 95,000, Davenport is the third-largest city in Iowa and is host to music festivals such as blues festivals, jazz festivals, and valley fairs all throughout the year. The city is home to a baseball team, a 7-mile (11 km) foot race, more than 50 parks and facilities, and recreational biking and walking trails.


Address: Iowa 52801, USA

Website: Davenport

17. Dubuque

Nothing quite like that Dubuque landscape #whereiowastarted @ouranos_drone_photography

Posted by Travel Dubuque on Sunday, 22 September 2019

With a population of more than 58,000, Dubuque is Iowa’s oldest city and is located along the Mississippi River at the junction of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Also known as the place where Iowa started, the city provides plenty of things to do and see whether you are traveling with family, friends, solo, or with a pet. From visiting the state’s oldest farmers’ market to petting stingrays at the National River Museum and Aquarium, Dubuque is full of adventures for all ages.


Address: Iowa 52001, USA

Website: Dubuque

18. Johnston

Situated in Polka County, the city of Johnston was established in 1905 and offers plenty of recreational facilities. The city is filled with more than a dozen parks and more than 40 miles (64 km) of trails. It has also been ranked as the 16th best place to live in the country. The city also hosts a kite festival every year that attracts more than 3,000 people.


Address: Iowa 50131, USA

Website: Johnston

19. Clive

Posted by City of Clive on Thursday, 16 August 2018

Spanning across the Polka and Dallas counties, the city of Clive is renowned for its Greenbelt Park and Greenbelt Trail system through the city. With a population of 17,500, the city offers the amenities and conveniences of a big city with plenty of recreational opportunities and sites. The city is home to an aquatic center, a library, and recreation areas with volleyball courts, shelters, and ball fields for rentals.


Address: Iowa 50325, USA

Website: Clive

20. West Des Moines

Pond by the West Des Moines library
Source: Photo by user Mark Hesseltine used under CC BY-ND 2.0

West Des Moines is a city in the Polk, Warren, and Dallas counties and has grown from a railroad town to the second-largest city in the Des Moines metropolitan area. The city is located at the junction of the Interstates 35 and 80 and offers all the amenities of a big city. It also provides its citizens with a high quality of life. The city also offers more than 1,300 miles (2092 km) of parks and over 60 miles (96 km) of walking and biking trails that run through the city.

West Des Moines

Address: Iowa 50263, USA

Website: West Des Moines

Explore Iowa

Dubuque IA - overview
Source: Photo by user Dirk used under CC BY 2.0

From towns steeped in rich history to lakeside towns with water parks, Iowa offers spectacular sights and experiences and is a key destination in the country’s heartland. Whether you are looking to attend summertime festivals or take lovely autumn riverside walks, the cities of Iowa have plenty to offer. Take your pick from the above list of the best places to visit in Iowa and make the most of the Hawkeye State made of scenic landscapes of rolling plains and cornfields.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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When I am not travelling or writing, you can find me perfecting my Spanish, binge watching Netflix , reading, swimming in the ocean or just daydreaming in a hammock.

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