Top 30 Things To Do In Iowa, USA - Updated 2021

things to do in iowa
Matthew
Matthew
Updated

Iowa is a bustling state, between the Mississippi River and the Missouri River, located in the Mid-West USA. It is popular for its vast lands that are primarily for corn production and marvelous rolling plains. Some of the major cities in Iowa include Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Sioux City, and many more. While in Iowa, be sure to visit the 19th-century State Capitol Building and marvel at its architecture. If you like museums and natural attractions, head over to the Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens for a relaxing time with your family or friends. If you are drawn to foreign cultures and heritage, you can visit and learn interesting facts in the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library. If you are planning an exciting vacation to Iowa any time soon, here is a more in-depth guide of the things to do in Iowa, USA.

1. Explore the exceptional Buffalo Bill Museum


Located in N Front Street, the Buffalo Bill Museum is a fascinating museum in Le Clair. It is open daily and ready to accommodate interested guests. This is a museum with the main goal is to educate locals and to preserve the history of the city through exhibits, galleries, and significant objects with great relevance to the city’s culture and heritage. It was established in 1957. It also has a room dedicated to kids of three to eight years old, where there are dress-up areas, a music section, a tutorial about planting, and lots of other fun activities for the young ones.

Buffalo Bill Museum

Address: 199 N Front St, Le Claire, IA 52753, United States

Website: Buffalo Bill Museum

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 9am - 5pm; Sun: 12pm - 5pm

Price: 25 USD

2. Tour the remarkable Figge Art Museum


If you are in Davenport and have got some free time on your hands, you might want to visit the remarkable Figge Art Museum located on W 2nd Street. It is a marvelous museum with different rooms dedicated to various art forms. It has a room that teaches kids to dance, a room for drawing and sketching, a room for galleries, and exhibits, a cinema, and a lot more. They also hold events that the inner artist in you might be interested in. Be sure to check their schedule, before you visit the Figge Art Museum, so you would know about the upcoming events.

Figge Art Museum

Address: 225 W 2nd St, Davenport, IA 52801, USA

Website: Figge Art Museum

Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 10am - 5pm; Sun: 12pm - 5pm (closed on Mon)

Price: From 4 USD

3. Be fascinated by the architecture of Brucemore


If you are into culture, heritage, sightseeing, and marvelous landmarks, before leaving Cedar Rapids, be sure to check out the fascinating Brucemore. It is a historic estate that showcases a stunning century-old house in the heart of it and tells so much about the city’s tradition and culture. This site was once home to three Cedar Rapids families and hold several interesting stories. At present, Brucemore holds concerts, programs, theatres, and other activities that both locals and tourists may participate in. This charming 19th-century home is a great example of a living landmark in Iowa.

Brucemore

Address: 2160 Linden Dr SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52403, USA

Website: Brucemore

Opening hours: Wed - Sun: 9:30am - 3:15pm; Sun: 12:30pm - 3:15pm (closed on Tue & Mon)

Price: From 3 USD

4. Visit the magnificent Capitol Building


One of the many fascinating landmarks in Iowa lies in Des Moines, the Capitol Building. In formal terms, it is known as The Iowa State Capitol or Iowa Statehouse. The building is home to the Iowa Senate and the Iowa State of Representatives. It is a stunning building that was established from 1871- 1886. It stands atop a hill and visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of the area. The Capitol is mostly used for legislation purposes but it also offers educational tour packages for interested tourists as well as locals. You may take as many pictures as you like of the property. Visit the Iowa State Capitol when you drop by Des Moines.

Capitol Building

Address: 1007 E Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA 50319, USA

Website: Capitol Building

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 8am - 5pm; Sat: 9am - 4pm (closed on Sun)

5. Admire the beautiful Reiman Gardens


If you want some peace or you’re just looking for a charming place to bring your family, especially the kids, why don’t you take them to the lovely Reiman Gardens in Ames? The place is a beautiful garden with lots of lush greenery and marvelous flowers and plants. It can be found on a 17-acre (6 hectares) campus with indoor and outdoor gardens that you will surely love. Bring a friend when you visit Reiman Gardens so that you would have someone to share the experience with or someone to take amazing souvenir photos of you. Also, this attraction offers internship programs to interested people.

Reiman Gardens

Address: 1407 S University Blvd, Ames, IA 50011, USA

Website: Reiman Gardens

Opening hours: 9am - 6pm (daily)

Price: From 4.50 USD

6. Visit a movie site in Dyersville (from USD 21.0)

If you are a fan of iconic movies and the movie industry, in general, you might love this fantastic tour package that will let you visit the Field of Dreams in Dyersville. This was the fictional home of Annie and Ray. Through this tour, you will get a glimpse of how rural life in Iowa is really like. You will also learn about the filming setup and process in Field of Dreams. Not to mention, a complimentary souvenir is given to everyone who joins the tour. This tour package includes a warm, friendly, and professional tour guide who will show you the ropes of filming and educate you about the iconic film.

Field of Dreams Movie Site Guided Home Tour in Dyersville

Duration: 30 minutes

7. Enjoy picnicking at Pappajohn Sculpture Park


Another lovely attraction in Des Moines is the marvelous Pappajohn Sculpture Park. It is a vast beautiful park with lots of greens, interesting sculptures, benches, gazebos, and others. Located in the heart of the city, guests can try out excellent restaurants, fantastic retail shops, entertainment centers, and other business establishments after spending a day in Pappajohn Sculpture Park. This park is an ideal place to breathe fresh air, unwind, and reignite your drained creative juices. It is also an excellent place to do some cardio and exercise to your heart’s content.

Pappajohn Sculpture Park

Address: 1330 Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA 50309, USA

Website: Pappajohn Sculpture Park

Opening hours: 6am - 12am (daily)

Price: From 2 USD

8. See artifacts at Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum


The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum is located on Parkside Drive in West Branch. This museum is dedicated to the life and work of the 31st president of the United States, Herbert Hoover. The whole property is protected and maintained by the National Park Service. It houses exhibits, galleries, and old photographs of the late president, his family, friends, and his work in general. It also houses a fascinating library. If you drop by West Branch, be sure to visit this historic site.

Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum

Address: 210 Parkside Dr, West Branch, IA 52358, USA

Website: Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum

Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)

Price: 10 USD

9. See the fossil collection at Grotto of the Redemption


Located in West Bend, The Grotto of Redemption is a fascinating landmark. It is a sacred place that bills itself as the Eight Wonder of the World. It was also described by the Iowan Magazine as ‘Miracle Stone’. In total, there are nine grottos in the Grotto of the Redemption, and each one showcases a scenario from the life of Christ. This landmark is considered to be the largest of its kind in the world. It holds precious gems, a collection of fascinating stones, and other valuable materials. Be sure to check out the Grotto of Redemption when you visit West Bend and take as many souvenir photos as you can. You will never find anything as grand and vast as this in the whole world!

Grotto of the Redemption

Address: 208 1st Ave NW, West Bend, IA 50597, USA

Website: Grotto of the Redemption

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

10. Check out interactive exhibits at Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center

Posted by Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center and Betty Strong Encounter Center on Thursday, 12 July 2012

Located in Sioux City, Lewis and Clark Interpretative Center is a cultural complex. It was established, preserved, and protected by Missouri River Historical Development, Inc. It started its operation in the year 2002 and has since then, continuously served the locals and the tourists of the city. It houses exhibits, galleries, and artifacts of great importance to the culture and heritage of the city. It also holds interesting events that depict early life in Sioux City. It has traditional games and activities for kids as well as learning books for a more educational experience.

Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center

Address: 900 Larsen Park Rd, Sioux City, IA 51103, USA

Website: Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center

Opening hours: Tue - Fri: 9am - 5pm; Sat - Sun: 12pm - 5pm (closed on Mon)

Price: From 2.50 USD

11. Buy baked goods at Des Moines' Downtown Farmers’ Market


If you happen to be in the beautiful city of Des Moines and you’re done with the sights and the sounds, you might want to visit Des Moines’ Downtown Farmers’ Market and score some delightful products from delicious baked cookies to fresh produce to local artisan products and a lot more. This place is a melting pot for people from different walks of life. Some are locals on a grocery spree, some are curious tourists, while some visit the place to enjoy the live entertainment or the snacks. Take note, that farmers’ market is only operational only on Saturday. It starts early as 7 am, and closes at noon. So be sure, to wake up early to enjoy the market experience.

Des Moines' Downtown Farmers’ Market

Address: 400 Court Ave, Des Moines, IA 50309, USA

Website: Des Moines’ Downtown Farmers’ Market

Opening hours: Sat: 7am - 12pm (closed from Sun - Fri)

12. Have fun with your kids at Adventureland Park


If you are on an exciting vacation with the kids in the state of Iowa, there is one place that they will surely love in Altoona. It is the Adventureland Park. This vast and majestic adventure park offers all kinds of fun for kids and adults. Enjoy swimming and water activities as well as slides, monkey bars, tunnels, playgrounds, and more. Not to mention, thrilling rides are waiting for guests to take up the challenge. So visit now and take your kids to this delightful place, and make lasting memories.

Adventureland Park

Address: 3200 Adventureland Dr, Altoona, IA 50009, USA

Website: Adventureland Park

Opening hours: 10am - 9pm (daily)

Price From 40 USD

13. Learn some history at National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

things to do in iowa | learn some history at national czech & slovak museum & library
Source: instagram

If you like learning about the culture and history of foreign cities, countries, and places, you might want to spend your time in the fascinating National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library. Located in Cedar Rapids, this museum houses exhibits, galleries, artifacts, and other remarkable objects that show the interesting life in Czechia and Slovakia. Some of its exhibits are the Swimming Pool series by Maria Svarbova, the Ink and Oil exhibits which are about calligraphy in the Skala Bartizal Library, Babies in Slovak Dresses by the Slovak photographer Monika Klučiarová, and a lot more.

National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

Address: 1400 Inspiration Pl SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404, USA

Website: National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 9:30am - 4pm; Sun: 12pm - 4pm

14. Learn about marine life at National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium


If you are visiting Dubuque, and you have some spare time, you might want to learn about marine life at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium. If you are traveling with the kids, it is an ideal place to take them too. This fascinating attraction is a combination of a museum and an aquarium. So, expect to see galleries and exhibits about marine life as well as live marine animals. Its main goal is to educate people about its subject, which is marine life but also to connect it with the history of the city and its natural wonders. Watch your kids enjoy as they learn interesting facts about marine life.

National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium

Address: 350 E 3rd St, Dubuque, IA 52001, USA

Website: National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium

Opening hours: 9am - 6pm (daily)

Price: From 10 USD

15. Tour the unique Iowa 80 Trucking Museum


The Iowa Trucking Museum is located in Walcott. It was set up by Bill Moon, the founder of Iowa 80 Truckstor’s. It is a fascinating museum that houses vast collections of vintage trucks, modern machines and other interesting trucking paraphernalia. Its goal is to show people the significance of these automobiles in the history of transportation. Some of the trucks in Iowa 80 Trucking Museum are so rare that you will only find it here. If you are into automobiles, you might enjoy your time in this unique museum.

Iowa 80 Trucking Museum

Address: 505 Sterling Dr, Walcott, IA 52773, USA

Website: Iowa 80 Trucking Museum

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 9am - 5pm; Sun: 12pm - 5pm

16. Explore paintings at Brunnier Art Museum


Iowa has a vibrant art scene, especially Ames. If you are an artist by profession or by heart, you should visit the Brunnier Art Museum at least once or twice in your life. It is a fascinating museum with marvelous art pieces from professional artists as well as fresh talent. A lot of students, scholars, and regular tourists visit this place to appreciate art and gain tips and tricks about their crafts.

Brunnier Art Museum

Address: 295 Scheman Building, 1801 Center Drive, Ames, IA 50011, United States

Website: Brunnier Art Museum

Opening hours: Wed: 12pm - 12:01am

17. Be amazed by Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden


If you are fascinated to natural wonders as well as marvelous landmarks, you surely have to admire the beauty of Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden in Robert D. Ray Drive. It is a museum solely dedicated to plants, its use, its characteristics, and its beauty. Not to mention, it is nestled right in the heart of the city thus transportation won’t be a problem. Visit the place and learn about the flora, gardening tips, and interesting facts about these natural gifts from God.

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

Address: 909 Robert D. Ray Dr, Des Moines, IA 50309, USA

Website: Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

Opening hours: Fri - Wed: 10am - 5pm: Thu: 10am - 9pm

18. Spot flying squirrels at Mines of Spain Recreation Area


Looking for a place to enjoy some solitude? Want to reconnect with nature? If so, you should visit the Mines of Spain and immerse in breathtaking natural wonders and enjoy the fresh air, the peace, and the quiet away from the hustle and bustle of city life. In here, you can marvel at the beauty of the wildlife. You can also take wonderful pictures as you practice your photography skills.

Mines of Spain Recreation Area

Address: 10426 Mines of Spain Rd, Dubuque, IA 52003, USA

Website: Mines of Spain Recreation Area

Opening hours: 4am - 10:30pm (daily)

19. Wander through the villages of Amana Colonies


The Amana Colonies offers you a glimpse of a German lifestyle. Learn about the German culture that made its way from Germany and flourished in the United States. The Amana Colonies is comprised of seven charming villages with many treasures from German food to craft beers, wines, and more. They also offer products that are made locally but with a German touch. Art is also a booming trade in the Amana Colonies. Visit the place and immerse in the beautiful culture of Germany.

Amana Colonies

Address: 622 46th Ave, Amana, IA 52203, USA

Website: Amana Colonies

Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)

20. Tour American Gothic House


The American Gothic House was the inspiration for Grant Wood’s iconic American masterpiece. He traveled to Iowa in 1930 and came across this house and he was drawn to at that time. Today, the house still stands and it is open to visitors. You can see its beauty even today. If you want to check out this historic landmark, there are lots of available tour packages that you might want to take a look at.

American Gothic House

Address: 9654, 300 American Gothic St, Eldon, IA 52554, United States

Website: American Gothic House

Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 10am - 5pm; Sun - Mon: 1pm - 4pm

21. Visit the unique Villisca Axe Murder House


Located in Villisca, Villisca Axe Murder House an alleged haunted house in a serene residential neighborhood. It was the site of a massacre that shook the whole town. Today it is an old, care-worn house. A lot of tour companies take advantage of the historical event and offer packages for interested tourists.

Villisca Axe Murder House

Address: 508 E 2nd St, Villisca, IA 50864, USA

Website: Villisca Axe Murder House

Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 1pm - 4pm (closed on Mon)

Price: From 5 USD

22. Learn about Iowa's agriculture history at Living History Farms


If you want to know more about the culture and heritage of Iowa, feel free to visit the History Living Farms in Urbandale. It is a fascinating interactive outdoor museum that exhibits several years of history. From fertile prairies to vast farmlands, this museum narrates the story of the development of the state. Not only that, but they also try to show people a glimpse into the lifestyle of the bygone era.

Living History Farms

Address: 11121 Hickman Rd, Urbandale, IA 50322, USA

Website: Living History Farms

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 9am - 4pm; Sun: 12pm - 4pm

Price: From 9 USD

23. Explore the sprawling mega-mall of Jordan Creek Town Center

Hinge Valley Junction is now open at Jordan Creek Town Center! They are located on the Upper Level near the food court. Stop in and shop from now until Dec. 31st. for tons of great holiday gift ideas!

Posted by Jordan Creek Town Center on Monday, 4 December 2017

Located in Jordan Creek Parkway, Jordan Creek Town Center is a bustling megamall where you can shop to your heart’s content and gorge on excellent food. It houses global retail brands to local ones, spas, salons, recreational areas, and a lot more. It is acknowledged as the largest shopping center in the whole of Iowa. Plus, finding a parking space will not be a problem at Jordan Creek Town Center.

Jordan Creek Town Center

Address: 101 Jordan Creek Pkwy, West Des Moines, IA 50266, USA

Website: Jordan Creek Town Center

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 9pm; Sun: 11am - 6pm

24. Explore the fabulous Maquoketa Caves State Park


If you love being one with nature as well as activities that involve physical endurance and stamina, you might enjoy hiking in the stunning Maquoketa Caves State Park. With an abundance of lush foliage, fresh air, marvelous sights, and an occasional glimpse of wildlife, you will surely have a great time in this park. It is also a delightful place to practice your photography skills as you will never run out opportunities.

Maquoketa Caves State Park

Address: 9688 Caves Rd, Maquoketa, IA 52060, USA

Opening hours: 4am - 10:30pm (daily)

25. Go biking through Pikes Peak State Park

things to do in iowa | go biking through pikes peak state park
Source: instagram

Another breathtaking natural park in Iowa is the Pikes Peak State Park. It is located in McGregor. A lot of tourists come here to reconnect with nature, enjoy the peace and quiet, and push their physical endurance to the limit. With lovely forests, wildlife, and marvelous sights, this is an ideal place to visit. This park also has excellent fishing spots that guests can take advantage of.

Pikes Peak State Park

Address: 32264 Pikes Peak Rd, McGregor, IA 52157, USA

Website: Pikes Peak State Park

Opening hours: 4am - 10:30pm (daily)

26. Catch a ride on the world's steepest railway


Fenelon Place Elevator Company bills itself as the world’s shortest and steepest elevator ride. It is a wonderful attraction that you should visit when you drop by Dubuque. The ride lets people enjoy the view of the city and see the hectic activity of a busy city from above. Some of the places that are covered by this scenic ride are Dubuque’s business district and the Mississippi River.

Fenelon Place Elevator Co

Address: 512 Fenelon Pl, Dubuque, IA 52001, USA

Website: Fenelon Place Elevator Co

Opening hours: 8am - 10pm (daily)

Price: From 1.50 USD

27. Tour John Wayne Birthplace & Museum


The John Wayne Birthplace & Museum is one of many fascinating attractions in Winterset. Born Marion Robert Morrison, John Wayne is a famous actor and a recipient of the Presidential’s medal of honor. He was so notable that Iowa built a museum dedicated to his life and his achievements. If you have spare time and you’re a big fan of him, you should visit this landmark.

John Wayne Birthplace & Museum

Address: 205 S John Wayne Dr, Winterset, IA 50273, USA

Website: John Wayne Birthplace & Museum

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)

Price: From 14 USD

28. Visit Matchstick Marvels Museum


The Matchstick Marvels Museum in Gladbrook houses a collection of fascinating wooden structures made by an Iowan artist named Patrick Acton. Approximately, there are 70 crafts in this museum forming aircraft, automobiles, and other lovely structures. Some of his finest works are a model of the United States Capitol and the battleship USS Iowa. This museum has been featured in several TV programs. See it for yourself when you visit Iowa.

Matchstick Marvels Museum

Address: 319 2nd St, Gladbrook, IA 50635, USA

Website: Matchstick Marvels Museum

Opening hours: 1pm - 5pm (daily)

Price: From 3 USD

29. Watch a performance at Surf Ballroom and Museum


If you’re done with the sights and the eats of Iowa, you might want to immerse in its sounds. Located near Clear Lake, is a charming musical and live performances venue called Surf Ballroom and Museum. It features exhibits and galleries full of objects related to music, and it holds events showcasing Iowan talent. Plus, it has a lovely ballroom area that might encourage you to put on our your dancing shoes and start gliding on the dance floor.

Surf Ballroom and Museum

Address: 460 N Shore Dr, Clear Lake, IA 50428, USA

Website: Surf Ballroom and Museum

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 8am - 5pm (closed on Sat & Sun)

30. Have fun at Lost Island Waterpark (from USD 32.0)

Whether you are a kid or a kid at heart, waterparks, exciting slides, and thrilling rides never get old. For a more memorable Iowa experience, enjoy some quality time in Lost Island Waterpark by booking this fantastic tour package. They feature unique rides such as Wailua Kupua, several hydromagnetic water coasters, a Tsunami Bay, a Ta’ Katipo, and a lot more. Golf and golf carts are also available in Lost Island Waterpark.

Lost Island Waterpark General Admission

Duration: 1 to 4 hours

Beautiful Iowa

Iowa is filled with natural wonders, fascinating attractions, and marvelous landmarks. It is also rich in culture and heritage. In Iowa, you can go on a museum tour. You can also visit many historic places. You can try out excellent restaurants and cafes. If you are planning an exciting trip to Iowa any time soon, use this list of interesting things to do and places to visit for an in-depth guide when planning an itinerary. May you have the best time of your life on your upcoming Iowa visit.

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

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