Iowa Things to Do

  • Iowa City Mansion near College Green Park
    Iowa City Mansion near College Green...
    by atufft
  • Old Downtown Iowa City, IA
    Old Downtown Iowa City, IA
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  • Johnson County Courthouse, Iowa City, IA
    Johnson County Courthouse, Iowa City, IA
    by atufft

Iowa Things to Do

  • John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park

    Des Moines Things to Do

    The Des Moines Arts Center continues to collect - and commission - new work. The Sculpture Garden in particular has continued to expand. It's a lovely place with flowers, tree, hills, and water. If I lived in Des Moines, I would certainly come here often. This is a piece by Bruce Nauman called "Animal Pyramid."

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  • 4th Street Elevator

    Dubuque Things to Do

    For the most spectacular view of Dubuque (not to mention neighboring Wisconsin and Illinois, as well as the Mississippi River) go up the Fenelon Street Elevator off of Bluff Street and Fourth Street in downtown Dubuque. The elevator travels up a very steep hill, via cable, to Fenelon Street, where there a wonderful panoramic view awaits. If the day...

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  • Pinicon Ridge Park

    Very beautiful, very awesome park. Lots to do there. Playgrounds. Animals. Disc golf course. Campground. The only problem is sometimes there are a lot of mosquitos, so be prepared.

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  • National Mississippi River Museum

    A very big museum. Initially there wasn't as much to see there, but now there is enough to keep you busy for hours and hours, especially if you go when it is warm and you can enjoy all the outside exhibits as well. Great for kid and adults. Check to see what special events are happening. My son got to "pet" a snake here during a special show on...

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  • Iowa Children's Museum

    My son loves it here. There is so much to do, especially for ages 3-5. The exhibits change frequently which is awesome.

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  • Pikes Peak State Park

    The main state park I have been to in Iowa was Pikes Peak State Park. This beautiful park is located where the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers meet and where in 1673 the first white men crossed the Upper Mississippi and stepped foot on what would become Iowa. There is access to the river near the park; and hiking trails beautiful views, picnic...

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  • Mamie Doud Eisenhower Birthplace (Boone)

    I am not sure exactly what this site is "officially". I swear I saw a sign stating it is a state historic site but it doesn't show on the Internet. I did see a sign though that it is part of the Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area. This is the place where Mamie Doud was born in 1896. She would grow up to marry Dwight D. Eisenhower (the...

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  • Effigy Mounds National Monument

    Conical Mounds appeared across the eastern United States long, long ago. The mounds at Effigy Mounds National Monument, however, are more recent and maybe a bit more interesting to see. These mounds were made in the Late Woodland Period about 1400 years ago (or about 400 A.D.) until about 850 years ago. In addition to the much more common round or...

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  • Herbert Hoover National Historic Site

    Herbert Hoover National Historic Site preserve the birthplace of the 31st President of the United States Herbert Hooveralong with several buildings that reveal his childhood and the influences that shaped the man. Hoover was raised in a community dominated by the "Religious Society of Friends" also known as Quakers. This upbrining strongly...

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  • Birthplace of John Wayne

    The enduring character actor John Wayne remains a vivid memory for Winterset, Madison County, and Iowa, even though the actor left with his family for Los Angeles when he was about age 3. The modest original home is well preserved to it's early 20th century style, with well kept landscaping, and a nice little gift shop nearby. Winterset hosts a...

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  • Winterset--Madison County Seat

    For those wanting to see John Wayne's home or visit the remaining six Bridges of Madison County, Winterset is a good place to start. The town is very small, with only several blocks on either side of the town square where the impressive domed county building and court house stands. The brick commercial buildings are mostly late 19th century...

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  • Arnolds Park

    An Old coney Island style amusement park on the shores of Lake Okoboji. Contains one of few remaining wood roller coasters.

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  • The State Capitol Building

    Completed in 1886 and built of limestone, granite, and sandstone, the Iowa State Capitol Building is one of the largest statehouses in the nation. It was built on the site of an earlier small brick building that housed the state legislature. Front and back porticos are supported by six Corinthian columns each. The central dome rises to a height of...

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  • The Des Moines Botanical Center

    The Des Moines Botanical Center opened in 1979, although a city-owned greenhouse occupied the site since 1939. The grounds of the 14-acre (six-hectare) botanical garden contain trails which wind among beds of native and other temperate-climate plants; conifers and deciduous trees; rose gardens; herb gardens; water gardens; and a cascade. Indoor...

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  • Living History Farms

    Founded in 1970, the 600-acre (243-hectare) Living History Farms is an open-air museum which tells the story of Midwestern agriculture during four different time periods, including the Ioway Indian Village (1700), the Pioneer Farm (1850), the Town of Walnut Hill (1875), and the Horse-Powered Farm (1900). The displays are concentrated around two...

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  • Field Of Dreams

    It's the site of the movie!When we were there (several years ago), they told us that half is owned by one family and half by another family. So they have competing souvenir shops and will only let you play on their part if you are using their equipment. It's really funny:)

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  • Okoboji

    Okoboji is a city in Dickinson County, Iowa, and has the deepest natural lake in the state, it is crystal clear and one of only a handful of lakes in the world that is classified as a true blue water lake.June 2008

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  • Visiting the Colonies

    A visit to the Amana Colonies can easily fill an entire day. There is much to see and do (and eat) but it's all done at a relaxing pace.The Amanas were founded about 150 years ago by a group of German people seeking religious asylum in America. They originally lived in a communal setting but in the 1930s abandoned that for more individuality....

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  • MORMON TRAIL

    Following the death of the founding prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., in 1844, the vast majority of the Mormon population of Nauvoo, Illinois responded to the leadership of Brigham Young and set out to establish a new Zion in the parched lands of the Great Basin around what is today Salt Lake City. The actual trek began in early 1846. A trail was...

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  • A first visit to Iowa... where is that?

    When I had to visit Iowa for the first time, none of my friends could help me! and i looked up old issues of National Geographic to find some information. Like the other poster said: it is a long drive out to visit nearby places. On my first visit to Iowa, to visit a group of Native people living near Des Moines, I used to just drive around, and...

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  • Anamosa Prison Museum

    This prison museum is fairly interesting if you're in the area. It's small, but cheap and the gift shop has lots of unique items.

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  • Caucus Rally in December: Running for...

    The presidential selection process begins in Iowa. Presidential hopefuls descend upon the state and begin campaigning heavily in December before the Iowa caucuses are held in January. On December 27, 2007, I heard Bill Clinton speak on behalf of his wife Hillary.This is an amazing time of year to hear the next president of the United States speak...

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  • MASON HOUSE INN

    Built in 1846 by Mormon craftsmen who were en route to Utah from nearby Nauvoo, Illinois - they were earning money to buy needed supplies for the large Mormon emigrant wagon trains that rolled through the area between 1846-1851. The Inn was built to serve steamboat passengers on the Des Moines River, the Mason House was purchased by the Mason...

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  • Pres. Hoovers Birthplace

    This is not the home of the vacuum carpet company, that's Canton, Ohio [see History of Hoover Vacuums. President Herbert Hoover was the 31st President of the United States. He lead the nation from 1929 to 1933. Rising from a poor family, he was an example that old American adage, "anyone can grow up to be the President of the United States".My...

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  • Adventure Land

    This is an amusement park. Although it isn't famous and doesn't have any unique rides, there are a lot of rides here and you could easily spend a whole day in the park. Plus, it is way cheaper than any of the famous parks!

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  • The Dubuque County Courthouse

    Each time that Jill and I would cross the Mississippi River into Iowa [Dubuque], I would comment on how beautiful the Courthouse looked as the sun reflected off the golden dome. {The only golden dome in Iowa.] So, it was absolutely imperative that we see it up close.It's located in the downtown business district and is next to the Old Jail Museum....

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  • Amana Colonies

    Amana Colonies, one of Iowa's most popular destinations, are actually seven historic German villages founded as a religious commune in the mid-1800's. As a collection of seven, they have been named a National Historic Landmark. Their goal is to preserve their crafts and culture while offering tourist a variety of activities. The Seven are:a....

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  • Amana Heritage Museum in Main Amana

    Jill and I thoroughly enjoyed the Amana Heritage Museum in Main Amana. I think it is a good idea to go here, see the short media presentation first and then peruse the rest of the museum and the book store. It explains a good deal about the history and the religion of the Amana Colonies.This museum is located in an ancient Colony home; the cost is...

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  • Another Mississippi River Town: ...

    Muscatine, Iowa, is a "must see" river town. Muscatine has about 24,000 people who live between 2 river bluffs along the Mississippi. The area is spread out; however, we concentrated on the historic downtown district.While in this lovely community, we discovered that Mark Twain was a one-time Muscatine resident, & he wrote, "I remember Muscatine...

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  • Bellevue on the Mississippi River

    Bellevue is bordered by the mighty Mississippi, & its name means "Beautiful View", which is literally true. It certainly has natural beauty with the Mississippi River as its front door & several State Parks & Reserves that surround it.Bellevue was the first settlement in Jackson County, & it is the oldest city in this county as well as one of the...

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  • Visit Kalona to Explore the Past

    We wanted to learn more about The Old Order Amish & the Mennonites as well as explore the Kalona Historical Village, so off we drove to this small town that is just 15 miles southwest of Iowa City.Don't miss the Kalona Historical Village on Highway 22. It's a great example of how united this community really is. It started with the Historical...

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  • Dubuque Convention & Visitors Bureau

    The very first thing that Jill and I did when we went to Dubuque was to find and visit the Dubuque Convention and Visitors Bureau. Boy, were we glad that we did!Besides receiving a free Spy map of Dubuque [a map with pictures as well as street markings of all the important places to visit], we also gained valuable knowledge about the Dubuque Fest,...

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  • Cathedral Square, St. Raphael's, &...

    While on Bluff and Second Streets, Jill and I visited the Cathedral Square and its sculpture called "Five Figures for Five Flags". It's an impressive sculpture that is welded copper of a lead miner, a missionary priest, a steamboat pilot,a farmer and his wife. It was done by Ann Opgenorth and Donna Marihar of Bellevue, Iowa. It stands in front of...

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  • National Mississippi River Museum &...

    Jill and I decided after visiting the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium that we would have enjoyed it more if we had been with children.You are able to experience a trip down the Mississippi River via wide screen in the Journey Theater. The film is called "Mississippi Journey".There are artifacts about the Native American cultures, a...

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  • Victorian House Tour/Progressive Dinner

    One of the great experiences that Dubuque has to offer is called Victorian House Tour and Progressive Dinner. This experience includes a gourmet dining while touring several Dubuque historic sites.The way this works is you make a reservation for the tour and you will then have a five-course meal while you progress through the city. In addition, you...

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  • Wonderful Cable Car Square

    One of the most delightful places [for Jill and I] in Dubuque is the Cable Car Square. It is filled with darling little one-of-a-kind shops, the Fenelon Place Elevator, and The Cotton Cabin Quilt Shop.As the previous tip indicates, we did ride on the Fenelon Place Elevator, which was great fun and historic as well. In addition, we visited many of...

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  • Fenelon Place Elevator Company

    Jill and I had such a good time seeing and riding the Fenelon Place Elevator. We learned that about 1882, a Mr. J.K. Graves [a wealthy former mayor and State Senator] lived in Dubuque on top of the bluffs. However, he worked at the bottom of the bluffs. At that time, everyone had one and a half hours for lunch. He hated spending so much time...

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  • Bricktown Brewery

    The Bricktown Brewery [located inside the Historic Cooper Wagon Works] is located right in the center of the historic downtown Dubuque. Inside this one building, you will find places to eat, to drink, and to just hang out and have fun. This is where A. A. Cooper built his legendary empire of wagons called "Old Reliable".There are four floors of...

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  • Disc Golf

    Disc Golf is very big in Iowa. We have many excellent players, I live in Des Moines and we have 20 courses within a 30 mile radius. My favorites are Grandview, Walnut Ridge, and Ewing. Iowa has 88 courses in the state ranking it 3rd behind California and Texas (last time I looked). Go and try it its relaxing, sociable, and burns calories.

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  • Putnam Museum

    This Museum of Natural History is located in Davenport, IA. It has a fairly diverse collection along with an IMAX theatre.

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  • Dane Country

    The signpost driving into Kimballton, Iowa reads 'Welcome to Dane Country'. In the town park you will find a replica of the Little Mermaid, further down the road you'll find the Posthuset, and a 60 ft. wind mill that had been brought over from Denmark in 1975.Note: The mermaid is taken down during the winter season

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  • Amana Colonies

    Amana Colonies consist of seven authentic German villages founded as a religious commune in the mid-1800s. This preserved culture is a National Historic Landmark and one of Iowa's most famous travel attractions. Craft shops, wineries, bakeries, woolen mills, etc.

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  • Holland...in Iowa?!?

    Can't afford a ticket to Amsterdam? Take a trip to Pella, Iowa. Granted you won't likely find a red-light district and 'coffee' houses in middle America, but you will find rustic, reconstructed Dutch buildings, a canal, a windmill, a tulip festival and great pride in the old country. So grab your wooden clogs and join the fun in wacky wacky Pella...

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  • National Mississippi Museum and Aquarium

    The National Mississippi Museum and Aquarium was an unexpected find on a road trip. At first we thought it would be a bit hokey, but it turned out to be really well done and quite interesting. The aquarium features giant catfish and shovel-nosed gar along with alligator and turtles.As the greeter told me, "If it lives in the Mississippi, it's on...

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  • free wire less along the highway

    I was driving on I 29 north to the Indian Reservations from Omaha, I saw this sign at the rest stop. Wire Less Internet. Sure enough there is free wire less Internet at high way stops in Iowa. Good On you, Iowa.. i am writing this and adding this to virtual tourist from a highway stop along 1 29 near Onawa turn off I think, around exit 112.. what a...

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Iowa Things to Do

Reviews and photos of Iowa things to do posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Iowa sightseeing.
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