Things to do & places to visit in Iowa, United States

Iowa cover image
History and monuments dot this landscape almost as often as the golden farmlands. Learn about America’s 31st president at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch. In northeast Iowa is the Effigy Mounds National Monument, a group of prehistoric American Indian burial and ceremonial mounds. This part of Iowa is also home to the Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage. The 37-county region tells the story of American agriculture, agribusiness and farm life and is affiliated with the National Park Service. In addition, there are five national wildlife refuges here. If you love history, imagine seeing the Amana Colonies, consisting of seven historic villages in 1855 by German immigrants as a religious communal society. Here you can also buy antiques, hand-woven baskets, furniture and clocks and locally made wine and beer. In Ames, take the family to see the Christian Petersen Art Museum, a newer structure that exhibits works of art by Christian Petersen and contemporary artists. You won’t want to miss the state capital of Des Moines, home to Blank Park Zoo with its naturalistic exhibits and more than 800 animals from five continents. You also should enjoy the Brenton Skating Plaza, an outdoor family entertainment venue.

Iowa #44 destination in United States 2023. The average rating score is 4.33 based on 62.6k traveler reviews, of 1.956 attractions. Timezone: America/Chicago, current date and time: Tuesday, December 05, 2023, 18:47.

Top things to do (35)

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  1. 5.0 Capitol Building (869 reviews)
    - Beautiful and historic building
    Tuesday: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM Government Buildings
    Capitol Building image
    Our docent gave an excellent tour, took time to answer questions for our group of 4; she was very enthusiastic about the building and history. I highly recommend the tour; anyone not up for the winding staircase to the dome can skip that part at the end. It is definitely the most beautiful state house in the country! See more..
  2. 5.0 Iowa 80 Trucking Museum (591 reviews)
    - Awesome Truck Museum
    Tuesday: Spent 1-2 hours Visitor Centers • Speciality Museums • History Museums
    Iowa 80 Trucking Museum image
    The Iowa 80 Trucking Museum was a dream of Iowa 80 Truckstop founder Bill Moon. His love for trucks and the trucking industry laid the foundation for this museum. Over 100 vintage trucks are on display, as well as antique signs and gas pumps. The museum also features the REO Theatre where visitors can enjoy watching films about trucks and trucking. See more..
  3. 5.0 Riverboat Twilight (512 reviews)
    - Another Great Cruise on the Riverboat Twilight!
    Boat Tours
    Riverboat Twilight image
    This was our 4th trip on the Riverboat Twilight. It’s an incredibly relaxing vacation with beautiful views of the Upper Mississippi River, nice accommodations in Dubuque Iowa, and a super cruise experience with the Twilight’s captain and staff! Can’t say enough about the friendliness and professionalism of the Twilight’s staff and the service provided for a VERY reasonable price. Included in the cruise cost are tickets to the National Museum of the Mississippi River at the Dubuque Harbor… this is an attraction not-to-be-missed! See more..
  4. 5.0 Escapology Escape Rooms (363 reviews)
    - Great fun!
    Tuesday: 4:00 PM - 9:00 PM Spent 1-2 hours Escape Games
    Escapology Escape Rooms image
    Cedar Falls' original premium real life escape game experience! Located in a prime spot, up to 8 players will be challenged in this new attraction by working together to find clues, solve puzzles, and pick locks that will free them from the game room. See more..
  5. 5.0 Surf Ballroom (351 reviews)
    Points of Interest & Landmarks • Bars & Clubs
    Surf Ballroom image
    I traveled to Clear Lake to visit the Surf Ballroom and I am glad I did. I didn't know what to expect but when I arrived I was overwhelmed with history. The ballroom is preserved just as it was when Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Richie Valens played their last show here. From the original wood floors to the thousands of signatures on the walls of the green room, the Surf Ballroom is history every where you look. The wall are covered with autographed photos and artifacts from those that have played here. You can see B. B. Kings Guitar and Charlie Daniel's Fiddle. Plus this place is still making history as it is still a very active music venue. Admission is free but a $5.00 donation is suggested. I spent about 2-hours here and loved every minute. See more..
  6. 5.0 Grotto of the Redemption (270 reviews)
    - Amazing Shrine - Has to be seen to appreciate
    Historic Sites • Architectural Buildings • Caverns & Caves
    Grotto of the Redemption image
    Stunning man-made grottoes representing scenes of the life of Christ. Father Dobberstein’s years of work using minerals, gemstones, petrified wood and other elements make this Shrine an extraordinary example of his devotion to Christ and the Virgin Mary. Admission to the Shrine and adjacent Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church is free but donations are accepted. We stayed overnight in the RV Campground - 30A service for $20/night or $10/Passport America discount. See more..
  7. 4.5 Field of Dreams Movie Site (1.815 reviews)
    - Wilks Family - Dream Comes True
    Tuesday: 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM Spent 1-2 hours Sports Complexes
    Field of Dreams Movie Site image
    Is this Heaven? No, it’s Iowa. A place of fertile soil, traditional values and simple pleasure. And, in Dyersville, Iowa, at the century-old Lansing family farm with its quaint, and oh-so-recognizable house, baseball still ranks as a favorite pastime for all ages. What better place to carve a baseball diamond from a corn field and to make a movie about pursuing one’s dream, no matter how much effort it takes? From tours of the inside of the iconic Field of Dreams Farm House, to our retail store, to our concessions stand, there certainly is plenty to do at the place dreams come true! Is this Heaven? We sure think so! The Movie Site will be closed to the public Friday, 8/5/22 - Sunday, 8/14/22 to prepare for the highly anticipated MLB at Field of Dreams game Thursday, August 11 between the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds. See more..
  8. 4.5 National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium (1.615 reviews)
    - Wonderful place visit
    Tuesday: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM Spent 2-3 hours Speciality Museums • Aquariums
    National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium image
    Part aquarium, part museum, part science center, the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium inspires stewardship by creating educational experiences where history and rivers come alive! Our 14-acre campus on the banks of the Mississippi River features two separate two-story buildings and an expansive outdoor plaza. The Museum & Aquarium is home to over 100 species of animals and thousands of historic artifacts. With so much to see and do, there's always a chance to #ExploreSomethingNew See more..
  9. 4.5 Fenelon Place Elevator Co. (1.184 reviews)
    - Riding history up and down a very steep hill
    Tuesday: 8:00 AM - 10:00 PM Spent < 1 hour Points of Interest & Landmarks
    Fenelon Place Elevator Co. image
    Historic cable car. Also known as the Fourth Street Elevator, this funicular railway has been called "the world's steepest, shortest scenic railway." Great view of downtown Dubuque, the Mississippi River and 3 states. Buses should go to the bottom of the bluff. Please use 4th and Bluff Streets for GPS. Narrow streets with parking on both sides at the top of the bluff. Open 8 AM to 10 PM daily April 1 though November 30. Closed Thanksgiving. We do not accept debit or credit cards. See more..
  10. 4.5 Iowa State Fairgrounds (876 reviews)
    - Fun night in Iowa
    Tuesday: 7:00 AM - 1:00 AM Spent More than 3 hours Arenas & Stadiums
    Iowa State Fairgrounds image
    For 11 days in August, it’s a fairground, but for the other 354 days of the year, the Iowa State Fairgrounds is home to auto shows, livestock exhibitions, flea markets, antique shows, concerts, trade shows and more. See what’s happening this month at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. See more..
  11. 4.5 Pappajohn Sculpture Park (727 reviews)
    - Pleasant Stop on Road Trip
    Tuesday: 6:00 AM - 12:00 AM Spent 1-2 hours Parks
    Pappajohn Sculpture Park image
    Open to visitors since September 2009, the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park features artwork by 22 of the world's most celebrated artists. The 4.4 Acre park, located within a major crossroads of the urban grid, creates a pedestrian friendly entranceway to downtown Des Moines. This accessible setting, coupled with the skilled landscape design and caliber of the art, makes it unlike any other sculpture park in the United States. The Pappajohns' contribution of 28 works for the park is the most significant donation of artwork ever made to the Des Moines Art Center. See more..
  12. 4.5 Eagle Point Park (578 reviews)
    - Lovely park, but…
    Tuesday: 7:00 AM - 10:00 PM Parks
    Eagle Point Park image
    Gorgeous historic park with stunning views of the river and surrounding vistas. Be forewarned that they charge $1 (cash only) per carload to enter the park. They actually pay someone to stand in a booth and collect your $1. Hardly seems worth it but whatever. Also, the park is not pet friendly. Your dog or cat must remain in your vehicle or you risk getting fined. We drove 2 hours to picnic at this park with our dog. We were very disappointed that our small pup could not get out of the car. He was very anxious to get out. There were tons of people traipsing all over their precious grounds and yet dogs aren’t allowed. Very weird. We drive through and left to go to nearby A.Y. McDonald park where we picnicked at a table in a sunny spot with our dog for free! See more..
  13. 4.5 John Wayne Birthplace & Museum (484 reviews)
    - Must do for John Wayne fans
    Tuesday: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM Speciality Museums • Historic Sites
    John Wayne Birthplace & Museum image
    Tour the modest 4-room home where John Wayne was born, and visit the John Wayne Birthplace Museum featuring the largest diversified exhibit of John Wayne artifacts in existence, including original movie posters, film wardrobe, scripts, letters, artwork and sculpture--even one of his customized automobiles. Admission includes the Museum, a visit to the Birthplace house, and a small theater with a documentary on John Wayne's life, with a special welcome by his daughter Aissa. See more..
  14. 4.5 Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum (469 reviews)
    - Seeing Hoover in a new light
    Tuesday: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM Historic Sites • Libraries • History Museums
    Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum image
    This library-museum commemorates the 31st President of the U.S. and the first born west of the Mississippi River. Exhibits track Hoover’s life and political career. The large temporary gallery has changing exhibits that relate to American history. The Museum sits on the grounds of the Hoover National historic site where visitors can tour Hoover's birthplace cottage, blacksmith shop, Quaker meeting house, the local school and the Hoover's gravesite. See more..
  15. 4.5 Iowa 80, World's Largest Truck Stop (443 reviews)
    - It is the Largest
    Tuesday: 12:00 AM - 11:59 PM Speciality & Gift Shops
    Iowa 80, World's Largest Truck Stop image
    Truckers and Travelers can refuel, refresh and relax at Iowa 80 - The World's Largest Truckstop! There are 10 restaurant choices, 36 fuel pumps, plenty of clean restrooms, large convenience store, gift store, trucking accessories store, 24 private shower rooms, laundry facilities, dentist, barber, chiropractor, movie theater, workout room, Dogomat Pet Wash, truck service center, truck / RV wash, diesel fuel center, CAT Scale truck scale and a trucking museum next door. 900 truck parking spaces, 200 car parking spaces, 20 RV/trailer parking spaces. There is something for everyone at Iowa 80! See more..
  16. 4.5 Downtown Farmers Market (417 reviews)
    - Summer fun starts here
    Tuesday: Flea & Street Markets
    Downtown Farmers Market image
    The downtown famers market is literally a smorgasbord of delightful temptations. There is something here for everyone. It's great for couples, families and even pet friendly. The long lines at some vendors is a tip that something really good is happening there! See more..
  17. 4.5 Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden (369 reviews)
    - Thursday, December 8th visit.
    Tuesday: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM Gardens
    Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden image
    Reputed for its huge collection of the Midwest's ornamental and native plants, this 14-acre center bordering the Des Moines River features a domed conservatory that houses over 1000 varieties of exotic plants from throughout the world. The center also has an impressive herb garden, tropical and desert plants, and one of the best bonsai collections in the U.S. See more..
  18. 4.5 Reiman Gardens (361 reviews)
    - Our second best garden visit on our trip
    Reiman Gardens image
    Enchanting, 17-acre garden with new display annually; inside find a live, exotic butterfly exhibit and gardens that change seasonally; private rentals available. See more..
  19. 4.5 National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (360 reviews)
    - Worth Seeing!
    Tuesday: 9:30 AM - 4:00 PM Speciality Museums
    National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library image
    Expanded 50,000 sq. ft. building opened in July 2012 with a world-class exhibit "Alphonse Mucha: Inspirations of Art Nouveau" featuring 230 pieces direct from Prague and London. Two other galleries feature rotating exhibitions on the culture, art and history of Czechs and Slovaks. And don't miss the two-room 1880's Czech immigrant house that was home to five generations. See the new museum store filled with European treasures and gifts. Stroll down Czech Village and also visit the exhibition, "Rising Above: the Store of a People and the Flood" located a 87 Sixteenth Ave. SW See more..
  20. 4.5 Pikes Peak State Park (352 reviews)
    - Great Fall Hiking and Views
    State Parks
    Pikes Peak State Park image
    The park lived up to its billing as a fall color must do in NE Iowa! Even though we visited on a Thursday there were a lot of visitors. It was a beautiful fall day and we took advantage of a well placed table on the bluff to enjoy lunch prior to a hike. We took a couple of back loops off the parking lot to work our way to the main attractions; the Bridal Falls Overlook and the Crows Nest Overlook. The hiking was moderate with some elevation. Fall colors were prime and we thoroughly enjoyed the exercise, fall color and the views. After a few requisite pictures we were off to our next adventure, the Effigy Mounds National Monument. See more..
  21. 4.5 Iowa State University (336 reviews)
    - Fun, and don't have to be a student to visit.
    Educational sites
    Iowa State University image
    Had a lovely time touring the campus, even though I was not a student. There is so much to see, and where to start? Several buildings have either museums or objects on display. Of note were the Art Museum and the Aeronautics building with its airplanes on display. There is a bell tower where they play music and in some cases, a perky co-ed will kiss you. The day I visited there were hammocks out, and student Jousting on the green. See more..
  22. 4.5 Gray's Lake Park (326 reviews)
    - Great family recreation
    Tuesday: 6:00 AM - 10:00 PM Parks
    Gray's Lake Park image
    Gray's lake has so much to do! walking trails, fishing, and paddle boating are just a few options for the whole family. With the new underpass walk trail opening up to Waterworks Park, this is the place to enjoy the outdoors in the greater Des Moines Area. "Like" their Facebook page for details on night events at Gray's lake. See more..
  23. 4.5 Figge Art Museum (316 reviews)
    - The Figge never disappoints
    Tuesday: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM Art Museums
    Figge Art Museum image
    This was our second time here, and we were pleasantly surprised to get in free as they were offering free admission in July. We loved most of the exhibits, but especially enjoyed the POP Power exhibit, the Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit, and the carnival exhibit. This is s beautiful art museum and Davenport is very lucky to have it. It’s well worth your time to spend an hour or two here. Be sure to check out the awesome gift shop too. See more..
  24. 4.5 Des Moines Art Center (308 reviews)
    - World Class!
    Tuesday: 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM Spent 2-3 hours Art Museums
    Des Moines Art Center image
    This internationally acclaimed museum houses impressive works by artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, including Edward Hopper, Georgia O'Keefe and Henri Matisse. The center, which also offers art classes, consists of three buildings, each designed by a celebrated architect: Eliel Saarinen, I.M. Pei and Richard Meier. See more..
  25. 4.5 Union Pacific Railroad Museum (300 reviews)
    - Comprehensive corporate museum with silly COVID rules
    Tuesday: Spent 1-2 hours Speciality Museums • History Museums
    Union Pacific Railroad Museum image
    Our museum has chronicled more than 150 years of American railroad history through unique artifacts and immersive interactive games. Admission is free. See more..
  26. 4.5 Snake Alley (284 reviews)
    - Snake Alley is a Work of Art
    Tuesday: 12:00 AM - 11:59 PM Spent < 1 hour Points of Interest & Landmarks • Historic Walking Areas
    Snake Alley image
    This local landmark was constructed in 1894 to help connect the residential district at the top of the bluff with the commercial district down below. Snake Alley consists of five half-curves, two quarter-curves and drops 58 feet over a distance of 275 feet. Test your driving, walking or bicycling skills on what Ripley's Believe It or Not! calls “Unbelievably Crooked!" Designated as #1 in Ripley’s Believe It or Not!’s Odd Spots Across America campaign. See more..
  27. 4.5 Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center (282 reviews)
    - Great Lewis & Clark interpretive center
    Tuesday: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM Spent 1-2 hours History Museums
    Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center image
    The Sioux City Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center and the Betty Strong Encounter Center comprise an almost 20,000-square-foot, private, non-profit cultural complex, built and sustained by Missouri River Historical Development, Inc. (MRHD). The Interpretive Center opened in 2002 to commemorate the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial. It expanded in late 2007 with the opening of the adjoining Betty Strong Encounter Center to fulfill a permanent mission of "commemorating a history of encounters before, during and after the expedition. Joined by the symbolic Crossroads, these two parts create a Missouri Riverfront home for exhibits, programs and activities that explore how we live together as diverse people and how we care for our land, our great river, and other natural resources. Admission and programs are free. See more..
  28. 4.5 Plane Crash Site of Buddy Holly (275 reviews)
    Points of Interest & Landmarks
    Plane Crash Site of Buddy Holly image
    After visiting the Surf Ballroom, I made the 6-mile drive down a dusty dirt road to the the site where Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Richie Valens died in a plane crash in February 1959. You end up driving down a dirt road until you see a large pair of black glasses on the shoulder of the road. Park here on the shoulder then you have to walk a little over a quarter mile down a path in a corn field to the actual crash site. The crash site is marked by a small makeshift memorial with the names of those who died here. It is a somber walk but one many music fans have made over the years. While it was not crowded while I was there there were several other visitors making the walk to the site. If you are near Clear Lake you should visit the Surf Ballroom and then make the drive out to the Crash Site. See more..
  29. 4.5 Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens (271 reviews)
    - Beautiful, free and well-maintained!
    Tuesday: 7:00 AM - 7:30 PM Gardens
    Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens image
    We quite enjoyed this beautiful arboretum and gardens. We walked through the gardens (about 10 acres) and spent some time in the visitor's center in addition to driving through the arboretum (about 50 acres). Everything is beautiful and well card for by the volunteers. There is no charge to enjoy this wonderful place but we did leave a donation and purchased a couple of things at the visitor's center. A free map is available at the visitor's center, as well as clean free rest rooms. See more..
  30. 4.5 Brucemore (269 reviews)
    - Time well spent
    Tuesday: 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM Spent 1-2 hours Historic Sites • Points of Interest & Landmarks
    Brucemore image
    Brucemore is a living landmark that charts the history of Cedar Rapids. The 26-acre, park-like estate invites exploration of its history, gardens, grounds, and 21-room mansion. Each season, nature's changing beauty entices visitors to the estate offering new experiences. Concerts, theater, festivals, garden walks, holiday celebrations, and tours enliven the site and celebrate the heritage of the community. See more..
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More Things to do in Iowa 111

  1. Points of Interest & Landmarks
  2. Architectural Buildings
  3. Churches & Cathedrals
  4. Historic Sites
  5. Art Museums
  6. Speciality Museums
  7. History Museums
  8. Religious Sites
  9. Bridges
  10. Historic Walking Areas
  11. Gardens
  12. Marinas
  13. Piers & Boardwalks
  14. Waterfalls
  15. Wineries & Vineyards
  16. Nature & Wildlife Areas
  17. Speciality & Gift Shops
  18. Day Trips
  19. Taxis & Shuttles
  20. Health Clubs
  21. Scuba & Snorkelling
  22. Boat Tours
  23. Sightseeing Tours
  24. Horseback Riding Tours
  25. Monuments & Statues
  26. Neighborhoods
  27. Bodies of Water
  28. Theaters
  29. Geologic Formations
  30. Beaches
  31. National Parks
  32. Hiking Trails
  33. Game & Entertainment Centers
  34. Biking Trails
  35. Scenic Walking Areas
  36. Escape Games
  37. Adrenaline & Extreme Tours
  38. Zipline & Aerial Adventure Parks
  39. Ranches
  40. Waterskiing & Jetskiing
  41. Shopping Malls
  42. Water Parks
  43. Amusement & Theme Parks
  44. Observatories & Planetariums
  45. Beach & Pool Clubs
  46. Children's Museums
  47. Flea & Street Markets
  48. Visitor Centers
  49. Breweries
  50. Lessons & Workshops
  51. Islands
  52. Caverns & Caves
  53. Golf Courses
  54. Movie Theaters
  55. Art Galleries
  56. Antique Shops
  57. Educational sites
  58. Sports Complexes
  59. Government Buildings
  60. Theatre & Performances
  61. Horse Tracks
  62. Aquariums
  63. Cemeteries
  64. Military Museums
  65. Forests
  66. Scenic Drives
  67. Operas
  68. Science Museums
  69. Ski & Snowboard Areas
  70. Libraries
  71. Playgrounds
  72. Arenas & Stadiums
  73. Mysterious Sites
  74. Farmers Markets
  75. Natural History Museums
  76. Kayaking & Canoeing
  77. Bars & Clubs
  78. Fishing Charters & Tours
  79. Distilleries
  80. Casinos
  81. Convention Centers
  82. Cultural Events
  83. Dance Clubs & Discos
  84. Beer Tastings & Tours
  85. Food Tours
  86. Factory Tours
  87. Self-Guided Tours & Rentals
  88. River Rafting & Tubing
  89. Air Tours
  90. Civic Centres
  91. State Parks
  92. Paint & Pottery Studios
  93. Military Bases & Facilities
  94. Gear Rentals
  95. Symphonies
  96. Skydiving
  97. Wine Bars
  98. Shooting Ranges
  99. Auto Racing Tracks
  100. Department Stores
  101. Balloon Rides
  102. Jogging Paths & Tracks
  103. Boat Rentals
  104. Factory Outlets
  105. Bowling Alleys
  106. Coffeehouses
  107. Yoga & Pilates
  108. Miniature Golf
  109. Scenic Railroads
  110. Sporting Events
  111. Wedding Chapels
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