While you can tour the Iowa State Capitol online via pictures and videos, this attraction is well worth a visit in person. The Capitol is impossible to miss with its large 23-karat golden dome visible from anywhere nearby in Des Moines. Around the main dome are four smaller, but equally beautiful domes. Be sure to schedule a tour so you get the chance to climb up the winding steps and reach the top of the dome for a close up of its beauty.
The Amana Colonies is made up of seven villages and are popular among tourists who want to relax away from the hustle and bustle of their daily lives. When you visit the colonies, you will enjoy local art, furniture, and foods. The Amana Colonies are one of the oldest communal societies in the country, dating back to German villages in 1714. The villagers sought freedom and arrived in Iowa in 1855. With such a rich history, it is no surprise that the Amana Colonies are a National Historic Landmark. You can spend anywhere from a day to weeks in the Amana Colonies, letting it work perfectly with any Iowa vacation.
The Blank Park Zoo is right in Des Moines, making it convenient for tourists to the city to visit. Children and grown-ups alike will enjoy their time at the zoo, exploring exhibits of 1,484 animals from around the world such as Japanese macaques, otters, and snow leopards. Head over to the Kids Kingdom to give your children the chance to interact with farm animals, play on the playground, or go on a camel ride. There are even adults for all ages, including the Zoo Brew on Wednesdays during the summer, which is perfect for adults who want to see the animals with delicious brews and no children around.
As the name implies, the Greater Des Moines Botanical Center is yet another one of the top Iowa attractions that is located in the capital city. With its location by downtown, the botanical gardens give you a chance to escape with temperate and tropical gardens. Visit the Amaryllis, Bonsai, Coleus & Plectranthus, Gesneriad, or Orchid Collections or attend one of the many events that take place each month. The Botanical Design Series can give you tips on bringing nature into your home or you can find events and workshops focusing on enhancing your gardening skills on your patio or lawn.
If you are traveling to Iowa with your family, then Lost Island Waterpark in Waterloo is a must-see attraction. This is the perfect place to let your kids cool off, unwind, and blow off some energy before you take them to more historic sites. There are nine major water slides and three major attractions, including the Kailahi River where you can float peacefully on a raft. There are also specific areas perfect for younger children and non-water activities, such as golf and go-karts, outside the park. There is a slight discount for buying your tickets online, so plan ahead.