Top 10 Iowa Attractions


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Planning for a vacation in Iowa this Year? Looking for fun things to do? We have been asked many times: What are the top places to see in Iowa? So here is our list of top 10 "Must-See" attractions in Iowa.

1: Iowa State Capitol

Iowa State CapitolIowa State Capitol
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, photograph by Carol M. Highsmith

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Interesting facts:
- The Iowa State Capitol Building located in Des Moines, Iowa was built between 1871 and 1886.
- The height of golden dome from above the ground is 275 feet and is made up of 23 karat gold. The most recent cost of gilding the dome is about $400,000 in 1998-99.
- The interior of the capitol building is a display of different types and colors of marble. There are 29 different types of marble used in the interior.

Things to do:
Take a 60-minute tour of the whole building complex featuring a gold-leafed dome, grand staircase, marble and ornate woodwork. The tour also include a visit to the old Supreme Court chambers, the five-story law library, a model of Battleship Iowa and a collection of first-lady dolls. Also walk around the gardens surrounding the capital, see the memorials on the grounds, the new Supreme Court Building across the street and the view of downtown from the west side of the capital.

Website:

Iowa State Capitol

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2: Amana Colonies

Amana ColoniesAmana Colonies
Photo courtesy: Kepper66 at en.wikipedia

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Interesting facts:
- The Amana Colonies were created, built and settled by German Pietists in Iowa, consist of seven villages.
- The colonies as a whole have been registered as a National Historic Landmark since 1965.
- The purpose of the Amana Society was to live peacefully, supportively, with humility and pride, and with faith in God.

Things to do:
- Amana Colonies is a major tourist attraction known mainly for its restaurants and craft shops. You can drive through the colonies to find the different materials used on historic homes (cedar, brick, sandstone).
- Take the Amana Colonies Historical Audio Driving Tour to learn more about the rich culture and unique history of the Colonies.
- Do canoeing at the Iowa River.

Website:

www.amanacolonies.com/

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3: Blank Park Zoo

Blank Park ZooBlank Park Zoo
Photo courtesy: Kepeter at morguefile.com

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Interesting facts:
-The Blank Park Zoo is spread on an area of 49 acres. Out of which, 22 acres have been used for animal exhibits or facilities.
- Currently, the Blank Park Zoo comprises 104 different animal species and 1,484 animal specimens.

Things to do:
- Explore the animals at the Blank Park Zoo to learn fun facts. The animals include Red Panda, Golden Headed Tamarin, Two-toed Sloth, Egyptian Fruit Bat, Black-headed Heron, Harbor Seal, California Sea Lion, etc.
- Watch various exhibits including train ride, carousel ride, camel ride, safari grill, flamingos, penguins, and others.

Website:

www.blankparkzoo.com/

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4: Des Moines Botanical Center

Des Moines Botanical CenterDes Moines Botanical Center
Photo courtesy: Iowahwyman at en.wikipedia

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Interesting facts:
- The Des Moines Botanical Center was completed in 1979 and is managed and operated by the Des Moines Water Works.
- Floral displays are changed quarterly, and include tropical and sub-tropical plants in a geodesic dome.
- It is located on 14 acres along the east bank of the Des Moines River, close to downtown.

Things to do:
Explore and discover beauty of nature. The botanical garden provides education as well as botanical exhibits for their visitors. Kids can pick up an activity pamphlet at the front desk and try to find specific plants and characteristics while they tour the Dome. Des Moines Botanical Center is also home to the koi fish, white catfish, turtles and free flying birds which the children are definitely going to like.

Website:

www.dmbotanicalgarden.com

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5: Lost Island Waterpark

Lost Island WaterparkLost Island Waterpark
Photo courtesy: Lost Island Waterpark

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Interesting facts:
- Lost Island Waterpark in Waterloo is Iowa’s largest outdoor waterpark.
- It has large variety of water attractions both for the kids and thrill-seekers.

Things to do:
This park offers exciting water rides including the Molokini Crater, Kiwi Koaster, and Tangerine Tempest tube rides, plus a free-fall speed slide called Lost Soul Falls. The park also contains fully enclosed tube slide, body slides and a family raft ride. The little ones can enjoy the water rides like Blue Iguana Lagoon, Starfish Cove and Tahiti Treehouse.

Website:

www.thelostisland.com

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6: Sundown Mountain

Sundown MountainSundown Mountain
Photo courtesy: Sundown Mountain Resort

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Interesting facts:
- Sundown Mountain offers a variety of challenging skiing and snowboarding terrain in Dubuque, Iowa.
- The downhill experience offers a 475-foot vertical drop with terrain cut out of an old cedar forest that's spread out over 45 acres.
- Sundown Mountain has a total of 21 trails. The 30% trails are of the easiest variety, 60% more difficult, and 10% most difficult.

Things to do:
Enjoy skiing at different variety of trails and while skiing you can adore the beauty of the nature. From the top of the scenic ski hill you can see three states and the Mississippi River valley.

Website:

www.sundownmtn.com

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7: Family Museum of Arts and Science

Family Museum of Arts and ScienceFamily Museum of Arts and Science
Photo courtesy: http://www.familymuseum.org

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Interesting facts:
- It is a 1300 square-foot hands-on museum with interactive exhibits for children and families.
- Some of the exhibits in the museum need instruction and other ones are for fun. The exhibits also cover a variety of sciences, too.

Things to do:
Touch a 10-foot tornado; make a cloud ring; hop through a rabbit hole. Explore the workings of the human body in five areas—nutrition and health, exercise and fitness, human physiology, blood donation, and tobacco and alcohol abuse. For active kids of all ages, the outdoor 'Kingdom for Kids' playground has things to climb, slide down, swing across, go up and down and slide around.

Website:

www.familymuseum.org

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8: Okoboji

OkobojiOkoboji
Photo courtesy: Vacation Okoboji

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Interesting facts:
- Okoboji is a city in Dickinson County, Iowa.
- The city has a total area of 1.86 square miles (4.82 km2), of which, 1.85 square miles (4.79 km2) is land and 0.01 square miles (0.03 km2) is water.
- Okoboji is a major summer tourist attraction. A large number of resorts around the Iowa Great Lakes have contributed in increasing the popularity of this city.

Things to do:
Okoboji is a place where people of all ages can enjoy equally. You can visit amusement park, historical places, shopping, local museums, theatres, golfing, and various events at University of Okoboji or explore scenic beauty with Lake Cruise. Enjoy the evening with entertaining bands, dances, drinks, shows, concerts and comedians.

Website:

www.vacationokoboji.com

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9: Field of Dreams

Field of DreamsField of Dreams
Photo courtesy: JoeyBLS at en.wikipedia

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Interesting facts:
- The Field of Dreams is in Dubuque County, Iowa, near Dyersville.
- It is a baseball field and tourist attraction originally created for the movie "Field of Dreams".
- The movie Field of Dreams was released in 1989; it has inspired millions and became an Academy Award nominee for “Best Picture of the Year.”

Things to do:
You can walk on the actual field where that movie was shot, play some ball, take pictures of the field, buy souvenirs, and enjoy the world of moviemaking for a short period of time.

Website:

www.fodmoviesite.com

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10: Burlington

BurlingtonBurlington
Great River Bridge Burlington Iowa. ( Photo courtesy of USGS)

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Interesting facts:
- Burlington, the county seat of Des Moines County is the home of Snake Alley, once considered the crookedest alley in the world.
- There are number of buildings in Burlington downtown which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Ripley’s Believe It or Not dubbed Burlington Snake Alley the most crooked street in the world.

Things to do:
Visit the following places in Burlington: Apple Trees Museum, Des Moines County Historical Society Museums, Snake Alley, Grandpa Bill's Farm/Seven Ponds Park, Burlington City Park, Catfish Bend Riverboat Casino, Arts for Living Center, Port of Burlington Welcome Center.

Website:

www.burlingtoniowa.org

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