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.
The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium is located within the Port of Dubuque and is actually the area's most important attraction. It aims to take visitors on a journey along the Mississippi River through dynamic aquariums, wetlands, a boatyard, and historical exhibits. During your trip, you can pilot a barge, tour William M. Black, a famous steamboat on the National Historic Register, and even get close to live critters. Take a walk along the Woodward Nature Wetland Trail and stop by the Pfohl Family Boatyard during your trip. Admission is $15, with discounts for children and seniors.
As one of the most commonly photographed places in the state, it is no surprise that Pikes Peak State Park is a top Iowa attraction. During your trip, climb the bluff 500 feet to get breathtaking views of where the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers meet. There is a half-mile boardwalk that will take you to the Bridal Veil Falls, well worth several minutes of observation. You can also walk through the park along the 11.5 miles of hiking trails or spend the night camping at the campground.
Okoboji is a larger area of Iowa and filled with too many attractions to count. The biggest attraction in this zone are its glacier-carved lakes that cross the Minnesota border and travel southwest of it, covering around 15,000 acres. Water sports are the main activity in Okoboji and you can do anything from boating to fishing to parasailing to kayaking. There are also multiple golf courses, an amusement park, over 20 miles of trails, picnics, camping, museums, live music, antique shopping, and more. Give yourself at least a few days in Okoboji to experience all it has to offer.
The Field of Dreams is the actual baseball field and farm that appeared in the 1989 movie of the same name. While this particular attraction is particularly popular among those who love the movie, it has been attracting thousands of visitors for over 25 years. The farm dates back to 1906 and when you visit, you will see feed corn planted all around the field. If you take a closer look, you will notice that a nearby family actually plants their corn carefully - they make sure that every row faces the outfield so visitors can get the best view possible.
Many people consider the Grotto of Redemption to be the "Eighth Wonder of the World" and in 2001 this "miracle in stone" was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The Grotto is made up of nine different grottos which portray different scenes in Christ's life. It is also the largest of all man-made Grottos in the world and has the most gems and precious stones to be found in one location. Admission is $8 per adult and $5 per child and you can also stay at the on-site campground if you prefer to get the most out of your visit to this attraction.