Iowa, a state at the heart of the United States of America, where much of the country’s corn is grown, along with other products Americans are proud of. The charm of the Midwest can be found in every nook and cranny of Iowa, making it one of the best places to go in America for culture, scenic landscapes, national monuments and much more. For those looking to visit the Hawkeye State, here are the 10 best things to do in Iowa that will keep you coming back for more.
Looking to see some green space and art in Des Moines? Then you have to go to the 4.4 acre pedestrian park known as the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park. Though there are guided tours available, you can enjoy the fresh air and works from 22 artists beautifully arranged throughout the park at your own leisure. The park is free to enter and even allows visitors to have picnics on the lawns. At night, the sculptures are illuminated, giving a new ambiance to the park.
Located in Altoona is a wonderful theme park that has been family-owned since the beginning. Adventureland Park features 100 rides, attractions, and entertainment. Rides like The Monster and The Storm Chaser are some of the fastest and tallest in the Midwest and will get your heart pounding for sure. There are also plenty of family-friendly options too, including Adventure Bay, a water park section including the longest lazy river in Iowa.
Since 1980, the Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens have been a sanctum of tranquility for the residents of Dubuque, as well as visitors. There are more than 60 differently styled gardens, including a rose garden, Japanese garden, herb garden, and more). The grounds continue to expand yearly thanks to the volunteers who maintain the grounds and generous financial donations. There is also an Arboretum Gift Shop, where you can find a bunch of flower-themed merchandise to decorate your home.
Based in Cedar Rapids, the National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library is where history and culture is wonderfully preserved. The museum dedicates the main exhibitions to Czech and Slovak Americans in the past, present, and future as they immigrate to America. You can also watch Czech and Slovak films, read books in the library, and used archived periodicals for research. History buffs will agree: you don’t have to be Czech or Slovak to appreciate the exhibitions here.
Address: 1400 Inspiration Pl SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404
Free yourself from the hassles of daily life with a trip to the 14 hallowed acres of Trinity Heights in Sioux City. Here you can visit more than two dozen shrines, memorial gardens, and prayer sanctuaries. The main reason many people go is to see the grand statues on either end of Trinity Heights, one being the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of Peace, and the other being the Sacred Heart of Jesus. There is also a life-size carving of the Last Supper. You can even pick up religious souvenirs for your family and friends at the Marian Center Gift Shop.
The Reiman Gardens have been a part of the Iowa State University’s horticulture department since 1914. Now, the garden is heralded as one of the most stunning and unique in the entire United States. There is more than just flowers here. Reiman Gardens also hosts a number of exhibitions throughout the year for everyone to enjoy, including temporary art installations or topiary displays.
Love trucks? Then get on over to the world’s truck stop and trucking museum near Walcott. The Iowa 80 Trucking Museum has a collection rare and unique trucks, gas pumps, and antique signage on display, which will wow children of all ages and even kids at heart. You can even watch a short film about the history of trucking, including how trucks have evolved throughout the years. It is a one-of-a-kind experience that you can only have in Iowa!
Though definitely not for the faint of heart, true horror buffs can enjoy a stay at the Villisca Ax Murder House or take a daytime tour, which has been restored to the original condition. In 1912, brutal ax murders took the lives of six children and two adults here and happen to be the largest unsolved crime in Iowa to this day. Apparently, paranormal activity has been recorded here. This location also was featured on “The Scariest Places On Earth.”
Welcome to one of the happiest and healthiest farmers’ markets in the country. The Downtown Farmers’ Market brings together nearly 300 local entrepreneurs (farmers, bakers, producers, artists) to represent the 50 counties found in Iowa State. Running since 1976, the Market now sees an average of 25,000 visitors nearly every Saturday through May to October. If you want to experience on of the best farmers’ markets in America, make your way to this one!
Address: Capital Square, 400 Locust St, Des Moines, IA 50309
The Figge Art Museum is a truly epic collection of locally, nationally, and internationally acclaimed pieces of art from the 15th century to present time. Not only is the building itself an architectural marvel, but the location overlooking the Mississippi River makes it a destination for outdoor and indoor time that is well spent. The museum also hosts a large number of traveling exhibitions that bring the world to Davenport, Iowa. Anyone who appreciates art should add the Figge Art Museum to their list of things to do in Iowa.