Top 10 Weekend Getaways in Iowa

Last Updated on July 07, 2023 by Nikki Jain

Bullseye vacations in the Hawkeye State!

Known for rolling planes and expansive cornfields, Iowa is the perfect tempo for those who want a quiet but memorable weekend getaway.

While Iowa may not be the first name you think of when it comes to ideal vacations, that's what makes it all the more fun! For one: Iowa is a unique and diverse location to unwind.

You’ll find local stores, friendly locals, and some adventures you can only find in the comfort of the Hawkeye State. These are some of the best weekend getaways in Iowa to add to your itinerary.

Best Iowa Weekend Getaways

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1: Des Moines

Des Moines

You can't forget the capital! Des Moines is not only the capital city of Iowa but also one of the biggest tourist hubs.

That being said, it is unique so far in the fact it isn't a hectic big city. It's a rather well-paced one, where the fun comes from all angles, but slowing down is entirely alright too.

Des Moines is a good representation of Iowa's natural charm and friendly local spirit. It is also a significant center for activities that people from all over the globe might enjoy.

For families, check out the Blank Park Zoo or the Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens. Both are fantastic options to keep the whole family interested.

Other destinations include the Des Moines Art Center and the Iowa State Capitol. Both of them are worth their weight and could be classified as works of art themselves. You'll want to see it to believe it!

Overall, Iowa is an incredibly stunning place to vacation. If you want a weekend getaway that ticks off all your necessary boxes, consider any of these ten great places.

Or find your own, and make your adventures! Whatever you choose, you're sure to love the breath of fresh exploration travel gives you.

Address: Des Moines, Iowa

2: Dubuque

Flickr/Dirk DBQ

Dream bigger in Dubuque! This city is an ideal location for those who want the luxury of options.

If you are the kind of person who likes to have a detailed checklist jam-packed with activities, then Dubuque is right for you!

Although it is not explicitly catered towards children, a good majority of the top-rated attractions are all age's fun. For example, the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium will have minds young and old shocked.

There are so many interactive exhibits and 4D shows that everyone will find something to marvel at. Or maybe you want to spare your wonderment for some of Earth's hidden gems. Well, Dubuque has them in spades!

Check out the Crystal Lake Cave for an experience you'll never forget. This is one of the top-rated activities in the area, and there are few other options like it in the whole state.

Dubuque is also known for its world-class arboretum and gardens that just can't go without a proper walk-through. Whatever you choose in Dubuque, you'll be glad you did it!

Address: Dubuque, Iowa

Go straight to the source! Iowa City is a great place to spend the weekend away!

It has a little bit of everything at a pace that makes travel enjoyable. There are restaurants to taste, shows to watch, and a lot of comforts to get in on.

What's more, it even has that good old fashioned Iowa charm. With welcoming locals, slow, sunny days, and all the necessary ingredients for a trip that'll make you want to stay just another day long every day.

Iowa City is also a great place to consider for festival-goers. They offer a wide array of interests throughout the year that is sure to feature something for everyone.

From food to music to history and so much more, Iowa City is full of surprises!

Address: Iowa City, Iowa

4: Sioux City

Sioux City

Go where the muse is! Sioux City is a renowned United States name in the art and culture scene.

It places a definite emphasis on its history and the promotion of expression.

If you like museums, then Sioux is the city for you!

There is a Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, a Sioux City Public Museum, and a Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center, which showcases the best in expeditions, history, and nature! Hours upon hours can be spent at any one of these locations, and these are just three things to do in Sioux.

There is also a bustling downtown, several nature trails on the outskirts, and so much more to explore in Sioux City.

Address: Sioux City, Iowa

5: Cedar Falls

Cedar Falls
Flickr/David Wilson

Cedar Falls, Iowa, is an ideal place for those who want to spend a vacation up and moving!

This town is big on physical activity, outdoor fun, and year-round events! There is always something going in Cedar Falls that is well worth the trip it takes to get there.

For example, music lovers should remember the name Cedar Falls! There are jazz festivals, cedar basin music festivals, and so much more that are wildly popular both in and outside of the town.

Cedar Falls always harbors great respect and celebration for the great outdoors.

The George Wyth State Park and the Hartman Reserve Nature Center are two of the most prominent and well-loved things to do in Iowa.

There is even a cedar river cleanup and festival that emphasizes the importance of giving back to the globe and celebrating all the beauty we live around daily.

In Cedar Falls, there is more than enough to keep you coming back for more!

Address: Cedar Falls, Iowa

6: Davenport

Dreamstime/Stephen Burroughs

They say all decisions are made at the crossroads, but what about deciding to visit the crossroads? Davenport is recognized as one of the Crossroads of America as it follows the Mississippi River and hits the Quad Cities.

It is also the prime location for anyone looking for an excellent weekend getaway.

It's fast without being overwhelming and charming without being desolate. And it has more than a few enticing attractions!

For one, you aren’t going to want to miss the Figge Art Museum. It's chock full of modern art and inspiration and calls to hundreds of patrons far and wide.

The Museum and Science Center is another option for those looking to be amazed.

Maybe you're feeling lucky and want to test that theory out at the Rhythm City Casino and Resort.

All this entertainment and more are just the beginnings of what makes Davenport such a prime destination.

Address: Davenport, Iowa

7: Pella

Dreamstime/Cjh Photography Llc

Pella is one of the most iconic American-Dutch cities in the United States.

It is predominantly known for the Tulip Time Festival, which has thousands of people flocking to its border.

Not only you get to relax and unwind in one of the most charming U.S. cities, but you get a much-needed splash of color.

Tulip season is a great time to visit because there are parades, events, themed food, and so much more! Even if you come out of season, Pella is sure to give you a warm welcome!

Address: Pella, Iowa

Founded on the river banks, Le Claire is and always has been a town worth mentioning.

It offers some genuinely exquisite looks out onto the water from all around the city. And if you want to get into it, try a boat tour!

The Riverboat Twilight tours come as some of the highest recommended activities in the area from locals and tourists alike.

Check off some more items on your bucket list with all the wonders of Le Claire! There is an interactive, top-rated Buffalo Bill Museum and some of the best wineries and breweries in the state.

There are antique cottages, delicious local cuisine, and more than enough adventure that's fun for the whole family.

Address: LeClaire,IA

9: Effigy Mounds National Monument

Effigy Mounds National Monument
Dreamstime/Joe Ferrer

Lush, green, and lively, the Effigy Mounds National Monument is the perfect place to recharge your batteries. Or, more accurately, to just unplug.

Take a weekend getaway and turn it into the most calming, relaxing two/three days you've had in a while.

These grounds are found right on the banks of the Upper Mississippi River Valley, and as such, has one of the most vibrant coloring known to Iowa.

Take one of the many trails here and hike, stroll, bike until you've had your fill! Effigy Mounds National Monument is a weekend getaway sent straight from Mother Nature.

Address: 151 IA-76, Harpers Ferry, IA 52146, United States

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Clear Lake is a city situated around the water, which means there is no better place to reflect.

If you want a weekend getaway that soothes the soul, then Clear Lake is the one for you.

You can fill your days with beachside strolls, golden sunsets, and some natural Iowa beauty.

Maybe take a tour, find a hiking path, or make friends with some of the friendly locals and you'll have found your newest home away from home.

Clear Lake is also the perfect place to partake in some exciting outdoor adventures!

Try your hand at paddle boating in the namesake lake, or maybe join a volleyball, basketball, or tennis game in the area! Clear Lake is also known for some pretty noteworthy gardens.

Stop and smell the roses at the Central Gardens of North Iowa. Here you will see all of nature's brightest and most breathtaking feats that Iowa offers in the well-maintained and community loved gardens.

Clear Lake is the perfect place for serenity.

Address: Clear Lake, Iowa

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