If you find yourself visiting Iowa and have seen all you can of the Iowa State Capitol, you will find yourself spoilt for choice on other places to visit. Whether you like to spend your days perusing museums, enjoying green, open space, shopping or sightseeing, there is plenty to do in this leafy state.
State Historical Society of Iowa Museum
Holding a prominent position in the heart of the capital- Des Moines, the State Historical Society displays exhibits proudly showing how Iowa has developed and grown over the years. Concentrating on the efforts and achievements of its citizens; the museum features celebrates Iowans and shows off their contributions to the state through a variety of exhibits.
Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
Also situated in Des Moines, the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is home to collections of Amaryllis, Bonsai, Orchid, and other flora in its indoor, outdoor and conservatory gardens.
Popular among school groups and families- the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden focusses on educating visitors ion the species of plants contained within it. Talks and tours are frequent, as are more active participation programs- such as those which invite visitors to create essential oils, bake goodies or make chocolate, and you are invited to touch and smell the plants and flowers- not just observe from a distance.
Iowa State Fair
If your stay in Iowa coincides with the Iowa State Fair, it is an event not to be missed. Taking place in mid-August every year, the Iowa State Fair offers something for everyone. Musicians take to the stage to keep visitors entertained, food and drinks stands litter the grounds and the states agricultural heritage is evident; with pigs, cows, sheep and horses all displayed.
For children, there are cow milking experiences, an animal learning centre, over 20 attractions- including a Ferris wheel, arts and crafts, and a grand parade- displaying over 200 floats, animals and performing units.
Iowa's largest family resort, Adventureland has been entertaining young and old in the state since 1979. Now home to more than 100 rides, attractions and shows, Adventureland is as popular now as it was 35+ years ago.
Rides include everything from thrill rides, family rides, children’s rides and something a little wetter- from Adventureland’s own water park. The Storm Chaser, Side Winder and the original wooden rollercoaster- Tornado, are among the most popular rides a the attraction. The Breaker Beach Wavepool in the water park section of Adventureland is the largest wave pool in the state.
Living History Farms
Another attraction that tells the history of Iowa's agricultural background, Living History Farms is a 500 acre open-air museum where visitors can wander as they wish through over 300 years of Iowan history.
You will experience demonstrations, hands-on exhibits and even food from days gone by. Learn how Native Americans tended their crops in the 1700’s, how the use of horses revolutionised farming in the 1900’s and warm yourself in winter by the wood-burning ovens.
Meskwaki Pow Wow
The Meskwaki are a tribe of Native Americans, who historically hail from the Great Lakes region. Following French colonial pressure, they moved south to areas now forming parts of the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois.
Every year, in an effort to further integrate the Meskwaki people into the community in Iowa, a Pow Wow is held in August- where all are invited to join in a celebration of Native American culture. Traditional dances such as the friendship dance, harvest and shield dances hold prime position in the schedule while, later in the afternoon, the victory dance honours the armed forces.
Cedar Rapids Museum of Art
The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art holds over 7,000 pieces of art, spanning centuries- with an emphasis of 20 th century American pieces. Featured exhibits display Roman busts, ceramic pieces, American contemporary art from Grant Wood and Marvin Cone.
Free admission is offered for all visitors 18 and under; making it a budget-friendly day out if you are travelling with family. Art boxes can be supplied to keep young ones occupied too-including dressing up items and individual projects.
Iowa Great Lakes
When it comes to natural beauty, Iowa has it in spades and Iowa Great Lakes- a collection of natural glacial lakes in the Northwest of the state, offers more than most. Consisting in its majority of Spirit Lake, West Okoboji and East Okoboji Lakes, Iowa Great Lakes offers the perfect stopping-off spot for those who love the great outdoors.
Once you are there, you can sail, cycle or jog along the trails, fish or hunt or take in some of the local arts and culture with a visit to the theatrical performances, art galleries or festivals; whether you are a fan of jazz or classical- all will find something to enjoy.
National Balloon Museum
Located in Indianola, Iowa, the National Balloon Museum is situated just 12 miles from Des Moines and offers visitors a unique attraction so close to the state capital. Indianola has long been associated with hot air ballooning- mainly because of its 39s association with the early days of National Hot Air Balloon Championships (which now takes place in East Texas).
The museum was built by donations from both the city, local businesses and individuals and its current home was finally completed in 1988. Visitors to the museum can peruse the exhibits, learn about the history of hot air ballooning and check the profiles of the pilots in the “Hall of Fame”.