10 Best Places to Visit in Iowa


Bordered by the Mississippi River to the east and the Missouri River to the west, the Midwest state of Iowa is a really picturesque place to go to. Mostly made up of gently rolling hills and fertile fields and farmland, it’s house to quaint rural cities and villages, a few of which exhibit wealthy Dutch, German, and Scandinavian tradition and heritage.

Punctuating its charming countryside are some chic pure vacationer sights such because the glimmering Iowa Great Lakes and distinguished Pikes Peak State Park. In addition to this, a few giant cities, equivalent to Des Moines and Cedar Falls, will be discovered right here and there, whereas quite a few cultural occasions and festivals showcase the state’s agricultural identification and scrumptious native produce.

10. Iowa City

Iowa City

A full of life, cool, and youthful place, Iowa City is positioned in the east of the state, straddling the banks of the river of the identical identify. Home to the distinguished University of Iowa, a lot of life in town revolves round its bustling campus and sizeable scholar physique.

Lying on the coronary heart of the tutorial institute is the gorgeous and distinguished Iowa Old Capitol Building, as soon as the positioning of the state’s authorities earlier than it transferred to Des Moines. Near to the noteworthy National Historic Landmark are wonderful artwork and pure historical past museums for guests to try, in addition to some beautiful riverside parks and walks.

Long famous for its very good writing applications, town has a really artsy really feel, with its Writer’s Workshop alumni having gained 17 Pulitzer Prizes to date. In addition to the common exhibits and performances placed on by its handful of theaters and music venues, town hosts quite a lot of excellent cultural occasions and festivals throughout the 12 months.

9. Pella


As it’s house to scenic canals, windmills, and tulips, guests to Pella may very well be forgiven for pondering they’re in Amsterdam or Utrecht relatively than the United States. Founded in 1847 by a gaggle of Dutch immigrants, the small city prides itself on its wealthy historical past and heritage, which now attracts vacationers from far and huge.

Its Historical Village has over 20 conventional buildings to wander round, with a church and blacksmiths mendacity beside the absolutely useful Vermeer Windmill, one among its predominant sights. While its engaging structure and townscapes look a deal with, there are additionally some scrumptious Dutch pastry retailers to check out and cheeses, clogs, and costumes to purchase.

One of the most effective instances to go to Pella is throughout the annual Tulip Time Festival. Festive parades and performances happen, with everybody kitted out in conventional apparel. At this time of 12 months, its attractive gardens and parks are filled with hundreds of lovely blooming tulips for guests.

8. Pikes Peak State Park

Pikes Peak State Park

Located the place the Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers meet, Pikes Peak State Park is ready in the northeast of the state, on the border with Wisconsin. A well-liked place to go to in Iowa, it would delight nature lovers and out of doors fans with its gorgeous surroundings and excellent pure magnificence.

Founded in 1936, it’s named after the height that dominates the state park with its hulking presence. From atop of its lofty peak, guests can take pleasure in phenomenal views of the Mississippi River, with verdant forests and wild waters stretching so far as the attention can see.

Hidden away among the many numerous landscapes and wilderness of the park are some splendid climbing trails and scenic, secluded campsites. While wandering alongside its paths, guests will cross by lush woods and peaceable valleys, with the twinkling Bridal Veil Falls one among its most nice and photographed options.

7. Decorah


Nestled in the northeast of Iowa is the small and charming city of Decorah. Most famous for its Scandinavian heritage, it lies amid beautiful surroundings, with numerous parks and the Upper Iowa River close by.

After being based round 1840, plenty of Norwegian households settled in Decorah, establishing the in depth and illustrious Luther College, which performs a distinguished function in the city’s life to today. To be taught extra concerning the settlement’s fascinating previous, guests can peruse the in depth assortment of artefacts and people artwork on the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum. On prime of this, the city additionally hosts Nordic Fest – an annual competition celebrating the customs and cultures of Scandinavia.

Besides delving into its wealthy historical past and tradition, guests to Deborah can go climbing and biking in the encompassing nature or kayak alongside the speeding river. It additionally boasts one of many largest ice caves in the Midwest, with the pleasant Dunning’s Spring and Siewers Spring two of its standout sights.

6. Effigy Mounds National Monument

Effigy Mounds National Monument

Lying alongside the Mississippi River and Yellow River is one among Iowa’s most enigmatic and enthralling sights – the Effigy Mounds National Monument. Here, guests can discover greater than 200 phenomenal prehistoric burial mounds, in addition to fantastic woods and sweeping river valleys.

Built by the Native Americans, these astounding earthworks date again over a thousand years, with lots of them mounded in the form of birds, mammals or reptiles. Associated with quite a few tribes and peoples, these early burial websites are thought of to be sacred. The 42-metre-long Great Bear Mound is crucial and spectacular of all of them.

At the park’s customer heart, friends can be taught extra concerning the significance and symbolism of the archaeological website, in addition to the ecosystems of the forests, prairies, and rivers on present. An effective way to discover the Effigy Mounds National Monument is to hike among the many spectacular surroundings and take in the breathtaking burial mounds on the similar time.

5. Madison County

Madison County

Set about 30 miles (50 kilometers) to the southwest of Des Moines is the charming and engaging countryside of Madison County. Long a sleepy but scenic backwater, it shot to fame following the incredible 1995 movie The Bridges of Madison County, based mostly on the e-book of the identical identify.

Now, guests flock to its fertile fields and farmland and cruise alongside its quaint nation lanes earlier than stopping off at picture-perfect cities and villages equivalent to St. Charles and Winterset. The spotlight is undoubtedly its pleasant and distinctive coated bridges, of which six stay.

While driving by its historic and good-looking wood bridges is a deal with, Madison County additionally boasts some nice vineyards and breweries. Its light hills and wonderful landscapes lend themselves completely to every kind of out of doors actions, with climbing and biking among the many parks and farms notably common.

4. Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids

The second-largest metropolis in Iowa, Cedar Rapids straddles the banks of the Cedar River and lies some 20 miles (30 km) to the north of Iowa City. While floods devastated a lot of town in 2008, 2016, and 2020, in latest years, it’s a lot revitalized, with new companies bobbing up on a regular basis.

Once primarily referred to as an industrial metropolis, a burgeoning arts and tradition scene has since developed, with wonderful museums and theaters on supply. One of its hottest sights is the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, which appears to be like on the distinctive historical past, heritage, and tradition of most of the metropolis’s residents.

In addition to this, the African-American Historical Museum and the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art are nicely price testing: the latter boasts the world’s largest assortment of Grant Wood work. The NewBo City Market shouldn’t be to be missed; it has loads of retailers and cafes and repeatedly hosts group occasions and cultural exhibits.

3. Okoboji


Often referred to as Okoboji, the Iowa Great Lakes are a gaggle of beautiful pure lakes mendacity in the northwest of the state. Due to the gorgeous surroundings and shorelines, the resort area could be very common, with innumerable out of doors recreation actions on supply.

Sprawling over an unlimited space, the three predominant lakes of Big Spirit, West Okoboji, and East Okoboji are lined by stunning seashores and scenic coves, with laidback settlements tucked right here and there. The largest of those is Arnolds Park, the place guests can discover lakesides eating places and resorts in addition to a incredible amusement park that includes enjoyable rides and video games.

Besides basking in the fantastic thing about the lakes, friends can take pleasure in swimming, fishing, or watersports on their tranquil waters. Superb climbing and {golfing} are additionally obtainable alongside the lakeshore. On prime of this, the Okoboji Summer Theater places on some nice dwell music exhibits and theater performances in the sunny summer time months.

2. Amana Colonies

Amana Colonies

Founded in 1855 by German settlers, the Amana Colonies are a group of seven small, scenic and secluded villages discovered in the east of Iowa. As they’re splendidly well-preserved and their inhabitants nonetheless retain lots of their wealthy cultural traditions, the villages at the moment are a top-rated vacationer attraction.

Set in a small loop, the seven settlements have been established by persecuted Pietists who have been trying to create self-sufficient societies. Consequently, they farmed the land themselves and made their very own handicrafts, home goods, and houses. It was solely following the Great Depression that the distant and spiritual group determined to open itself up to the skin world in 1932.

Nowadays, guests to the Amana Colonies can keep in cosy mattress and breakfasts and previous farms whereas exploring the charming and conventional villages. In addition, there are many artisanal retailers and workshops the place vacationers should buy native produce, handicrafts, and artworks.

1. Des Moines

#1 of Best Places To Visit In Iowa

Iowa’s capital and most populous metropolis, Des Moines lies in the middle of the state on the banks of the river after which it’s named. An intriguing mixture of city meets nation, it’s a full of life but laidback place that acts as an vital heart of commerce and tradition in the Midwest.

Home to quite a lot of wonderful artwork and pure historical past museums, town has some vibrant districts for guests to discover, with East Village and Valley Junction boasting good boutiques and historic buildings. Its standout sight is undoubtedly the breathtaking state capitol constructing, which showcases some astounding structure and a gleaming gold leaf dome.

While its stunning botanical backyard and sensational Pappajohn Sculpture Park are each nicely price visiting, town additionally has some nice cultural occasions and festivals for guests to take pleasure in. In the summer time months, the Des Moines’ Farmer Market has plenty of recent produce, cheeses and wines to attempt whereas the annual Iowa State Fair sees plenty of agricultural contests happen in town.

Map of Iowa

Map of Iowa

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