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Tourist attractions in Iowa

From the historic bridges of Madison County to the quaint villages of Van Buren County, Iowa is blissful. In between the verdant forests of the east and the fertile grasslands of the west, there is a lot more to ‘The Hawkeye State’ than corn. The great outdoors, significant historic sites, alluring natural treasures, and field of dreams are perfect for vacation of any duration. This winter wonderland, where presidential dream takes flight, is also the backdrop for the ‘American Gothic.’

Places to Visit in Iowa

Historic Sites – Effigy Mounds National Monument, spread across an area of four square miles, is a sacred Native American site that preserves over 200 prehistoric mounds. A two-mile long Fire Point Trail, the most popular one, winds through the mounds along the upper valleys of the Mississippi River. The visitor center, near the entrance, contains archaeological exhibits, an auditorium, and a book outlet. Herbert Hoover National Historic Site includes a birthplace cottage and a Presidential Library and Museum that memorialize the life of Herbert Hoover – the 31st President of the United States.

Museums – National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium exhibits the culture and history of waterways of the nation. While the museum galleries offer an insight to the cultural impacts of rivers, the aquarium allows an interactive experience with marine animals like rays, otters, turtles, octopuses, and more. The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art showcases significant collections of many prominent artists such as Grant Wood, Marvin Cone, and Bertha Jaques. Figge Art Museum, Putnam Museum, and Grout Museum are other notable destinations.

Amusement Parks – Opened in 1974, Adventureland features over 100 different theme rides, special shows, events, and attractions that enthrall people of all age groups. Lost Island Water Park is a seasonal paradise-themed water park in Waterloo. The Calypso Cascade, Emerald Adventure, Molokini Crater, and Kiwi Koaster are some the most rewarding attractions here.

Vander Veer Botanical Park – Located in Davenport, this garden features a historic rose garden, seasonal greenhouse shows, and a duck pond. It was established in 1885 and is among the oldest botanical parks in the western US. Its conservatory is renowned for numerous floral shows and tropical plants. Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens host outdoor weddings and musical shows. Visitors can feed the koi fish at the pond in the Japanese Garden or take a stroll along the Formal English Garden here.

Grotto of the Redemption – It is a collection of nine grottos located in Sioux City. This miracle of stone is believed to be the world’s most complete artificial collection of minerals and shells in one place. Featured in the movie The Straight Story, this religious shrine portraying scenes from the Bible.

Amana Colonies, Sergeant Floyd Monument, Iowa State Capitol, Western Gateway Park, and Englert Theatre are among other places to visit in Iowa.

Iowa Travel Map

Iowa Travel Map

Iowa Travel map

Things to Do in Iowa

Iowa Great Lakes – This group of natural glacial lakes is the ultimate vacationing spot in the state. In spring and summer, this region attracts many fishermen. Kiteboarding in Big Spirit Lake, visiting Saylorville Lake for boating, sailing, and swimming, and going on a game bird hunting in Rathbun Lake are sought after recreational activities. Many dams and reservoirs over the rivers act as a perfect playground for sightseeing, kayaking, water skiing, sunset cruising, and picnicking.

Parks and Outdoor Thrills – Nestled among pine trees, Maquoketa Caves State Park is endowed with limestone cave formations, 6 miles of hiking trails, and about 29 camping grounds. Take a detour off the highways and follow the scenic byways to embark on adventures like snowmobiling in Lake Ahquabi State Park, cross-country skiing in Backbone State Park, horseback riding and birdwatching in Brushy Creek State Recreation Area, and mountain biking in Stone State Park.

Heritage Tours – Go beyond the burgeoning urban cities like Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Sioux City to discover the heart of America in Midwestern towns of the state. Check out the craft, buy antiques, understand the Amish culture in Kalona, mingle with friendly Scandinavians in Decorah, sample hearty food, and stroll down the quiet streets of the Amana Colonies.

Festivals – Either lose yourself among the fun-loving Iowans in a local fair or fly high but slowly, above the vast tall-grass prairies. You ought not miss some of the most celebrated events in the state such as Iowa State Fair, National Balloon Classic, Nordic Fest, and Des Moines Arts Festival.


Following are the major international airports in Iowa –

Des Moines International Airport (DSM)
The Eastern Iowa Airport (CID)

Where is Iowa ?

Iowa is a landlocked state in the Midwestern United States. It is bordered by Minnesota to the North, Wisconsin and Illinois to the East, Missouri to the south, Nebraska to the west, and South Dakota to the northwest. Both of its eastern and western borders are defined by Mississippi River and Missouri River respectively.

How to Reach?

By Air – Des Moines International Airport, three miles southwest of the city, is the gateway to Midwestern US. Moreover, The Eastern Iowa Airport, which serves Cedar Rapids, is connected with American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Frontier Airlines, and Allegiant Air.

By Train – Southwest Chief and California Zephyr are the two Amtrak passenger trains that pass through the state.

By Road – Interstate highways (I-80, I-35, and I-29), US highways ( US 6, US 18, US 20, US 30, US 34, and US 169), and Iowa state highways create a dense network of road system. Greyhound, Burlington Trailways, Jefferson Lines, and Megabus provide long-distance and inter-city bus services throughout the state.

Facts about Iowa

  • It was the 29th state to enter the union on December 28, 1846.
  • “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain” is the state motto.
  • The state is named after a Native American tribe – the Ioway people.
  • Des Moines is the state capital and also the largest city.
  • The shortest and steepest railroad in the world, Fenlon Place Elevator, is in Dubuque – the oldest city in Iowa.
  • Snake Alley in Burlington is the most crooked street in the world.
  • Coldwater Cave, which spans over 16 miles, is the largest cave in the state.
  • Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) is arguably the largest bike-touring event in the world.
  • Norman Borlaug, John Wayne, Buffalo Bill Cody, Meredith Willson, and Herbert Hoover are some of the famous Iowans.

Related : Iowa State Map | Iowa Cities