Celebrate summer’s last hurrah in Iowa, the Hawkeye State. Whether you visit the covered bridges of Madison County, explore the original field of dreams, ride the Legend Roller Coaster at Arnold’s Park, or boat on Lake Okoboji, your Labor Day weekend will be unforgettable. Ensure a comfortable stay by booking an Iowa vacation rental such as a cozy cabin situated close to a gently rolling river or a stylish condo near town. Take a look at the top Labor Day weekend getaway destinations in Iowa.

1. Madrid

Madrid is famous for its Labor Day celebration that includes a parade, kid-friendly inflatables, a petting zoo, fireworks for the entire family, and a classic car show on Sunday. For a scenic view of the Des Moines River Valley, bike, walk, run, or skate on the 25-mile route over the High Trestle Bridge and indulge your senses with stunning views of the Des Moines River Valley. Town & Country Cafe is a lovely place to end a busy day.

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2. Des Moines

Go back in time to the era of jousting knights and regal royalty at the Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow in Des Moines. Tech enthusiasts, hobbyists, and crafters of all ages show what they make at The Mini-Maker Faire, a delightful blend of science fair and county fair. Des Moines hosts the Escape Triathlon for Olympic and sprint triathletes, so cheer them on as they swim in Gray’s Lake, bike through historic Des Moines, and run to cross the finish line at the state capital. For dinner, treat your taste buds to creative barbecue, Cajun, and Caribbean cuisine at the Flying Mango.

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3. Graettinger

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Graettinger boasts the oldest Labor Day celebration in Iowa, dating back to 1896. Enter the family in the 5K fun run/walk, then head over to the coed softball game or join the Bean Bag Tourney. The Hot Rod Lawn Mower and ATV Pull in a mud bog is a weekend highlight. Play a round of golf at Hillcrest Golf Course, then linger for a drink and dinner. A visit to the fully restored 1866 Peterson Point Historic Farmstead is a fun addition to the weekend.

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4. Iowa City

Source: Flickr/Chris Yunker

Head uptown to a fair that showcases local artists and antique dealers, or go to the Iowa City Park for grilled burgers. A huge Battle of the Bands takes place at the yacht club, and you can do some early holiday shopping at Prairie Lights. Rent a paddle boat or canoe and head out for a calm day at Terry Trueblood Recreation Area, or go fishing at the beautiful Devonian Fossil Gorge. Before you retreat to your vacation rental for some well-deserved rest, head to The Mill Restaurant for a superb supper.

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5. Cedar Rapids

Source: Flickr/Carl Wycoff

The Czech Village in the New Bohemian District in Cedar Rapids is a must-visit for lovers of fine arts. The Arts Festival features Midwest artists, there’s live music in neighborhood bars, a farmers market, and delicious ethnic foods to sample. Runners enjoy the annual half-marathon and 10K runs at the NewBo Run, followed by craft beer and food. Cool off with a stroll along the Cedar River, then check out The Lost Cuban or Cobble Hill Restaurant for a satisfying meal.

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6. Ames

Source: Flickr/TumblingRun

Ponder nature’s stunningly visual and peaceful presence at Reiman Gardens. This beautiful place is ideal for a picnic by the water lily-covered pond. Don’t miss the World’s Largest Concrete Gnome in the botanical gardens. Let the graceful, fluttering motion of butterfly wings delight you in the Butterfly Pavilion. Cool off at the outdoor Furman Aquatic Center, where the kids can romp in the splash center or race in the lazy river. Have an early dinner at The Mucky Duck Pub or Aunt Maude’s before retiring to your vacation rental.

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7. Davenport

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Davenport, known as a green city with over 50 local parks, is nestled along the mighty Mississippi River. Take your camera to the Davenport Skybridge, a 50-foot-tall structure that stretches 575 feet over River Drive, for some spectacular shots from the observation deck. More than 8,000 lights create a kaleidoscope of luminosity, especially beautiful in the evening. Lindsay Park has buildings from the Civil War era, a playground for the youngsters, and impressive views of the Mississippi. Stop for lunch or dinner at Zeke’s Island Cafe for a splendid array of Hawaiian and Caribbean meals.

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8. Dubuque

Source: Flickr/SD Dirk

This charming berg has surprises in store for you in the form of Crystal Lake Caves. Take the Wild Cave Tour and experience crawl-on-your-belly thrills through tight spaces, or walk upright through astounding crystal formations. Pet a stingray, or check out the galley and sleeping quarters aboard an old dredge boat at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. Bald eagles abound at the Mines of Spain Recreation Area, and you can spot them as you hike over 21 miles of trails. The Sunshine Family Restaurant is casual and a fun place to gather for dinner.

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9. Altoona

Source: Flickr/Carol VanHook

Altoona’s city park at Gray’s Lake is another ideal place to spot eagles as you stroll over the bridge and around the lake, or rent a kayak or paddle boat for a different view. If you love steep, fast, and exhilarating roller coasters, then Adventureland, filled with old school-type rides boosted with modern technology, is for you. Meat lovers flock to The Big Steer for hearty beef.

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10. Decorah

Source: Flickr/Kim

Located in the northeast corner of Iowa in the Oneota River Valley, Decorah has a lovely small-town atmosphere where outdoor enthusiasts thrive. Pick up a picnic lunch at the Stone Hearth Inn, then picnic next to a sparkling waterfall in Dunning Springs Park. Bicycle, run, or stroll riverside on the 11-mile Trout Run Trail, lulled by the tranquil sounds of nature on the river. The Decorah Fish Hatchery is a wonderful place to fish the stocked waters and feed the fish. Step across the street to view the amazing eagle’s nest, viewable on webcam during mating season.

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