When you vacation in Iowa during Memorial Day weekend, you can easily enjoy rest and relaxation, as well as adventure and picturesque country scenery. From paddleboarding in Arnolds Park to taking part in ceremonies honoring military members in Des Moines, there is a variety of family-friendly attractions and things to do. As for accommodations, enjoy quaint Iowa vacation rentals with stunning views. Plan your itinerary with one of these cities at the top of your list.

1. Ames

a field of flowers in ames
Source: Flickr/rosefirerising

Start the kickoff of summer honoring the local veterans in Ames when attending the annual parade that begins at city hall and concludes at the Ames Municipal Cemetery. With a vacation rental in this central Iowa city, you can make a splash at the season opening of the Furman Aquatic Center, or expand your cultural horizons with stops at the Octagon Center for the Arts and the Brunnier Art Museum. Kick back and enjoy some brews with the family at Alluvial Brewing Company, or wine and dine your significant other at Prairie Moon Winery and Vineyards.

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2. Des Moines

des moines arc bridge

Make Des Moines your vacation destination for the Memorial Day weekend to explore the history of the state and the city with a tour of the State Capital Building. Attend celebrations honoring fallen heroes at the State Capitol, the Iowa Veterans Cemetery, and the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum, before enjoying the big city attractions. Take the kids to the Science Center of Iowa on a Saturday afternoon, or catch a baseball game at Principal Park. The Blank Park Zoo is a popular attraction for families, while Pappajohn Sculpture Park attracts budding artists.

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3. Boone

ledges state park sandstone
Source: Flickr/Carol VanHook

Surround yourselves with state parks and prairies to kick off the summer season, when you entertain the family with wet and wild adventures in the creeks along Canyon Road in Boone. This cozy Iowa city offers plenty of outdoor attractions so you can enjoy the May temperatures when hiking the trails at the Seven Oaks Recreation Center or Ledges State Park, that is home to sandstone cliffs. Check out more of Boone’s stunning views with a train ride on the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad before indulging in some barbecue to celebrate the holiday at Jimmy’s Barbecue Pit.

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4. Spirit Lake

an iowa water pond

A vacation rental that gives you lakefront views awaits you in Spirit Lake. Spend your Memorial Day weekend dipping your toes in the water at Pike’s Point State Park, or take a boat tour on the Queen II Excursion Boat. The trails at Kettleson Hogsback Wildlife Area are popular with visitors wanting to get in some hiking, while the Okoboji View Golf Course attracts golfers. During Memorial Day weekend, Spirit Lake hosts its annual flea market, so you can pick up some homemade souvenirs.

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5. Dubuque

dubuque clock tower

Head to Dubuque over Memorial Day weekend to fish along the banks of the Mississippi River with the family. This popular Iowa city is home to the Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, perfect for a leisurely walk in the mornings. If the May heat is too much to bear, step indoors for a tour of the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, or tour the Mathias Ham House and log cabin. Before heading out of town on Monday, treat the kids to the annual Memorial Day parade that begins at Jackson Park.

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6. Arnolds Park

roller coaster ride

Memorial Day weekend in Arnolds Park signals the opening of the Arnolds Park Amusement Park, where you and the kids can ride the coasters. Head out to the raging waters with paddleboards and jet ski rentals from Extreme Sports for even more adventure. If the weather is too warm for your liking, make a splash at the ‘Boji Splash Indoor Waterpark, or treat the music enthusiasts in your crew to an afternoon at the Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame Museum.

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7. Pella

tractors on display
Source: Flickr/Gunnar Ries zwo

Make your Memorial Day weekend getaway an educational experience when you settle in Pella, an Iowa city known for its Dutch heritage. See more than 20 historical buildings in the Pella Historical Village, or snap a selfie in front of the tallest working windmill located in the city’s center. May is the perfect time to visit Pella, as the annual Tulip Time festival is in full swing. Get outside and soak up the sunshine with 18 holes at Bos Landen Golf Club, or opt for formal attire when attending a performance at the Pella Opera House.

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8. Keokuk

keokuk iowa rand park pavilion
Source: randparkpavilion.com

Bird watchers flock to the southern Iowa city of Keokuk in May to see the eagles that habitat in plain view of the city’s Bridge Observation Deck. A vacation rental in Keokuk over Memorial Day weekend gives you a chance to honor the veterans at the annual ceremony at the Keokuk National Cemetery before hiking the day away in Rand Park. Have some fun in the sun tubing down the river, or opt for land attractions with a tour of the George M. Verity Riverboat Museum.

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9. Decorah

phelps park
Source: Flickr/Denise Krebs

If you want a getaway destination with peace and quiet, Decorah is the obvious choice with views of the northeast bluffs from your vacation rental. This city pulls out all the stops to honor its local heroes with a Memorial Day ceremony on the College Drive Bridge followed by a citywide parade. After paying your respects, learn more about the city’s history with a tour of the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum. Outdoor enthusiasts can venture to the waterfalls at Dunning Springs Park.

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