Iowa, a Midwestern state in the U.S., is known for its agriculture-based economy, charming small towns, and friendly residents. Considered one of the safest states to live in, Iowa is a welcoming destination for residents and visitors alike. Its cold winters provide many opportunities for seasonal fun, such as a cozy cabin vacation, city ice skating, or dazzling holiday light displays. Summers, meanwhile, are warm and humid—plan to visit a family-friendly water park, explore State Parks and National Monuments, or visit the famous Iowa State Fair. This friendly state is full of surprises to make your vacation relaxing and fun!
Iowa City, home of the University of Iowa, is full of museums, bars, and naturally beautiful sites. Tour the University’s Nile Kinnick Stadium, or search for fossils at the Devonian Fossil Gorge. Visit Indianola, near Des Moines, for a taste of adventure. Try taking a hot air balloon ride, or just visit the National Balloon Museum and U.S. Hall of Fame. The Loess Hills, perhaps Iowa’s most striking natural feature, include a National Scenic Byway to take in the beauty that Western Iowa has to offer.
Sioux City is an excellent destination for families. Take the younger members of your family to LaunchPAD Children’s Museum, learn about America’s history at the Sioux City Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, and enjoy a sweet treat at the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor and Museum. In Dubuque, visitors can learn about the Mississippi River at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, or explore it first hand on the Spirit of Dubuque, an authentic paddlewheel boat. Cedar Rapids is rich in art and history. Visit Brucemore, a Queen Anne-style mansion, or see what small-town Iowa was like at Ushers Ferry Historic Village.
Orange City has fun festivals throughout the year, including the Tulip Festival in May and Sinterklaas Day in December. You’ll see evidence of its Dutch heritage everywhere, from its windmills to its architecture. Pella, another Dutch town, has fun tours through the Vermeer Windmill and historical village. Eldora is a charming town of about 2,000, with many of its buildings and sites listed on the National Historic Register. Finally, many will recognize Dyersville as the setting of the movie, Field of Dreams. The National Farm Toy Museum and the St. Francis Basilica are also worth a visit.
Lake Okoboji, one of Iowa’s most popular lakes, has many opportunities for fun near the lake. Visit one of the area’s many bars and museums, enjoy a day at Arnolds Park Amusement Park, or rent a boat and have fun on the water. Storm Lake is located near a city of the same name, which happens to be one of Iowa’s wealthiest areas. The sandy beaches are perfect for relaxing, while opportunities for shopping, hiking, and golfing are conveniently close. Whatever your vacation style is, Clear Lake is sure to have something for you to enjoy. From camping and fishing to concerts and shopping, Clear Lake’s abundance of activities make it a top Iowa destination.
The Effigy Mounds, protected by the National Park Service, are prehistoric mounds built by Native Americans. Here, you can take a guided tour or learn more about the rich history of the area at the visitor center. The birthplace of Herbert Hoover has been transformed into a National Historic Site, which includes a Presidential Library and Museum and significant buildings to the former president’s childhood. Finally, the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail runs through Iowa, allowing visitors to drive or hike through a significant piece of American history.
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