10 Best Places to Visit in Iowa

Iowa is beautiful between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers in the Midwest. It has rolling hills, farmland, and small towns with Dutch, German, and Scandinavian influences. Visitors can enjoy festivals and historic sites and explore the rural areas filled with cornfields and windmills.

The Iowa Great Lakes and Pikes Peak State Park are popular tourist spots in Iowa. The lakes are beautiful and peaceful, inviting visitors to enjoy the water. Pikes Peak State Park has stunning cliffs that showcase the state’s rugged beauty. Here in this blog, we elaborate on the 10 best places to visit in Iowa:

Iowa combines city and country life, making it a great place for travelers. Des Moines, the capital, is lively with culture and food. There are many things to see in Iowa, like the State Capitol building and the Farmers’ Market.

Map of Places to Visit in Iowa

Heading north, Cedar Falls is a charming town by the Cedar River. It has art galleries, breweries, and cafes for visitors to enjoy.

Iowa offers a rich cultural experience with festivals and farmers’ markets. Below 10 best attractions in Iowa explained:

  1. Iowa City
  2. Pella
  3. Pikes Peak State Park
  4. Decorah
  5. Effigy Mounds National Monument
  6. Madison County
  7. Cedar Rapids
  8. Okoboji
  9. Amana Colonies
  10. Des Moines

In eastern Iowa is Iowa City, which has a lively vibe. It is by a river, which adds charm to the city. The University of Iowa is here, making it a busy college town full of young people eager to learn. Iowa City has art galleries, music venues, cafes, and bars that cater to its diverse population.

The Iowa Old Capitol Building in Iowa City is a historic symbol with grand architecture that attracts visitors. It used to be the state government’s headquarters but now serves as an academic centre, adding to its rich history.

To know about history and culture read this: Nebraska is a hidden gem in the Midwest with beautiful landscapes, history, and culture.

Alaska is a beautiful place with wild landscapes, lots of animals, and interesting culture.

Iowa City- 10 Best Places to Visit in Iowa 

Iowa City is known for being a great place for writers. Its top writing programs have helped many writers succeed. The city’s creative atmosphere inspires new writers with its lively culture and creative energy. Alums of the Writer’s Workshop have won 17 Pulitzer Prizes, making Iowa City a leader in literature.

It has many theaters and music venues that host shows and performances. The city is always bustling with cultural activities, from local plays to famous musicians performing. There is something for everyone, whether you like classical music, contemporary plays, or experimental performances.

Pella looks like Amsterdam, and Utrecht is like Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Visitors feel like they are in Europe as they walk through the pretty streets with canals.

The town of Pella was founded by Dutch immigrants in 1847. It is now a lively place full of culture and history, and people from all over the world visit to see its heritage.

Pella - Best Places to Visit in Iowa 

Pella has events like the Tulip Time Festival and old European-style buildings. It is like a museum that honors its founders. The Historical Village in Pella is charming and invites visitors to experience the history of Dutch settlers in America. Over 20 traditional buildings on cobblestone streets, each with a story, are located there.

The church and blacksmiths’ workshops near the Vermeer Windmill show a time when craftsmanship and community were important in daily life. You can’t help but notice the Dutch pastry shops in Pella, a pretty town with nice buildings. The smell of fresh pastries fills the air, tempting everyone to try them.

There are also many types of cheese to try, giving visitors a taste of Holland in Iowa. The Tulip Time Festival in Pella happens every year and is a fun event with colorful flowers and a happy street vibe. The best part is the parades that celebrate Dutch culture and show beautiful tulip decorations.

People can enjoy watching fancy floats covered in thousands of flowers moving through the town.

It is located where the Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers meet. It is a peaceful place with beautiful nature for people who love the outdoors. The park has forests, cliffs, and rivers, making it perfect for exploring.

Pikes Peak State Park was created in 1936 to show off the beautiful nature that has fascinated people for years. The park is named after the tall peak that overlooks it. Visitors can see the Mississippi River flowing through green forests and wild waters from a special viewpoint in the park.

Pikes Peak State Park- Best Places to Visit in Iowa 

Explore Decorah’s varied landscapes for a deep dive into nature’s beauty. The lush woods and quiet valleys offer a peaceful break from busy life. Discover hidden gems like Bridal Veil Falls, a stunning sight that captivates visitors with its natural beauty.

A Decorah town in northeast Iowa has a mix of Scandinavian charm and natural beauty. The town’s Scandinavian heritage is evident in its architecture, festivals, and business names. Parks and the Upper Iowa River surround Decorah. Visitors can hike, fish, kayak, or picnic in the town.

In the mid-19th century, Norwegian families came to Decorah for a better life. They built a strong community with traditions and culture. Luther College was founded in 1861, offering education and hope for the future. Today, Decorah is a charming town with a rich history.

Decorah- Best Places to Visit in Iowa 

Nordic Fest in Decorah celebrates Scandinavian customs and cultures in Iowa. Decorah has a rich history and vibrant culture. Outdoor lovers will enjoy the town’s beautiful natural landscapes, with hiking trails offering stunning views of hills, forests, and waterfalls.

The area’s ice caves are stunning and have historical importance. Dunning’s Spring and Siewers Spring are two of the most enchanting sights in the region, providing a peaceful escape for nature lovers.

The Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa is a special place near the Mississippi and Yellow Rivers. It has burial mounds shaped like animals like bears, birds, and bison.

These mounds date back many years and were important to Native American tribes. The mound was carefully built with earth and stones, showing the skill and respect of its creators. It is an impressive and unique archaeological site.

Visiting this area makes you appreciate the history and culture of the people who lived here long ago. The Great Bear Mound at Effigy Mounds National Monument is 42 meters long and represents the cultural history of Native American tribes in the area.

Effigy Mounds National Monument- Best Places to Visit in Iowa 

At Effigy Mounds National Monument’s visitor centre, guests can explore the site’s history and cultural importance through interactive exhibits and displays. By examining the effigy mounds, visitors can understand the symbolism in these ancient earthworks and the spiritual link between past civilizations and nature.

The visitor centre helps visitors understand the different ecosystems in the park. Guests can learn about forests, prairies, and rivers. Walking the trails at Effigy Mounds National Monument reveals history and mystery. The hike in this special place is for more than exercise.

It lets you connect with nature and consider how all living things are connected. Each mound has a story that makes you think about life and death in different cultures. As you explore Effigy Mounds National Monument, you might be changed by the beauty and peace of this sacred place.

Madison County is located 30 miles southwest of Des Moines. It is a peaceful place away from busy city life. The beautiful countryside made famous in The Bridges of Madison County, books, and movies attract visitors with its rustic charm and natural beauty. 

The green hills and historic covered bridges provide a scenic backdrop for exploring and relaxing. As you drive through the winding roads of Madison County, each bridge has a story of strength and lasting importance.

Madison County-  Places to Visit in Iowa 

The area has a long history dating back to early settlers and pioneers who influenced its development. Visitors come to Madison County for its fields, farmland, and enjoyable driving experience along its country lanes.

Exploring Madison County is exciting because you can find beautiful towns and villages, each with its special charm. Towns like St. Charles and Winterset are great places to stop while exploring. The covered bridges in Madison County are not just cool buildings; they also show the area’s rich history.

These old bridges from the 19th century give a peek into the past and add a nostalgic feel to the area. Driving through these pretty bridges feels like going back in time, each telling a unique story through its design. Besides the famous covered bridges, Madison County has nice vineyards and breweries that surprise visitors.

Cedar Rapids is the second-largest city in Iowa, located along the Cedar River. It has culture, history, and natural beauty. The city has a strong industrial past and a lively arts scene. Despite floods in 2008, 2016, and 2020 causing damage, Cedar Rapids has recovered and grown.

New businesses are opening, bringing energy and growth to the community. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, used to be focused on industry, but now it’s known for its arts and culture. The city has great museums with art and historical items. The museum displays artifacts, documents, and exhibitions that tell the stories of these immigrant groups.

Cedar Rapids- Iowa 

One popular museum is the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, which has works by famous artists like Grant Wood and Marvin Cone. It shows the area’s artistic history. The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids shows the history and culture of Czech and Slovak communities. 

The Iowa Great Lakes, also called Okoboji, are a famous tourist destination and have a lot of cultural and historical value for the area. You can do things like boating, fishing, swimming, and paddleboarding in the clear waters of Okoboji.

Okoboji in Iowa 

Visiting the three main lakes in Iowa – Big Spirit, West Okoboji, and East Okoboji – offers a peaceful nature getaway. Each lake has its charm, from the calm shores of Big Spirit to the lively Arnolds Park on West Okoboji.

Check this one more Nara Deer Park in Japan, where old traditions and new wonders come together.

Visitors can enjoy activities like swimming, fishing, and watersports in Okoboji. The serene beauty of the lakes provides a perfect backdrop for guests to relax and have fun. Hiking and golfing by the lake in Okoboji are great ways to enjoy nature and stay active. The Okoboji Summer Theater also offers live music and theatre shows for summer entertainment.

The Amana Colonies have kept their German heritage alive over time. Each village has its unique history and charm, attracting visitors with craftsmanship, hospitality, and tradition. The Amana Colonies were started by persecuted Pietists.

They lived in a small area and were self-sufficient. They farmed, made their things, and built their homes. They were isolated, but in 1932, during the Great Depression, they decided to welcome outsiders.

Amana Colonies-Iowa sightseeing 

Visitors to the Amana Colonies can experience a cozy stay at a bed and breakfast on old farms. These accommodations mix traditional charm with modern comfort, making them a great place for travellers to relax and explore historic villages.

The capital of Iowa is Des Moines, located on the Des Moines River. It is a lively city with a mix of history and modern amenities. The city has a blend of urban and rural charm and offers a variety of experiences.

Des Moines-Iowa

The downtown area is a busy centre of commerce and culture, with tall skyscrapers next to small shops and markets. The East Village and Valley Junction are lively and charming in Des Moines. Visitors can explore boutique shops for a unique shopping experience.

These districts feature historic buildings and a creative atmosphere. The Iowa state capitol building represents Iowa’s history. The building has a mix of architectural styles that show its importance. A shiny gold dome tops the building, shining in the sunlight.

Des Moines has a beautiful botanical garden with plants from around the world. The city also has the Pappajohn Sculpture Park, which houses big sculptures by famous artists. In the summer, the Des Moines Farmer Market is busy with fresh food like produce, cheese, and wine. It’s a great place for food lovers looking for unique flavours and high-quality ingredients from local farms.

Offers various Iowa tourist attractions and destinations that serve different interests and preferences. From the scenic beauty of the Loess Hills to the vibrant cultural scene in cities like Des Moines and Iowa City, there is something for everyone in the Hawkeye State. 

Whether you are a nature lover, history buff, or food enthusiast, Iowa has plenty to offer visitors looking for an authentic Midwestern experience. Exploring these 10 best places in  Iowa will give you a glimpse into Iowa’s rich culture and natural beauty. Plan your trip and discover all that this secret spot of a state.

What is the Most Beautiful Part of Iowa sightseeing?

The Driftless Area in northeast Iowa is known for its beauty. It has rolling hills, limestone bluffs, and scenic river valleys, making it a great place for outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and kayaking.

What’s Special About Iowa?

Iowa is known for its rich agricultural heritage. It is one of the top producers of corn, soybeans, and pork in the United States. The state’s fertile soil and favourable climate have made it a key player in the nation’s food production industry.

Why is Iowa a Good Place to Visit?

The state is known for its beautiful landscapes, including rolling hills, lush forests, and scenic rivers, perfect for hiking, camping, and fishing.

What Makes Iowa City Unique?

Iowa City is special because of its rich cultural and literary history. It is the only UNESCO City of Literature in the United States. Iowa City has many bookstores, literary events, and famous writing programs at the University of Iowa.

Best Places to Visit in Michigan in the Fall?

For spring beauty, see blooming flowers at Reiman Gardens or hike amidst wildflowers at Ledges State Park in Iowa.

Leave a comment