The 12 most popular tourist attractions in Iowa
Located in the heart of the country and serving as the nation’s corn producer, Iowa has much to be proud of. From the state capital of Des Moines to its second largest city, Cedar Rapids, Iowa welcomes visitors with a great Midwest charm that can’t be beat. As you explore Iowa, you can find attractions such as the Mississippi River National Museum and Aquarium to enrich your knowledge; numerous state parks, such as Maquoketa Caves, for adventure; and many scenic landscapes, such as the Madison County Bridges, to inspire your creative side. Those who visit Iowa and those who call it home agree that there is something special about the state that keeps people coming back.
1 National Museum and Aquarium of the Mississippi River
The National Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque, Mississippi River National Museum and Aquarium features collections, exhibits and live animals that reflect the cultural and geological significance of the mighty Mississippi River and all the national rivers that define the country. The Mississippi River makes up the eastern boundary of Iowa, and it defines much of the livelihood of surrounding communities. The National Museum and Aquarium of the Mississippi River seeks to demonstrate the important role of the river and its watershed for the environment and people.
With permanent exhibits such as the Mississippi River Discovery Center and the immersive 4D Theater , the museum also features constantly rotating displays that are sure to capture the attention of adults and children alike. The museum and aquarium is also home to several live animals that represent the wildlife found on and around the river banks, including alligators, otters, and sturgeons.
If you want to stay the night in Dubuque, the historic Julien Dubuque Hotel is just a few blocks from the museum.
Address: 350 E 3rd Street, Dubuque
Official website: http://www.rivermuseum.com
Accommodation: Where to stay in Dubuque
2 National Czech-Slovak Museum and Library
National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library | Photo by: Brad Lane
The National Czech-Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids is a large institution dedicated to the exchange of Czech and Slovak history and culture. It also seeks to help the public better understand their own freedoms and how history has led to our present moment as a society. Czech-Slovak National Museum and Library achieve these objectives through permanent exhibits , educational traveling displays , and many special events for the whole family.
Address: 1400 Inspiration Place SW, Cedar Rapids
Official website: http://www.ncsml.org
Accommodations: Where to stay in Cedar Rapids
- Read more:
- 6 Most popular tourist attractions in Cedar Rapids
3 State Capitol.
State Capitol Law Library | Photo by: Brad Lane
The Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines is more than just a golden domed symbol of the city; it is a portal into Iowa history. Located on Grand Avenue atop a hill, the State Capitol has beautiful views of downtown Des Moines and is home to the Iowa State Senate; the Iowa House of Representatives; the Iowa Supreme Court; and many of the state’s highest elected officials, including the governor. The State Capitol, in addition to being the central location for much of Iowa’s government, is also an impressive display of architecture and design and has many historic Iowa artifacts and interesting exhibits that you can explore as part of a self-guided tour.
Address: 1007 E Grand Ave, Des Moines
Official website: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/resources/tourCapitol
Accommodations: Where to stay in Des Moines
- Read more:
- The 12 most popular tourist attractions in Des Moines
4 Maquoketa Caves State Park
Maquoketa Caves State Park Reserve | Photo by Brad Lane
For Iowa’s unique natural side, Maquoketa Caves Preserve Park offers a glimpse of the world beneath your feet. This popular state park has many above-ground hiking trails that explore bluffs, forests and an interesting natural wonder known as Balanced Rock , But the main attraction are the caves. For the claustrophobic, Dunhall Cave is a lighted cave with high ceilings and a walkway, and for those who don’t mind squeezing into tight spaces, Macooketa Caves State Park also provides access to more than a dozen other caves that require a flashlight to explore and perhaps a change of clothes , The large park in the park is designed for RVs and tents.
Address: 10970 98th Street, Maquoketa
Official website: http://www.iowadnr.gov/Places-to-Go/State-Parks/Iowa-State-Parks/ParkDetails/ParkID/610127
Accommodations: Where to stay in Maquoketa
5 Amana Colonies.
The Amana Colonies in East Iowa includes seven villages that take visitors back in time and away from the hustle and bustle. The history of the Amana Colonies dates back to the mid-19th century, when German Pietists first broke ground in this isolated area of Iowa, and over the years no outside influences prevented them from communicating with their communities. Today, the Amana Colonies are listed as a National Historic Landmark , and the community encourages tourists to experience this slower pace of life by visiting their historic structures; shopping and dining at their local institutions; and exploring the scenic surroundings on bike paths, trails and at annual festivals .
For the complete Amana Colony experience, it’s worth spending a night or two in the area. Homestead Zuber’s is one of the many bed and breakfast lodging options available.
Address: 622 46th Ave, Amana
Official website: http://www.amanacolonies.com/
RAGBRAI Channone Arif / photo modified
Perhaps one of the most important things about Iowa, RAGBRAI is a week-long bike race that spans the entire state, from east to west, and showcases its Midwestern culture through its friendly people, small towns and open landscapes. Cutting the annual Region Bike Ride through Iowa, RAGBRAI has been running for more than 60 years, and this annual summer event attracts thousands of cyclists , supporting vehicle drivers and racing enthusiasts each year. Competitiveness is not a big factor, and RAGBRAI’s live music, events and festive spirit make it a must for Iowa.
Official website: http://ragbrai.com/
7 Bridges of Madison County.
Rosman Bridge, Winterset, Iowa
The Bridges of Madison County provides an opportunity for a scenic adventure in Winterset and has inspired countless photos, numerous visits and even a best-selling novel turned movie. Before the Bridges of Madison County became a blockbuster, bridges were simply a part of life for people living in the area in the late 19th century. Today, six of the original nineteen covered bridges that once stood here, five of them are on the National Historic Register and all attract attention throughout the region throughout the year. Even without the scenic covered bridges, Madison County and the town of Winterset are worth a visit. After spending a sunny day exploring and photographing the covered bridges, it’s worth taking time to check out the Historic Town Square of Winterset , or John Wayne’s birthplace and adjacent museum for a fun time learning about America’s most recognized cowboy, Duke.
8 Des Moines Art Center
Des Moines Art Center | Photo by Brad Lane
The Des Moines Art Center has been providing locals and visitors the opportunity to enjoy art since 1948. It features rotating works of photography, sculpture and painting, as well as mixed-media displays and permanent collections ranging from Georgia O’Keeffe to Edward Hopper. It’s easy to see why it will remain an important landmark in Iowa for years to come. Admission to the Des Moines Art Center is free.
Address: 4700 Grand Ave, Des Moines
Official website: http://www.desmoinesartcenter.org/
9 Herbert Hoover National Historic Site
Herbert Hoover National Historic Site Doug Kerr / photo modified
The 31st President of the United States, Herbert Hoover is currently the only president from Iowa. The National Historic Site surrounding his small-town West Branch hometown celebrates his life, history and impact on the nation and beyond. During your visit to West Branch, it’s worth checking out his humble beginnings and Herbert Hoover’s birthplace , as well as other preserved landscapes and buildings that helped shape the young future president. While it’s fascinating to see how these buildings seem stuck in time, most of your visit to the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site will consider the Presidential Library and Museum , which features rotating exhibits and a permanent exhibit on Hoover’s life and legacy.
Address: 210 Parkside Drive, West Branch
Official website: https://www.nps.gov/heho/index.htm
10 American Gothic House.
Joanna Poe’s American Gothic House / photo modified
Perhaps one of the most culturally significant artists of the 20th century, Grant Wood was an Iowa native, and many of his most famous works use his Midwestern roots as inspiration. Of particular note, Wood’s American Gothic, depicting a farmer and his wife outside their one-story white house, has already established itself as one of the most significant works of art on display in the United States, and the house that serves as the backdrop to this masterpiece is open to anyone who explores or photographs. Not only can you take a picture as you imagine a scowling farmer or his wife in front of the house, but with the nearby American Gothic House Center , you can better understand the artist himself and the history of the house he famously painted.
Address: 300 American Gothic Street, Eldon
Official website: http://www.americangothichouse.net/
11 Field of Dreams.
Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner, was filmed here in 1989. While visiting this site in Dyersville, you might ask, “Is this heaven?” Rest assured, though, this is Iowa, and with all the movie quotes aside, The Movie Movie is a fun place for movie fans, with interactive exhibits, plenty of photo opportunities and a scenic backdrop. If you visit on Sundays throughout the year, Dreams Field also has a Ghost Sunday Show , where baseball players from the past come out of the cornstones to put on a family-friendly show that is sure to entertain visitors young and old alike.
Address: 28995 Lansing Road, Dyersville
Official website: http://fieldofdreamsmoviesite.com/
12 Redemption Grotto.
Redemption Grotto by Carl Wyckoff / photo modified
The Redemption Grotto in West Bend is truly a unique landmark in Iowa. Also called the West Bend Grotto, it consists of nine separate grottos all built of gems and jewels and made by a local pastor and several other helping hands to immortalize the story of Jesus Christ. Regardless of your denomination or religion, the West Bend Grotto is an impressive example of what one person with a mission can accomplish in a lifetime.
Fourth Street Historic District Des Moines Civic Center Des Moines City Hall Iowa State Capitol Law Library Blank Park Zoo Old Iowa Capitol Building Redemption Grotto Des Moines International Airport United States Post Office in Des Moines Des Moines Botanical Garden
This site compiles Iowa attractions – photos, descriptions and travel tips. The list is based on popular travel guides and presented by type, name and rating. Here you’ll find answers to what to see in Iowa, where to go and where the popular and interesting places in Iowa are.
Fourth Street Historic District
The Fourth Street Historic District is one of Sioux City’s significant landmarks. The street was founded in the late 19th century and immediately became one of the main streets in the city.
It concentrates 15 old commercial buildings, united by the Romanesque architectural style of the Renaissance, quite common at the time. Some of them are historical monuments of architecture. This street is the local center of bars, restaurants and specialty stores, many of which are open 24 hours a day.
The historic Fourth Street District is home to pop and jazz open-air concerts that attract popular performers from around the country. It also regularly hosts all kinds of fairs, festivals, and exhibitions of talented young artists and professional photographers. This street is a popular recreation place for locals and visitors.
Des Moines Civic Center
The Des Moines Civic Center is a performing arts center located in Des Moines, Iowa. The center also houses the Stoner Studio Theater, which hosts smaller performances and concerts.
In 1972, the KRNT Theater, which had been the city’s main cultural center for 45 years, closed in Des Moines. A group of community leaders tried to hold a referendum to build a new theater in 1974, but instead of the required 60% vote, they managed to get just over 50%, so the theater was not built. The theater activists did not give up, however, and with the support of sponsors in the form of prominent city businessmen, they built a new cultural center on their own with a capacity of 2,700 spectators. It is hard to say why the Center for the Performing Arts got such a non-trivial name for its profile, but since its opening in June 1979 it has become the largest cultural center in the state.
The Civic Center is known for its excellent acoustics and the close proximity of its seats to the stage: the farthest one is 44 meters away. The stage is 24 meters long and 8 meters high over the auditorium; behind the stage are the dressing rooms.
The 1997 production of The Phantom of the Opera drew more than 100,000 visitors in five weeks, which was the record attendance of the center.
Coordinates : 41.58742400,-93.62040900
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Des Moines City Hall
Des Moines City Hall (the capital of Iowa) is a beautiful, historic building that was built in 1910 as the city grew and the population increased. It is an architectural expression of the traditions of the United States in the early twentieth century and symbolizes the coming of a progressive era.
City Hall is located on the east side of the Des Moines River and has remained virtually unchanged since its construction. It is a fine example of Neoclassical architecture. It is accessed by a graceful bridge of four arches that was built along with City Hall.
It continues to serve as the home of the Des Moines City Government and remains one of the most beautiful buildings in the city.
In photo mode, you can view landmarks in Iowa by photo only.
Iowa State Capitol Law Library
The Iowa State Law Library has over two hundred thousand items and is one of the most significant collections of legal literature in the United States.
The library is located on the second floor of the Iowa State Capitol Building. It is open to anyone interested in legal issues, the history of jurisprudence, and international legal issues. However, visitors to the library are often not legal experts, but ordinary everyday people. They come here to admire the extraordinarily beautiful and harmonious room in which the library is housed.
The central hall is a magnificent atrium where the floor-to-ceiling space accommodates four levels of galleries. It is possible to get up there by spiral staircases made of wrought metal. The galleries have huge cabinets that hold the library’s main treasure – books. The railings of the galleries are also made of metal; their complicated pattern echoes the pattern of the stairs. The floor and ceiling are lined with a unique mosaic of colored glass. The walls are decorated with marble panels and pilasters. In the main hall the library catalog with paper cards, placed in sliding drawers, still stands. Of course, the library has long been equipped with computers, but they are delicately hidden so as not to destroy the historic atmosphere of the room.
The Iowa Law Library is among the most beautiful libraries in the world.
Coordinates : 41.59132700,-93.60373000
Blank Park Zoo.
Blank Park is a small zoo located in the southern part of Des Moines, Iowa. The fairly small area is made up for by the presence of many animal species and surprises for visitors – a discovery center, a huge aquarium with fish from around the world, an African corner, and many exhibits. The animals living here are extremely well groomed and active. Visitors are not only given the opportunity to observe them up close, but also to feed them.
The animals are housed in an environment as close to their native habitat as possible. Turtles and fish, mysterious bats, graceful lions, formidable tigers and funny monkeys will let you learn the habits of wild animals, because the zoo inhabitants are in their natural habitat, and besides, very close to the visitors. Children will be delighted by the playing penguins and a funny panda. They will learn a lot of useful and interesting things about the animal world.
Blank Park has ponds and a real kingdom of children – a huge playground with mazes, slides, excavation sites, sand pits and many other activities that blend seamlessly into the overall view and allow the kids to frolic to their heart’s content.
Coordinates : 41.52018000,-93.62448800
The Old Capitol Building in Iowa
The Old Iowa Capitol Building is located in Iowa City. It was once the main state government building and is now one of its most prominent landmarks. In 1976, the building was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark.
Construction of the Old Capitol began in 1840. The building housed state government until 1857, and in time it became fully owned by the University of Iowa. The building is located in the center of the University’s five campuses called Pentacrest. On the first floor of the Old Capitol is a museum whose exhibits tell the history of the building, the university, and the entire state of Iowa.
For the bicentennial of the United States, the Old Capitol was open to the public. Now everyone can visit this National Historic Landmark in the distinctive 18th century Renaissance architectural style.
A significant landmark in the town of West Bend is the Religious Grotto of Atonement, administered by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sioux City. The immediate supervisor of construction was a young seminarian, Paul Debberstein, who came from Germany and became a priest here. Almost all of the work was done by hand, it began in 1912 and continued for 42 years.
The sanctuary of the Virgin Mary was the first to be erected, and over time the construction covered an entire quarter of the city. The structure is a conglomerate of concrete and hewn stone, consisting of nine grottoes depicting scenes from the life of Christ. The monument contains a large collection of minerals and precious stones and is considered to be the largest grotto in the world. The inlaid museum contains a life-size bronze statue of Debberstein by his pupil. All the structures of the grotto have been preserved in good condition, except for the stones, which have darkened over time.
Currently, the monument is open to visitors and is very popular among tourists. During the year there are about 100 thousand people.
Des Moines International Airport
Des Moines International Airport is a joint military-civilian public use airport located 6 kilometers southwest of the central business district of Des Moines, a city in Polk County, Iowa, United States. It is a major hub for commercial flights in the region.
The airport was built from 1932 to 1933, and later the first passenger terminal was built. Today’s terminals were renovated during a renovation in 1970, after which they operate 24 hours a day. Currently, the airport is designed in a modern style, there are restrooms and the latest technological systems are used, the luggage handling system has been modernized. There are also new parking lots and car rentals at the airport.
Each year, more than 2 million passengers take flights from Des Moines International Airport to major centers across the country. The airport is ranked among the top 100 most active commercial airports in the United States.
Coordinates : 41.53020200,-93.64997500
United States Post Office in Des Moines
The U.S. Post Office in Des Moines is a building of historical significance. Since 1974, the post office building has been listed as a U.S. Historic Site and currently houses office space.
Prior to the opening of this building, the post office was located in the old Federal Building on Fifth Avenue. The post office was moved to the new building in the spring of 1910, and in 1935 an additional portion of the building was added when the need for more space became apparent. In the late seventies the post office was moved to the new building, and the old structure underwent an extensive renovation and restoration program, after which it was used as office space.
The former post office building is similar in design to the City Court Building located near the Des Moines River. The original building, like the additional building built in 1935, is a steel frame structure erected on a granite base. Semicircular arched windows, tall sleek columns, and minimalist wall and ceiling ornamentation are a reflection of the style of government offices popular in the 1930s.
Coordinates : 41.58693500,-93.61929500
Des Moines Botanical Gardens
Des Moines Botanical Gardens is located at 909 Robert D. Ray Drive, Des Moines. It is home to many tropical and subtropical plants, fish and birds under a huge geodesic dome.
The City of Des Moines first attempted to establish a botanical center in 1929, but it was not fully completed and opened until 1979. Today the garden’s dome is home to free-flying birds, turtles, white catfish, and great koi, as well as plants from around the world such as orchids, succulents, and cacti.
The garden also features ponds and cascades, many flowerbeds with native plants, herbs, miniature roses and dwarf conifers.
In addition, visitors can buy exotic plants in the garden’s store and relax in the café.
Coordinates : 41.59685500,-93.61388100
The most popular attractions in Iowa with descriptions and photos for all tastes. Choose the best places to visit famous places in Iowa on our website.
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