Iowa Attractions

Numerous fascinating, exciting, and historic Iowa attractions make this state a wonderful vacation destination for everyone in the family, and beautiful scenery beckons whether you've decided that when to go is in the summer or the winter.

Many visitors begin their Iowa vacations by taking in the Des Moines attractions that are available in the capital and largest city. Foremost among these is the Iowa State Fair, held over eleven days in August and one of the premier events in the state. It's been going strong since 1854, and draws more than a million visitors each year. For fun of a different sort, another of the popular Des Moines attractions is Adventureland Park, located in the nearby suburb of Altoona. Opened in 1975, it boasts more than 100 amusement park rides in a theme park setting. The prestigious Des Moines Art Center has an impressive collection of fine art and paintings that range from Edward Hopper and Georgia O'Keeffe to Matisse and other Impressionists. Once you've explored the Des Moines attractions it's easy to branch out to discover the other things to see in Iowa because the capital city is located almost exactly in the middle of the state.

If you're looking for things to do in the great outdoors, you'll find plenty of Iowa sights on crystal blue lakes and in pristine wildlife refuges. See spectacular flights of migratory ducks and geese on the Missouri River near Council Bluffs, and herds of American bison in the restored tall grass prairies only twenty miles outside of Des Moines.

One of the foremost Iowa attractions is Lake Okoboji in the Great Lakes Region in the north central part of the state. Here, are three recreational lakes with fishing and boating, golfing and camping, among many other outdoor activities.

You'll find things to see in Iowa all down the state's Mississippi River border with Wisconsin and Illinois. In the north is the Effigy Mounds National Monument, protecting the most important group of pre-Columbian Native American mounds in the United States. A little to the south in Dubuque, you'll find historic buildings and mansions dating to before the Civil War. Other Iowa sights in this region include several of the state's caves. Up and down the length of the river, especially around Davenport, are riverboat casinos.

Historic things to see in Iowa abound. You can learn about both the life of our 31st President as well as the pioneer heritage of Laura Ingalls Wilder at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, only twenty miles outside of Des Moines. Drive across the famous Bridges of Madison County in Winterset, and browse the quaint shops and galleries in the seven historic villages of the Amana Colonies. These villages, founded in 1855 by immigrants from Germany, comprise one of the most rewarding Iowa attractions and are an integral part of the heritage and history of the state.

This is a heavily agricultural state, and viticulture plays an important role. The state boasts more than 300 vineyards and more than 65 wineries that can be explored and enjoyed by traveling along five separate Wine Trails in five different regions of the state. Driving these scenic trails brings you close to hundreds of Iowa sights—most especially the bucolic rolling hills and lovely pastoral scenery that appear in the iconic paintings of Iowa native son, Grant Wood.

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