The Iowa State Fair attracts more than a million people to Des Moines every August. On the schedule of local events, none is bigger than the state fair, which unfolds over eleven days in the heart of Iowa's capital city.
Iowa State Fair History and Facts
The Iowa State Fair 2021 builds on a long tradition of fun. The fairgrounds have been in use since 1886. The 445-acre park, adjoined by 160 acres of campgrounds, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Many of its buildings are historical treasures, built before World War I.
Over the years, the festival organizers have worked hard to keep everything in pristine shape and suited to modern demands. With several stages, a large grandstand, demonstrations, and hundreds of exhibitions, the Iowa State Fair 2021 is sure to build on this long tradition and make it even bigger and better with an array of concerts, rides, food booths, and more.
Tickets to the Iowa State Fair
If you're planning to see one of the concerts on the grandstand stage, you'll need to purchase both fair admission and tickets for the show. Some of the big name concerts sell out early, so you'll want to get our tickets as soon as possible. A few of the other Iowa State Fair events require tickets, including the horse shows, demolition derby, and the bull-riding contests.
Gate admission for the Iowa State Fair is free for anyone under the age of 6 and discounted for kids ages 6 to 11. The full-price admission is still a great value. For less than the cost of a movie, you'll have access to the fairgrounds and all of the Iowa State Fair events that don't require additional tickets. Value packages also are available, which provide gate admission along with rides and food coupons, providing even more value for your money.
Directions to the Iowa State Fairgrounds
Easy to find from downtown Des Moines, the Iowa State Fairgrounds are located at the corner of East University Avenue and East 30th Street. The best route depends on where you're beginning. From southern Minnesota and northern Iowa, follow Interstate 35 South until I-235. Exit 10A is University Avenue, and the fairgrounds are four miles away. From the west or the south, also take I-235 to University Avenue to the Iowa State Fairgrounds.
From Eastern Iowa, take Interstate 80 to the Highway 65 Bypass, Exit 141. Head south to Exit 79 and follow University Avenue to the west, also known as Highway 163. It can be difficult to make a left-hand turn to the main parking lot, so it's best to enter the parking lot at the 36th Street entrance to the Iowa State Fairgrounds.
Lodging near the Iowa State Fair
As Iowa's capital city, it's quite easy to find Iowa hotels close to the Iowa State Fairgrounds. Guests of the Des Moines Marriott Downtown on 700 Grand Avenue enjoy easy access to the fair as well as warm hospitality and comfortable surroundings. With more than 400 guestrooms and several suites, the Marriott has plenty of space for fair fans. Each room features luxury linens, large-screen TVs, and in-room TVs. Guests have full access to an indoor pool, fitness room, and several restaurants.
Just minutes outside of downtown and close to Adventureland, the Best Western Inn in nearby Altoona is another hotel close to the state fair. Located at 300 34th Ave NW, the former Heartland Inn is newly renovated and 100 percent smoke free. The family-friendly inn includes an indoor pool and free wireless Internet, along with an indoor pool and daily snacks.