best places to visit in Iowa

1 National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium

The Mississippi River Museum in Dubuque offers an educational look at rivers and waterways from a natural and cultural perspective. Some of the highlights include the saltwater aquariums with sharks, rays, and other species found in the Gulf of Mexico, and the hands-on Riverworks section designed to engage children. The National Rivers Hall of Fame, with a large collection of historic small watercraft, offers a look at the people and the cultural impacts of rivers. There is also a 3D / 4D theater on site.

Address: 530 East Third Street, Port of Dubuque
Official site:

2 Mamie Doud Eisenhower Birthplace

This restored Victorian home in Boone was the Birthplace of First Lady, Mamie Doud Eisenhower, wife of Dwight D Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States. Exhibits at the house offer insight into her life and family history. Mamie's 1962 Plymouth Valiant and 1949 Chrysler Windsor are also on display.

Address: 709 Carroll Street, Boone
Official site:

3 Adventureland Park

Adventureland Park in Altoona is a huge amusement park with all kinds of rides, both wet and dry, along with shows and games, all done up in various themes. One of the highlights is Main Street, which re-creates the late 19th and early 20th C in Iowa. The park has been constantly expanding, particularly since 2000, and grown considerably in size. It offers lodging and numerous eating establishments throughout the property.

Address: 305 34th Avenue NW, Altoona
Official site:
4 Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

Shade gardens, woodland trails, prairie flowers, ornamental trees and shrubs, and water gardens are just some of features of the beautiful 52-acre Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. This extensive park has a number of different gardens, from a Japanese Garden to a Rose Garden and Formal English Garden. Interestingly, the Arboretum is staffed entirely by volunteers.

Address: 3800 Arboretum Drive, Dubuque
Official site:
5 National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library

Significant flooding in 2008 in Cedar Rapids led the museum facility being relocated, which entailed moving the actual building to higher ground. It was moved 480 feet away from where it previously stood. This enormous undertaking was successful and the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library continues to offer high quality changing exhibits on the history of the Czech and Slovak people. The museum also features recorded oral histories, capturing the stories of those who immigrated to the United States during the Cold War.

Address: 1400 Inspiration Place SW, Cedar Rapids
Official site:

6 Lost Island Waterpark

The Lost Island Waterpark near Waterloo is a jungle-themed park centered around a Polynesian village. Water rides and tube rides, tree houses, a wave pool and miniature golf are featured. This is a popular summertime attraction, drawing families and children.

Address: 2225 E Shaulis Road, Waterloo
Official site:
7 Trinity Heights-Queen of Peace

The development of Trinity Heights is located on 70 acres in the northeast corner of Sioux City. The main attractions here are the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of Peace, a 30 foot stainless steel statue, and The Sacred Heart of Jesus, a 33 foot statue. They tower above walkways with prayer stations. The site has dozens of shrines, along with gardens and paths, creating a peaceful and relaxed environment.

Address: 2509 33rd Street, Sioux City
Official site:
8 State Capitol

The 19th century Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines is the architectural highlight of the city. This very traditional looking state capitol building features domes and Corinthian columns, and displays a fine collection of artworks, as well as war flags, inside.

Address: 1007 East Grand Avenue, Des Moines

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