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Top 10 Places to Visit in Iowa

Des Moines
Photograph by JoshWest.com, via Wikimedia Commons

#1 Des Moines

The capital city located on the Des Moines River was incorporated as Fort Des Moines, which was shortened to Des Moines. The city is the headquarters for numerous U.S. insurance companies. Des Moines is home to many art and history museums as well as performing arts. Iowa State Capitol facing downtown is prime attraction of visitors. The 275 foot tall building features a central golden dome surrounded by four smaller domes. Other attractions and family fun places to visit include Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, Pappajohn Sculpture Park, Blank Park Zoo, Des Moines Art Center, Living History Farms, and Science Center of Iowa.

Photograph Flickr by Dirk, via Wikimedia Commons

#2 Dubuque

Dubuque located along the Mississippi River is a popular tourist destination. The city is known for it's unique architecture. Downtown Dubuque is home to many historic buildings such as Shot Tower, St. Raphael's Cathedral, and Dubuque County Courthouse. Places to visit and family fun things to do include National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, Dubuque Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, Crystal Lake Cave, Sundown Mountain Resort, and Eagle Point Park.

Cedar Rapids
Photograph by Corey Munson, via Wikimedia Commons

#3 Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids located on both banks of the Cedar River is the 2nd largest city of Iowa. Cedar Rapids is nicknamed "City of Five Season" representing Tree of Five Seasons sculpture located in downtown. The city is center for arts and culture in Eastern Iowa. Cedar Rapids is home to numerous performing art center and museum such as Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, Paramount Theatre, Orchestra Iowa, Theatre Cedar Rapids, African American Museum of Iowa, and Iowa Cultural Corridor Alliance.

Effigy Mounds National Monument
Photograph by Archbob, via Wikimedia Commons

#4 Effigy Mounds National Monument

Effigy Mounds National Monument preserves prehistoric mounds built by Native Americans in Upper Mississippi River Valley. The area includes more than 200 American Indian mounds shaped like animals and birds. The visitor center located at the entrance features museum with exhibit highlighting archaeological and natural specimens. The auditorium offers 15 minute film interpreting the story of American Indian moundbuilding cultures. The park offers 14 miles of hiking trails and it includes forests, tallgrass prairies, wetlands and rivers.

Amana Colonies
Photograph by Kepper66, via Wikimedia Commons

#5 Amana Colonies

Amana Colonies are seven villages built and settled by German Pietists in east-central Iowa. The villages are: Amana, East Amana, High Amana, Middle Amana, South Amana, West Amana, and Homestead. Villages of Amana are popular tourist attraction known for unique German culture restaurants and craft shops. Other attractions include The Noble Stone, Old Creamery Theatre, Arts Guild, Amana Colonies Bike Trail, and Amana Colonies Nature Trail.

Pikes Peak State Park
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#6 Pikes Peak State Park

Pikes Peak State Park located near town of McGregor offers beautiful views of the Mississippi River. Located on a national scenic byway, the park is one of the popular tourist attraction. It has 11 miles of hiking trails with 500 foot bluff overlooking the Upper Mississippi River where the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers meet. Other attractions include Bridal Veil Falls and Point Ann. Effigy Mounds National Monument is located just 7 miles north of the state park.

Iowa City
Photograph by Billwhittaker, via Wikimedia Commons

#7 Iowa City

Iowa City was the first capital city of the state. The city is the home of the University of Iowa with Old Capitol building located in the center of the university campus. The University of Iowa Art Museum and Plum Grove historic house are popular tourist attractions. Places to visit and family fun things to do include Coralville Lake, University of Iowa Museum of Natural History, Old Capitol Museum, Antique Car Museum of Iowa, and Terry Trueblood Recreation Area.

Iowa Great Lakes
Photograph Flickr by Jeff Wilson, via Wikimedia Commons

#8 Iowa Great Lakes

Iowa Great Lakes is known for natural Spirit Lake and five interconnect lakes referred as Okoboji. The five lakes are West Okoboji, East Okoboji, Upper Gar, Lower Gar, and Minnewashta. Spirit Lake border with Minnesota is the largest natural lake in Iowa. It is popular for fishing and kite boarding. The 136 feet deep West Lake Okoboji is the centerpiece of the five chain lakes popular for recreation such as swimming, fishing, motor boating, water skiing, and sailing.

Maquoketa Caves State Park
Photograph by Gardner.glen, via Wikimedia Commons

#9 Maquoketa Caves State Park

Maquoketa Caves State Park is located northwest of the city of Maquoketa. The park has more caves than any other state park in Iowa. It is a popular outdoor attraction featuring enormous bluffs tower throughout the park. The six mile trail system provide access to geologic formations and forests. Other attraction of the park include Natural Bridge standing 50 feet above Raccoon Creek and the Balanced Rock.

Field of Dreams
Photograph by Jesster79, via Wikimedia Commons)

#10 Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams is a baseball field located in Dubuque County. It is a popular tourist attraction known for movie of the same name. Built by Universal Pictures for the 1989 film Field of Dreams, the field is open daily and admission is free. Other attractions of the site are farm house available for rent, guided tour of Lansing Family Farm House, and The Stretch located on the 3rd base line of the field.

Best State Parks to Visit in Iowa