The Top 5 Best Cities to Visit in Iowa

Whether you have family in Iowa or are just looking for a weekend trip in the Midwest, don’t miss out on all the fun attractions Iowa has to offer! There are all kinds of family-friendly activities that will keep you entertained throughout your visit. Without further ado, let’s talk about the top cities to visit in Iowa and what makes each of them a great place to explore.

Iowa Great Lakes Map

Des Moines

Des Moines is the state capital of Iowa, and it’s surrounded by exciting suburbs like Ankeny, West Des Moines, Altoona, Urbandale, and Johnston.

If you visit the Des Moines area, you can ride roller coasters at Adventureland, shop til you drop at Jordan Creek Town Center, see the beautiful golden domes of the capitol building from the inside, go boating at Saylorville Lake, and enjoy deliciously fried Tasty Tacos.

If you can make your trip during fair season, you can visit the Iowa State Fair, which is the biggest fair in the world!

Check out our gorgeous wooden maps of Des Moines here!



The city of Ames is the home of Iowa State University, so most people visit to enjoy a Cyclones football game or see family members at college.

No matter why you’re visiting, you can observe gorgeous plants and flowers at the beautiful Reiman Gardens, grab a drink at the local breweries and wineries, enjoy art at the Octagon Center for the Arts, or cool down at the Furman Aquatic Center.

You can buy our beautiful wall hangings of Ames here!


Iowa City

If you consider yourself more of a Hawkeye than a Cyclone, you’re more likely to find yourself in Iowa City for a Hawkeyes football game, and you might even get to participate in The Hawkeye Wave, where all the attendants wave at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital.

While you’re in Iowa City, you can enjoy beauty at the Stanley Museum of Art, pick apples at Wilson Orchard, get a close look at fossils in the Devonian Fossil Gorge, see a play at the Riverside Theatre, and put your learning cap on at the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History.

While you’re in the area, stop by Cedar Rapids to grab a meal at NewBo City Market, take in the beauty of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, and learn about history at the African American Museum of Iowa, Brucemore, and the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library.

Get your map of Iowa City here!



If you’d love to visit a gorgeous Dutch community full of beautiful flowers, you have to make it to Tulip Time! Tulip Time is a beautiful Dutch culture festival that Pella is well-known for. It happens in early May each year, when the tulips are in bloom. 

You can grab some tasty Dutch letters at the Jaarsma Bakery, enjoy the gorgeous outfits people wear during the parade, visit Maria’s Tea Room, buy Dutch goods from street vendors, and more. 

If you visit Pella at a different time of year, there are still lots of quaint attractions you can visit to enjoy Dutch culture. Learn about Dutch history at the Pella Historical Village, view the Vermeer Windmill, enjoy the Dutch architecture all around town, look at the gorgeous murals and watch the clock show at the Klokkenspel, and grab a coffee at Smokey Row Coffee Shop.

Would you like your own map of Pella to hang on your wall? Get it here!



Water park aficionados, Dubuque is the place for you! Your kids will love staying at Grand Harbor Resort and Waterpark. Or, if you go during the winter, you can ski your heart out at Sundown Mountain Resort.

There are lots of family-friendly activities in this town on the Mississippi Riverside. Spend the day learning at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, visit heaven at the Field of Dreams movie site, enjoy the 45 Voices Mural Projects paintings around the city, see beautiful plants at the Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, or take a tour at Crystal Lake Cave.

Grab your own wooden map of Dubuque here!

Looking for more travel tips? Keep an eye on our blog to continue exploring the nation. If you’d like Iowa-specific art that’s made with love, check out our entire Iowa archive.

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