Fun Things to Do in Iowa

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Iowa is more than just cornfields and farms. With this guide, you can find all sorts of fun things to do with your kids on your next day off.

Free Fun

If you are near Des Moines in the summer months, plan to visit Ashawa Park on Friday mornings for the free Fairytale Time. Afterward, let the kids run off their energy at the adjacent playground. you can also take the kids for a self-guided tour of the Capitol building complex for free.

Educational Fun

At the Science Center of Iowa in Des Moines (www.sciowa.org), you and the kids can explore science and natural history related exhibits, including both permanent and traveling options. In addition to the hands-on and interpretive exhibits, the Science Center of Iowa has an IMAX theater. The Iowa Children’s Museum (www.theicm.org), located in Coralville, is anther educational option to consider. It is designed for children ages birth through age 12, with age-appropriate exhibits that promote learning through play. In Bettendorf, the entire family can play together at the Family Museum (www.familymuseum.org), another interactive children’s museum. Permanent exhibits here include an outdoor playground, an indoor playhouse, and the Amazing Acres agricultural exhibit. To learn about the agricultural heritage of the state, visit the Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area in Waterloo (http://www.nps.gov/silo/index.htm).

Environmental Fun

To get your kids up close and personal with the world’s wildest creatures, including a newborn giraffe, head to the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines (www.blankparkzoo.com). It has over 100 different animal species and is the only accredited zoo in the state. For more nature-based fun, Iowa has many different lakes you can explore. Go swimming, let the kids fish, and relax on the shores of a lake, including Lake Anita or Lake Darling (http://www.iowadnr.gov/parks/).

Seasonal Fun

For many Iowa residents, a highlight of the Christmas season is a trip to the Wells Fargo Arena to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. In Ames, the city celebrates with a traditional holiday tree lighting ceremony, complete with live holiday music, horse-drawn wagon rides for the kids, and a visit from Santa. For fun things to do in the fall, visit Howells Pumpkin Patch in Cumming (www.howellspumpkins.com) to pick your own pumpkin, pet farm animals, swim in a corn bin, or climb on a playground.

Just for Mom Fun

When mom needs to relax, Gayot recommends the Raj Maharishi Ayurveda Health Spa in Vedic City (www.theraj.com). So hire a baby sitter and book your spa treatment at one of the state’s most luxurious spas. For a unique shopping experience and an escape from the traditional mall environment, head to the Jordan Creek Town Center in Des Moines (http://www.jordancreektowncenter.com/).

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