Iowa State Fair
“Nothing Compares” to the single largest event in the state! The Iowa State Fair has something for everyone! Home of the Butter Cow and held annually in Des Moines, this year it runs from August 10-20.
Johnson County Fair
Our very own County Fair runs this summer July 24-27 and doesn’t disappoint! This close-to-home, small-town fair is easy to handle and fun for all ages. The best part is that admission is always free!
Sugar Bottom Recreational Area
Want to get outdoors? This may be the place for you! Boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, mountain biking, camping, and disc-golf are all great options.
Although the lake has been drained to get control of an algae problem, Kent Park should still be on your bucket list! Another great place to get outdoors, you can camp and hike while waiting for the lake to come back.
Another great place to get outdoors, Lake MacBride offers camping, hiking, swimming, boating, fishing, and more!
Located near Lake MacBride, the outdoor Raptor Center is devoted to preserving Iowa’s birds of prey in their natural habitats.
Devonian Fossil Gorge
Spend some time checking out 375 million year old ocean fossils!
May through September you can eat pizza on the farm (second and fourth Thursdays of the month) fresh from the outdoor oven! Bring your own chairs and blankets, enjoy the evening, and eat delicious pizza!
For a view into Amish and Mennonite life, visit Kalona! There are lots of thing to do and see, so drive on down! Don’t forget to visit their website first and read up on proper etiquette.
North of Iowa City, Amana is known for its restaurants and craft shops. The seven colonies are listed as a National Historic Landmark as a tribute to the German Pietists who settled here in 1855.
You know who Captain Kirk is, right? Well this is his future birthplace! Check out the small monument detailing his birth (spoiler: it’s not until March 22, 2228) and spend a day at Trek Fest! This year it’s scheduled from June 23-24 (this weekend)!
Fun fact: Riverside also has a casino if you’re feeling lucky!
Giant Frying Pan
I’m getting obscure here, but did you know that Iowa is home to a giant frying pan? At 14 feet tall it weighs over 1,000 pounds it’s only a few inches shy of the world’s largest frying pan.
Camping, picnicking, and hiking are all welcome in this state park, but what makes it unique are the caves! Beautiful to explore throughout the year, this is another amazing place to get outdoors!
Camping, hiking, and mountain biking…do you notice a trend here with our outdoor parks? Take the trail leading to Point Ann which offers breathtaking views!
Head to Pella, Iowa for a taste of Holland and a town full of Tulips! The festival is held every May, although you can beat the crowds by going a week early.
What Cheer Flea Market
If flea markets are your thing, you have got to check this one out! It is listed as one of the top 11 flea markets in the Midwest and is open a few times each year. Upcoming dates include August 4-6 and October 6-8.
Located on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames, Reiman Gardens are worth the drive! 17 acres full of beauty, including plants, butterflies, and water features. Don’t forget to snap a photo with Monty, the giant gnome!
Blank Park Zoo
Make the easy drive to Des Moines for a day at the zoo! It’s a closer and (much) smaller option than Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. Honorable Mention: Niabi Zoo located in Moline.
National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium
This one is still on my bucket list (text me and we can go together – seriously!) so I can’t vouch for it personally, but it looks amazing! They have lots to see and many events going on, so it’s worth the short drive to Dubuque!
Field of Dreams
“Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa.” Head to Dyersville to see where the iconic movie was filmed! They still play ball games and have events on the field so check the website before you go.
American Gothic House
Have you heard of Eldon, Iowa? It is home to the house that inspired Grant Wood’s painting American Gothic. You can visit the house, dress up, and take your own picture just like the painting!
World’s Largest Truck Stop
Feel free to laugh at me here, but if you’re traveling on I-80 east then this is the place to stop. They have your usual gas and food, but they also have cool events like the antique truck show!
Covered Bridges of Madison County
Madison County is the Covered Bridge Capital of Iowa, with the largest group of covered bridges that exists in one area in the western half of the Mississippi Valley. These historic bridges make for a fun day trip to Winterset. And while you’re in the area, check out the next item on our list!
Birth Place of John Wayne
That’s right, another one of Iowa’s claims to fame! Check out the museum and learn more about John Wayne. Don’t forget to make a day of it and see the nearby covered bridges!
Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum
The final resting place of President Hoover is located in West Branch, Iowa. This National Historic Site is worth a visit as one of only thirteen presidential libraries run by the National Archives and Records Administration.
A nearby orchard full of countless apple varieties! Always worth multiple visits through the fall for apple picking, tasty treats from the country store, and more. Wilson’s is an IMP favorite!
Now for our GIVEAWAY! The Iowa City Mom's Blog is a fantastic resource, and they have great activities throughout the year. This Sunday (June 25) is their Kickoff to Summer Carnival! An indoor event with carnival games, bounce houses, and fun for the whole family, this is sure to make for a great afternoon! Tickets are on sale until Friday and can't be purchased at the door, so plan ahead for this one. We are giving away TWO TICKETS to this fun event! To enter, comment below and tell us the first thing you want to check off your bucket list this summer. I'll announce the winner on Thursday, so don't forget to enter before then!