Hit the Heartland: 5 Springtime Adventures in Iowa

The U.S. state of Iowa doesn’t generally hit the top of most travelers’ radars. In fact, most people who live in the United States wouldn’t be terribly likely to choose Iowa as a top vacation spot, but that’s all about to change.

Aside from its reputation for corn and football, Iowa is a state that’s simply bursting with beautiful landscapes, trendy city scenes, and a fascinating heritage. The Hawkeye State is much more than flat, agricultural land; Iowa boasts elevated areas surrounding rivers and stunning parks. The historic and the modern come together in Iowa to offer visitors a lot more than they might expect. If you’re considering a visit to Iowa spring is the perfect time to go. As the cold weather dissipates and the countryside begins to bloom, there are many choices of Iowa activities that will suit any traveler.

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1. The Iowa Great Lakes

Not part of the true Great Lakes of North America, but stunning nonetheless, the 15,000 acres of glacial lakes northwest of Des Moines are one of Iowa’s main attractions for locals and visitors alike. Arnold’s Park and Okoboji are the two main population centers in the area, but that does not mean that they’re large city. These are small towns that still exude the lakeside charm of years past. Fishing, camping, and boating are the main activities here, and families have been coming here for generations. Rent a cabin or stay in one of the area hotels, and be sure to pay a visit to the Arnold’s Park Amusement park for a spin on the 125-year-old Ferris wheel.

2. The Des Moines Food Scene

Dining out at a great steak restaurant has always been a must when paying a visit to Iowa, but much of the state has caught up with the rest of the world’s foodie scene, and Des Moines is no exception. Home to almost 1,000 restaurants, Des Moines is now a city that rivals many other in the United States on the food quality alone.  The East Village area of downtown Des Moines is home to hip and trendy eateries, and the rest of city offers up cuisines ranging from Thai to Italian and everything in between. Food trucks are even prowling the streets of Des Moines but are restricted to certain areas of the city. Check the Des Moines Register to find where your favorite truck is.

3. The Calkins Nature Area

Located on the banks of the Iowa River in Iowa Falls, the Calkins Nature Area is a great way to learn more about the Iowa that existed in the days of yore. This 70-acre preserve is home to hiking trails that traverse the native prairies and wetlands that used to make up much of the state. While you’re here you can visit some of the wildlife that calls the area home and explore the natural history and Native American museums that are onsite. Use Expedia to find a great hotel or bed and breakfast in Iowa Falls so you’re just minutes away from this fascinating nature area.

4. Ledges State Park

With an abundance of state parks it can be hard to choose which one to visit while in Iowa. However, many locals and travelers absolutely love Ledges State Park near Des Moines. Day trips and extended

stays are both great choices for this park. Woven with hiking trails and the Pease Creek that’s perfect for swimming, Ledges State Park offers camping sites for those who plan to stay over, but if this is a stop on an extended trip around Iowa it’s perfect for a picnic as Des Moines is a mere 40 miles away.

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5. The Bridges of Madison County

As the inspiration for the book and the movie of the same name, the iconic covered bridges of Madison County, Iowa are still one of the state’s top attractions. Once home to 19 bridges, unfortunately there are only six that remain intact, but they’re still well worth a visit.

Plan a drive through Madison County to see all six of the bridges, and have a little fun along the way. Here you’ll find plenty of local eateries, antique shops, and more to make your visit even more enticing.

Springtime is the perfect season for a visit to Iowa. Plan a road trip, explore the cities, or immerse yourself in Iowa’s fascinatingly diverse natural world. No matter what you choose you’re bound to have an entirely different view of the Hawkeye State.



Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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