Logo Things to do in Iowa

Central Iowa

Civic Center of Greater Des Moines - An outstanding community performing arts center, accessible to all, where people may be educated, entertained and enlightened. Every year, the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines welcomes a quarter of a million people to enjoy the wonder, the suspense and the joy of live theater.

Iowa State Center - Great events--concerts, conferences and shows happen at the Iowa State Center. Whether it's a cheering crowd at Hilton Coliseum, colleagues meeting in the Scheman Building, or families enjoying a show in Stephens Auditorium or Fisher Theater, every guest has a great time at the Iowa State Center.

Des Moines Metro Opera - Founded in 1973 by Robert L. Larsen for two important purposes: To provide an opportunity for gifted young American singers to perform and to educate Midwestern audiences about opera, something they have limited opportunity to experience. Metro Opera has accomplished this by offering three productions each year during the Summer Festival in June and July.

Adventureland Park - Contains over 100 rides, shows, and attractions including some of the country's most exciting roller coasters and thrill rides. The park offers great family fun for all ages including water rides as well as a full compliment of children’s rides spread throughout the park.

Historic Valley Junction - Historic railroad district, founded in the 1890s, with more than 120 specialty stores, art galleries, fashion boutiques, restaurants and antique shops.

Terrace Hill - This 1869 opulent Victorian mansion, home of Iowa's governor, was built by Iowa's first millionaire, Benjamin F. Allen, and restored to the late 1800s period. It overlooks downtown Des Moines and is situated on eight and one-half acres with a re-created Victorian formal garden.

Des Moines Art Center - Recognized by international art critics as a world-class museum in the heart of the Midwest, the Des Moines Art Center has amassed an important collection with a major emphasis on contemporary art. The collection’s overriding principle is a representation of artists of the 19th and 20th century, each through a seminal work.

Hoyt Sherman Place - A grand manor home built in 1877 by prominent businessman Hoyt Sherman; the structure is now a museum and performing arts center. The original house and gallery display an impressive collection of 19th and 20th century paintings and elaborately carved 17th century furniture as well as many rare, ancient artifacts.

National Balloon Museum - Dedicated to providing the public with a comprehensive understanding of ballooning and its history through its exhibitions and collections. The museum archives more than 200 years of ballooning!

Seven Oaks Recreation - Come and choose from a variety of Winter activities like skiing, snowboarding, and tubing, as well as activities in the summer such as Mouton biking, paintball, and river tubing.

Blank Park Zoo - Visit Des Moines' Blank Park Zoo where you'll find more than 800 intriguing animals nestled in 22 acres of naturalistic settings.

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden - One of the most popular cultural attractions in Iowa, providing educational, recreational, and community resources to thousands. Its goal is to provide botanical displays and educational services for the people of Iowa. It is located on 14 acres along the east bank of the Des Moines River, close to downtown.

Des Moines Community Playhouse - Founded in 1919 by members of the Iowa Press and Authors Club. The Playhouse's mission is to partner with volunteers to create and deliver extraordinary theatre and education programs for communities in central Iowa through high-quality entertainment with special emphasis on issues of social significance.

Des Moines Symphony - A full-service professional orchestra. The orchestra performs seven pairs of classical concerts throughout the season, as well as a three-concert pops series, family concerts, in-school ensemble performances, and its annual Yankee Doodle Pops concert, a free performance on the State Capitol grounds on July 3rd.

Class Act Productions Community Theatre - A children's community theatre that strives to give young people, regardless of experience, the opportunity to perform in front of a live audience.

Tokens Family Fun Center - This Blacklight Miniature Golf course is fun any time of the year. This 18-hole course is indoors so there is no worry about the weather.

Living History Farms - Tells the amazing story of how Iowans transformed the fertile prairies of the Midwest into the most productive farmland in the world. While at the 600-acre open-air museum, visitors travel at their own pace through five historical time periods spanning 300 years. Interpreters provide a unique learning environment of seasonal activities and demonstrations.

Salisbury House & Gardens - A 42-room mansion located in Des Moines. Modeled after the King's House in Salisbury, England, this American Castle is nestled on a ten-acre estate of virgin woodlands in the heart of Iowa's capital city. The Salisbury House Foundation's mission is to preserve this historic mansion as a full-time museum and cultural center.

Science Center of Iowa - Turning education into something fun and exciting. By interacting with the hands-on exhibits visitors can engage in a hands on, minds on learning adventure. Science Arcade, a collection of the Science Center's permanent exhibits currently includes 27 different exhibits.

Trainland USA - This exhibit represents three eras of time; frontier, steam, and diesel. The display area is the size of two average ranch style homes. The center section is the frontier and steam era, while the outside is diesel which runs from coast to coast. All scenery is handpainted and the entire layout is glass enclosed.

Iowa Speedway - A state-of-the-art 7/8 mile asphalt paved tri-oval race track and motorsports facility located in Newton, Come and experience the thrill of racing.

Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad - Hop aboard the tourist line railroad, which travels a 15-mile round trip through the beautiful Des Moines River Valley. Enjoy a relaxing two and one-half hour scenic ride through the Des Moines River Valley aboard the historic 'City of San Francisco' car while enjoying elegant dining. See displays of historic railroad items and equipment.

Reiman Gardens - Established through a gift by Roy and Bobbi Reiman and located on a 14-acre place of prominence on the Iowa state University Campus, the Reiman Gardens create a striking entrance to the university and the city of Ames. The gardens celebrate the natural and botanical diversity of Iowa, as well as the historic traditions of gardening and horticulture at Iowa State University.

Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge - Located near Prairie City on Highway 163 in Jasper County, the refuge reconstructs the native plant and animal communities that greeted Iowa's earliest settlers in the mid 1800's. Experience the breathtaking beauty of over 5,000 acres of tallgrass prairie and native Midwest wildlife.

Iowa Arboretum - Located on 378 acres in the heart of Boone county contains hundreds of species of trees, shrubs and flowers in a quiet scenic setting. This living museum offers something for visitors of all ages and interests.

Annett Nature Center - Features miles of trails, fishing, prairie plantings, a butterfly garden, a small reading and bird watching room.