Best Midwest Free Attractions: Iowa | Midwest Living

Best Midwest Free Attractions: Iowa

Gardens, art museums, historical sites, even the "Field of Dreams"--they're all free in Iowa.
  • Free attractions in Des Moines

    Iowa State Capitol, Des Moines Tour the gold-domed landmark (left), built between 1871 and 1886, and its monument-dotted grounds overlooking downtown Des Moines.

    Des Moines Art Center The collection features modernist works by Edward Hopper, Henri Matisse and others. Large, airy exhibit spaces reflect the different styles of three architects: Eliel Saarinen, I. M. Pei and Richard Meier.

    State Historical Museum, Des Moines Listen to tapes of coal miners at work, learn about Iowa's caucus system, see a battle flag preservation lab or carry pioneer-era water buckets with a shoulder yoke.


  • Free parks to explore

    All Iowa State Parks are free! Two of our favorites are Elk Rock, about 40 miles southeast of Des Moines, and Pike's Peak, near McGregor (60 miles northwest of Dubuque).

    Elk Rock, on Lake Red Rock, has camping, hiking, biking, fishing and boating. Pike's Peak, on bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River, offers great hiking (left) with beautiful vistas, spring-fed streams and waterfalls, and large timbered tracts.

    Iowa State Parks

    Know of other free things to enjoy in Iowa? Add them in the Comments section below!

  • Free attractions in Dubuque

    Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens Roses, woodland wildflowers, water and shade gardens and hostas bloom on 52 acres (left) . Free concerts are held most Sundays in summer.

    Dubuque Museum of Art Established in 1874, Iowa's oldest cultural institution shows national and regional art.

    Mines of Spain State Recreation Area, Dubuque A 1,387-acre national historic landmark encompasses soaring limestone canyons, dense old timber and the Mississippi River backwater of Catfish Creek. Visit the interpretive center for an introduction to the park and its 12 miles of trails.

  • For history buffs

    Amana Colonies These seven villages, settled in 1885 by a German religious society, now are a National Historic Landmark. Free attractions include the Amana Woolen Mill, the general store (left) , the Kolonieweg lake trail and more than 400 historic barns, shops and homes.

    Western Historic Trails Center, Council Bluffs Hands-on exhibits and videos show visitors about the region's major pioneer trails, including the Lewis and Clark Trail and the Oregon, Mormon and California trails.

  • Iowa legends

    Field of Dreams Movie Set, Dyersville Run the bases, sit in the bleachers or bat a few balls on the set of this classic baseball flick, about 30 miles west of Dubuque (left).

    Maytag Dairy Farms, Newton See a 10-minute video, peek at the packaging and shipping area and sample Iowa's famous blue cheese. The farm is between Des Moines and Iowa City off Interstate-80.

    Know of other free things to enjoy in Iowa? Add them in the Comments section below!

Add Your Comment