I know Iowa may not be the most popular state to visit, but we still have plenty to offer! Using countless article, websites, lists, and maps, we put together a list of some of Iowa's best and biggest events, venues, and attractions using every letter of the alphabet (which wasn't easy)! Unfortunately, we couldn't include EVERY awesome place in the state (there aren't enough letters!), but here are our Iowa ABCs:

The ABCs of Iowa

I know Iowa may not be the most popular state to visit, but we still have plenty to offer! Using countless article, websites, lists, and maps, we put together a list of some of Iowa's best and biggest events, venues, and attractions using every letter of the alphabet (which wasn't easy)! Unfortunately, we couldn't include EVERY awesome place in the state (there aren't enough letters!), but here are our Iowa ABCs:
  • Amana Colonies
    • A is for... the Amana Colonies! The Amana Colonies consist of seven villages that date all the way back to 1856. The area is home to all sorts of shops, restaurants, general stores, hotels, wineries & breweries, and popular festivals. Be sure to check out Oktoberfest and Winterfest!
  • Bridges of Madison County
    • B is for... the Bridges of Madison County! The Covered Bridges of Madison County are the largest collection of covered bridges west of the Mississippi! You can take a guided tour of all six bridges, which were featured in the 1995 movie The Bridges of Madison County. There's even an festival celebrating the bridges each October!
  • Czech Village
    • C is for... the Czech Village! Located in Cedar Rapids, the historic Czech Village was built after central European immigrants started arriving in the area to work in packing plants in 1852. Today, the area is home to a brewery, several restaurants, boutiques, a candy store, a coffee shop, and the legendary Sykora Bakery. Stop by during the annual Houby Days Festival in May to celebrate the culture of the village and enjoy a kolach!
  • Downtown Des Moines
    • D is for... Downtown Des Moines! Iowa's capital city is filled with businesses, restaurants, art, outdoor activities, and so much more. You can spend the day checking out the impressive Pappajohn Sculpture Park, the Iowa State Capitol, and the Science Center of Iowa. Wells Fargo Arena brings huge musical acts to the area, you can watch an Iowa Cubs game at Principal Park, and the Downtown Farmers’ Market and World Food & Music Festival attract thousands each summer.
  • Effigy Mounds National Monument
    • E is for... Effigy Mounds National Monument! Located in Harpers Ferry, Effigy Mounds National Monuments stretches across 2,500 acres and protects over 200 American Indian mounds. There are 14 miles of hiking trails to explore, featuring not just the mysterious mounds, but also prairies, bluffs, marshes, and gorgeous views of the Upper Mississippi River Valley.
  • Field of Dreams
    • F is for... the Field of Dreams! Made famous by the 1989 movie, the Field of Dreams Movie Site is beloved by many. The field, which is located in Dyersville, is open to visitors year-round from sunrise to sunset! You can take a tour of the site and purchase a memento from the store from April through October. Just remember, "if you build it, they will come."
  • Gothic House
    • G is for... the (American) Gothic House! Grant Wood's 1930 painting American Gothic is one of the most famous paintings in American art, and it was inspired by this little Eldon home. You can visit the site to recreate the iconic artwork, enjoy educational exhibits, and pick up a souvenir in the gift shop.
  • Herbert Hoover National Historic Site
    • H is for... the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site! Only one U.S. President was born in the great state of Iowa, and that's Herbert Hoover. West Branch is home to President Hoover's birthplace cottage and gravesite, as well as a schoolhouse, a blacksmith, and other preserved historic structures. If you can, schedule your visit for the first weekend in August so you can enjoy at the Hoover’s Hometown Days Festival!
  • Iowa State Fair
    • I is for... the Iowa State Fair! The Iowa State Fair first began in 1854 and is one of the most popular state fairs in the Midwest. Each year, over one million guests visit the 11-day long event to see amazing concerts, eat unique food, ride iconic rides, and view the famous Butter Cow!
  • Jones County Fair
    • J is for... the (Great) Jones County Fair! When it comes to county fairs, it doesn't get much bigger than the Great Jones County Fair in Monticello. There's a reason they call it the "5 Best Days of Summer!" Huge national acts grace the Grandstand stage, there's a wide selection of fair food, you can grab a drink in the beer tent, and you can take a ride on one of the carnival rides! There's nothing quite like watching your favorite artist play to a sold out crowd from the track while you enjoy fresh, fried cheese curds.
  • Kalona
    • K is for... Kalona! Kalona, Iowa is a city with strong ties to the Amish and Mennonite communities. During your visit, you can check out the Kalona Historical Village, Kalona Brewing Company, Woodin Wheel Antiques, Kalona Creamery, and other unique shops. There's also the Kalona Farmers Market, which takes place on Saturdays in the summertime, and the annual Kalona Festival in September.
  • Lost Island Waterpark
    • L is for... Lost Island Water Park! One of the most popular summer destinations for Eastern Iowans is Lost Island Waterpark in Waterloo. The park features 11 waterslides, go-karts, mini golf, a wave pool, a lazy river, and more. Other Iowa amusement and water parks include the new Lost Island Theme Park and Adventureland in Altoona!
  • Maquoketa Caves State Park
    • M is for... Maquoketa Caves State Park! When it comes to outdoor attractions, the Maquoketa Caves are some of the most beautiful. In addition to 13 different caves, the park features six miles of trails, a lush forest, and impressive bluffs. It's a popular destination for hiking, picnicking, and camping.
  • NewBo District
    • N is for... the NewBo District! The New Bohemia District, located just outside of Downtown Cedar Rapids, is filled with art, great restaurants, and fun shops. Check out NewBo City Market for a variety of local vendors and events, stop at Raygun to pick up unique Iowa apparel, and grab a drink at The Bohemian, a historic, three-story venue with incredible decor!
  • Okoboji
    • O is for... Okoboji! Known as Iowa's Great Lakes, Okoboji is a must-visit in the summertime. The area is home to Arnold's Park Amusement Park, beaches, boating, golf, museums, concerts, bars, restaurants, and other outdoor fun. One day just isn't enough to enjoy it all! It's also a popular spot to visit in the winter, with lots of trails for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing, ice rinks, a big sledding hill, ice fishing, and the popular University of Okoboji Winter Games!
  • Palisades-Kepler State Park
    • P is for... Palisades-Kepler State Park! Located in Mount Vernon, Palisades-Kepler State Park in one of the most gorgeous places in Iowa. It offers a great view of the Cedar River, as well as stunning bluffs, ravines, trees, and trails. Visit for a day or rent a cabin for an overnight stay!
  • Quad Cities
    • Q is for... the Quad Cities! The Quad Cities are actually made up of two Iowa cities, Bettendorf and Davenport, and three Illinois cities, Moline, East Moline, and Rock Island. There are tons of big events across all five cities, including the John Deere Classic, the Bix Jazz Festival, the TBK Bank Quad Cities Marathon, the Quad Cities Hot Air Balloon Festival, and the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Since the Quad Cities are located on the Mississippi River, you can take a riverboat cruise, explore over 100 miles of riverfront trails, or hop in a kayak! There are also three casinos in the area, some big event venues, and plenty of restaurants to explore.
    • R is for... RAGBRAI! The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa is one of the most well-known and celebrated bike rides across the globe. The eight-day event, held annually in July, sees thousands of riders traveling across the entire state of Iowa, but it's much more than just a bike ride! There are overnight stops where riders stop to enjoy live music, food, and lots of partying!
  • Surf Ballroom
    • S is for... the Surf Ballroom! There are few music venues more legendary than the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake. The original venue opened in 1933, but was destroyed in a fire in 1947 and then rebuilt across the street in 1948, where it has stood ever since. A ton of iconic artists have performed at the venue, including Little Richard, Lynyrd Skynyrd, BB King, the Doobie Brothers, and Conway Twitty. The venue is most known for the fateful day that Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson died in a plane crash, shortly after leaving the venue in February of 1959. Surf Ballroom is still open for concerts and tours.
  • Tulip Time
    • T is for... Tulip Time! Every May, the city of Pella hosts their Tulip Time Festival, a celebration of the area's strong Dutch heritage. In addition to more than 300,000 tulips, the annual event features parades, live entertainment, tours, a craft market, displays, and lots of food. Be sure to check out the historic Vermeer Windmill and try a Dutch Letter from the legendary Jaarsma Bakery!
  • University of Iowa
    • U is for... the University of Iowa! The University of Iowa campus in Iowa City is filled with history, art, and architecture. Popular spots include the Old Capitol, Kinnick Stadium, the Museum of Natural History, and Hancher Auditorium. Don't forget to check out the Ped Mall for great food and cool shops!
  • Villisca Ax Murder House
    • V is for... the Villisca Ax Murder House! For true crime junkies and ghost hunters, a visit to the Villisca Ax Murder House is a must. The home is the site of a very famous, yet horribly gruesome murder from June of 1912 that has still never been solved. Many paranormal investigators claim that the property is haunted, and the site is open for daytime tours or overnight stays, if you're feeling brave.
  • World's Largest Truck Stop
    • W is for... the World's Largest Truck Stop! The small town of Walcott, Iowa is home to the World's Largest Truck Stop, a popular spot for truckers and travelers alike. The building was built in 1964 and is now home to a barber shop, a chiropractor, a dentist's office, a convenience store, multiple restaurants, a movie theatre, a gift shop, a library, a gym, and more. There is even an annual festival called the Walcott Truckers Jamboree, which features live music, fireworks, food, a Super Trucks Beauty Contest, and even Trucker Olympics!
  • Xtream Arena
    • X is for... Xtream Arena! To be honest, there aren't a lot of options in Iowa for the letter x, but the new Xtream Arena in Coralville is the newest of several awesome music venues across the state of Iowa! The Paramount Theatre, McGrath Amphitheatre, Alliant Energy Powerhouse, Hancher Auditorium, Wells Fargo Arena, Codfish Hollow, Wooly's, Hoyt Sherman Place, Adler Theatre, and Five Flags Center are a few of the best places to see a show.
  • Yummy Food
    • Y is for... Yummy Food! Iowa is home to some delicious eats, including the giant pork tenderloin, the Maid-Rite sandwich, Casey's Breakfast Pizza, and Blue Bunny Ice Cream. Oh, and don't forget to pick up some of that famous Iowa sweet corn in the summertime! It's always best when you purchase it from a roadside stand.
  • Zoo (Blank Park)
    • Z is for... (Blank Park) Zoo! Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines is the one and only AZA accredited zoo in the state of Iowa. The zoo is very focused on conservation and education, and takes care of over 800 animals. Some of the fun activities at Blank Park Zoo include their Wild Lights Festival in the winter, the 21 and over Zoo Brew event in the summer, and the Night Eyes & Halloweekends events in the fall. The zoo is open 361 days a year!

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