Eastern Iowa is a wonderful place to explore, offering so many fun things to do for the whole family.
Here you will find the best things to do in eastern Iowa from the best places to soak up local history to the best fun places to take the family.
The Best Things to Do In Eastern Iowa
- The Best Things to Do In Eastern Iowa
- Amana Colonies
- Iowa's Largest Frying Pan
- Herbert Hoover National Historic Site
- Visit a Sunflower Field
- The Iowa Children's Museum
- Maquoketa Caves State Park
- Lacey-Keosauqua State Park
- Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens
- Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park at Des Moines Art Center
Visit the Amana Colonies, a group of historic villages known for their German heritage, unique shops, and restaurants.
The Amana Colonies are a group of seven villages located in Iowa, USA, that was established by a German religious community in the mid-19th century.
The community, known as the Community of True Inspiration, is one of the most beautiful small towns in Iowa. It was founded in Germany in the early 1700s and practiced a form of Pietism that emphasized communal living, simple living, and a rejection of worldly pleasures.
In the 1840s, the community migrated to the United States and settled in Iowa, where they established the Amana Colonies. The villages were built around a central communal economy, with all property and resources being owned collectively by the community.
Today, the Amana Colonies are a popular tourist destination known for their historic architecture, general store, craft shops, and restaurants serving traditional German-American cuisine.
The Amana Colonies continue to be a unique and important part of Iowa’s cultural heritage and is listed on the national register of historic places.
This is one of the best things to do in Eastern Iowa because you can spend the entire day shopping, eating, and soaking up the rich history this area has to offer.
Iowa’s Largest Frying Pan
Visit Brandon, Iowa which is home to Iowa’s largest frying pan. This roadside attraction is worth a detour if you want to step inside of a 9 feet wide, 14 feet long frying pan.
While this is one of the best things to do in Eastern Iowa it is just a quick stop, and it is conveniently located right off of 380, about halfway between Waterloo and Cedar Rapids, making it worth your time while traveling through the area.
Herbert Hoover National Historic Site
The Herbert Hoover National Historic Site is a historic park located in West Branch, Iowa, USA, that commemorates the life and achievements of the 31st President of the United States, Herbert Hoover.
The site consists of several buildings that were once part of the Hoover family farm, including the two-room cottage where Hoover was born, the Herbert Hoover presidential library, a blacksmith shop, a schoolhouse, and a Quaker meetinghouse.
Visitors to the site can tour the buildings and learn about the life and times of Herbert Hoover, as well as the history of the Hoover family and the Quaker community in which they lived.
In addition to the historic buildings, the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site also includes a visitor center with exhibits, a film, and a bookstore.
The park offers a variety of educational programs and events throughout the year, including ranger-led tours, living history demonstrations, and special exhibits.
The Herbert Hoover National Historic Site is part of the National Park Service’s National Park System and is open year-round to visitors. It is a popular destination for tourists and history buffs who claim it to be one of the best things to do in Eastern Iowa.
Visit a Sunflower Field
Pheasant Run Farm offers visitors a one of a kind experience that features 5 acres of blooming sunflowers. Ages 3 and under are free and all other guests can get into the field for just $6 each.
Visitors can climb up the viewing tower to get the best look at the field or step at one of the photo stations to pose in front of the impressive blossoms.
For an additional cost, you can even cut your own bouquet. Bring a folding chair and let the kids play in a box of corn that puts the traditional sandbox to shame.
You can even bring your dog along if it’s well-behaved. Be sure to check the site for the best times to plan your Iowa sunflower experience.
This is one of the best things to do in Eastern Iowa because this unique experience is hard to find anywhere else.
The Iowa Children’s Museum
The Iowa Children’s Museum is a museum designed for children located in Coralville, Iowa, USA. The museum’s mission is to inspire every child to imagine, create, and learn through the power of play.
The museum features a variety of interactive exhibits and hands-on activities for children of all ages, including a pretend grocery store, a construction zone, a science lab, and an art studio.
Children can explore and learn about different concepts, such as physics, engineering, and art, in a fun and engaging way.
The museum also offers a variety of educational programs and events, including summer camps, workshops, and classes for children and families.
These programs are designed to foster creativity, curiosity, and critical thinking skills in children.
Overall, the Iowa Children’s Museum is a wonderful destination for families with children. It offers a safe and fun environment where children can learn, play, and explore their interests in a creative and engaging way.
Maquoketa Caves State Park
Explore Maquoketa Caves State Park, which features several underground caves that visitors can explore.
Maquoketa Caves State Park is a state park located in eastern Iowa, USA, near the town of Maquoketa. The park covers over 300 acres and is known for its unique geology and numerous caves and rock formations.
The park features more than a dozen caves, each with its own unique features and history. Visitors can explore the caves on foot, following a system of trails that wind through the park.
Some of the most popular caves in the park include Dancehall Cave, which features a large underground chamber that was once used for dances and other events, and the dramatic Wye Cave, which features an underground waterfall and a natural “wye” or intersection of two cave passages.
In addition to the caves, Maquoketa Caves State Park offers a variety of other recreational opportunities, including hiking, camping, picnicking, and fishing.
The park has several picnic areas and a large campground with over 30 sites, as well as modern shower and restroom facilities.
Maquoketa Caves State Park is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and families looking to explore the natural beauty of Iowa.
This park is one of the best things to do in Eastern Iowa because it is open year-round, although some of the caves may be closed during certain seasons or for maintenance.
Visitors should check the park’s website or call ahead for the most up-to-date information on cave access and other park conditions.
Lacey-Keosauqua State Park
Keosauqua is a delightful town tucked into southeastern Iowa.
This area boasts small-town hospitality, excellent fishing at nearby Lake Sugema which spans 575-acres, and an impressive 1,653 acres of oak-hickory bluffs.
Visitors can rent a pet-friendly cabin and spend the weekend enjoying nature at the Lacey-Keosauqua State Park.
Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens
The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is a beautiful botanical garden located in Des Moines, Iowa, USA. It covers over 7 acres and features a wide variety of plant species, both native and exotic, from around the world.
The botanical garden is divided into several themed areas, including a tropical conservatory, a Bonsai collection, and an outdoor garden featuring plants native to Iowa.
The garden also features a sculpture garden, a water garden, and a sensory garden, which is designed to engage all five senses.
One of the highlights of the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is its tropical conservatory, which features a wide variety of tropical plants and flowers, including orchids, bromeliads, and ferns.
Visitors can walk through the conservatory and experience the lush beauty of the tropical plants up close.
The Bonsai collection at the botanical garden is also impressive, featuring over 100 bonsai trees of different species and styles.
The outdoor garden showcases a variety of plants native to Iowa, including prairie grasses and wildflowers, and offers visitors a glimpse into the natural beauty of the state.
The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden also offers a variety of educational programs and events, including workshops, classes, and tours.
Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park at Des Moines Art Center
The Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park is a unique public park located in downtown Des Moines, Iowa. Opened in 2009, the park features more than 30 large-scale sculptures by internationally renowned artists.
Here are some things you can expect to see and do at the Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park:
Enjoy the Art
The sculptures in the park are incredibly diverse, ranging from abstract and minimalist to figurative and representational. Some of the most well-known sculptures include Jaume Plensa’s “Nomade,” Yoshitomo Nara’s “Your Dog,” and Willem de Kooning’s “Seated Woman.”
Walk the Trails
The park features winding trails that are perfect for a leisurely stroll or a brisk walk. The trails are wheelchair accessible and offer beautiful views of the sculptures and surrounding landscape.
The park hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including art exhibitions, live music performances, and educational programs for all ages.
Relax and Picnic
The park has plenty of grassy areas and benches where visitors can relax, read a book, or have a picnic with friends and family.
Take a Guided Tour
The park offers guided tours led by trained docents who can provide insights into the history and meaning of each sculpture.
The park is open to the public and visitors can enjoy free admission, making it an ideal destination for families, students, and art lovers of all backgrounds.
Overall, the Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park is a beautiful and inspiring destination that showcases the very best of contemporary sculpture.
Whether you’re a seasoned art enthusiast or simply looking for a fun outdoor activity, this park is definitely worth a visit.
Heartland Acres Agribition Center
The Heartland Acres Agribition Center is a museum and education center located in Independence, Iowa, USA, dedicated to showcasing and preserving the history of agriculture in the Midwest.
The center features exhibits that highlight the history and evolution of agriculture in Iowa and the surrounding region.
Visitors can see a variety of farming equipment and machinery from different eras, as well as displays showcasing the history of rural life and the importance of agriculture in the development of the Midwest.
The museum also includes interactive exhibits that allow visitors to experience what life was like on a farm in the early 20th century.
Visitors can try their hand at milking a cow or using a hand-cranked corn sheller, among other activities.
In addition to its exhibits, the Heartland Acres Agribition Center hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including farm-to-table dinners, antique tractor shows, and educational programs for children.
The center also features a gift shop that sells a variety of agricultural-themed items, including books, toys, and locally-made products.
National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library
Visit the National Czech & Slovak museum & library in the Czech village of Cedar Rapids on the Cedar River. The Slovak museum & library showcases the history and culture of these two countries.
The museum features a variety of exhibits and displays that showcase the art, history, and culture of Czech and Slovak people.
The exhibits include artifacts, photographs, documents, and interactive displays that highlight the contributions of Czech and Slovak people to American culture.
The museum also features a large research library that houses a collection of books, manuscripts, and other materials related to Czech and Slovak history and culture.
The library is open to the public and provides resources and assistance for researchers and scholars.
In addition to its exhibits and library, the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library also offers a variety of educational programs and events throughout the year, including lectures, workshops, and cultural celebrations.
The museum hosts an annual Czech and Slovak Heritage Festival, which features live music, dance performances, traditional food, and crafts.
The Grotto of the Redemption
Located in West Bend, Iowa this grotto is the largest grotto in the world which may be why it is also known as the Eighth Wonder of the World.
Father Paul Matthias Dobberstein is credited with doing most of the work on this impressive grotto over the course of 42 years. Visitors can take a virtual tour of the grotto or in person, for free.
Check out their website for more information on planning your trip. While in the area, grotto fans may want to take a short drive over the Wisconsin border to visit the Dickeyville Grotto in Dickeyville, Wisconsin.
Cedar Rapids Museum of Art
Check out the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, which features a collection of American art from the 19th century to the present.
It was founded in 1905 and is dedicated to showcasing and preserving works of art that represent the culture and history of the Cedar Rapids region and beyond.
The museum’s collection includes over 7,700 works of art, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, and photographs. The collection is particularly strong in the area of American art from the 19th and 20th centuries, with works by Grant Wood, Marvin Cone, and other artists associated with the regionalist movement of the 1930s and 40s.
The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art is an important cultural institution in Iowa and is a must-visit for anyone interested in American art and regionalist art.
Its collection and exhibitions offer a unique perspective on the cultural history of the Cedar Rapids region and the Midwest as a whole.
Explore Cedar Falls, Iowa
Downtown Cedar Falls has a variety of shops, museums, and restaurants including the popular John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum.
Visitors can expect to enjoy nature at the Hartman Reserve Nature Center or camp and fish at George Wyth State Park.
Outdoorsy types will love the trails at Pfeiffer Springs Park and urban explorers will enjoy the many shops, restaurants, and activities happening on Saturday night in this city that seems to have a little bit of everything.
NewBo is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Cedar Rapids, offering a unique blend of history, culture, and entertainment.
Newbo has made the list of best things to do in Eastern Iowa because visitors can spend the whole day enjoying everything this area has to offer.
NewBo City Market
This popular market features local vendors selling fresh produce, handmade crafts, artisanal foods, and more.
This historic venue hosts a variety of events and performances throughout the year, including live music, theater, and dance.
Breweries and Wineries
NewBo is home to several breweries and wineries, including Lion Bridge Brewing Company, Iowa Brewing Company, and Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery.
NewBo is located near several bike trails, including the Cedar Valley Nature Trail and the Sac and Fox Trail.
NewBo Art Fest
This annual art festival features live music, local artists, and food vendors, and attracts visitors from across the region.
Rock the Block
This concert series is on the Market’s outdoor stage on Friday nights.
National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium
Visit the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in Dubuque, which includes exhibits on the history and ecology of the mighty Mississippi River.
The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium is a museum and aquarium located in Dubuque, Iowa, USA. It is dedicated to showcasing the ecology, history, and culture of the Mississippi River and its surrounding areas.
The museum features a variety of exhibits and displays that explore the history and culture of the Mississippi River region, as well as its role in American history and industry.
The museum’s aquarium is home to over 100 species of fish and other aquatic animals, including river otters, sturgeon, and alligator snapping turtles.
In addition to its exhibits and aquarium, the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium also offers a variety of educational programs and events, including lectures, workshops, and hands-on activities for children and families.
The museum also hosts a variety of special events throughout the year, including outdoor festivals, concerts, and holiday celebrations.
This museum is not only one of the best things to do in Eastern Iowa, it is, in my opinion, one of the best museums you will ever visit.
Spend the day hiking and get a close-up view of the Effigy Mounds National Monument in Harpers Ferry, Iowa.
This monument covers over 2,000 acres and boasts over 14 miles of hiking trails. Visitors can expect to see a variety of these prehistoric American Indian burial mounds shaped like animals.
According to the National Park Foundation, there are two hundred and six pre-European contact mounds preserved here—of which 31 are effigies in the shape of bears and birds.
Yellow River State Forest located in Allamakee County, this area boasts over 8,900 acres of fun.
This is one of the best things to do in Eastern Iowa for outdoorsy families because visitors can camp, hike, fish, bike, kayak, go cross-country skiing, and go horseback riding. Enjoy the views and fun of this area then set up camp at one of the many beautiful camping sites found here.
Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines
Explore the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, which offers free guided tours and features beautiful architecture and artwork.
It is the seat of the Iowa General Assembly and the offices of the Governor of Iowa and other state officials.
The Iowa State Capitol building was completed in 1886 and is recognized as one of the most beautiful state capitol buildings in the United States.
The building features a stunning dome, which rises 275 feet above the ground and is covered in 23-karat gold leaf.
Visitors to the Iowa State Capitol can take a self-guided tour at their own pace or a guided tour of the building, which includes visits to the legislative chambers, the governor’s office, and other important areas of the building.
The tour also highlights the history and architecture of the building and provides insights into the workings of the Iowa government.
In addition to its historic and cultural significance, the Iowa State Capitol is one of the best things to do in Eastern Iowa because it is also home to a number of important works of art, including murals, sculptures, and other decorative elements that showcase the history and culture of Iowa.
The Iowa State Capitol is open to visitors year-round, so if you came for the Iowa State Fair, you can plan your trip during the same time. It is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in historic sites, architecture, and government.
The Old Capitol Building in Iowa City
The Old Capitol is a historic building located in Iowa City, Iowa, USA. It served as the first capitol building of the state of Iowa from 1846 until 1857, when the capital was moved to Des Moines.
Today, the Old Capitol is a museum and a National Historic Landmark, operated by the University of Iowa.
The museum is one of the best things to do in Eastern Iowa because it offers exhibits and educational programs that explore the history of the Old Capitol and its role in the state’s early years.
Today, visitors to the Old Capitol can explore the building and its exhibits, including displays on Iowa’s early history, the role of the Old Capitol in the state’s development, and the architecture and design of the building itself.
Guided tours are available, and the building is open to the public year-round.
Overall, the Old Capitol is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Iowa’s history and its architectural heritage.
It is a beautiful and important national historic register landmark that offers a fascinating glimpse into Iowa’s past.
Brucemore Historic Mansion
Brucemore is a historic mansion and estate located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, USA. The mansion was built in 1884 by Caroline Sinclair, the widow of wealthy businessman Thomas Sinclair.
The estate was later purchased by the Douglas family, who made significant additions to the house and grounds.
Today, Brucemore is operated as a museum and cultural center, offering tours of the mansion and gardens, as well as a variety of events and programs for visitors of all ages.
The mansion itself is a beautiful example of Queen Anne-style architecture, featuring intricate woodwork, stained glass windows, and period furnishings.
Visitors can explore the mansion on guided tours, which offer a fascinating look into the lives of the families who once lived there.
In addition to the mansion, Brucemore also features extensive gardens and grounds, including formal gardens, a children’s garden, and a naturalistic woodland area.
The gardens are open to the public and are a popular destination for visitors looking to relax and enjoy the beauty of the estate.
Brucemore also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including concerts, theater performances, and cultural festivals. The estate is also a popular venue for weddings and other special events.
Overall, Brucemore is a unique and fascinating destination that offers a glimpse into the lives of some of Cedar Rapids’ most prominent families.
It is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history, architecture, and garden design while planning their trip of the best things to do in Eastern Iowa.
The Granger House is a historic home located in Marion, Iowa, USA. The house was built in 1879 by Francis Marion Granger, a prominent local businessman, and banker, and his wife, Matilda.
The Granger House is a beautiful example of Victorian architecture, featuring intricate woodwork, stained glass windows, and ornate furnishings.
The house has been carefully preserved and restored and is now operated as a museum by the Marion Historical Society.
Visitors to the Granger House can take guided tours of the home, which offer a fascinating look into the lives of the Granger family and their place in Marion’s history.
The museum also offers a variety of educational programs and events throughout the year, including lectures, workshops, and special exhibits.
In addition to the main house, the Granger House also features a carriage house and gardens, which are open to the public.
The carriage house has been converted into a gift shop, offering a variety of unique and locally made items.
Overall, the Granger House is a wonderful destination for anyone interested in the history, architecture, and cultural heritage of Marion, Iowa.
It is a beautifully preserved example of Victorian design and offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives of one of the area’s most prominent families.
Iowa 80 Trucking Museum
The Iowa 80 Trucking Museum is a museum dedicated to the history of trucking and the trucking industry in the United States.
It is located in Walcott, Iowa, just off of Interstate 80, which is the main highway for trucking across the United States.
The museum houses a collection of antique and modern trucks, as well as trucking memorabilia and artifacts.
Visitors can see a variety of trucks from different eras, including early 20th-century delivery trucks, the 1930s and 1940s semi-trucks, and modern-day tractor-trailers.
In addition to the trucks themselves, the museum also features exhibits on the history of the trucking industry, including the development of the interstate highway system and the role of trucking in the U.S. economy.
The Iowa 80 Trucking Museum is operated by the Iowa 80 Group, which is also the owner and operator of the nearby Iowa 80 Truckstop.
The truck stop is the largest in the world, covering over 225 acres and featuring a wide range of services and amenities for truckers and travelers.
Overall, the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum is a unique and fascinating destination for anyone interested in the history of transportation and the role of trucking in the United States.
It is a must-visit destination for trucking enthusiasts and anyone looking to learn more about this important industry. This is one of the best things to do in Eastern Iowa because it’s worth a stop while driving though this area to other destinations.
Adventureland Park is a family-friendly amusement park located in Altoona, Iowa, USA. It was opened in 1974 and has since become one of the top tourist destinations in Iowa.
The park features a variety of rides and attractions for visitors of all ages, including roller coasters, water rides, thrill rides, and family-friendly rides.
Some of the most popular rides at Adventureland Park include the Tornado, a water ride that features a 132-foot funnel slide, and the Dragon, a wooden roller coaster that reaches speeds of up to 45 miles per hour.
In addition to the rides, Adventureland Park also features a wide range of other attractions, including games, shows, and dining options.
The park has several themed areas, including Adventure Bay, where visitors can enjoy water rides and attractions, and Main Street, where visitors can shop and dine.
Adventureland Park is also home to Adventureland Inn, a full-service hotel located on the park grounds. The hotel features 185 guest rooms, as well as an indoor pool and water park, restaurant, and arcade.
Overall, Adventureland Park is a fun and exciting destination for families and thrill-seekers.
With its wide range of rides and attractions, as well as its convenient location just outside of Des Moines, it is one the best things to do in Eastern Iowa for anyone who loves amusement parks.
Blank Park Zoo
Parents can get up close with African lions, Amur tigers, and Red river hogs with the kids or let the zoo do the work for them.
Blank Park Zoo offers an after-hours kid’s night with pizza, animals, and fun. If you have ever threatened your child with the possibility of dropping them off at the zoo, this is the event for you!
Field of Dreams Movie Site
Check out the Field of Dreams movie site in Dyersville, where you can play catch on the same field where the movie was filmed.
The Field of Dreams movie site is a popular tourist destination located in Dyersville, Iowa, USA. It is the location where the iconic 1989 movie “Field of Dreams” was filmed, and it features a baseball field, a gift shop, and a museum dedicated to the movie.
The movie site includes a replica of the baseball field used in the movie, complete with the iconic cornfield that serves as the backdrop for many of the film’s scenes.
Visitors can tour the field, play catch with their friends and family, or even participate in a game of baseball on the field.
The gift shop at the Field of Dreams movie site offers a variety of souvenirs, including t-shirts, hats, and baseballs, as well as items related to the movie, such as DVD copies of the film and autographed memorabilia.
The museum at the Field of Dreams movie site showcases memorabilia from the movie, including costumes, props, and other items used during filming.
Visitors can learn about the making of the movie and the history of the site, as well as the impact that the film has had on popular culture.
The Field of Dreams movie site is a must-visit destination for fans of the movie and baseball enthusiasts alike. It offers a unique and nostalgic experience that captures the magic and spirit of the beloved film.
Explore the Quad Cities
The Quad Cities is a metropolitan area located in the heart of the Midwest, on the border of Iowa and Illinois.
The region is named after the four main cities that make up the area: Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa, and Rock Island and Moline in Illinois.
The Quad Cities region also includes several smaller communities, including East Moline, Milan, and Silvis.
The Quad Cities area is a hub of industry and commerce, with a strong agricultural sector and a rich history of manufacturing and transportation.
The region is also home to several universities and colleges, including Augustana College and St. Ambrose University.
One of the main attractions in the Quad Cities is the Mississippi River, which flows through the heart of the region.
Visitors can take a riverboat cruise or explore the riverfront on foot or by bike, enjoying the scenic views and charming riverfront parks.
Other popular attractions in the Quad Cities include the Figge Art Museum, the John Deere Pavilion, the Rock Island Arsenal Museum, and the Putnam Museum and Science Center.
The area also boasts several parks and outdoor recreation areas, including the Quad City Botanical Center, the Niabi Zoo, and the Great River Trail.
Overall, the Quad Cities is a vibrant and diverse region with plenty to see and do.
Whether you’re interested in history, art, outdoor recreation, or simply enjoying the scenic beauty of the Mississippi River, the Quad Cities is a great destination to explore.
This is one of the best things to do in Eastern Iowa for families or couples who want some time alone.
Couples can plan romantic getaways in the Quad Cities by reading this guide.
Pikes Peak State Park
Visit Pikes Peak State Park in McGregor, which offers stunning views of the Mississippi River and Limestone bluffs.
Pikes Peak State Park is a scenic park located in McGregor, Iowa, USA.
It is named after Pikes Peak, which is the highest point in the park and offers spectacular views of the surrounding area.
The park is known for its scenic overlooks, hiking trails, and natural beauty. It is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, bald eagles, and wild turkeys.
This central Iowa park also features a historic limestone kiln that was used in the 1800s to produce lime for construction and agriculture.
One of the most popular activities at Pikes Peak State Park is hiking.
The park has over 10 miles of trails that wind through the forests and along the bluffs, offering stunning views of the Mississippi River and the surrounding countryside.
The park also has picnic areas and a campground, making it a great place for a family outing or a weekend getaway.
Another popular attraction at Pikes Peak State Park is the Effigy Mounds National Monument, which is located nearby.
The monument features over 200 mounds that were built by Native Americans over 1,000 years ago in the shape of animals, birds, and other natural forms.
Pikes Peak State Park is a must-visit destination for anyone who enjoys nature, hiking, and stunning views.
It is a peaceful and beautiful retreat that offers a glimpse into the natural history and beauty of the Midwest.
Explore Clear Lake, Iowa
While there are many shops, restaurants, and events happening in this area, there is one thing that always comes to mind when thinking of Clear Lake, Iowa.
This destination is best known for the Buddy Holly crash site, where visitors can see where Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, and Buddy Holly’s plane crashed.
This tourist attraction is marked by a giant pair of glasses fashioned to look like the ones worn by Buddy Holly.
Music fans can also visit the Surf Ballroom & Museum which is the last concert site of the famous trio.
On the day the music died, these rock n roll legends left the show and in an attempt to save time, chartered a plane from the nearby Mason city airport, crashing just a few miles away at the now-historic landmark.
The Surf Ballroom & Museum has also hosted other big names in music history such as The Temptations and The Beach Boys and is still hosting acts, check their website for more information.
If you are up for a fun music-inspired road trip after checking out the best things to do in Eastern Iowa, you will have to check out this midwest rock and roll road trip.
This guide takes music lovers through the best places in Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan with the most historical significance in music.
Explore Keokuk, Iowa
Known as the geode capital of the world, visitors who are looking for the best things to do in Iowa can find highly sought-after precious stones in this Keokuk, Iowa located along the Mississippi river.
Travelers can get a glimpse of these geodes on display in Geode State Park which is known as the most beautiful and the most sought-after of all geodes by museums and collectors all over the world.
While it is prohibited to take geodes from the park, this area has a lot of other places to hunt or buy geodes that are sure to make excellent souvenirs.
Explore Charles City, Iowa
Adventurous travelers will love exploring Charles City, home of the first-ever whitewater course in the state of Iowa.
Kayakers, stand-up paddle boarders, and tubers will be impressed by the adventure that awaits them on the Cedar River.
No need to bring your own equipment, visitors can rent a tube or canoe from one of the local businesses.
Visitors can also enjoy a bike ride on the Charley Western Recreational Trail.
Disc golfers can spend the day at the Riverside Disc Golf Course and families will enjoy a round of Bayou Bend Mini Golf.
Explore Mason City, Iowa
Visit Music Man Square where visitors can walk the indoor streetscape, visit a museum, take a tour, and enjoy an ice cream surrounded by a design inspired by the classic film The Music Man.
The fictional town of River City from the film is based on the real town of Mason City, Iowa.
Visitors can explore the Willson Boyhood Home, the man who composed the book, music, and lyrics for The Music Man in this picturesque area.
Located in Burlington, Iowa this crooked street is a sight to behold. This is not only one of the best things to do in Eastern Iowa but it is also one of the most unique.
Ranked as the #1 Odd Spot in Ripley’s Guide to the Curious Corners of America, visitors can expect to see an alley constructed of limestone and blue clay bricks that curves over a distance of 275 feet.
This windy street is nestled in between beautiful buildings lined with a gorgeous landscape that makes for a great photoshoot during the warmer months.
Explore Cedar Rapids
Explore downtown Cedar Rapids, which features a variety of restaurants, antique shops, golf courses, farmers markets, and museums, including the home where Grant Wood painted the American Gothic painting and the African American Museum of Iowa.
Downtown Cedar Rapids has beautiful murals, and art events, some of the buildings such as the Cedar Rapids Public Library are works of art. One of my favorite murals on display is the Lucille Ball portrait located in Kingston Village.
Kids will love Old MacDonalds Farm in Bever Park and Bloomsbury Farm which is located just outside of Cedar Rapids in the small town of Atkins, Iowa.
While the western part of Iowa has quite a few things for families such as The Bridges of Madison County, Iowa Great Lakes, or the Missouri River, there are so many beautiful places and interesting things to do in Eastern Iowa, making it the perfect place to visit in the Hawkeye State!
If you are interested in the supernatural things to do in Iowa you may want to check out this post exploring the Villisca Ax Murder House and this post sharing info on The Black Angel of Death in Iowa City.
I hope you enjoyed this post sharing the best things to do in Eastern Iowa. If you did, sign up for the free newsletter so you never miss a post again!
Did I forget to add something to the list that you think is worthy of being called one of the best things to do in Eastern Iowa?
Leave me a comment, I’ll check it out and update the post.
Tuesday 21st of March 2023
So many things to see and do! I would definitely see all the museums and mansions! :)
Wednesday 15th of March 2023
I've never been to Iowa. Sounds like there are plenty of things to see there. I would enjoy checking out several of these places.
Wednesday 15th of March 2023
I've never seen a place like this before! I appreciate you sharing your photos with us. It feels like I am there too.
Wednesday 15th of March 2023
wow! It's an unique and wonderful place! I would like to visit it one day! And my dream is to visit a sunflower field!
Monday 20th of March 2023
The sunflower field was so cool, I hope you get to experience it!
Wednesday 15th of March 2023
Wow! These are all really great and wonderful places to visit things to do! Thanks for sharing this with us