Iowa is a great state to visit any time of year.
From outdoor adventures, like rock climbing in Dubuque and kayaking on the Wapsipinicon River, to shopping and trying out local wines in Des Moines, there’s never a dull moment.
With an abundance of charming villages throughout Iowa you can always find something interesting and unique no matter when you visit.
But if you’re looking for peak experiences or special activities that are only available at certain points in the year – like pick your own strawberries or observe bluebird nesting season – then it pays to know the best time to visit particular areas.
Read on to learn more about which season is best for when visiting each region of Iowa.
What is the best time to visit Iowa?
For those who crave warm weather and outdoor adventures, the best time to visit Iowa is from June through August.
The Hawkeye state comes alive during these summer months with bustling farmer’s markets, picturesque parks, and quaint festivals.
You can explore the rolling hills and scenic rivers of Northeast Iowa or take a dip in the cool waters of the Mississippi River.
It’s also the perfect time of year for enjoying outdoor concerts, street fairs, and sporting events.
Lastly, June through August is the prime season for Iowa’s famous farmers’ markets, where visitors can savor the freshness of locally grown produce and baked goods while mingling with the friendly locals.
Visitors can also attend a variety of cultural festivals, such as the Iowa State Fair, which celebrates the state’s rich agricultural heritage with food, music, and fun activities for people of all ages.
Cheapest time to visit Iowa
Now, when we talk about the cheapest time to visit Iowa, it’s highly recommended to do so during the fall season, particularly in mid to late September.
During this time, Iowa’s weather is relatively mild with temperatures ranging from around 50°F to 70°F and its famous cornfields are in full bloom, painting the state with vibrant shades of yellow and green.
Not only is September an ideal time to enjoy Iowa’s stunning outdoor scenery, but it also happens to be the cheapest time of the year to visit.
Accommodation rates tend to be lower than the peak summer months, and many attractions offer discounts on their admission fees.
In addition, many fun activities take place in Iowa during this month, such as the legendary Iowa City Book Festival, Oktoberfest celebrations, and the much-anticipated Iowa State Fair, which is one of the largest fairs in the United States and features impressive livestock competitions, mouth-watering food, and entertaining concerts.
What are the best things to do in Iowa?
Explore charming small towns, savor delicious farm-to-table cuisine, and immerse yourself in the state’s vibrant history.
Get ready to uncover the best things to do in Iowa that will leave you with unforgettable memories.
Visit the Amana Colonies
- Explore the seven historic villages that make up the Amana Colonies, a National Historic Landmark.
- Experience the German heritage and culture through local cuisine, art, and architecture.
- Attend one of the many annual festivals, such as Oktoberfest or Prelude to Christmas.
- Shop for handcrafted items like furniture, woolen goods, and pottery.
- Take a guided tour to learn about the history of the Amana Colonies.
Explore the Maquoketa Caves State Park
- Hike through the beautiful park, featuring 13 caves and miles of trails.
- Venture into the caves to see unique geological formations.
- Enjoy a picnic in the park’s designated areas.
- Participate in ranger-led programs and educational events.
- Capture stunning photos of the park’s natural beauty.
Discover the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium
- Learn about the history and ecology of the Mississippi River.
- Observe various species of fish, reptiles, and amphibians in the aquarium exhibits.
- Explore interactive exhibits that showcase the river’s impact on American culture.
- Attend 4D movie screenings and special events.
- Visit the River’s Edge Café for a meal with a view of the Mississippi River.
Experience the Iowa State Fair
- Enjoy the annual fair held in Des Moines, featuring food, entertainment, and agricultural exhibits.
- Attend concerts from national and local artists.
- Participate in or watch various competitions, such as livestock shows and cooking contests.
- Sample delicious fair food, including the famous Iowa State Fair butter cow.
- Take a thrilling ride on one of the many carnival attractions.
Tour the Field of Dreams Movie Site
- Visit the iconic baseball field and farmhouse from the 1989 film “Field of Dreams.”
- Take a guided tour of the site to learn about the movie’s production and history.
- Play catch on the famous baseball field.
- Explore the on-site gift shop for memorabilia and souvenirs.
- Attend special events, such as celebrity appearances and concerts.
Stroll through the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
- Discover a wide variety of plants, flowers, and trees in the 14-acre garden.
- Participate in educational programs and workshops.
- Enjoy seasonal events, such as the Spring Garden Festival and Winter Garden Aglow.
- Dine at the Trellis Café, offering locally-sourced, plant-based meals.
- Capture beautiful photos of the garden’s stunning displays.
Experience Living History Farms
- Explore this interactive outdoor museum that showcases Iowa’s agricultural history.
- Visit various historical sites, such as an 1850 Pioneer Farm and a 1900 Horse-Powered Farm.
- Interact with costumed interpreters who demonstrate traditional farming techniques.
- Participate in hands-on activities like candle making and blacksmithing.
- Attend special events, including historical reenactments and seasonal festivals.
Visit the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum
- Learn about the life and legacy of the 31st U.S. President, Herbert Hoover.
- Explore exhibits featuring personal artifacts, photographs, and documents.
- Watch informative films about Hoover’s presidency and humanitarian efforts.
- Visit Hoover’s birthplace cottage and final resting place in West Branch, Iowa.
- Participate in educational programs and special events.
Explore the Pella Historical Village
- Discover the Dutch heritage of Pella, Iowa, through its historic buildings, windmills, and gardens.
- Visit the Vermeer Mill, the tallest working windmill in the United States.
- Explore the Scholte House Museum, home of Pella’s founder, Dominie Scholte.
- Attend annual events such as Tulip Time Festival and Christmas in Pella.
- Shop for Dutch-inspired gifts, treats, and souvenirs.
Hike and Bike the High Trestle Trail
- Enjoy a 25-mile recreational trail that connects five central Iowa communities.
- Cross the High Trestle Bridge, a 13-story high pedestrian bridge with stunning views.
- Bike or walk through beautiful landscapes, including woodlands, prairies, and wetlands.
- Discover public art installations and interpretive panels along the trail.
- Stop in the various communities for food, drinks, and local attractions.
What are some insider tips for visiting Iowa?
When visiting Iowa, prepare for the following tips:
Explore the outdoors:
- Iowa boasts beautiful landscapes, so make sure you take some time to explore the great outdoors.
- Visit the scenic Maquoketa Caves State Park and enjoy hiking and spelunking.
- Explore the High Trestle Trail, a 25-mile-long paved trail that offers picturesque views of the Des Moines River Valley.
- Pikes Peak State Park is another must-visit destination with stunning views of the Mississippi River.
Visit unique attractions:
- Iowa has some interesting and quirky attractions that you won’t want to miss.
- The Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, a religious shrine made from minerals and petrified wood.
- The American Gothic House in Eldon, which inspired Grant Wood’s famous painting.
- The Field of Dreams movie site in Dyersville, where you can play catch or just soak up the nostalgic atmosphere.
Experience local cuisine:
- Indulge in some delicious Iowa comfort food and experience the farm-to-table movement.
- Try Iowa’s famous loose-meat sandwiches at establishments like Taylor’s Maid-Rite or Canteen Lunch in the Alley.
- Sample the iconic Iowa pork tenderloin sandwich at various restaurants across the state.
- Visit local farmers markets, like the Downtown Farmers’ Market in Des Moines, for fresh produce and artisanal products.
Attend popular events and festivals:
- Plan your visit around one of Iowa’s many annual events to fully immerse yourself in the local culture.
- The Iowa State Fair, held in August, features concerts, livestock shows, and delicious fair food.
- The National Balloon Classic in Indianola showcases hot air balloons and offers balloon rides.
- Tulip Time Festival in Pella celebrates Dutch heritage with parades, traditional dancing, and tulip gardens.
Learn about Iowa’s history:
- Visit some of the state’s historical sites and museums to deepen your understanding of Iowa’s past.
- Explore the Amana Colonies, a group of seven villages with German roots, offering historical sites, shops, and dining.
- Visit the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch to learn about the 31st U.S. President.
- Experience living history at the Living History Farms in Urbandale, which showcases how Iowans lived and farmed throughout history.
Remember to always respect local customs and regulations, and be prepared for changing weather conditions when visiting Iowa.
Is Iowa cold or warm?
The climate in Iowa is generally mild, with summer temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to low-90s and winter temperatures dropping into the 20s. The state’s variable weather patterns make for a pleasant change of scenery throughout the year.
What can you do in Iowa?
There’s an endless list of things to do in Iowa! From outdoor adventures like biking and kayaking, to cultural experiences like museums and art galleries, Iowa has something for everyone. Visitors can explore the rolling hills of Northeast Iowa, enjoy a picnic in the Des Moines River Valley, or shop ’til they drop at the many quaint boutiques throughout the state.
What is the best time to visit Iowa?
The best time to visit Iowa is from June through August. During this time, the state comes alive with vibrant festivals and outdoor activities, such as street fairs and concerts.
What are the winter months in Iowa?
Winter in Iowa typically runs from December through February. During this time, temperatures can drop significantly and snowfall is common in many parts of the state.
Is it expensive to visit Iowa?
No, visiting Iowa does not have to be expensive! While attractions may charge admission fees, there are plenty of free activities and entertainment options throughout the state, such as exploring local parks or attending festivals. Additionally, many of the state’s accommodations offer competitive prices compared to other states.
What is there to do in Iowa in the summer?
Iowa has a variety of fun activities for both adults and kids during the summer months! Visitors can enjoy outdoor concerts and sporting events, explore lush parks and riverside trails, or attend one of the state’s many festivals, such as the Iowa State Fair.
Is Iowa cold in the winter?
Yes, Iowa is generally cold during the winter months. Temperatures often dip into the 20s and snowfall is not uncommon in many parts of the state. Visitors should check the weather forecast before traveling to Iowa in the winter to be prepared for cold temperatures and potentially hazardous road conditions.