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8 Best Weekend Getaways In Iowa (2023)

Weekends are the exciting times when one gets to rejuvenate from the stress of busy week life. Whether you are a working professional or a homemaker, you deserve a refreshing break during the weekends. And if you happen to reside in or around Iowa, you cannot miss exploring the Iowan Weekend Getaways around. Iowa is home to expansive cornfields, rolling planes, and some excellent towns. Be it the urban capital brimming with culture or the lush countryside, this Midwestern State holds and offers the glory of it all. And the best part is, since Iowa is quite more affordable than other U.S. states, planning frequent weekend getaways here won’t trouble your monthly budget as well.

Whether you’re an Iowa native or just travelling through the state, it has several options to pamper your time. Driving towards its capital city, Des Moines, will unfold a soothing urban vibe, whereas driving towards Loess Hills will introduce you to wild and undisturbed landscapes. Though weekend getaways don’t require any specific time of the year when in Iowa, Spring and Fall season comes out most appropriate for the same. And since stepping out usually means spending time outdoors, this season will add four moons to your experience in the Hawkey State. Appealing enough? Then instead of thinking, buckle up and plan for an exciting weekend getaway in Iowa this Friday.

8 Best Weekend Getaways In Iowa

Here we go for some choicest options for you.

1. Des Moines

Des Moines is Iowa’s State capital and its most populous city. Des Moines makes the best Iowa weekend getaway for individuals interested in art, craft, entertainment, and nightlife. Despite being Iowa’s biggest tourism hub, Des Moines is quite well-paced, and life here doesn’t feel like running non-stop. Amongst the locals of Iowa and its neighbouring states, this city represents the local spirit and natural charm. It is home to some extraordinary tourist attractions of Iowa, including the gold-domed State Capitol and John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park. It is also home to Iowa’s only accredited zoo: the Blank Park Zoo. Other popular places to visit in the city include the Science Center of Iowa, Des Moines Art Center and the Wells Fargo Arena. For families who are longing for some big city fun, a weekend trip to Des Moines is a perfect weekend plan for them.

2. Cedar Rapids

Iowa’s second most populous city, Cedar Rapids, is a popular region in the eastern part of the state. This charming look European-style town has a rich art scene and interesting architecture. One can find multiple art museums within its reach, including the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, a facility known for housing world-class popular paintings. For some historical insights, Cedar Rapids also houses the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, a frequently visited landmark in the city. Besides its indoor facility, this European-style town is also rich in natural outdoor spaces. It has 3 State Parks and 4 county Parks that calls for exciting recreational opportunities. The Palisades-Kepler State Park, 15 minutes from downtown, is a hub of land and water-based adventures. Other prominent landmarks to explore during a weekend getaway in Cedar Rapids include the Paramount Theatre, the Brucemore Estate, and the Indian Creek Nature Center.

3. Cedar Falls

Cedar Falls is a popular weekend getaway destination in Iowa known for its charming downtown district. It is a small town adjacent to the University of Northern Iowa campus and has a lively outdoor environment. Cedar Falls is big on outdoor fun, physical activities, and year-round festivities. The town experience multiple cedar basin music festivals and jazz festivals annually, inviting music lovers from state and across. Another popular and must-attend event is the cedar river clean-up and festival. This event emphasizes keeping the surroundings clear and giving back to the globe. Cedar Falls is also popular for its outdoor environment and is home to landmarks like Hartman Reserve Nature Center and George Wyth State Park. There are a plethora of cycling trails and pedestrian paths for hiking and cycling enthusiasts.

4. Dubuque

Dubuque is a family-friendly weekend vacation spot in Iowa, known for its mix of history and nature-based attractions. It is a riverfront city located adjacent to the Mississippi River and Illinois border. It is home to Iowa’s best-known museum, the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. The Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, close to it, is a peaceful outdoor space managed entirely by volunteers. A weekend in Dubuque allows visitors to access areas like the Mines of Spain Recreation Area, the Crystal Lake Cave, and the Eagle Point Park. The latter also offers a big overview of the adjacent Mississippi River and thus is quite popular amongst locals and visitors.

Another uniquely popular attraction in Dubuque is the Fenelon Place Elevator located in its downtown. Fenelon is the shortest and steepest railway in the world, and it takes visitors to a high vantage point of the city. Dubuque can be your ideal stop if you are into outdoor spaces and physical efforts.

5. Decorah

Decorah is an interesting town in the far northeast corner of Iowa. Known for its scenic beauty and authentic Norwegian heritage, Decorah appears like a mountain town. However, contrary to what it feels like, the town sits just an elevation below 900 feet. Decorah is a perfect family getaway spot in Iowa, especially for individuals who want to escape away from the hustle of city life. The town is home to Ice Cave Hill Park, an exciting outdoor recreational spot. Other outdoor destinations like Dunning Spring and Trout Run Trail allow visitors to unfold Decorah’s natural appeal. And since none of these spaces is far from the downtown area, visiting them becomes easy and hassle-free. The town deals in places like Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum and the Billy Clocks Museum for indoor landmarks. These attractions provide some valuable relief between the plenty of outdoor excursions. The midwestern hospitality of Decorah makes it a popular town in Iowa.

6. Pella

Pella is a pretty little midwestern town located near the shore of Lake Red Rock. Its proximity to Des Moines (40 minutes drive away) makes it a weekend hotspot. Pella has a strong Dutch heritage, and nothing can replace its iconic American-Dutch charm. It is prominently known for its Tullip season and the annual Tulip Time Festival. During Iowa’s spring, Pella turns into a beautiful colour pelleted with tulip flowers flocking to its border from mid-April to early May. The presence of flowers doesn’t just add to the visual appeal but also calls for parades, costumed characters, great food, and other public engaging fun. And with the end of the festivals, those tulips get further replaced by 32,000+ annual flowers and plants in over 45 varieties that come out in different colours during the second half and late summer season. Pella is also home to some iconic and must-visit Iowan landmarks, including the Historical Village and Vermeer Windmill. The Howell Station Prairie Trail is one great option to stick by for outdoor adventure.

7. Iowa City

A great place to spend a refreshing weekend, Iowa City offers a wide variety of fun diversions. Known for its academic and cultural appeal, it is quite popular amongst students of the state and the neighbourhood. Iowa City has an artsy vibe, and it is also a UNESCO City of Literature. Some of the popular attractions you can visit here include the University of Iowa campus, which is beyond an educational institute. Along with that, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, Sugar Bottom Recreation Area, and Englert Theatre are other prominent landmarks to explore. Hosting a wide variety of festivals and events throughout the years, the Iowa city also draws festival-goers like none other. Since it is more of a students town, the accommodations and restaurants here comes are very affordable and reasonable. Visitors can find a lot of B&Bs for a night’s stay without burdening their pockets.

8. Loess Hills

Loess Hills are Iowa’s beautiful landscapes located in the westernmost part of the state. They are basically a formation of wind-deposited loess soil and are quite popular amongst outdoor enthusiasts and recreational opportunists. The best way to enjoy Loess Hills is via hiking and backpacking around the region. Visitors can begin their trip from the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway, one of the most beautiful roads in Iowa. While driving through this route, you will find the Loess Hills Lavender Farm, Hitchcock Nature Center, and other such regions that are known for offering family-friendly fun. For gaining the panoramic views of Missouri Valley from the hills above, one can also go hiking in the Waubonsie State Park. Or, enjoy your day at the Wabash Trace Nature Trail. Consider visiting the Does and Divas Dairy for award-winning dairy and cheese products.

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