Iowa, the heartland of the Midwest, offers a rich tapestry of experiences for tourists that are as diverse as they are affordable. Famous for its blend of urban living and rural charm, Iowa’s wide array of low-cost attractions allows visitors to explore vibrant city life, enjoy quaint country experiences, and immerse themselves in the natural beauty of state parks, all without burning a hole in their wallets.
Whether you’re a foreign traveller or a savvy domestic tourist looking for a wallet-friendly vacation, ensuring you’re getting the best rate when buying USD can make all the difference when budgeting for your trip. A favourable exchange rate can stretch your travel dollars further, allowing you to experience even more of what Iowa has to offer. So, pack your bags and get ready to explore the Hawkeye State on a dime.
Immerse Yourself in the Rich History and Vibrant Art Scene of Des Moines
Experience the grandeur of Iowa’s political history with a free guided tour of the Iowa State Capitol. This gold-capped, Renaissance-style marvel was constructed between 1871 and 1886. While there, don’t miss the opportunity to admire the breathtaking outdoor monuments dotting its grounds, offering a beautiful vantage point overlooking downtown Des Moines.
Next, feast your artistic soul at the Des Moines Art Center. Housing a rich collection of 5,000 masterpieces from renowned artists like Andy Warhol, Henri Matisse, Edward Hopper, and Georgia O’Keeffe, the centre is a must-visit. The spacious, light-filled galleries designed by architects Eliel Saarinen, I.M. Pei, and Richard Meier make the visit even more enjoyable.
Don’t forget to stop by the Pappajohn Sculpture Park, home to more than two dozen modern sculptures valued at over $40 million. Spread over two downtown blocks, you can explore it independently or request a guided tour from The Des Moines Art Center, which curates the collection. Be sure to capture a memorable photo from inside the popular Nomade sculpture.
Lastly, dive into Iowa’s rich past at the State Historical Museum of Iowa. Listen to audio recordings of coal miners at work, discover Iowa’s significant impact on Hollywood filmmaking, or try your hands at carrying water buckets in pioneer-era style using a shoulder yoke. You can find this immersive museum in the hip East Village neighbourhood.
Explore the Breathtaking Scenery on the River Trail
Embark on an unforgettable journey through the High Trestle Trail. Commencing in Ankeny, just a short 12-mile trip north of Des Moines, this 25-mile trail will lead you to a standout feature: a half-mile long, 13-story high bridge that majestically spans the Des Moines River Valley. The trail’s unique design aims to simulate the experience of venturing through one of Iowa’s historic coal mines.
As you cross the bridge, you’ll encounter 43 spiralling steel frames, referred to as “cribs”. Come nightfall, these cribs take on a surreal quality as they are illuminated by a shimmering blue LED glow.
Discover the Magic of the Field of Dreams and More in Dyersville
The iconic Field of Dreams in Dyersville, immortalised in the eponymous 1989 film, is more than just a century-old farm located 26 miles west of Dubuque. It’s a place where the magic of baseball comes alive. Visitors can step into the shoes of their favourite movie characters, play catch, run the bases, or even hit a few balls. On some summer Sundays, “ghost” players reappear on the field, bringing the joy of baseball to life for a new generation.
Find nature’s bounty at the Mines of Spain State Recreation Area in Dubuque. This 1,387-acre national historic landmark offers a picturesque landscape of towering limestone canyons, dense old-growth forests, and the peaceful backwaters of the Mississippi River at Catfish Creek. The area includes 12 miles of scenic trails. Start your adventure at the interpretive centre, where you can get an introduction to the park.
Experience a world of flora at the Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. Spread across a sprawling 52-acre site, this is one of the largest all-volunteer arboretums in the country. It boasts a variety of gardens, including English, Japanese, herb, rose, hosta, and perennial gardens. Each garden thrives, offering visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in nature’s beauty and tranquility.
Iowa may not be the first place that comes to mind when planning a budget-friendly vacation, but with its diverse range of affordable attractions, it should definitely be on your list. From exploring the urban history and art scenes to immersing yourself in the stunning natural beauty of Iowa’s countryside, there is something for every traveller. So, pack your bags and get ready to experience the heartland of America in all its affordable glory.