Iowa is a state that will fascinate visitors with its array of things to see and experience. From historic settlements along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, to culturally rich towns that welcome travelers with a genuine hospitality, to bustling cities alive with modern attractions and amenities, Iowa has a bit of everything.
Hundreds of miles of multi-use trails await the adventurous outdoor enthusiast. Whether its hiking, biking, jogging, mountain biking, roller blading, horseback riding, snowmobiling, or just leisurely strolling, Iowa has the visitor covered. Every county has trails available, and many are interconnected via linear parks on abandoned railroad right-of-ways or along roadways throughout Iowa. The 6,800 mile coast-to-coast American Discovery Trail passes through Iowa on its northern route, and utilizes numerous county conservation managed trails as it traverses the state.
One of the best and "green" ways to explore Iowa is via a canoe or kayak on any one of hundreds of lakes, streams, rivers, or ponds across the state. Nearly 600 county conservation areas allow canoeing and kayaking through over 675 stream or river accesses. Whether it is a quiet float down an interior river or stream in scenic northeast Iowa, or challenging the great Missouri River to the west along the Loess Hills, great opportunities abound!
Hunting and fishing, too, are popular, Iowa pastimes. Whether you are in pursuit of one of Iowa's trophy whitetail bucks or interested in some of the best upland game bird hunting in the Midwest, one of over a thousand hunting areas will provide just the right location for you, no matter what size your hunting party is. Additionally, 16 areas offer archery sites, 26 areas have shooting ranges, and 36 areas have wildlife exhibits featuring many of Iowa's native species.
Iowa's county conservation system sports more than 342 lakes and ponds, 676 stream or river accesses, and thousands of acres of water for visitors to hook into some of the state's finest angling opportunities. From the pristine, spring-fed trout streams in northeast Iowa to thunderous reservoirs in central and southern Iowa, you can fly fish for the beautiful brown or rainbow trout or wrestle with northern pike, large-mouth bass, or river sturgeon & catfish.
Fans of history and the old west will find that Iowa has no shortage of attractions. There are some 159 areas listed as "historic" in the county conservation system, but perhaps just as many others have either a rich local, regional, or national history associated with them. From the site of the historic first train robbery in the west by Jesse James in Adair county, to the famous Hurstville Limestone Kilns in Jackson County, to the many remnant prairies that will flash you back to the time when millions of buffalo roamed the plains: they're all out there for you to uncover and explore once again!
Sporting fans, too, will find plenty to keep them busy in Iowa. Iowans love their golf, and almost any place in the state is mere minutes from a beautiful, public course. Try spots like the Amana Colonies Golf Course (with 18 championship holes that wind through 600 acres of stately white oak forest) or the Willow Creek Golf Course in Le Mars (with 27 holes that meander through tree lined fairways, along Willow Creek).
Cultural explorers will take interest in the Iowa’s booming wine industry, which offers multiple opportunities to visit local vineyards and wineries. Five wine trails – each connecting several wineries – provide ample opportunities to taste a variety of wines. Take a self-guided or directed tour that offers the chance to watch the crushing and pressing of grapes, as well as the fermenting and bottling of Iowa’s wines. On the way to and from wineries, don’t forget to enjoy one of Iowa’s many scenic byways which explore the back roads, scenic landscapes, and historic sites of the state, giving a picture of Iowa that is simply not available from the interstate.
And there is so much more to do in Iowa! Visit museums and art galleries; take in an opera or theatrical performance; cheer on your favorite team at a major sporting event. Whatever your pleasure, you'll find it and more in Iowa!