National Parks / Natural World in Iowa with kids

The world has some incredible natural wonders, and luckily for you, The Hawkeye State has some incredible places to visit with kids right on your doorstep….and you won’t want to forget your camera!

The national and state parks in Iowa offer an incredible variety of experiences for children.  Some parks protect a unique and diverse wilderness, teeming with wildlife which is always a thrill for kids!

Some parks protect incredible fascinating and significant historical sites, where the family can go back in time through American history…who says the learning as to stop on a family day out!

The state of Iowa itself has smaller parks perfect for a quick trip into nature.  You don’t even need to leave the city to have that park experience - and kids LOVE them!

Shut those televisions off and put those computer games away….the great outdoors is calling and it’s calling YOU!

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  • Des Moines Botanical Center

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    Des Moines

    he Des Moines Botanical Center is one of the most popular cultural attractions in Iowa, providing educational, recreational, and community resources to thousands. Its goal is to provide botanical ...

  • Iowa Arboretum

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    Madrid

    A visit to the Iowa Arboretum's 378-acre facility located in scenic Boone County is an experience you won't want to miss. This site offers 40 acres developed as a 'Library of Living Plants' ...

  • Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge

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    Prairie City

    Spend the day driving through a 700 acre enclosed area and witness amazing bison and elk, as well as hiking, birding and mushrooming in this nature filled family day out adventure in Iowa!

  • Effigy Mounds National Monument

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    Harpers Ferry

    There are numerous opportunities for you to enjoy a self-guided tour or join a ranger for a hike, walk, talk or historic demonstration. Most trails are moderately strenuous, however, there are some ...

  • Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center

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    Sioux City

    A visit to Stone Park would not be complete without a visit to the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center. The center features a variety of interpretive displays, including a "walk-under" prairie, a 400-gallon ...

  • Marble Beach State Recreation Area

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    Spirit Lake

    Marble Beach\\\'s campground is the largest in the Iowa Great Lakes region.Spirit Lake is the largest natural lake in Iowa and provides some of the best fishing in the state. Crandall\\\'s Beach ...

  • Wilson Island State Park

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    Missouri Valley

    Historic, and teeming with wildlife and adventure, this Iowa State Park gives you hiking and skiing trails, picnic areas, river activities and camping - all ready and waiting to join in your outdoor ...

  • Grimes Conservation Farm

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    Marshalltown

    Partly a nature preserve, partly a farm, partly an education center, and partly a recreation area, Grimes Farm is an unusual public space that combines a working agricultural operation with the ...

  • Woodbury Conservation Area

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    Sioux City

    Welcome The Woodbury County Conservation Board invites you to explore nearly 5,000 acres of unique conservation lands. You will find a tremendous variety of outdoor recreational opportunities ...

  • Indian Creek Nature Center

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    Cedar Rapids

    Vast 210 acre site with hiking and biking trails, educational centre with numerous natural history exhibits, fishing, and more.

  • Jester Park Natural Playscape

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    Des Moines

    A beautiful and unique natural playscape in Jester Park for kids over 5 years where their creativity will be challenged!

  • Gray's Lake Park

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    Des Moines

    167 acres in the heart of Des Moines where families can enjoy walking, biking, and outdoor fun!

  • Pappajohn Sculpture Park

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    Des Moines

    Stroll through sculptures from 22 amazing artists in this beautiful Des Moines park, with 4.4 acres to explore.

  • Check out other fun things to do below...

  • Kids Club At MacNider Museum

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    Mason City

    Kids' Club is an activity-based exploration of the visual arts and the treasures of the MacNider Museum for children ages 5 through 12 ! The Charles H. MacNider Museum is a non-profit, municipally ...

  • Sanford Museum and Planetarium

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    Cherokee

    The Sanford Museum offers a variety of educational programs for groups on subjects including Astronomy, Geology, History, Natural History, and Prehistory.

  • Bluedorn Science Imaginarium

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    Waterloo

    Described as a 'playground for the imagination', this interactive science center provides fun hands-on exhibits that demonstrate how science affects everyday life.

  • Grout Museum of History and Science

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    Waterloo

    Unearth the treasures of the past and gaze into the future at the Grout Museum District. You'll be surrounded by history and astounded by what is yet to come as you explore the world through ...

  • Sioux City Public Museum

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    Sioux City

    The Sioux City Public Museum preserves and shares the heritage of Sioux City through a variety of exhibitions, programs and historic structures. We tell the stories of our community through ...

  • Family Museum of Arts and Science

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    Bettendorf

    he Mission of the Family Museum is to inspire life-long learning in children through interactive arts and science activities and exhibits. One of the many fun family places to go if you're looking ...

  • Putnam Museum of History and Natural Science and Imax Theatre

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    Davenport

    Founded in 1867, the Putnam is home to over 150,000 artifacts and specimens, the Putnam Museum of History and Natural Science offers permanent and changing exhibits,and houses Iowa's only 3D IMAX ...

  • National Farm Toy Museum

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    Dyersville

    The National Farm Toy Museum welcomes kids of all ages to explore the thousands of tractors, implements, farm dioramas, toy-manufacturing displays, and pedal tractors on exhibit around the museum! ...

  • Danish Windmill Museum and Welcome Center

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    Elk Horn

    The Danish Windmill Museum is for all people interested in Denmark, Danish Customs, Scandinavian traditions and, of course, windmills. Elk Horn's Danish Windmill is America's only authentic working ...

  • Iowa Aviation Museum

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    Greenfield

    A fascinating way to celebrate Iowa's aviation heritage, from 1910 through to modern day.

  • Old Capitol Museum

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    Iowa City

    A national historic landmark located in the center of Iowa City, Old Capitol served as the first state capitol from 1846-1857 and the University of Iowa's founding building. In 1976, Old Capitol ...

  • Nelson Pioneer Farm and Museum

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    Oskaloosa

    Founded in 1844, the Nelson homestead is one of the premier historic attractions in Mahaska County. The property now features historic buildings from all over Mahaska County, providing visitors a ...

  • Railswest Railroad Museum

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    Council Bluffs

    The construction of the transcontinental railroad played a major role in the development of southwest Iowa, and vice versa. The history of this era is well preserved in the former 1899 Rock lsland ...

  • Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor and Museum

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    Le Mars

    Experience the sights, sounds, and tastes of the Iowa Cream Capital of the World, home of Blue Bunny Ice Cream, in Le Mars, IA.

  • National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium

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    Dubuque

    Fun and learning flow together along the Mississippi River! Hands-on features and interactive exhibits ready for kids to explore in both indoor and outdoor spaces!

  • Iowa Childrens Museum

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    Coralville

    A family fun attraction with kid friendly, hands-on fun with over twelve interactive exhibits and 28,000 square feet of space that inspires all children up to 12 years old to imagine, create, ...

  • UI Museum of Natural History

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    Iowa City

    Get to understand the planet and it’s wonderful nature in the UI Museum of Natural History with its five major exhibit areas: Iowa Hall, Hageboeck Hall of Birds and Mammal Hall, Biosphere Discovery ...

  • National Balloon Museum

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    Indianola

    Take a look at the fascinating history of ballooning at this Iowa museum, with over 200 years of history to explore!

  • American Gothic House Center

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    Eldon

    Explore the life of artist Grant Wood, and THE house that inspired the painting American Gothic! Creative and historical family day out in Iowa!

  • Blank Park Zoo

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    Des Moines

    The Blank Park Zoo manages 49 acres of land. Of that, 22 acres have been developed into animal exhibits or facilities. One of the many fun family places to visit if you're looking for things to do in ...

  • Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad

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    Boone

    The Iowa Railroad Historical Society is a non-profit, volunteer-driven organization which is dedicated to the preservation of, and educating the public about, the history of Iowa's ...

  • Adventureland Park

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    Altoona

    Theme Park and Water Park fun in Iowa for the whole family! Thrills, spills, and entertainment for your family day out - what more could you want!