Top 10 Indoor Winter Activities

If you're going to be stuck inside, make the most of it at these places that entertain, educate and delight. The editors of Midwest Living will help you forget all about the cold; these only-in-Iowa indoor activities are guaranteed to warm you up!

 

1. Tropical Paradise
Step into the steamy, verdant conservatory at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden to walk paths among tropical foliage. A balcony gives you a bird's-eye view of the plants and a bridge over a pond where orange koi swirl. Bonsai trees, orchids and other small displays under the glass dome also delight families with youngsters.

515.323.6290  |  dmbotanicalgarden.com

 

2. Grains for Grown-Ups
In front of the flickering fireplace, tour-goers sip liquid warmth from shot glasses at Templeton Rye distillery. All the 30-minute tours end here with a shot-glass-size taste of this whiskey aged in charred oak barrels - as it has been since Prohibition times. One sip, and you'll agree with mobster Al Capone: this is The Good Stuff. Tours cost $5.

712.669.8793  |  templetonrye.com

 

3. American Gothic
Iowa artists star in the 1905 former library at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. The world's largest collection of works by Cedar Rapids resident Grant Wood fills one gallery, another focuses on Mauricio Lasansky, an influential printmaker who moved to Iowa City in 1945. The store sells an excellent selection of Grant Wood-related items and other gifts.

319.366.7503  |  crma.org

 

4. Tea: Still Hot
Peruse the three-page menu of black, green and herbal teas and coffeehouse drinks at Elly's Tea and Coffee House while sitting at a table by a window overlooking the Mississippi River in Muscatine. It's a picturesque backdrop to good food and conversation. Just as warming is chatting with owner Elly when she brings out your breakfast or lunch.

563.263.5043  |  ellysteacoffee.com

 

5. Hometown Heroes
Honor a veteran at the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum, named after Waterloo's most famous: the five Sullivan brothers, who died when the USS Juneau was bombed at Guadalcanal in 1942. The museum tells the stories of Iowans in America's wars since the Civil War through documents, photographs and artifacts, including a P-51 Mustang WWII fighter plane and a tank.

319.234.6357  |  groutmuseumdistrict.org/sullivan

 

6. Tons of Tractors
The toys at Dyersville's National Farm Toy Museum represent serious business. Thousands of farm toys and collectibles show how farming and harvests have changed through time. Other displays feature farm toys such as pedal tractors and construction equipment.

563.875.2727  |  nationalfarmtoymuseum.com

 

7. Great Performances
You can still catch a show in the grand lady of Greenfield's town square thanks to a recent $6.2 million renovation. Copper accents and a turret crown the 1896 opera house, where restored wood floors, tall windows and brightly colored walls sparkle in the Warren Cultural Center, named for the building's founding couple, Ed and Eva Warren. Ed and Eva's retail store occupies what was the Warren Dry Goods Store and sells works by 60-plus Iowa artists.

641.343.7337  |  warrenculturalcenter.com

 

8. Suit Up and Slide Down
Snub your thumb at the snow as you plunge down the slide at Boji Splash at Bridges Bay Resort, the indoor water park at Arnold's Park on the shore of East Okoboji Lake. Its bright colors, pirate ship, lazy river and the Crazy Parrot Cantina will put a touch of the tropics in your day. Lodgings are comfortable and well appointed (wood, leather, stone).

712.332.2202  |  bridgesbayresort.com

 

9. Hearty Helpings
If you decide to order your meal family-style at Amana's Ronneburg Restaurant, pace yourself. Bowls of cottage cheese, coleslaw, pickled beets and bread and butter give way to entrees like Wiener schnitzel with spaetzle or sauerbraten with potato dumplings. Friendly servers bring sides including skillet-fried potatoes with gravy, green beans and sauerkraut. Dare we say it? It's all better than Grandma's.

319.622.3641  |  ronneburgrestaurant.com

 

10. The Day the Music Died
Walk into the Surf Ballroom and Museum and you walk back in time. It seems like Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper might have played Clear Lake yesterday rather than that fateful night in 1959 when their plane crashed in an Iowa cornfield. The walls are still printed with pineapples and cloud and surf murals, but these days the venue packs in sock hops, big band dances and concerts. Peek back in time for a $5 donation.

641.357.6151  |  surfballroom.com

 

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