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Despite being a landlocked state, Iowa has plenty of waters to be explored. Home to seven natural lakes known as the Iowa Great Lakes, Okoboji is one of the best spots for water adventures. Join the ranks of sailboats and pontoons dotting the horizon, grab a drink at a lakeside bar, or swim and catch some rays at the beaches.
Sitting along the banks of the lake is Okoboji's classic amusement park, Arnolds Park. Full of tributes to Americana nostalgia, such as the wooden Legend roller coaster and a 92-year-old wooden slide, there's no better place to embrace your inner child. And the food scene is just as thrilling, with hand-dipped ice cream and the iconic Nutty Bars offering the perfect addition to an exciting summer adventure.
After enjoying all the fun in the sun, embrace Okoboji's night scene, on and off the water. Watch the sun set over the lake while enjoying delicious food and drinks or live entertainment aboard The Fish Shack, a fishing boat-turned-entertainment hotspot. You'll go home with memories and stories that will make you want to come back next summer.
Find delicious food paired with stunning scenery at eight more Iowa restaurants
Head inland and take a step back in time with Okoboji's variety of museums. Stop in at the Classic Car Museum and see their always-changing stock of vintage cars that guarantee a new experience with every visit. Or experience Iowa's musical history at the Rock N' Roll Music Hall of Fame Museum.
Find more unique destinations throughout the state with Iowa's 99 Hidden Gems list
Experience the best of Midwestern small-town charm with a stroll through downtown Decorah. Home to unique shops and restaurants, you'll discover locally crafted items, antiques and galleries alongside cozy coffee shops and award-winning breweries.
Discover great shopping at these 11 Iowa Main Street destinations
As one of the top agriculture states in the country, Iowa boasts an array of authentic and fresh flavors. Experience true farm-to-table dining at Luna Valley Farm, where wood-fired pizzas are sourced with all natural, home-grown ingredients. Then head to Pulpit Rock Brewing or Toppling Goliath to sip on award-winning brews.
Experience even more Iowa flavors with these delicious farm-to-table events
Home to rolling hills, river bluffs and winding water trails, northeast Iowa's Driftless Region is any nature-lover's dream. Dive into this diverse landscape with cold water trout fishing, biking, hiking and camping to discover unforgettable views and adventures.
Get the inside scoop to Iowa's water adventures with these tips, tricks and trails
For a historical adventure unlike anything else, stop by Seed Savers Exchange and say hello to Cindy, their development officer. This nonprofit is dedicated to preserving garden heritage by growing, saving and sharing heirloom seeds. Their work is displayed throughout the 890-acre property, showing off 20,000 plant varieties including colorful flowers, unique vegetables and tasty herbs. Tour the acreage to gain expert insight into cultivating your own garden.
Visit all of Iowa's gardens and arboretums for more beautiful flowers and gardening tips
Your day doesn't have to be over when the sun goes down. Des Moines' vibrant nightlife offers the perfect way to spend an evening. Head downtown to check out Hello, Marjorie for the eclectic ambiance and delicious drinks, or stop by Secret Admirer for breathtaking views of the city skyline and signature cocktails.
Find more exciting nightlife spots serving delicious drinks and Iowa hospitality
In Des Moines, there's no shortage of extraordinary sights, both modern and historic. At West End Salvage, you'll be amazed by four floors packed full of antiques, from refurbished furniture and dishware to signs and décor.
Take a road trip on Iowa's antique trail to find even more amazing treasures
Discover one of the city's newest treasures with a visit to the Lauridsen Skatepark. Though being recognized as the largest skatepark in the country may sound intimidating, this riverside attraction provides an exciting location for all skill levels and beautiful views for spectators. Be sure to test your skills on the skate-able “Wow” sculpture for an eye-catching action shot.
Check out this list of Iowa skateparks for more thrilling destinations
Uncover an adventure for your tastebuds at the World Food & Music Festival. Browse through scores of vendors selling cuisine and unique goods from around the globe while enjoying live performances.
Check out Iowa's cultural festivals to try more delicious cuisine from around the world
Every summer, Indianola's National Balloon Classic transforms the skies into a kaleidoscope of colors. For nine days, hundreds of balloonists from across the country put on a dazzling show, competing for points and prizes, while spectators below enjoy live music, food and fireworks.
Catch amazing balloon events throughout the state along with other sky high adventures
Hear more about this vibrant event by chatting with a local like Brooke, who can share all sorts of interesting tidbits about the history behind the festival and what makes it so special for the community and visitors alike.
Though this is a once-a-year tradition, Indianola's deep history of hot air balloons can be enjoyed year-round at the National Balloon Museum. Browse exhibits covering everything from ballooning artifacts and memorabilia to our first attempts at flight and the advancements that led to the aviation of today.
Check out these 24 similarly unique attractions across the state