Some of the most beautiful places to see in Iowa are also some of the finest in Midwestern US. The Hawkeye State offers spectacular sights that range from man-made to miracles of nature. Take one-of-a-kind photos, get an adrenaline rush, and marvel at gorgeous places you can only see in Iowa — get ready to rewrite your bucket list and schedule a special trip to see some of the most beautiful places in the state!
1. Grotto of the Redemption
This is one sight you don’t want to miss when it comes to the most beautiful places in Iowa. The Grotto of the Redemption is part of the National Register of Historic Places, and is the largest man-made grotto on earth. It has earned the informal nickname of “The Eighth Wonder of the World,” and you’ll instantly see why when you lay eyes on the grotto.
Feast your eyes on a series of nine grottos, each one showcasing a highlight from the life of Jesus Christ. More than $4 million worth of jasper, calcite, topaz, quartz, stalagmites, and stalactites form the Grotto of the Redemption. Over 100, 000 visitors go to the grotto annually, and don’t miss your chance to see it first-hand!
2. MacBride Falls
You can find this year-round waterfall in Solon, Iowa. Due to the rock formations, you may notice that MacBride Falls is more of a spillway. It’s the perfect opportunity to get some sun and a hike— the MacBride Falls are located between Lake MacBride and Coralville Reservoir, and the hike is very easy even for beginners. It’s the perfect way to introduce children to how fun nature can be!
Aside from an invigorating hike, MacBride Falls is also a popular weekend spot for families. You can go camping and swimming at the beach, which is nestled in a tranquil, quiet part of the area.
3. Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad
No trip to Iowa would be complete without a visit to the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad, which has numerous locomotives and dozens of cars.
The railroad offers a rare chance to ride on the train tracks in an open-air car, while special events including dinner trips are regularly put on by the organisers of the project too. The most common trip on the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad is approximately one hour and forty five minutes in length and is without a doubt one of the best things you can do in the state of Iowa.
4. Iowa River Valley
Iowa is one of America’s most rural states, but it only adds to its charm. The Iowa River Valley is one of the finest locations to experience the pristine, raw beauty of this state. For travels who want a more developed area to experience Iowa’s natural treasures, the Campground in Farmington and the River Valley Lodge are a great choice. You’re in for miles of unspoiled horse trails which you can explore at your own pace.
5. Pikes Peak State Park
Don’t forget to bring your camera when you visit Pikes Peak State Park! This Iowa icon has made it into thousands of pictures, making it one of the most photographed places in the state. It’s a must for anyone who wants a taste of the historical, cultural, and natural wonders of Iowa.
You can see the winding, clear waters of the Mississippi River from the highest peaks at the Pikes Peak State Park. You’ll need to climb to the top for this view, but visitors swear that the breathtaking sights are worth it. There are more than a thousand acres of land in Pikes Peak, and you can enjoy peaceful campgrounds and challenging trails that make for an awesome outdoor adventure.
6. Crystal Lake Cave
Just five miles of Dubuque are the ultra-popular Crystal Lake Cave, truly one of the most beautiful places to see in Iowa. This spectacular cave system features rare anthodites, helictites , and pristine stalagmites. Locals fondly call Crystal Lake Cave as the “Matchless Wonder.” Make sure to spend time at the outdoor pavilion for a delicious picnic, relax, and buy a few souvenirs from the Crystal Lake Cave gift shop.
7. Mississippi River, Keokuk
The iconic Mississippi River has been featured in countless songs, pieces of literature, and is a cultural and historical cornerstone. It’s also simply one of the most beautiful places to see in Iowa and the entire United States. The Mississipi River borders Iowa for a whopping 300 miles.
If you love fishing, then you should schedule a trip to this majestic river. Keokuk is a must-see as well, especially of you’re interested in historical attractions like the Miller House Museum, the Keokuk Veteran’s Memorial, and the George M. Verity River Museum. An American Civil War reenactment also happens in Keokuk every year.
8. Siewer’s Springs and Falls
While the Siewer’s Springs and Falls are technically a man-made spillway to control the Siewer River, it’s no less majestic than its natural counterparts. The falls are made of extremely smooth stone in a stairway pattern. There are separate points that lead into a bubbling spring below. Swimming is not allowed at the Siewer’s Springs and Falls.
You can reach the falls through the Trout Run Trail coming in from the Ice Caves Road. You can also get there through the Decorah Fish Hatchery, which is also an amazing place for a fun family trip where you can have a picnic and play a game or two. Schedule your visit at the right time, and you might even see bald eagles flying or in their nests. Take as many pictures as you can, since they’re not there all year!
Seeing the most beautiful places in Iowa is just the start of the Hawkeye State experience. Make sure to try out the 15 Best Things to Do in Iowa during your visit! Highlights include:
- The Iowa 80 Trucking Museum
- The Iowa State Capitol
- Villisca Axe Murder House
- Effigy Mounds National Monument
From gorgeous views to exciting things to do, Iowa is indeed worthy of a special trip.
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