Iowa is dotted with tiny towns and small cities, giving the whole state a relaxed, homey feel.
There is much to see and do in Iowa, including parks, outdoor activities, shopping, dining, and art displays. The following is a list of attractions that travelers to Ames, Iowa, should see while in the area. Here are the best things to do in Ames, Iowa. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
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Brookside Park is a beautifully landscaped park located in Ames, Iowa. The park contains lots of open green space full of tall trees, lovely flowers, and shrubs. Squaw Creek runs through the park, and a walking trail winds through the property and over the creek. Park amenities include picnic shelters and tables, grill spots, volleyball, basketball, and tennis courts, and baseball diamonds.
There is even a skate park and a wading pool for young children. Brookside Park is open daily until 5 pm. Shelter houses can be rented out by calling the park directly.
1325 6th St Ames, IA 50010, Phone: 515-239-5350
2.Brunnier Art Museum
© Brunnier Art Museum
Founded in 1975 by Henry J. and Ann Brunnier, the Brunnier Art Museum is located inside the Iowa State Center on the Iowa State University Campus. The ISU contains the largest collection of public art on any campus in the United States as well as four campus art museums.
The Brunnier Museum contains a large and ever-changing collection of decorative art objects and paintings, sculptures, textiles, prints, silver objects, and furniture. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday until 4 pm. Admission is free. A donation of $3 is suggested.
295 Scheman Building 1805 Center Drive Ames, IA 50011
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3.McFarland Park, Ames, Iowa
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Just north of Ames stands the 200-acre McFarland Park. Visitors to this park can explore a variety of habitats, including prairie and woodlands. The park contains picnic areas, a youth camping site, 5.5 miles of trails for hiking and cycling, and a 6.5-acre lake stocked with fish.
The “Touch-A-Life” trail takes visitors past a variety of plant life and onto a deck overlooking the lake. There is even an observatory supervised by the Ames Area Amateur Astronomers. The park is open all year round until 10 pm daily. The conservation center is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
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For over 100 years, a horticulture garden has been a part of the Iowa State University campus. The current garden, Reiman Gardens, now covers 17 acres and is dedicated to the education and appreciation of plants and butterflies. The garden contains a wide variety of plants, flowers, and shrubs.
Some are native to Iowa and others have been imported from all over the world! The site also houses the Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing, which contains over 800 species of colorful butterflies. Guided tours for adults and children are available. Special lectures and activities can also be added to the tour for an additional fee.
Intersection of University Blvd. and S. 16th St. Ames, IA 50011, Phone: 515-294-2710
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5.Boone County Historical Society
© Boone County Historical Society
The Boone County Historical Society is four museums in one! Visitors to Boone County can start their journey through the past at the Historical Center. They will learn about the natural history of the county and of the importance of the railroad and the military to the area.
They can also visit the childhood home of first lady Mamie Eisenhower and the small railway depot and park dedicated to local heroine Kate Shelley. Finally, visitors can view the Hickory Grove School, a one-room schoolhouse that has been restored and furnished with period-specific books, tools, and desks. Museum hours vary by site.
602 Story Street Boone, IA 50036, Phone: 515-432-1907
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6.Things to Do in Ames, Iowa: Stephens Auditorium
© Stephens Auditorium
The Stephens Auditorium was built in 1969 on the campus of Iowa State University. The goal of its benefactor, Clifford Y. Stephens, was to foster an appreciation for the performing arts in the university’s students. Today, the complex also contains a sports arena and theatre.
The auditorium hosts a variety of performing arts acts, including dance, musicals, concerts, and plays. Stephens is home to the ISU theatre and music departments, but also hosts acts from around the world. Information about upcoming shows can be found on the auditorium’s website. Tickets can be purchased at the website or at the ticket office.
Corner of Lincoln Way and University Blvd. Iowa State University Ames, IA 50011, Phone: 1-877-THE-CENTER
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7.Octagon Center for the Arts, Ames, Iowa
© Octagon Center for the Arts
Experience the arts in downtown Ames! The Octagon Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting art and supporting artists in the area. The center includes exhibits on art and artifacts that change throughout the year as well as a gallery shop where customers can view and purchase items made by local artists.
Items in the gallery include clothing and textiles, paintings, photographs, and pottery. The Octagon Center also offers special art classes for children and adults and art-themed events throughout the year. The galleries and shop are open Monday through Saturday until 5 pm.
427 Douglas Ave Ames, IA 50010, Phone: 515-232-5331
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8.Textile and Clothing Museum
© Textile and Clothing Museum
Part of the Iowa State University College of Human Sciences, the Textile and Clothing Museum grew out of a small collection used to help teach students. Today, the museum is made up of three separate collections which contain over 9,500 unique items dating from the Roman period to the present day.
These items represent clothing styles from the Midwest to the rest of the United States and all over the world. The museum’s textiles are still used as teaching tools, but are also open for the public to view. Things to Do in Iowa
603 Morrill Rd Ames, IA 50011, Phone: 515-294-4999
9.Torrent Brewing Company
© Torrent Brewing Company
The Torrent Brewing Company was founded by Ames homebrewer Andy McCormick. Today, Torrent occupies a large former warehouse building and serves a variety of brews from their taproom. Guests can sample a 5 oz. brew for only $2.00, and flights of four-beer samples are only $8.00.
The brewery also sells inexpensive snacks, such as popcorn and candy, and offers games such as foosball and pool. Guests can bring in their own food if they want a larger meal. Special events such as concerts are sometimes held here. Torrent is open Wednesday through Sunday, with hours varying by day.
504 Burnett Ave Ames, IA 50010, Phone: 515-233-3155
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10.Alluvial Brewing Company, Ames, Iowa
© Alluvial Brewing Company
The Alluvial Brewing Company was started on a small farm in Franklin Township, north of Ames. Their goal is to create quality craft brews with great taste while celebrating all things Iowa. Alluvial’s beers incorporate unusual ingredients such as rye, dry-hopped sour, coffee, maple, and roasted peanuts.
The result is a truly unique taste experience. Their public taproom is located on the farm and encourages social drinking and relaxation. Guests can drink outside while strolling the farm’s grounds, or come inside for a brew and a board game. Alluvial is open Thursday through Sunday until 10 pm.
3715 West 190th St Ames, IA 50014, Phone: 515-337-1182
10 Best Things to Do in Ames, Iowa
- Brookside Park, Photo: Courtesy of geargodz - Fotolia.com
- Brunnier Art Museum, Photo: Brunnier Art Museum
- McFarland Park, Ames, Iowa, Photo: Courtesy of watcherfox - Fotolia.com
- Reiman Gardens, Photo: Courtesy of leekris - Fotolia.com
- Boone County Historical Society, Photo: Boone County Historical Society
- Things to Do in Ames, Iowa: Stephens Auditorium, Photo: Stephens Auditorium
- Octagon Center for the Arts, Ames, Iowa, Photo: Octagon Center for the Arts
- Textile and Clothing Museum, Photo: Textile and Clothing Museum
- Torrent Brewing Company, Photo: Torrent Brewing Company
- Alluvial Brewing Company, Ames, Iowa, Photo: Alluvial Brewing Company
- Cover Photo: ReimanGardens
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