Things to Do in Ames, Iowa

Places to visit in Ames, IA.

If you plan a trip to Ames, Iowa, there are many things to do. The city is located in the central part of the state and is only about thirty-five miles from Des Moines. In addition to its location, Ames is home to Iowa State University and some of the country’s top agricultural and engineering colleges.

The city of Ames, Iowa, offers many attractions to explore. There are many parks and other outdoor activities for those who like to enjoy the outdoors. One of the most popular attractions in Ames is the World’s Largest Concrete Gnome. This tourist attraction is located in the Rieman Gardens.

Things to Do in Ames, Iowa

Reiman Gardens

The 17-acre Reiman Gardens are a public garden owned by Iowa State University. It features two large glass houses, an indoor tropical conservatory, a butterfly wing, and other unique displays. It is located on the south end of the campus and is open daily throughout the year.

Reiman Gardens
Reiman Gardens

The mission of Reiman Gardens is to inspire an appreciation of the natural world through living beauty. In addition, they conduct educational programs and events to help people understand environmental stewardship.

In addition to the outdoor gardens, the Reiman Gardens also include an indoor Butterfly Wing, the Herb Garden, and the Rose Collection. In addition, there are several greenhouses and other support structures.

World's Largest Concrete Garden Gnome
World’s Largest Concrete Garden Gnome

Ada Hayden Heritage Park

Located on the outskirts of Ames, Iowa, Ada Hayden Heritage Park is the crown jewel of the city’s park system. The park is home to two lakes, a boat launch, and a small, mighty, 3.2-mile “Figure 8” paved hiking trail.

There are plenty of other amenities to enjoy, including canoe rentals, clean bathrooms, and parking. In addition, Ames has a capital improvements program that encourages the department to look at the facilities that make the city a great place to live and play.

Ada Hayden Park
Ada Hayden Park

The park is lighted and handicapped accessible to make it easier for people with mobility issues to get into the water. This is the first of its kind in the area, creating a massive difference in the quality of life for those with mobility issues.

Brookside Park

Brookside Park is one of the best places to picnic in Ames, Iowa. The park features a wading pool, a baseball field, a skateboard park, a kids’ playground, and several other amenities. It’s the perfect place to spend some time with the family or go for a run.

Brookside Park, Ames, Iowa
Brookside Park, Ames, Iowa

Ames is full of parks. But there’s one in particular that stands out. Brookside Park is located in the green zone between the campus of Iowa State University and the city of Ames. This makes it an excellent spot for a picnic, a run, or a walk.

Octagon Center For the Arts

The Octagon Center for the Arts is a non-profit community art organization. It serves Ames and surrounding areas by fostering individual creativity and encouraging interaction through the arts. To achieve this mission, the organization has developed programs in education, outreach, exhibits, and workshops. They also host special events, such as the annual Octagon Art Festival, and have a retail gallery shop where visitors can purchase items from local artists.

Things to do in Ames, Iowa

Since 1966, the Octagon Center for the Arts has played a significant role in the cultural life of Ames. This non-profit, community art organization has become a fixture of the downtown Ames cultural scene. Throughout its history, the center has sponsored and hosted numerous arts and music events and has provided spaces for individuals to gather and engage in meaningful interactions.

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Brunnier Art Museum

The Brunnier Art Museum is located at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Established in 1975, it is the state’s only accredited museum specializing in decorative arts. In addition to its permanent collection, the museum also hosts traveling exhibits and offers guided tours. This is an educational opportunity for people of all ages. As with most museums, it is best to plan a visit.

Best tourist attractions in Ames, Iowa

The “A New World: 600 BCE to 600 CE” exhibit, curated by 2019-20 Brunnier Art Museum Fellow Sarah Bartlett, is a glimpse into the past. It features works of art from over forty artists, including Jay N. “Ding” Darling, a well-known Des Moines printmaker.

Other notable items on display include the Christian Petersen Collection, which features large-scale preparatory drawings for murals, as well as oil paintings, ceramics, and festival dolls from Japan.

Best Things to Do in Ames, Iowa

  1. Reiman Gardens in Ames, Iowa
  2. Ada Hayden Heritage Park in Ames, Iowa
  3. Brookside Park in Ames, Iowa
  4. Octagon Center For the Arts in Ames, Iowa
  5. Brunnier Art Museum in Ames, Iowa
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