Visiting Western Iowa
Western Iowa is a haven for those who love to travel in their RV. The area offers many recreational opportunities, from camping to hiking, and more. In addition to outdoor activities, there are many museums, theaters and restaurants that will surely keep your day interesting. For those looking for a more urban experience, head over to the Quad Cities where you’ll find incredible food, extensive shopping malls, and exciting nightlife galore! Any RV trip is even more special with a Harvest Hosts membership, which allows you to skip waiting for campground openings or parking at potentially unsafe overnight stops, instead allowing you to choose peaceful overnights at a variety of exciting businesses across North America. Buckle up as we explore the very best that Western Iowa has to offer.
Historians believe that humans have lived in the area that is now Des Moines since between 1300 and 1700 CE, or nearly 7000 years ago. The town itself began settling in 1846, but the Flood of 1851 wiped out most of what had been built. Later, the city was rebuilt and began flourishing due to the construction of a coal mine and the use of ports on the nearby rivers. Over the years, the city has continued to rebuild and develop additional parts of town to add new features for beautification purposes.
Things to Do
Great Escape offers some of the best indoor fun to be found. Here, visitors and locals alike can find bowling, laser tag, virtual reality headsets, an arcade, and more. There is also an on-site restaurant with an excellent variety of foods and beers. This is such a great place to spend a weekend evening or even a late afternoon.
Smash Park is an exciting outdoor venue that combines a restaurant, a bar, an arcade, and an entertainment center all in one. In addition to the activities mentioned above, they also offer pickleball, darts, cornhole, and shuffleboard, with several leagues for locals to join.
Central Iowa is home to more than 800 miles of scenic biking and hiking trails. Many of these trails are paved, making them accessible to all. Some of the most popular ones near Des Moines include Neal Smith Trail, Oralabor Gateway Trail, Walnut Creek Trail, West Des Moines Historical Bike Tour, and Gray’s Lake and Water Works Park.
Living History Farms – Urbandale, IA
Since their very beginning, this farm’s goal has been to entertain, educate, and connect people of all ages with their incredible interactive museum. Here, visitors have the opportunity to witness a working farm that, to this very day, continues to remain true to its 1800s roots. They offer tours from May 1 through October 30, with a variety of fun events occurring throughout the year. This Harvest Hosts location offers six pet-friendly spaces for RVs of any size.
The Cellar Winery at White Oak – Cambridge, IA
From their first date in 1994 at The Wine Experience to opening their own winery in 2012, John and Barb’s love of wine certainly grew deeper with their relationship. They currently operate three separate vineyards under the name Ottawa Vineyards, and the Cellar Winery hosts a variety of events including tastings and live music. This Harvest Hosts location offers one pet-friendly space for an RV of any size.
La Vida Loca Winery – Indianaola, IA
The Putz family moved into their home in 1987. The property had many wild berries growing on it, so they began making jams. Eventually, they dabbled in wine-making, and the rest is history. Today, La Vida Loca Wineery continues to produce wines from fresh, local fruit. This Harvest Hosts location offers one pet-friendly space for an RV under forty-four feet in length.
Iowa Aviation Heritage Museum – Ankeny, IA
Due to the sheer amount of military aviation history throughout Iowa, this museum was an essential mainstay. Over the years, the museum has collected many artifacts and even some working historical airplanes for visitors to see. The best way to support this Harvest Hosts location is by purchasing admission to the museum, making a donation, or purchasing an item from the gift shop. They offer three pet-friendly spaces for RVs of any size.
From the start, Sioux City was always a major transportation hub. Many passed through the area heading to Salt Lake City or on their way to explore the gold fields in Wyoming. The expansion continued in 1891 when the Sioux City Elevated Railway was opened, which was only the third steam-powered and elevated rapid transit system in the world. Then in 1892, the railway became the first electric-powered railway in the world. During the prohibition era, the town was nicknamed “Little Chicago” for its reputation of illegal alcohol sales. Today, the city is the fourth-largest in Iowa.
Things to Do
Those feeling lucky can stop by “The Strip” which has a number of casinos, restaurants, and other stores. Many visitors feel that this area resembles a small version of Las Vegas.
Anderson Dance Pavilion
This fun riverfront park was built in the early 1990s with inspiration from Greek and Roman architecture. Throughout the year, this area features many fun events, including Artsplash, Mardi Gras, and more. Visitors can enjoy the scenic walkway and large children’s play area.
While this park offers year-round activities, it really comes alive in the winter season, offering a tubing hill with a snow machine, an outdoor fire pit, and an ice skating rink. During the summer, the park becomes a free splash pad.
Jolly Time Koated Kernels Popcorn Shoppe and Museum
This iconic and delicious store opened in 2014, and, since then, visitors from all over have enjoyed their homemade gourmet flavored popcorn. In addition to the candy store, they also have the Jolly Time Museum which displays more than 100 years of history of local family businesses.
Flight 232 Memorial
On July 19, 1989, en route from Denver to Philadelphia, the number two engine of United Flight 232 exploded. This destroyed all of its hydraulic systems, which should have rendered the plane impossible to control. However, somehow the pilots were able to keep the plane airborne airborne for forty-four minutes, long enough to crash-land at Sioux City’s airport. The right wing tore off and the fuel tanks blew up, but 185 people made it out of the ordeal alive. The Flight 232 Memorial commemorates the heroic rescue efforts undertaken by the community.
She Shed for Rent – Correctionville, IA
Come visit this wonderful, family-owned farm in northwestern Iowa. Here, they plant and harvest corn, soybeans, and hay, with a variety of farm animals on-site just waiting to be visited. The best way to support this Harvest Hosts location is by purchasing produce or firewood, buying photos or notecards, or making a donation. They offer three pet-friendly spaces for RVs under forty-four feet in length.
Wolf Creek Trail Ranch – Anthon, IA
This beautiful family-owned farm raises cows, horses, donkeys, and more. They offer a 50-amp hookup and water for an additional fee. The best way to support this Host is by purchasing some local beef or honey. This beautiful Harvest Hosts location offers three pet-friendly spaces for RVs of any size.
Lum Hollow Farms – Hornick, IA
Lum Hollow Farms is a multi-generational farm using bio-intensive and biodynamic farming practices for their produce. Throughout the year, they have a variety of goods available, ranging from vegetables, to herbs, fruit, and more. They also produce eggs, honey, and maple syrup, so be sure to pick up some farm fresh produce or goods when you visit. This Harvest Hosts location has five pet-friendly spaces available for RVs of any size.
Named for a severe storm a trapper experienced in the 1800’s, Storm Lake has since become a top destination in the Northwestern region of Iowa.
Things to Do
Visit a beach park
Storm Lake is home to thirteen parks and three public beaches. Here, visitors can enjoy swimming, building sand castles, fishing, boating, and more in these beautiful areas.
No need to wait until December to get into the Christmas Spirit in Storm Lake. It’s Christmas every day in Santa’s Castle, located in the historic Carnegie Library. Children and visitors young at heart can enjoy viewing the animated displays all year long.
King’s Pointe is the ultimate water park experience, with two indoor and outdoor water parks. The outdoor waterpark is 50,000 square feet in size, with rafts, slides, and more. The indoor park includes a lily pad walk, pools, and a pizza bar.
Old Town Vineyard and Winery – Ida Grove, IA
In 2006, Dr. John and Lenee Sinnott planted 100 vines to begin the hobby of winemaking. Every year after that, they planted even more vines. In 2009, Dr. John had to retire to grow their hobby into a family business. Today, they produce a minimum of five wines with a heavy focus on producing the best quality wines possible. This Harvest Hosts location offers five pet-friendly spaces for RVs of any size.
InnSpiration Vines and Wines – Linn Grove, IA
The Innspiration Vines and Wines property began as a bed and breakfast in 2008. Just a few years later, Paul and Sheila Thomsen expanded their business to include a vineyard and winery building. Today, they continue to host folks from all over in both their bed and breakfast and as a Harvest Hosts location. They currently produce a variety of wines ranging from fruit wines to grape varietals, which visitors have greatly enjoyed. This Harvest Hosts location offers four pet-friendly spaces for RVs of any size.
Fort Dodge was originally a military fort used from 1850 through 1853. Later, the town was officially founded in 1869 and became a prime gypsum mining area.
Things to Do
Brushy Creek State Recreational Area
This 6,000-acre park has numerous picnic areas, 45 miles of trails, shooting ranges, equine campgrounds, and more. The area is frequently used by hunters and fishers throughout the year.
Fort Dodge and Webster County Trail System
The Fort Dodge Trail System consists of over twenty-five miles of interconnected trails. There are four primary trailheads located throughout the county that bring these trails together.
Fort Frenzy offers some of the area’s most amazing indoor fun. This entertainment hub features an arcade, mini golf, laser tag, mini bowling, go karts, bumper cars, trampolines, and more.
Fort Museum and Frontier Village
At Fort Museum and Frontier Village, visitors can step back in time to visit a one-room schoolhouse, a general store, a drug store, a jail, a blacksmith shop, a tinsmith shop, and more.
Soldier Creek Winery – Fort Dodge, IA
The Soldier Creek Winery property has been in the Secor family for generations. After an unfortunate barn fire in 2002, they decided to branch out and plant cold-hardy grapes in place of the barn. The current vineyard is nestled between corn and soybean fields. Today, they produce around eighteen varieties of wine and even offer wine slushies. This Harvest Hosts location has five pet-friendly spaces available for RVs of any size.
Western Iowa is a great place for RVers looking to enjoy the outdoors and explore new places. Whether you’re in search of an urban or rural experience, there’s plenty here to keep your day interesting. Be sure to add some of these stops to your list next time you’re traveling through Western Iowa.
Have you visited Western Iowa? How was your experience? Where did you enjoy yourself the most? Feel free to share all about it in the comments below!
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