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Free activities in Iowa

You don’t have to spend big money to have a great time in Iowa. Leave your wallet at home when visiting these free attractions in our great state.


Amana Woolen Mill

The Amana Woolen Mill has been in place since the 1850s, even though it’s faced floods, fire and other disasters. The mill is still operational and sells wool goods online and in their gift shop, with their most popular items being their wool blankets. Watch the looms in action, and take a self-guided tour Monday through Friday during normal business hours.

Location: 800 48th Ave., Amana, Iowa 52203
Phone: 800-222-6430
Rate: Free

The Farmhouse Museum

The Farmhouse Museum was originally the first building on the campus of Iowa State University, long before it was actually a campus. In the more than 150 years it’s been around, the farmhouse has served as home to many important people in the state’s history. Now, it serves as a tribute to Iowa’s rich historical past. Admission is free, but the museum is usually only open for a few hours a day and just a few days a week. Check the website or call before you go.

Location: Farmhouse Lane, Ames, Iowa 50011
Phone: 515-294-4442
Rate: Free, small donations suggested

Hearst Center for the Arts

The Hearst Art Center is home to all things art. You’ll find exhibits, performances, workshops, discussion groups and more. The best part about this place is that there’s nothing pretentious about it. Show up here in your best casual gear and you’ll be welcomed with open arms.

Location: 304 W. Seerley Blvd., Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613
Phone: 319-273-8641
Rate: Free

Sanford Museum and Planetarium

The Sanford Museum offers exhibits about archeology, geology, astronomy, prehistory and natural history. The east gallery tells the story of the town’s development, and a local artist wall showcases pieces of art from right here in Cherokee. The planetarium gives shows once a month. Check the website for dates and times.

Location: 117 E. Willow St., Cherokee, Iowa 51012
Phone: 712-225-3922
Rate: Free

Illinois Central Railroad Depot

This historic train depot was purchased from the city of Cherokee by a renovation group and now serves as a museum and education center. Stop by to see the museum, a real caboose and an HO scale model railroad. You’ll want to know about the many other events that take place here throughout the year, so call ahead before you plan your trip.

Location: 119 S. Fourth St., Cherokee, Iowa 51012
Phone: 712-225-4664
Rate: Free

University of Iowa Museum of Natural History

Explore 500 million years of Iowa history at the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History. The exhibits range from geology, ecology, cultural and more. It’s free to get in during normal hours, which vary Tuesday through Sunday. Call ahead and you can schedule a tour while you’re there, also for free.

Location:  10 Macbride Hall, Iowa City, Iowa 52242
Phone: 319-335-0480
Rates: Free

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