12 Best Things to Do in Ames, Iowa

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Aerial view of downtown Ames, Iowa

Located in Story County, Iowa, Ames is a rich city famous for being the home to Iowa State University. Picnics, outdoor dining, and shopping are just an addition to the fun things to do in Ames.

With many open spaces, restaurants, museums, parks, and art exhibits, the place is filled with adventure! Are you planning to visit Ames but have yet to craft your itinerary? Well, I’ve covered the best things to do in Ames.

TL;DR

Things to Do in Ames, Iowa

1. Appreciate masterpieces at the Brunnie Art Museum

Brunner Art Museum

Address: Scheman Bldg, 295, 1800 Center Dr, Ames, IA 50011, United States

Brunnier Art Museum is one of the museums located inside Iowa State University. It’s famous among visitors and locals because it is the only accredited museum in the state.

Brunnier Art Museum primarily displays collections of functional art pieces. You’ll love this place if you like decorative arts like ceramics, dolls, and enameled metals!

The best thing about Brunnier Art Museum is its proximity to other art museums. Drop by the Christian Petersen Art Museum, Farm House Museum, and Andersen Sculpture Garden if you have more time! These museums will likewise make your artistic heart jump with happiness.

2. Relax and Play at the Brookside Park

Address: 1325 6th St, Ames, IA 50010, United States

What better way to relax than to stroll around a beautifully landscaped park? Another popular spot in Ames is Brookside Park. People of all ages enjoy a relaxing day out in this wide-open space. If you’re from a busy city, Brookside Park is the best place to find peace!

Brookside has all the amenities you’ll need for that perfect family day. Ballfields, basketball courts, playground, off-street parking, grills, picnic tables, wading pool, and more!

You can also play basketball with your kids or challenge them to a tennis game. Or you can leave them in the playground as you tour around and appreciate the scenic view of the park. 

See Related: Things to Do in Iowa

3. Sample Beer at Alluvial Brewing

Alluvial Brewing

Address: 3715 W 190th St, Ames, IA 50014, United States

Beer is not everyone’s cup of tea – I’d recommend tea for those people. But if you’re someone who is energized by alcohol, then this place is for you! This Midwest is home to countless incredible breweries, and this place is no different!

The Alluvial Brewing Company started as a small brewing house in a farmhouse. The head brewers aimed to come up with unique mixes that would showcase the culture of Ames.

Thus, you’ll find quality brews with strange flavors on their menu. They serve mixes in the flavors of rye, coffee, roasted peanuts, maple, and more. Not to mention that tours around the vicinity also include a stop at the tasting room.

See Related: Best State Parks in Iowa to Visit

4. Learn more about Ames at The Boone County Historical Society

The Boone County Historical Society

Address: 602 Story St, Boone, IA 50036, United States

The Boone County Historical Society was founded in 1924 to raise awareness of four county museums. It promotes:

  • The Boone History Center
  • The Mamie Doud Eisenhower Birthplace
  • Hickory Grove School
  • The Kate Shelley Park & Museum

An excellent starting point for learning about the history of Boone County is its Historical Center. Visitors may learn about the county’s natural history, the railroad, and the military’s impact on the region.

An intriguing past awaits visitors to Boone County, Iowa, as coal miners, pioneers, farmers, businessmen, and military heroes have all called this city home.

5. Learn about fashion at the Textiles and Clothing Museum

Textiles and Clothing Museum

Address: 1015 Morrill Hall, Ames IA

In the Textiles and Clothing Museum, students engage in hands-on activities while learning via visual and kinesthetic cues. The teaching collection is amassed, documented, preserved, and then interpreted and shown by the place.

Students, academics, and academic researchers can use historical data, and it is also made available to the general public through exhibits and other forms of programs.

Its 9,000-item collection includes apparel, fabrics, accessories, and other dress-related objects dating from the 18th century.

6. Visit the historical Farm House Museum

Farm House Museum Scenery

Address: 601 Farm House Ln, Ames, IA 50011, United States

A short walk from the heart of Iowa State University’s campus, The Farm House Museum may be found on Farmhouse Lane to the west of campus.

The oldest structure on the Iowa State University campus in Ames, Iowa, is the Knapp–Wilson House. As part of the model farm that would become Iowa State University, this home was erected between 1861 and 1865. In 1964, it was honored to be named a National Historic Landmark.

The Iowa State Agricultural College and Model Farm’s initial structure was constructed in the 1860s. Over 6,000 items of Victorian-era ornamental art and antiques.

See Related: Best Iowa Family Vacations to Take This Year

7. Enjoy a show at the Stephens Auditorium

Address: 1900 Center Dr, Ames, IA 50011, United States

Stephens Auditorium hosts a spectacular assortment of international music and drama performances, as well as world-class orchestras, Broadway musicals, and other special events. It has a capacity of 2,729 people per show, having each seat with an unobstructed view.

In honor of Clifford Y. Stephens, the auditorium’s name was changed to Stephens Auditorium. The project began in 1965 and was finished in 1969 with a total expenditure of $4.9 million.

8. Breathe in the fresh outdoors at the Ada Hayden Heritage Park

Ada Hayden Heritage Park

Address: 5205 Grand Ave, Ames, IA 50010, United States

Ada Hayden Heritage Park is one of Ames’s best things to do, as it has enormous open space. Both adult and child visitors can enjoy the place because of its boat access, covered shelters, and picnic areas.

Kids can also run around, use the drinking fountain, and follow the designated walking trails. Fishing is also allowed around the lake. It is a perfect picnic spot for families with pets if your furry buddies are leashed.

See Related: What is Iowa Known For?

9. Sample local goods in Ames Main Street Cultural District

Ames Main Street Cultural District
Image by AmesDowntown

Address: 304 Main St Ames, IA 50010

Big box businesses and strip malls may be the most significant American contribution to commerce and architecture, but they aren’t everything.

Main Street Cultural District is home to locally-owned retailers, eateries, art festivals, and seasonal celebrations of many kinds. It’s a great area to go shopping or meet up with friends.

There are more than 50 locally-owned specialized stores, art studios, and restaurants on Ames Main Street, making it a prime example of a Main Street in Iowa. The products being sold in the area range from cheap things to expensive ones.

See Related: Best Weekend Getaways in Iowa

10. Make your heart flutter in the Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing

Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing
Image by Reiman Gardens

Address: Ames, IA 50011, United States

Located just south of Jack Trice Stadium on the Iowa State University campus in Ames, Iowa, Reiman Gardens is a 17-acre university-owned public garden. Events, talks, guided tours, and ISU student seminars are held at the Reiman Gardens.

At the Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing in Ames, Iowa, you can hang out with up to 1,000 butterflies of 36 different species in a 2,500-square-foot facility. The Butterfly Wing offers a rare opportunity to see these wonderful insects from six continents.

See Related: Things to Do in Iowa City

11. Fill your heart and stomach at The Great Plains Sauce & Dough, Co.

Address: 129 Main St #101, Ames, IA 50010, United States

The Great Plains Sauce & Dough Company has provided the best pizza in central Iowa for over three decades. In Ames, try Great Plains Sauce and Dough if you like pizza. It’s a wheat bread crust that is quite thick.

After completing your pizza, you’ll be given honey bottles to finish the crust! The cheese, which is an excellent mozzarella, is also a plus. Its menu includes salads, sandwiches, pizza, and desserts.

12. Get your adrenaline rush at Perfect Games

Perfect Games
Image by Perfect Games

Address: 1320 Dickinson Ave, Ames, IA 50014, United States

Perfect Games is one of my favorite things. Bowling, games, laser tag, and food are available at this facility for birthday celebrations. For private gatherings, there are separate rooms available for purchase. A two-story indoor children’s playground has also been recently added.

Parties can use the bar and meals available for purchase, plus more package offers to fit any occasion.

See Related: Things to Do in Muscatine, Iowa

How to Get Around Ames, Iowa

Ames is not only a wonderful place to visit for its impressive tourist spots and campgrounds. The city is well-loved by travelers because it’s easy to locate. And the transportation services are great!

There are three modes by which you can get to Ames: by car, by bus, and by plane. If you’re a solo traveler, you can travel by bus. This way, you’ll get the total experience of visitors.

But bringing your car to avoid getting lost would be best if you travel with your family. You can book rental cars with RentalCars.com to compare pricing if that is impossible.

If you’re traveling by plane, the nearest major airport to Ames is in Des Moines. You can book a round-trip private transfer to and from your hotel for smooth travel. 

See Related: Things to Do in Des Moines, Iowa

Places to Stay in Ames

1. Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Ames, an IHG Hotel Top Recommendation

From business to pleasure, Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Ames is the ideal place for you. This hotel in Ames, Iowa offers superb accommodations and amenities such as an indoor pool and free Wi-Fi. The rooms are well-equipped with microwaves and refrigerators.

2. Fairfield Inn & Suites Ames

This Ames hotel is conveniently located in central Iowa, just minutes from Iowa State University and offers a relaxing stay with easy access to area attractions. Wake up each morning to free hot breakfast buffet and enjoy a swim in the indoor pool or relax in the hot tub.

3. MICROTEL Inn and Suites - Ames

MICROTEL Inn and Suites - Ames is located in the heart of Ames, Iowa, next to Iowa State University. The motel offers spacious rooms with free Wi-Fi access for added convenience. Guest rooms are equipped with a cable TV, air conditioning and a coffee maker.

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Kyle Kroeger
WRITTEN BY

Kyle Kroeger

Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He's a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he'd heard.

Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he's learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.

He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time. Read more about his portfolio of work.

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