The Long List of Iowa Homeschool Field Trip Ideas

Are you an Iowa homeschooler looking for all the best spots to take your kids on field trips to?

I always recommend checking out a local veterinary clinic, fire station, and county courthouse for field trips, but there’s also some pretty specific spots across the state that you’ll want to be sure to check out.

This is not an all-inclusive list by any means, but these are definitely some fan-favorite options. We’ll be sure to add to the list throughout our homeschool journey.

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You can use the map below to find spots near you or search by subject.

You can also scroll down the list to read descriptions and admission prices. All subjects and places are listed in alphabetical order. Some of the places can be used to learn about multiple subjects, but I just placed them in the category in which I thought suited them best. 😉

Art

Charles H. MacNider Art Museum

The Charles H. MacNider Art Museum displays exceptional American art collections, including paintings, prints, drawings, ceramics, sculpture, fused and blown glass, textiles, and puppets.

The museum offers guided tours, studio art classes, a kid’s club, and lunch n’ learns. There’s also an Imagination Playground, where kids can get active and learn hands-on.

Location: Mason City, IA

Admission: Free

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Des Moines Art Center

If you’re ever in the Des Moines area, be sure to head on over to the art center to explore some modern and contemporary art that’ll make you think. The Des Moines Art Center displays collections that are meant to drive curiosity and inspire personal transformation. The art center offers tours, studio programs, workshops, summer camps, and more.

The art center is located between Greenwood and Ashworth park, so after you’re done you can get a lovely walk in around the pond, hike some trails, or play on the playground or sprayground. There’s also a lovely rose garden located right behind the art building.

Location: Des Moines, IA

Admission: Free

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PappaJohns Sculpture Park

The John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park is affiliated with the Des Moines Art Center and is located right in the heart of downtown Des Moines.

Take a walk along the artwork of 24 of the most celebrated artists around.

You can call to schedule a guided tour a few weeks in advance between April 1 and October 31, or you can get a free audio tour by calling 515.657.8264. There’s even an Exploration Guide that provides activities and ways to engage with the art.

Location: Des Moines, IA

Admission: Free

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Botany

Enabling Garden

The Enabling Garden is over 2 acres of botanical fun . It’s located directly behind the Hy-Vee in Altoona.

There’s garden talks to learn from, sculptures to admire, a Little Free Library to swap a book out of, and of course, lots of different plants to spot. But, our favorite area is the interactive children’s garden, where there’s a natural playscape filled with musical instruments, a sand play area, flowers, and garden art.

You can also take a walk (or bike) along the bike trail, visit some geese and ducks along the pond, or even drop into the Altoona library for a read. There’s also a sprayground on the other side of Hy-Vee, which is nice for cooling down during summer months.

Location: Altoona, IA

Admission: Free

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Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens

The Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens is a great place to go, no matter what the season. It’s the perfect place to explore and explain about various plants throughout the world. There’s indoor and outdoor collections, and they offer youth tours and a variety of family workshops and summer camps.

They even have a story time, called story sprouts, which is great for ages 2-5. There’s a different theme each time, and the kids get to read, move, and do a craft.

Location: Des Moines, IA

Admission:

  • Members – Free
  • Adult – $10
  • Senior (65+) – $9
  • Military – $9
  • Youth (4-17) – $7
  • Children 3 and under – Free

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Reiman Gardens

The Reiman Gardens in Ames is another great opportunity for learning about plants. You can explore a variety of native prairie species, aromatic herbs, roses, and even a palm tree.

There’s also innovative art and architecture to enjoy and an indoor butterfly garden, so you can sneak a zoology lesson in. There’s up to 800 butterflies in the exhibit, representing up to 80 different species.

It does cost to visit Reiman Gardens, but there’s always a few free days each spring and fall.

Location: Ames, IA

Admission:

  • General admission – $9
  • Senior (65+) – $8
  • Youth (2-12) – $4.50
  • 2 and under – FREE
  • More special admission rates on their website

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Government

Iowa State Capitol

If you’re looking for a government field trip idea, then be sure to schedule a tour of our Statehouse. You can also do a self-guided audio tour or take a virtual tour online if you absolutely can’t make it to the site.

There’s even an annual Homeschool Iowa Capitol Day with special activities to learn about laws, legislation, and our capitol building. You’ll have an opportunity to meet with senators and representatives and serve as a face for Iowan homeschoolers.

Location: Des Moines, IA

Admission: Free

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History

1912 Steam Locomotive (Friends of the 457)

Who doesn’t love trains? If you’re ever in the Mason City area, be sure to check out the “Rotary Cannonball.” This historical railway was built in 1912 and ran between Minneapolis and St. Louis.

Friends of the 457 is dedicated to preserving engine #457 and provides guests with an opportunity to explore and learn all about the history of railways and steam locomotives.

Location: Mason City, IA

Admission: Free – Open Saturday and Sunday 1 – 5 p.m. mid-May through October

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Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad

I still remember my first train visit over in Boone when I was a kid.

Over at the Boone & Scenic Valley railroad, you can take a train ride on locomotive 8419, and then head on over to the James H. Andrew Railroad Museum research library, where there’s a theater and tons of displays featuring memorabilia from all eras of railroading in Iowa. You can also learn about the equipment used and past projects for preservation.

Location: Boone, IA

Admission: Varies depending on excursion type, museum package, and weekend vs. weekday. See website for details.

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Clark Tower

Clark Tower is a historical treasure found in Madison County. This castle-like tower is made out of native limestone and was built in 1926 as a memorial to the county’s first pioneer family.

This historical landmark is located inside Winterset City Park, so you can get a whole day of family fun and learning in while you’re there. You could even get in a little 2 mile hike round trip if you’re feeling up to it.

Location: Winterset, IA

Admission: Free

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Devonian Fossil Gorge

This is definitely at the top of our field trip bucket list!

The Devonian Fossil Gorge is the main attraction over at the Coralville Lake Campgrounds in Iowa City. This treasure ground was created by the flood of 1993 and further expanded by the flood of 2008.

The overflow above the spillway washed away tons of soil, large trees, and even parts of the road. When the flood waters receded, the Devonian ocean floor was revealed. We’re talking about 375 million year old fossils! How cool would this be to see?!

Location: Iowa City, IA

Admission: Free (camping prices vary)

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Dodge House

If you’re ever near Omaha, be sure to check out one of Iowa’s 26 registered National Historic Landmarks.

The Historic Dodge House was home to General Grenville M. Dodge, known as “the greatest railroad builder of all time.” He was also a Civil War veteran, a U.S. congressman, and the youngest general in the U.S. army until WWII.

This renowned railroad builder built his Victorian home overlooking the Missouri Valley in 1869. He was very much a part of the planning and building process, and now visitors today can still appreciate the frontier of one of Iowa’s most famous residents.

Location: Council Bluffs, IA

Admission:

  • Adults – $10
  • Senior (65+) – $5
  • Students (6-18) – $5
  • Veterans (with ID) – $5
  • Children 6 & under – Free

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Effigy Mounds National Monument

The Effigy Mounds is a space for cultural, nature, and historical learning. Located in the Upper Mississippi River Valley, this is one of the most beautiful spaces in the state (and also one of our national monuments).

The spirit-shaped mounds were built by Native Americans as burial sites, or possibly celestial events or seasonal observances. You can find mounds in the shape of birds, bison, deer, turtles, and long rectangular mounds.

But not only can you learn about the culture of various American Indian tribes associated with the Effigy Mounds, this sacred place is also home to a wide diversity of plants and animals, which helped shape the tribes’ lifestyles and beliefs.

Location: Harpers Ferry, IA

Admission: Free

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Herbert Hoover National Historic Site

The Herbert Hoover National Historic Site is a memorial landscape left to tell our President’s story.

Herbert Hoover was orphaned at age 9 and left West Branch, yet returned to his birthplace years later. Now there’s a landscape of buildings and natural areas to commemorate his childhood, life, and achievements.

You can take a look through the visitor center, visit the birth cottage and schoolhouse, stop at his gravesite, or get a glimpse of the tallgrass prairie on the observation deck.

They even have educational packets for the kids to fill out and earn a badge!

There’s also a  Presidential Library and Museum that connects his childhood to his later accomplishments and allows you to explore his time as President.

Location: West Branch, IA

Admission: No fee to enter ($10 for Admission to the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum)

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Historic Park Inn

Over in Mason City, you’ll find the last remaining Frank Lloyd Wright designed and built hotel in the entire world.

The famous American architect designed over 1,000 different structures (532 which were built) that were meant to help shape and improve the way we live.

The preserved Historic Park Inn allows you to take a step back into 1910 and enjoy a 100 year old lounge, billiards table, and Grille’. Schedule your next weekend getaway to come view this impressive architecture and piece of history designed by one of the greatest architects of all time.

Location: Mason City, IA

Admission: Reservation prices vary

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Kinney Pioneer Museum

While you’re in the Mason City area, be sure to visit the Kinney Pioneer Museum to help celebrate the history of Northern Iowa.

This little museum is located next to the Mason City Municipal Airport and features collections of everyday items that Midwesterners used since they settled in Iowa. Various artifacts you can find throughout the museum include a gas lamp, cigar box opener, dehorning tool, milk bottle, a grinding wheel, and even some Ford vehicles.

You can also take a virtual tour of many of these items on their website.

Location: Clear Lake, IA

Admission:

  • Adults – $3
  • Kids – $1

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Living History Farms

Living History Farms is such a great place to get outdoors and learn about the history and development of agriculture. We always make a point to get out here at least once a year.

My kids and I always enjoy seeing the farm animals, taking a tractor ride, and walking through the old school, blacksmith shop, and historic homes.

Living History Farms also offers homeschool days, preschool reading programs, summer day camps, behind the scenes tours, and more.

Location: Urbandale, IA

Admission:

  • Adults (13-59) – $16.00
  • Seniors & Military (60+) – $15.00
  • Children (2-12) – $9.50
  • 1 and Under – Free
  • Members – Free
  • Group rates available

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Mathias Ham Historic Site

The Mathias Ham Historic Site features the 19th-century Mathias Ham House, Iowa’s oldest log cabin, the last one-room school used in Dubuque County, historic Lead Mines, and a historic granary.

Take your kiddos on one of the guided tours with a costumed interpreter to learn all about the history of Mathias Ham, the city of Dubuque, life on the Mississippi, and life during the Victorian era.

The Historic Ham Site also has fun events throughout the year, including summer Sunday picnics, craft days, an annual ice cream social, and the Smithsonian Museum day.

Location: Dubuque, IA

Admission:

  • Adults – $7.50
  • Youth (3-17) – $4.00
  • Children 2 & under – Free
  • Group rates available

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Salisbury House & Gardens

The Salisbury House in Des Moines was modeled after the King’s home in Salisbury, England.

This historic home was built in the 1920s by Carl Weeks and features 16th century English oak woodwork, English flintwork, and rafters from the time of Shakespeare. The house also still contains the family’s original artwork, tapestries, books, and furnishings.

Schedule an educational tour today to help your kids explore history and architecture right here in Iowa.

Location: Des Moines, IA

Admission:

Self-Guided Tours

  • Adults – $8
  • Seniors (65+) – $7
  • Youth (6-12) – $2
  • Children 5 & under – Free
  • Veterans/Active Military (with ID) – Free

Guided Tours

  • Adults – $12
  • Seniors (65+) – $11
  • Veterans/Active Military (with ID) – $7
  • Youth (6-12) – $3
  • Children 5 & under – Free
  • Group discounts available

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State Historical Museum of Iowa

Learn all about the history of Iowa over at the State Historical Museum in Des Moines. There’s a variety of exhibitions, tours, and collections for your children to explore, covering topics, such as farming, cannons, bicycling, World War I, airplanes, and much, much more.

It’s also a great place to teach your kids about Iowa before it even became a state and how the land changed when the first settlers arrived.

The State Historical Society of Iowa, with which the museum is associated with, offers several educational programs for all ages, including National History Day, a Young Writers’ Workshop, Goldie’s Kids Club, and History Alive.

Location: Des Moines, IA

Admission: Free (Tours are $10 a person for group sizes 4-10)

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The Grotto

The Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption, also known as the West Bend Grotto, is just absolutely stunning. Definitely a trip you don’t want to miss. It’s the perfect place for learning about religion and geology and helping bring your kids closer to God.

I still remember my grandparents taking me here when I was little, and I hope to take my kids there soon.

The Grotto is a religious shrine made out of precious stones and gems and was built by the artistic, Father Paul Matthias Dobberstein. There’s 9 areas of the Grotto, with each one portraying a different scene in the life of Christ. The Grotto is meant to tell the story of this man’s fall through illness and redemption through faith.

I can definitely see why this spiritual beauty is commonly referred to as the “Eight Wonder of the World.”

Location: West Bend, IA

Admission: Free

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Union Pacific Railroad Museum

Learn about the history of the Union Pacific Railway over at the museum in Council Bluffs. Full of interactive tours and exhibits, your kids are sure to have some educational fun.

The museum expands on the story of the pioneer migration into Iowa and covers stories centered around the railway, such as the origin of the blue and white striped engineer’s cap, Union Pacific’s firearm collection, the Summit Tunnel, and the death of the Union Pacific night watchman, Jess Sitton.

There’s tons of awesome railroad artifacts to look at and read about, and you can see what a dining car, lounge car, and club car used to look like.

This place is perfect for train lovers, tech kids, and the entire family.

Location: Council Bluffs, IA

Admission:

  • General admission – Free
  • Guided tours – $5 for adults, $3 for children

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Western Historic Trails Center

Another little gem in Council Bluffs is the Western Historic Trails Center.

This little museum goes hand-in-hand with the Union Pacific Railroad Museum, as it helps you follow in the footsteps of early settlers of Iowa. There’s exhibits, films, and maps to help you envision what these early travelers saw on their journey through the Lewis and Clark, Oregon, California, and Mormon trails.

They offer family events in the Lied Historical Building or you can walk or bike the trails to the banks of the Missouri River.

Location: Council Bluffs, IA

Admission: Free

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Music

Des Moines Symphony

The Des Moines Symphony Orchestra performs a regular series of Masterworks, Pops, Family, and Education Concerts. Heck, I remember going to see the Orchestra every year at the Civic Center while I was playing cello in school.

Seeing one of their performances is a really great way to appreciate the arts and inspire your children with their musical talents. It’s also a great field trip to incorporate into a musical history curriculum.

The Des Moines Symphony also has their Academy, which provides education for musicians of all ages. The Academy offers private lessons, youth orchestras, group lessons, classical conversations, and summer and spring break camps.

Location: Des Moines, IA

Admission: Varies on event and program

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Surf Ballroom

If you’re a music family, then you’ve got to check out this historic rock n’ roll landmark. The Surf Ballroom is the perfect trip for cultural and musical history and live entertainment.

The Ballroom offers tours, exciting summer programs, reading programs, and of course, live concerts. Across the street is the home of the original owner/builder of the Surf Ballroom, Carl J Fox, which you can also schedule a tour for. It’ll give your kids a glimpse of what life was like in the 1940s and 1950s.

Location: Clear Lake, IA

Admission:

  • General admission – $5 suggested donation
  • Guided tour – $8/person

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The Music Man Square

The Music Man Square gives you a tour of the life and art of Mason’s City’s favorite musician, Meredith Wilson.

Explore Wilson’s achievements in the Meredith Wilson Museum, get a glimpse into how it was like to grow up in the early 1900’s in Iowa by visiting Meredith Wilson’s Boyhood Home, or take a stroll down the historic street featured in the 1962 award winning film by Meredith Wilson, The Music Man.

You can also visit the display of the 76 trombones right above Madison Park. There’s even an old-fashioned ice cream parlor, so you can catch a yummy treat before you head out.

This is such a neat place to learn about music history.

Location: Mason City, IA

Admission:

  • Adults – $10
  • Students (7-18) – $5
  • Children 6 & under – Free

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Nature

Annett Nature Center

The Annett Nature Center in Warren county is one of our favorite places to visit.

Outside, you can walk the trails and view the wetlands, prairie plants, and butterfly garden. There’s even an observation tower the kids can climb up to catch a better view.

Inside, you’ll find collections of local species of animals, as well as interactive displays. My kiddos love watching the owls and fish and playing with the puppets.

Just be sure to call ahead if you’re going on a weekday , as they sometimes close at certain times for meetings.

Location: Indianola, IA

Admission: Free

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Big Creek State Park

Big Creek State Park offers a variety of recreational opportunities to help your kids love and appreciate nature. There’s a lake and beach for swimming, kayaking, and fishing, and there’s a 26-mile paved trail for walking, bicycling, and even snowmobiling.

Big Creek is also a great way to learn about the engineering and functionality of dams, as the lake was primarily developed for flood control.

There’s plenty of designated spots for eating and they even have a rental facility and concession stand open during the “on-seasons.”

Location: Polk City, IA

Admission: Free (equipment rental prices vary)

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Jester Park

Jester Park is like your ultimate nature destination in central Iowa. The park has so much to offer.

There’s lots of trails to hike, shelters for picnics, campground sites to stay at, and even several equestrian opportunities. There’s a natural water playscape for the kids to cool off at on hot summer days, and there’s even elk and bison herds to spot.

They’ve also recently opened a new nature center building that promotes the learning and appreciation of Iowa’s land and wildlife. The Polk County Conservation Board also offers several year-round nature programs over at Jester Park.

Location: Granger, IA

Admission: Free (costs vary for camping, equipment rentals, & equestrian activities)

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Ledges State Park

The unique beauty of the canyons and bluffs at Ledges is one you can’t miss.

There’s 4 miles of hiking trails that allow you to explore the standstone cliffs, native plant species, and see the spectacular views of Pea’s Creek “canyon.” There’s one interpretive trail that teaches you how to identify up to 40 different species of lichens.

There’s also stream fishing and canoeing opportunities in the Des Moines River located on the west edge of the park.

On the north side of the canyon, you’ll find the Hutton Memorial that honors the first director of the Iowa State Conservation Commission and great conservationist, Murray Lee Hutton.

Location: Madrid, IA

Admission: Free (campsite prices vary)

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Lewis and Clark State Park

Lewis and Clark State Park is the perfect place for a family picnic and some nature education. Take a hike along one of the many trails, and help your kids identify a variety of trees, shrubs, wildlife, and animal tracks.

You could also do some fish surveying in the Blue Lake, and hopefully find some bass, channel catfish, and northern pike. On warmer days the kids could swim, kayak, or canoe.

This state park also makes a great history lesson, as you’ll find the full-sized reproduction of Lewis and Clark’s keelboat/barge, “Best Friend.” This keelboat was constructed by Butch Bouvier of L&C Replicas and offers visitors the chance to see all of the various boats that were used on the Lewis and Clark Expedition, as well as several other informative pieces from the Expedition.

Location: Onawa, IA

Admission: Free (campsite prices vary)

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Loess Hills

The scenery at Loess Hills is just breathtaking! Such a great place to escape and appreciate the beauty of nature.

Loess Hills runs along the western parts of Iowa and Missouri and Eastern parts of Kansas and Nebraska, surrounding the Missouri River. The hills are over 60 feet high, made almost entirely of windblown soils, and were formed near the time of the last ice age.

The Byway offers many opportunities for hiking, biking, and birding. It’s also home to some of the largest patches of prairie in the state.

They even have an annual Loess Hills and Heritage Week that showcases the unique geological, topographical, and archaeological features of the Loess Hills, including their special flora, fauna, and history.

Online, you can learn more about the Loess Hills, read some Loess Country articles, and download a Loess Hills coloring book.

This Iowa treasure is one you won’t want to miss.

Location:

  • State Forest – Pisgah, IA
  • Lavender Farm – Missouri Valley, IA
  • Scenic Overlook – Moorhead, IA

Admission: Free

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Maquoketa Caves

The Maquoketa Caves is another one that is high up on our bucket list.

This State Park is filled with hiking trails, camping, picnicking, and of course, caves.

The caves were formed with limestone and rugged bluffs and give visitors an opportunity to step-back into a different geological time. These caves also give a recorded history of Native Americans, as many artifacts, such as pottery, tools, and projectile points, have been discovered within them.

But before entering the caves, you will need to take the guided tour to learn how you can help prevent the spread of the White Nose Syndrome. The website also recommends visitors wear old clothes and bring a flashlight with them.

You’ll also want to be sure to checkout the “Natural Bridge” while you’re in the park, which stands nearly 50 feet above the Raccoon Creek.

There’s even an Interpretive Center, where you can learn about the geology of the caves, history of the park, and background of the park’s early “inhabitants”.

Location: Maquoketa, IA

Admission: Free (campsite prices vary)

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Mariposa County Park

Mariposa Park is just northeast of Newton and offers fishing, picnicking, and camping. But the highlight of the park is definitely the bison.

There’s also a 1/2 mile nature trail, a butterfly garden, and a lookout tower.

The park lies among a 17 acre lake and many hills covered with pine trees.

Location: Newton, IA

Admission: Free

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Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge

This federal national wildlife refuge is home to many native flora and fauna of Iowa.

On the refuge, you’ll find bison, elk, grassland birds, monarch butterflies, and maybe even a short-eared owl in the winter. You’ll also be able to spot and identify several prairie plants and oak trees.

There’s also an education center, which houses an exhibit area, movie theater, classrooms, and the Prairie Point Nature Store.

The refuge offers several environmental educational activities throughout the year, including a Bison Day, Junior Duck Stamp Program, and an Annual Photo Contest. You can find 10 of the top favorite wildlife refuge programs just for kids here.

Location: Prairie City, IA

Admission: Free

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Pammel State Park

Pammel State Park was one of Iowa’s first state parks, dedicated in 1928. Just southwest of Winterset, Pammel Park is home to many of Iowa’s botanical treasures and wildlife.

This park is known for it’s diversity of woodland vegetation, some of the oldest Oak trees in the state, and it’s signature limestone ridge, known as the “backbone.” When entering the park, you’re greeted with Iowa’s only highway tunnel, known as the “Harmon Tunnel.”

The Middle River flows through this beautiful 350 acre park, and there’s several trails for you to explore. There’s also an educational nature center that you won’t want to miss.

Pammel Park is a great way to teach your kids about plant and animal life and help them identify wildflowers, trees, birds, fishes, and many other wildlife species.

Location: Winterset, IA

Admission: Free (campsite prices vary)

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Saylorville Lake Visitor Center and Butterfly Garden

Saylorville Lake is great for water sports, fishing, and boating. But did you know that they also have an educational visitor center and butterfly garden?

The visitor center has short films about the lake and dam and animal pelts to explore. The butterfly garden is a great addition to teaching your kiddos about metamorphosis and the butterfly life cycle.

The Park Rangers and volunteers also offer a wide range of free educational events available to the public during the recreational season.

Location: Polk City, IA

Admission: Free

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*For more Nature field trip ideas, I highly recommend checking out the Iowa DNR website or the Des Moines Outdoor Fun blog.

Science

Adventureland Park

If you’re doing a lesson on physics, I highly recommend teaching all about the science of roller coasters, and then taking your kids to Adventureland afterwards as a special treat. Plus, it’s just awesome to see science in live action.

Roller coasters are a great teaching opportunity on the relationship between work and energy. They also illustrate potential energy, energy transformation, and kinetic energy.

For more information on roller coaster physics, be sure to head over to the Physics Classroom.

Location: Altoona, IA

Admission:

  • Single Day (Ages 10-64) – $45 / Two Day – $70
  • Single Day Child (Ages 4-9) – $40 / Two Day – $65
  • Single Day Senior (Ages 65+) – $40 / Two Day – $65
  • Ages 3 and under – Free
  • Season passes also available

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Omaha Children’s Museum

The Omaha Children’s Museum is such an awesome place for learning through play.

They have several hands-on activities and exhibits to introduce children to the wonder of science. They cover basic science concepts, such as gravity and the scientific method, as well as hydraulic and mechanical concepts.

There’s also a tinker lab and a S.T.E.A.M. Cave, which is focused on introducing science, technology, engineering, art and math to young kids.

The museum offers daily science presentations, as well as summer camps, outreach programs, and special events.

Location: Omaha, NE

Admission:

  • Adults (Ages 16-59) – $13
  • Kids (Ages 2-15) – $13
  • Senior (Ages 60+) – $12
  • 2 and under – Free
  • Members – Free

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Science Center of Iowa

The Science Center of Iowa (SCI) is another one of our favorite places to visit. Such an awesome place to learn about physics, zoology, chemistry, astronomy, and more.

Their permanent exhibits include an amphibian and reptile room, the star theatre, a building lab, and a small discovery room for the really little ones. I’d say the most popular exhibit is the “When Things Get Moving” room, where you can build and launch your own paper rocket, discover the ball wall, play around with hydraulics, and attempt to master the “egg drop.”

SCI is also home to the Blank IMAX, where they rotate through exciting documentaries about wildlife, space, technology, and more.

The science center offers many educational programs, including a variety of summer and winter camps, SciGirls, Pint Sized Science, Nocturnal Science Nights, and even a Homeschool Science Series.

Location: Des Moines, IA

Admission:

  • Adult (Ages 13-64) – $13
  • Child (Ages 2 -12) -$9
  • Senior (Ages 65+) – $9
  • Under 2 – Free
  • Members – Free
  • IMAX costs extra
  • Program and camp prices vary
  • Paid parking at the adjacent parking garage

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The Iowa Children’s Museum

The Iowa Children’s Museum knows the power of play and inspires kids to explore, discover, imagine, and create. Through hands-on activities, your children can learn all about nature, motion, wind, technology, the medical field, and more.

They also have exhibits on arts & culture, financial literacy, and healthy living.

This museum will bring out your child’s curiosity and help them develop their imagination and problem solving skills.

You can also register your children for several programs and camps at the museum. There’s even a “play to read” program to help early learners develop literacy skills.

Location: Coralville, IA

Admission:

  • Children and adult (Ages 1-59) – $9
  • Senior (Ages 60+) – $8
  • Under 1 – Free
  • Members – Free

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Theatre

Des Moines Community Playhouse

A great way to introduce your kids to the world of theatre is to take them to an event at the Des Moines Community Playhouse.

You can even schedule a backstage tour, and see the costume shop, green room, and costume and prop storage room.

The Playhouse also offers summer camps for Pre-K through 12th grade, Spectrum Stories for ages 6-18, as well as pre-intern programs for teens.

Location: Des Moines, IA

Admission: Event prices vary

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Temple Theater

The Des Moines Performing Arts (DMPA) performs at a variety of places, but one of their most intimate venues is the Temple Theater.

Here, they host their Comedy Series and Live At The Temple Concert Series. You can also schedule at tour for a group of 8 or more by emailing info@desmoinesperformingarts.org.

But, what I really recommend is attending one of their Applause Series performances. Tickets are just $1, and performances are geared towards preschool to high school. There’s even a pre-show lesson for the kids and a specifically designed curriculum guide for teachers (that’s you mom and dad!).

*Venues do vary for the Applause Series performances.

Location: Des Moines, IA

Admission: Event prices vary

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Zoology

Bass Pro Shop

If you’re in the Des Moines Metro, the fish feedings at Bass Pro Shop are pretty neat to watch. They’re on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 3 p.m. And if your kid is age 4 or older you can call the store at 515-957-5500 to reserve a spot for them to help feed the fish!

Such a great way to learn about local fish species, fish anatomy, and fish feeding habits.

Bass Pro is also a great way to learn about wildlife, as you can schedule a tour that showcases their taxidermy and mounts, and wildlife facts.

There’s even an archery range, bowling alley, and restaurant at the store, so you could make a whole fun day out of it if you wanted to!

Location: Altoona, IA

Admission: Free (archery range, bowling, and dining costs extra)

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Blank Park Zoo

Support wildlife conservation by visiting our wonderful local zoo.

The fam will have a blast viewing the giraffes, rhinos, red pandas, penguins, lions, and more. Get clever and create an educational scavenger hunt for your kids to do while you’re there.

Be sure to attend some of the animal feedings and watch the sea lion training demonstration.

Address why zoos are so important for conservation, rehabilitation, and understanding animals in the wild.

The BPZ also offers summer camps, early education programs, and monthly homeschool days. They even have a family nature club and do several library events across the state.

Location: Des Moines, IA

Admission:

  • Adult (Ages 13-64) – $14
  • Child (Ages 3-12) – $8
  • Senior (65+) – $11
  • Military/veterans (with ID) – $12
  • 2 and under – Free
  • Members – Free
  • Discounted online tickets

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Iowa Raptor Center

The Iowa Raptor Center is home of the Iowa Raptor Project, sponsored by the University of Iowa and Kirkwood Community College. The mission of this rehabilitation project is to connect people to the conservation of birds of prey and preserve their populations and natural habitats.

There’s ongoing field research and education on raptor migration, nesting habits, and wintering grounds.

The center is open to the public and has 17 unreleasable birds that are available for you to view. They have on-site and off-site educational programs, and you can schedule a guided tour for a small fee.

They also offer volunteer opportunities and a fun family day every first Saturday of the month.

You can read more about their research on their blog, and stay in the loop by signing up for their monthly newsletter.

Location: Solon, Iowa

Admission: Free (small fee for guided tours)

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Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium

As a fish enthusiast, I can’t say good enough things about the Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium. Such a quaint place to learn about our aquatic native species, as well as ocean species.

On one side of the aquarium, they have a Sting Ray touch tank, Gulf of Mexico Aquarium, and a Giant Pacific Octopus. On the other side, you’ll find an American Alligator, a North American River Otter, Sturgeon, Gar, and Bufflehead Ducks.

But, my most favorite exhibit is by far the paddlefish. Be sure to stop by at feeding time, to see these ancient feeding filters in action!

The Museum also has several exhibits to help you learn about the history of the Mississippi River, the engineering of flood control, and the conservation of animals. You can even catch an educational 4D film or check out some of the historical boats on display.

There’s also a hotel right across the street with an indoor water park, so you could make a whole mini-vaca out of it!

Location: Dubuque, IA

Admission:

  • Adults (Ages 18+) – $17.95
  • Youth (Ages 3-17) – $12.95
  • Senior (65+) – $15.95
  • 2 and under – Free
  • Stingray feedings – $10/person
  • 4D films cost extra

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Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium

The Omaha Zoo has SO much to offer.

The admission is kind of pricey, but definitely well worth it.

You can’t miss the Lied Jungle (indoor rainforest), Desert Dome & Kingdoms of the Night, Scott Aquarium (Antartic penguins!!), and African Grasslands (African elephants and white and Indian rhinos). They also have a butterfly building, orangutan and gorilla exhibits, and a new Asian Highlands exhibit.

The zoo offers animal encounters, backstage experiences, camps, and a variety of special events. They even have their own zoo academy and preschool program, and they have free hands-on lessons and materials available for educators.

Location: Omaha, NE

Admission:

  • Adults (Ages 12-65) – $21.95
  • Child (Ages 3-11) – $15.95
  • Senior (65+) – $20.95
  • 2 and under – Free
  • 2 day pricing available

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Out of the House Learning

I hope this list gave you tons of ideas for field trips across the state. There’s so many great places to explore and learn in Iowa and it’s surrounding areas.

Now, get those kids outta the house and start learning!

What are some of your favorite field trips to take in the state? Share your most-loved spots in the comments below, and be sure to share this post with all your other homeschool friends.