Stay with Choice Hotels in Ames, IA and get a taste of central Iowa’s local culture. While Ames, Iowa is known to many as the home of Iowa State University, it is much more than a simple college town. This central Iowan city offers a number of ways to explore local culture and history, many of which are conveniently located in a bustling downtown area.
Established as the United States’ first land-grant college in 1858, Iowa State University is a beautiful campus full of history. Take a campus tour and admire the beautiful landscaping as well as the campus’ blend of classical and modern architecture. Be sure not to miss the exhibit dedicated to the world’s first electronic digital computer, which was built by an Iowa State professor. Iowa State also offers Division One sports, so make sure to witness the excitement of a Cyclones football or basketball game while in town.
After touring the campus, head over to Reiman Gardens to unwind. This 14-acre garden offers plenty of natural beauty right in the center of Ames and has something new to enjoy every season. Relax in the gardens for a while among the flowers, stroll the grounds and see the sculptures on display, or check out the live butterfly exhibit. If you want to investigate the local arts scene, visit the Octagon Center for the Arts. Located in downtown Ames’ Main Street Cultural District, this gallery space displays the work of local painters, sculptors and crafters on a rotating basis. If you like what you see, visit the gallery shop to buy a one-of-a-kind painting or item, and check out the center’s list of classes too. Make sure to plan your visit around the annual Octagon Art Festival in September to see a full display of what Ames’ art scene has to offer.
If you find yourself downtown on a Saturday morning, check out the Ames Main Street Farmer’s Market. Chat with the farmers and artisans displaying their goods, and get your hands on locally grown vegetables, meats, breads, as well as other homemade foods and crafts. Located right near Tom Evans Park, the market runs from early May through September, and offers weekly family entertainment as well. Spend a relaxing afternoon or evening at Prairie Moon Winery and Vineyards. This vineyard offers its own unique take on red and white wines made from grapes native to the area. Stop in for a glass and check out some of the events hosted by the vineyard, including weekly concerts. Before you go, make sure to take a short drive to Boone and visit the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad & Museum. Take an excursion train ride through the picturesque Des Moines River Valley to see the Iowa heartland like never before. Special ride options include dinner and picnic trains for a meal with a view. The James H. Andrew Railroad Museum commemorates Iowa’s rich railroad history with exhibits on railroad depots, conductors and more.
With so much to see and do in town, you will want to make sure you have a comfortable room to come back to at the end of the day. Book with Choice Hotels in Ames, Iowa and start planning your Midwestern escape today.