A boy and a man smiling while sitting in kayaks on a lake.

Top Five Water Features to Visit in Iowa

Get outside this summer with your family to explore water! Water play has a number of benefits for children, including learning about math and science, developing creativity and using their senses to explore! Iowa has hundreds of beautiful and fun water places to explore; here is a short list to get you started! 


1) Hit the beach! 

With warm summer days, the beach is a great way to cool off and play. Iowa has many public beaches across the state. Lake Manawa State Park in Council Bluffs or the restored and reimagined Lake Darling in Brighton are two perfect spots for a summer swim. 

2) Take a water adventure! 

If you have a kayak and are up for the challenge, you can paddle into some campsites across Iowa. These isolated sites provide primitive camping opportunities, requiring you to be skilled on the water and to carry in all of your gear for your stay. If this type of water exploration isn’t your cup of tea, try an afternoon of creek stomping! Ledges State Park in Boone can provide hours of water fun. 

3) Take in the beauty of a waterfall! 

The eastern part of the state has dozens of beautiful waterfalls and rapids within our state parks. Explore the moss-covered waterfalls along Bixby State Preserve’s Ice Cave Trail, take a family hike around Pikes Peak State Park and take in the beauty of Bridal Veil Falls, or visit the serene Union Grove State Park Spillway in Gladbrook.

4) Check out a fresh water spring!

You can head to Richmond Springs where you can wade in the water and watch fresh, spring water bubble up from the ground. While you’re there, stop by Backbone State Park for an easy and scenic hike. You can stay high on the limestone trail or drop down to the river basin to explore. 

5) Explore water at home!

Can’t get outside? You can easily explore water at home and we have some ideas to inspire you! Observe how temperature affects water with this ice tower activity, experiment with surface tension or notice how important water is to plants with these videos from our Wander & Wonder series. 


However you explore the water this summer, be safe and have fun!