24 Best & Fun Things to Do in Ames (IA)

Ames is situated in Story County, Iowa. United States. It is approximately 30 miles north of Des Moines.

At the 2021 Census, the city had a population of 66,424, which made it Iowa’s ninth largest city.

Ames provides educational, recreational, cultural, entertainment, and business amenities that are more common in bigger cities. This growing city continues to be more intentional about building a community filled with opportunities for its citizens.

Additionally, the city offers recreational and fun activities through art galleries, over 36 parks, breweries, campgrounds, walking trails, and more.

Ames also houses Iowa State University, and a vacation in the city would not be complete without a tour of this remarkable University.

Are you planning a trip to Ames? Here are the top fun things to do in Ames, IA.

Things to Do in Ames

1. Reiman Garden

Reiman Garden
Credits: Scott McLeod / Flickr
Reiman Garden

Among the top things to do in Ames, IA is to explore Reiman Garden. This 17- acre university-owned attraction features gardens indoors and outdoors, a conservatory, and lots of greenhouses.

Also, the Garden comprises more than twenty distinct garden areas and an indoor butterfly wing.

The Garden’s greenhouse also features exotic flowers that create stunning scenery.

Rieman Garden is open every day from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm throughout the year except during Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s, and other holidays.

When you visit the Garden, you can go for a guided tour and participate in a few educational programs, events, or lectures about nature.

Furthermore, Reiman Garden has a small shop selling souvenirs; you can buy beautiful gifts for your loved ones.

An exciting side of this tourist attraction is that every year, it exhibits pieces and holds educational events according to a specific theme.

Other areas in Reiman Garden that you need to explore when you visit include Lake Helen, the Mahistede Building, the Herb Garden, and the Jones Rose Garden.

Address: 1407 University Blvd, Ames, IA 50011, United States

2. McFarland Park

McFarland Park
Credits: Scott McLeod / Flickr
McFarland Park

One of the best things to do in Ames, IA, is to go to the highly recommended McFarland Park with your loved ones and friends.

This fantastic destination is a 200- acre Park just north of Ames. Mcfarland Park has a long 5.5-mile trail suitable for people who like long hikes.

Another activity that you can engage in is cycling and fishing for bass, catfish, and bluegill at the gigantic 6.5-acre lake.

The most fantastic thing about Mcfarland Park is that it provides a different geographical area to explore, including tallgrass Prairie, stream habitats, and woodlands.

Additionally, the Park has a unique trail that features different plant species. The activities that can be done at the Park during winter are cross-country skiing and ice-fishing.

Mcfarland Park is open from Monday through Friday. 

Address: 56461 180th St, Ames, IA 50010, United States

3. Stephens Auditorium

Stephens Auditorium
Credits: Stephens Auditorium / Facebook
Stephens Auditorium

Stephen Auditorium is one of the best places to visit in Ames, IA. It is built within the campus of the University of Iowa.

Clifford Y Stephens established Stephen Auditorium in 1969 to promote and encourage a passion for performing arts among University students.

The Auditorium has 2,602 seats. Some performances at Stephens Auditorium include plays, dances, and musical concerts.

The Auditorium also features a sports arena and theater that has existed for a long time.

Occasionally, the Auditorium serves as a venue for local students and artists from around the globe.

If you want to attend a performance at the Auditorium, check their website to find out about the upcoming shows and buy tickets.

Address: Corner of Lincoln Way and Beach Ave, Ames, IA 50011-0001, United States

4. Brunnier Art Museum

This tourist destination is one of the most reputable art museums in the city. The Brunnier Art Museum lies on the second floor of the State Center building.

The Museum, established by Henry J. Brunnier and his spouse Ann, features different artwork and showpieces.

Brunnier Art Museum was titled a National Historic Landmark. The Museum has a sculpture garden that showcases gorgeous sculptures made by famous artists.

Additionally, the Museum features rotating temporary exhibits all year round and permanent ones such as ceramic, dolls, glass, and ivory.

Some of the art items you can find at the Brunnier Art Museum are silver objects, furniture, and wood.

Although admission into the Museum is free, it wouldn’t hurt to donate something to ensure the maintenance of this gorgeous place. Exploring this Museum is one of the best things to do in Ames, IA, especially if you’re an art enthusiast.

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

5. Ames Dog Park

Ames Dog Park
Credits: Joy Brown / Shutterstock

If you have a pet, why don’t you take it to Ames Dog Park so it could have a nice day? Animals deserve to have fun too.

Ames Dog Park is a public-owned Park that permits dogs of different types to visit and have a splendid time.

At this Park, you will see different types of dogs with their owners who bring their pets for strolls.

However, it is essential to note that you will not be allowed into the Park if you do not show proof that your pet is vaccinated against rabies.

This ensures that the Park remains a safe and friendly environment for every visitor.

Ames Dog Park also has drinking fountains in different parts of the park for you and your pet to drink when you get thirsty.

Address: 605 Billy Sunday Rd, Ames, IA 50010, United States

6. Boone County Historical Society

Boone County Historical Society
Credits: Dan Breyfogle [CC BY-SA 3.0], Wikimedia Commons
Boone County Historical Society
Boone County Historical Society is located in the neighboring town of Boone, 25 minutes from Ames.

The fascinating Boone County Historical Society is home to four types of Museums.

This organization aims to protect, understand, explore and teach the locals about the historical events of Boone County.

Boone County Historical Society’s ground houses a park and the childhood home of a one-time first Lady named Mamie Eisenhower. The Hickory Groove School is also situated here.

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

7. Textiles and Clothing Museum

The department of Apparel, Educational Studies, and Hospitality Management at Iowa State University is home to the Textile and Clothing Museum.

This tourist attraction is an interactive learning environment devoted to vision and object-based learning.

The Textile and Clothing Museum features the Mary Alice Gallery, the Textile and Clothing Collection, and the Textile and Clothing Conservation Laboratory.

The textile and Clothing collection is made up of 9,500 pieces of clothes from around the globe and from different times.

At the Museum, you can look at some of the beautiful clothes that showcase fashion from far back as the roman time and contemporary fashion pieces.

Although the Textile and Clothing Museum was built as teaching material for educational instructors, it is open for people to visit.

Address: 1015 Morrill Hall Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011-0001, United States

8. Farm House Museum

Farm House Museum
Credits: Cburnett [CC BY-SA 3.0], Wikimedia Commons
Farm House Museum
The Farm House is also known as The Knapp- Wilson House. It is a significant landmark in the city’s history.

The reason is that the Farm House is the oldest structure on the campus of the University of Iowa.

In 1946, the Farm House was listed in the National Register of Historic Places and made into a museum for the public.

The Farm House is a three-story building made with bricks from local clay. The historical significance bestowed on this building is because the Farm House was home to two popular teachers named Seaman A. Knapp and Mr. James Wilson.

The insides and the lobby of the Farm House are incredibly stunning.

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

9. Ada Hayden Heritage Park Lake

Ada Hayden Heritage Park Lake
Credits: Cherries / Shutterstock

Ada Hayden Heritage Park Lake is one of the best places to visit in Ames, IA. It is one of the most gorgeous parks in Ames.

Most significantly, Ada Hayden Heritage Park Lake is well known for the boating activities you can partake in. At this destination, you can rent a boat and go on a ride on the gentle blue waters.

Ada Hayden Heritage Park Lake also features walking trails along the biking path in case you are interested in taking a relaxing walk.

Also, you can set up a lovely picnic at one of the picnic sites. The Park Lake permits fishing, so you can do that too.

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

10. Perfect Games

Perfect Games
Credits: Boris Medvedev / Shutterstock

How about a family night out with your kids and spouse at Perfect Games?

Perfect Game is a top family entertainment center in the Southwest of Ames, IA.

This fun-filled facility features a cutting-edge, large arcade, a laser tag arena, and a 24- lane bowling alley.

Aside from these fantastic features, you will have a pizza made from scratch and a mouthwatering glass of craft beer on tap.

Additionally, Perfect Games has thirty TV Screens, and fifteen out of the thirty are large screens that show different games as you eat, hang out or play.

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

11. Ames Main Street

Ames Main Street
Credits: Joe Wolf / Flickr
Ames Main Street

A fantastic way to make the most of your vacation in Ames is to explore Ames Main Street. You will undoubtedly enjoy the experience.

Ames Main Street house over 50 locally-owned retail shops, restaurant, and art galleries.

Ames Main Street is a nationally recognized district in the city. In 2018, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Ames Main Street was previously called Main Street Cultural District before it was renamed Ames Main Street in 2018.

Although Ames Main Street houses a lot of one storied-buildings, it features some three- stories ones. Ames’s main business center is almost under the authority of Main Street.

Address: Main St Ames, IA 50010, USA

12. Boone Theater

Boone Theater
Credits: Dmytro Zinkevych / Shutterstock

Movie lovers will want to take a trip to Boone Theatre. It is a trendy and well-loved theater showcasing many famous Hollywood movies.

This Theater is situated in Boone town. Since Boon Theatre is a family-friendly destination, most movie showcases are suitable for kids of all ages.

The Theater also has lots of movie screens, so you don’t have to worry about seats when visiting the Theater.

Additionally, Boon Theater has a service that provides popcorn and a candy bar that offers candies.

Address: 818 Story St, Boone, IA 50036, United States

13. Christian Petersen Art Museum

Another art museum you should visit in Ames, IA, is Christian Peter Art Museum.

This Museum was established in 2007 in a refurbished Morril Hall. The Christian Peterson Art Museum was named after Christian Peterson, an artist that was a permanent resident at Iowa State University.

Christian Peterson taught and sculptured ad the University from 1934- 1955. He is known to be the founder of the Art on Campus Collection.

One of the Museum’s aims is to continue and protect his legacy and carry on his art tradition via educational programs and exhibitions.

The works of Christian Petersen are showcased in the Christian Petersen Art Museum and rotating exhibitions like contemporary and public art.

Aside from being the home of Christian Peterson artworks, it is also home to the University’s Museum’s Visual Literacy and Learning Program, contemporary changing art exhibitions, and the Art on Campus Programs.

Address: 603 Morrill Rd, Ames, IA 50011, United States

14. Seven Oaks Recreation

Seven Oaks Recreation
Credits: Lizard / Shutterstock

Seven Oaks Recreation is a recreational facility perfect for those who want to play in the snow or participate in snow games like snowboarding and skiing.

This facility is located in Boone. Another fun activity that you can participate in at Seven Oaks Recreation is snowshoeing.

Seven Oak Recreation also provide rentals for skiing and other game. These amenities are budget friendly and will help you enjoy your stay there.

The winter activities at this facility are exciting; you wouldn’t regret it one bit.

Address: 1086 222nd Dr, Boone, IA 50036, United States

15. Brookside Park

Brookside Park
Credits: Carl Wycoff / Flickr
Brookside Park

One of the fun things to do in Ames, IA, is to check out Brookside Park with your children.

At this Park, you and your children can play volleyball, tennis or basketball since it has all these courts and if they can’t play, you can teach them.

If you want to improve your baseball skills, Brookside Park has a baseball court too.

Brookside Park is also a good option for a picnic, so you can pack a picnic basket and drinks for a lovely afternoon with your family.

The tall trees and the lush green lawns of this Park make it more beautiful. Additionally, Brookside Park has a wading pool and a skating Park for the younger kids.

The Park is open daily.

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

Planning a trip to Iowa? Explore this list of things to do in Cedar Falls, and things to do in Council Bluffs for a memorable road trip.

16 . The Great Plains Sauce & Dough Co.

Great Plains Sauce & Dough Co.
Credits: El Nariz / Shutterstock

If you are a pizza lover, on your list of what to do in Ames, IA, should be a visit to The Great Plains Sauce& Dough Co.

The Great Plain Sauce & Dough Co. is one of the independent enterprises decorating downtown Ames.

The Great Plains Sauce & Dough Co. has existed in Ames for over 40 years. A lot of people consider this pizzeria the best in central Iowa.

The pizzeria uses local ingredients, and their baked pies are not your regular pies. Their doughs are made daily, and the pizzeria is open from Monday to Saturday, so you can drop by during lunchtime and grab a slice.

The pizzas come in six crust styles, three thick and three thin. The Great Plains Sauce & Dough Co. has different types of pizza, like the oat flour crust and the Taco pizza with crushed tortilla chips and gentle taco sauce.

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

17. Camping & RVs.

Camping & RVs.
Credits: Day Of Victory Studio / Shutterstock

One spot where you can go camping overnight is Don William Campground; Don William Campground is the oldest campground in H Ave, Iowa, 27 minutes from Ames.

This campground is popular among the young people in town, and aside from camping, you can play golf with your buddies or family.

There are also neighboring campgrounds, such as Cherry Glen Campground, which is suitable for those that would like to fish, and Twins Anchor Campground, which also accommodates a mini zoo.

So don’t hesitate to go camping in this beautiful region.

Address: 610 H Ave, Ogden, IA 50212, United States

18. Prairie Ridge Skate Park

Prairie Ridge Skate Park
Credits: lzf / Shutterstock

Skating is an exciting sports activity you can watch or participate in when you are vacationing. The perfect location for such an activity is Prairie Ridge Skate Park.

Prairie Ridge Skate Park is situated 30 minutes from Ames in the neighboring town of Ankeny.

One fantastic thing about this Skate Park is that even if you don’t like skating or have no knowledge of skating, you will still have a tremendous time watching other people.

Prairie Ridge Skate Park also features a 15 feet diameter bowl and a four-foot pyramid.

If you want to have an adventure as you skate, quarter pipes are also present. Finally, if you are more interested in watching people, there are benches around for you to sit and watch the show.

The Park also has a drinking fountain on-site.

Address: 1400 NW Prairie Ridge Dr, Ankeny, IA 50023, United States

19. Furman Aquatic Center

Furman Aquatic Center
Credits: ESB Professional / Shutterstock

Another fantastic tourist attraction that you can visit with your family during your vacation in Ames, Iowa, is Furman Aquatic Center.

This exceptional Public water park has existed in Ames for over ten years. Furman Aquatic Center is built on land owned by Iowa State University (ISU).

Furman Aquatic Center features an Olympic-sized lap pool that joins with a giant recreational pool.

Furthermore, it has amenities like a paved bike path, picnic tables, picnic areas, lounge chairs, restrooms, water slides, and WiFi Hotspots.

Aside from being a fun destination for kids and adults, it is also a fun way to spend some time in the water and have a wonderful time.

The Center offers classes for kids and adults and a fantastic food selection at the concession window. Exploring the destination is one of the fun things to do in Ames, IA.

Address: 1635 13th St, Ames, IA 50010, United States

20. Inis Grove Park

Inis Grove Park
Credits: Carl Wycoff / Flickr
Inis Grove Park

Inis Grove Park is one of the most stunning and fun parks you can visit while vacationing in Ames.

Inis Grove Park has basketball and tennis courts. It is also a great spot to have a nice picnic and goof around.

Furthermore, the Park features playgrounds and trails for people who like to cycle or walk.

Another unique feature about Inis Grove Park is that the younger and older children have separate sections.

The restrooms and other facilities at the Park are clean and in top shape.

Address: 2500 Duff Ave, Ames, IA 50010, United States

21. Torrent Brewing Company

Torrent Brewing Company
Credits: Kishivan / Shutterstock

If you are still looking for what to do in Ames, IA, consider visiting Torrent Brewing Company.

Torrent Brewing Company was established by an Ames local named Andy Mcormick.

The brewery, established in a building that used to be a warehouse, offers different types of brews from the taproom.

When you visit Torrent Brewing Company, you can try different measurements of the brew at different prices.

Furthermore, the brewery sells cheap snacks like candy and popcorn and provides games like pool and foosball. But, of course, you can bring your food if you want something heavier.

The brewery sometimes hosts events like concerts. Torrent Brewery Company opens from Wednesday to Friday at different times, depending on the day.

Address: 504 Burnett Ave, Ames, IA 50010, United States

22. Alluvial Brewing Company

Alluvial Brewing Company
Credits: tb-photography / Shutterstock

Alluvial Brewing Company is situated within a farmhouse. This brewing company may have had a humble start, but it has done so well for itself due to the uniqueness of its brand.

One thing that makes Alluvial Brewing Company unique is that it adds special ingredients such as maple, peanut, and coffee in its brew.

The taproom is on-site, so you can easily get a glass or two and enjoy yourself while playing a board game.

Also, you are free to explore the brewery’s grounds with your friends or spouse or alone.

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

23. Ames History Museum

Ames History Museum
Credits: Ames History Museum / Facebook
Ames History Museum

If you are a fan of histories, legacies, and museums, why don’t you visit Ames History Museum during your vacation in Ames?

The Ames History Museum will provide you with information about the history of Ames, Iowa.

This non-profit organization seeks to protect and promote the fascinating history of Ames through exhibits, educational and outreach programs, and research.

Ames History Museum features permanent and rotating exhibitions with an extensive range of themes related to Ames’s History.

Some artifacts in the Ames History Museum collection include glassware, toys, clothing, picture, maps, glassware, and books.

Additionally, the Museum takes care of Hoggart school, which is believed to be the first school in the city.

Address: 416 Douglas Ave # 101, Ames, IA 50010, United States

24. Octagon Center for the Arts

Octagon Center for the Arts
Credits: guruXOX / Shutterstock

Ames, IA, is a city flowing with Artsy attractions, so there is a plethora of art facilities that you can visit during your vacation in the city.

Among the many art attractions is Octagon Center for the Arts. This attraction is a non-profit community art center in downtown Ames, IA. The Octagon Center for the Arts has existed in Ames since 1966.

Each year, the Octagon Center for the Art reaches over thirty thousand people through outreach, art classes for adults and children, art-themed events, the annual Octagon Art Festival, a retail gallery shop, and rotating exhibits.

Some items in the gallery shop include paintings, photographs, pottery, clothing, and textiles.

This non-profit organization aims to promote art and support local artists in Ames.

Address: 427 Douglas Ave, Ames, IA 50010, United States

Check out more cities in Iowa; here is a guide on things to do in Rapidsthings to do in Iowa Citythings to do in Sioux City, and fun things to do Des Moines for a fun time

Plan Your Trip to Ames

Ames might be a small city, but it offers much more entertainment than is often seen in bigger cities.

This list barely covers the fun and interesting activities that the city has in store for you when you visit.

Have a fun trip!