Discover Ames with your student
1805 Center Drive
Free (suggested donation $3)
You will want to visit the Brunnier often to take advantage of regularly changing exhibitions (the decorative arts are particularly notable in the permanent collection) and programs such as lectures and gallery walks. The University also has a farm museum, sculpture garden and the Art on Campus Collection (made up of over 2,000 pieces of public art) — many reasons Iowa State is considered one of the most beautiful campuses in the country. Don’t miss the Grant Wood murals in the University Library.
1601 Golden Aspen Drive (Visitor Bureau)
3 minute drive
Jump onto the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway in Ames and immerse yourself in the culture and history of the Iowa landscape and its many delightful communities. The first improved highway across the U.S (completed in 1913), the Lincoln Highway survives as a Byway made up of loops both paved and unpaved (choose your own adventure!). Pick up a brochure at the Ames Convention and Visitor Bureau or download one on the website (where you will also find an interactive trip planner).
56461 180th Street
13 minute drive
This is an idyllic spot northeast of town where you can fit in some outdoor exercise, relax with a lakeside picnic, or perhaps catch a program at the Conservation Center or Stargazing Observatory. 5.5 miles of trails wind through 200 acres of tallgrass prairie and woodland and invite hiking, off-road biking and cross-country skiing depending on the season. Fish in the lake and stream or take out a canoe or kayak. Special events take place regularly (geocaching, live music, nature talks) so be sure to check the website.
304 Main Street, 427 Douglas Avenue
5 minute drive
You will be hard put to find a downtown more charming than that of Ames. Head to the Main Street Cultural District to dine, shop and enjoy festivals, sidewalk sales, art walks, parades, concerts and a farmers market. The non-profit Octagon Center has a beautiful gallery shop, intriguing exhibits and one-time workshops and Maker Art Nights that you should try to fit into your visit. Check their website for details, and come on downtown.
University Boulevard and South 16th Street
$4 and up
Iowa State’s 17 acres of horticultural gardens are the perfect place to wander and reflect any season of the year. With 26 distinct garden areas, you can enjoy herbs, antique roses, a Trial and Display garden (take home some ideas for your own garden), water features and outdoor art. We’re not sure if Elwood, the world’s largest concrete garden gnome, counts as art, but he’s waiting for you on the grounds. The Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing is a special treat — up to 800 butter flies at a time will be flying around you, and no matter the weather outside, the temperature is always a balmy 80 degrees with 80% humidity.