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Iowa 2024: New Attractions You’ll Want To See

There are exciting attractions and experienced planned around Iowa in 2024! Anticipated openings include accessible adventure parks and stylish new hotels. They are testaments to the state’s commitment to innovation, inclusivity, and cultural enrichment. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a film aficionado, a science geek, or a history buff, there’s something exciting on the horizon for you in Iowa.

In this blog post, I’ll cover what’s new in outdoor adventure, educational & interactive experiences, and new hotels. Let’s dive in and see what’s in store for us in 2024!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

A dad holds a child upside down as they walk by a treehouse at the Treehouse Village at the Iowa Arboretum & Gardens
Treehouse Village. Photo by Kris Blocker/photo courtesy Travel Iowa

Outdoor & Adventure Escapes In Iowa

I love including outdoor stops on road trips through Iowa, and in 2024, there are a few new reasons to plan extra stops. For traveling families, an exciting development is in the works at Iowa Arboretum & Gardens in Madrid. Treehouse Village is a treehouse experience with slides, suspension bridge, hammock swings, and a ground-level zip line.

The new play area has been designed to be accessible to children of all abilities. It has ramps and a wheelchair-accessible swing. There’s a ground-level treehouse that’s also designed for all. Additional treehouses provide scenic views of the nearby valley.

The Treehouse Village is slated to open in the Spring of 2024.

Polk County also has a project in the works that’s designed for more inclusive play. Athene North Shore Recreation Area at Easter Lake Park is already a popular park near Des Moines, and in Spring 2024, new features will make it the most universally accessible park in the U.S.

An overhead view of design plans for the Athene North Shore Recreation Area at Easter Lake Park
Graphic illustration of Athene North Shore Recreation Area at Easter Lake Park courtesy Travel Iowa

For water sports, the park will soon have zero-entry ramps, adaptive fishing boats, and accessible canoe & kayak launches. Beach mats will make it easier to traverse the sand. There will be a full inventory of adaptive and accessible equipment for rent at the park.

A new inclusive playground, an environmental education learning center, and quiet de-escalation rooms are planned. The park will also have extra-wide sidewalks.

Another park near Des Moines will have an exciting new adventure for visitors starting in the Spring of 2024. Sleepy Hollow Sports Park‘s tubing hill will be transformed from winter fun to all-season fun. Approximately 40,000-square-feet of Snowflex turf will transform the hill so that families can ski, snowboard and tube even in the summer. Sleepy Hollow Sports Park will have the largest stretch of all-season turf in the U.S.! Full snow-based skiing and snowboarding is anticipated for the 2024-2025 season.

An illustration of what Sleepy Hollow Sports Park's tubing hill will look like once the Snowflex turf is installed
Rendering of Sleepy Hollow Sports Park’s tubing hill with Snowflex turf courtesy Travel Iowa

Related post: Keep the outdoor fun going in the Des Moines area with this list of easy hiking trails near Des Moines!

On the western side of the state, Cone Park in Sioux City has plans to open new mountain bike trails. More than 10 miles of soft surface trails will include rock elements, pre-engineered bridges, boardwalks, skinnies, wall-rides and more. Full-suspension and electric bikes will be available to rent onsite. The Cone Park Mountain Bile Trails are set to in May 2024.

Two adults and two kids ride mountain bikes on a path in the woods of Cone Park
Cone Park. Photo by John Byrnes/photo courtesy Travel Iowa

New Interactive & Cultural Experiences

The Last Picture House opened in late 2023 in Davenport, drawing film buffs to watch new and classic movies on the big screen. The boutique independent cinema has two theaters plus a rooftop screen. While waiting for your film to start, take a moment to browse the cinema’s rare art collection featuring posters from around the world and one-of-a-kind movie props.

An aerial rendering of what The Last Picture House looks like in Davenport, lowa
Last Picture House. Illustration courtesy Travel Iowa

This next attraction is actually a temporary exhibit in 2024, but one that will almost certainly appeal to children. The Bluedorn Science Imaginarium, part of the Grout Museum District in Waterloo, opens “Dinosaurs: Land of Fire and Ice” on May 18, 2024.

Designed for ages 3 to 10, “Dinosaurs” is an immersive exhibit transports visitors back to the Cretaceous Period, the time when dinosaurs last lived on earth. Fun activities include fossil dig stations, rock steps with icy slides, climbable dinosaur statues, and fun costumes for dress up. It runs through Sept. 7, 2024.

A mom holds a baby while a young girl lays on a dinosaur statue in the
“Dinosaurs: Land of Fire and Ice.” Photo by Jacquie Persson/photo courtesy Travel Iowa

Related post: Waterloo is a blast for families! Here’s a list of 15 fun things to do in Waterloo.

Iowa’s Newest Hotels

Two new hotels are scheduled to open in 2024, both bringing a bit of the past to present day. When the Wringer Hotel opens in October 2024, the hotel will be a nod to Newton’s history and the influence Maytag had on the town for years. The red brick factory buildings that once were home to the company’s manufacturing headquarters will transform into a 58-room boutique hotel with a lobby bar and outdoor patio added. The buildings will also include apartments and office space.

The red brick factory buildings of Maytag Company will be renovated to become the new Wringer Hotel in 2024
Future of of the Wringer Hotel. Photo by Kim Didier/photo courtesy Travel Iowa

Travelers of a certain age may remember the roadside staples, Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodges. The former Ho-Jo in Des Moines will be renovated in 2024, getting a 21st century refresh that keeps the vibe of that Mid-Century era and pairs it with a bit of old Hollywood glamour. The result will be called MoLo (short for Motor Lodge). MoLo is set to open in Des Moines in December 2024, with 80 rooms on the property.

Highlights of Iowa attractions, hotels and park improvements to see in 2024! Plans include a new Treehouse Village, an inclusive park additions, retro hotels, and an all-season ski and snowboard hill!

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