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6 Great Fall Destinations In Iowa

As the weather cools off and the leaves start to change, some may say that the travel season is winding down. But fall is the perfect time to hit the road and explore the great state of Iowa. 

From picturesque autumn destinations to seasonal attractions of all sorts, autumn is an amazing time to plan an adventure in the Hawkeye state. As you plan for the coming season, be sure to check out these six places to visit in Iowa this fall.  

Fall in southwest Iowa


If you’re chasing fall color, the Driftless Region has some of the state’s most breathtaking views. Head northeast to Decorah for a long weekend to experience fall beauty in all its forms. Hike along a waterfall at Dunning’s Spring Park just minutes from downtown or hike in Palisades Park for stunning overlooks for the area.

A fisherman in Decorah

After your foliage hike, unwind by sampling craft beers at regional favorite Toppling Goliath Brewing Co. or sipping microbrews at the nearby Pulpit Rock Brewing Co. 

Amana Colonies 

Amana Colonies Bakery & Cafe

The Amana Colonies are full of festivals when autumn rolls around. From Apfelfest — a celebration of apples — to a traditional German Oktoberfest, there’s a lot to celebrate in Amana in the fall.

Outside of the festivities, the colonies are a great place to explore and enjoy the crisp weather. Wander the various shops, restaurants and more to fully embrace the changing seasons. 

Covered Bridges Scenic Byway

Clark Tower, a stop on the Covered Bridges Scenic Byway in Iowa
Photo courtesy Iowa Tourism

A visit to Winterset to see the iconic covered Bridges of Madison County is always a good idea. But the Covered Bridges Scenic Byway is particularly picturesque as the fall colors begin to turn. This 82-mile route through south-central Iowa travels through the charming downtowns of Winterset and St. Charles while also including some scenic, rural areas. 

Pikes Peak State Park

Pikes Peak State Park in the fall
Photo courtesy Iowa Tourism

Located along the scenic Mississippi River, Pikes Peak State Park is a beautiful fall destination. With ample hiking trails overlooking the bluffs and neighboring town of McGregor, this outdoor area is a prime spot for leaf peepers. Don’t skip the half-mile hike to Bridal Veil Falls or an exploration of Bear Mound, a Native American effigy. 

Pikes Peak State Park, 32264 Pikes Peak Road, McGregor

Villisca Ax Murder House

True crime junkies will want to be sure that their fall itinerary includes a trip to the infamous Villisca Ax Murder House. On June 10, 1912, eight people, including six children, were murdered in this southwest Iowa home while they slept.

The exterior of the Villisca Ax Murder House

While the house is the site of one of the grisliest cold cases in the Midwest, it is also open to visitors and paranormal investigators of all kinds. Visitors can tour the house during the day and those who are feeling especially brave can book ahead to spend the night at the Villisca home. 

Villisca Ax Murder House, 508 E. Second St., Villisca

Harvestville Farm

Iowa has no shortage of pumpkin patches and corn mazes, but Harvestville Farm in Donnellson is one of my favorites. During the summer, this fifth-generation family farm runs a farm stand and hosts farm-to-table dinners.

Pumpkins at a pumpkin patch

But come fall, they really shine with 35 acres of pumpkins, a 12-acre corn maze, wagon rides and more. If you’re in the market for fall fun, consider a road trip to this southeast Iowa gem. 

Harvestville Farm, 1977 IA-2, Donnellson

Great places to visit in Iowa during the fall, including state parks, scenic drives, and a waterfall.

About the Guest Blogger

Megan Bannister is a freelance writer and blogger at Olio in Iowa based in Des Moines, Iowa. When she’s not sampling and writing about food, Megan enjoys visiting unique destinations, roadside attractions, and “world’s largest” things across the Midwest and beyond. Her book, Iowa Supper Clubs, highlights classic eateries past and present from around the state.

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