When it first opened it doors in 1970, the Science Center of Iowa was among the first interactive science museums in the world. It engaged the community with hands-on exhibits and programs. In 2005, the center moved to its 110,00-square-foot downtown location, where it fills its halls with a variety of experience platforms, each demonstrating different scientific principles. The When Things Get Moving exhibit invites visitors to build rockets and conquer a domino obstacle course, and Why the Sky? demonstrates the science of space with a digital planet-exploration globe and a bottle of gas collected in space. Interact with exhibits that demonstrate the basic principles of physics in the themed scenario, the Eureka! Lab. Friday nights allow the 21 and up crowd to mix it up with drinks, mingling, science and entertainment. The first Friday of every month offers an exclusive opportunity to experience all that the Science Center of Iowa has to offer–minus the kids.
The Iowa Arboretum captivates nature lovers and aspiring botanists with 378 acres of idyllic landscape. A family membership to the arboretum includes free admission year-round to the arboretum’s agricultural wonders and reciprocal privileges at more than 250 other North American gardens and arboretums. In addition, members receive a free yearlong subscription to Iowa Gardening magazine, a 10% discount on many gift shop purchases, and reduced class and workshop fees. Bring your brood to the arboretum to acquaint yourselves with 19 different plant collections showcasing a wide variety of trees, shrubs, and flowers. Amble along hiking trails through 330 acres of century-old oak trees or wander through the four-acre restored prairie.
Built in 1909 as a mission-style mansion—now listed in the National Register of Historic Places—the August Bergman Inn & Suites house private guest rooms, each with its own unique, antique charm. Two of the guest rooms—the Ryan and Captain's suites—are housed in the David Ryan home, an 1868 brick federal. A wood-burning fireplace and mosaic-tile floor decorate the Bergman suite and its king-size, mahogany sleigh bed often flies out the window, pulled by reindeer auditioning for Santa's new reality show. In the Ryan suite, guests can share a double whirlpool bathtub set in imported Italian tile behind glass french doors. A vintage cast-iron soaking tub, updated with a modern showerhead, anchors the Captain suite, whose brass-trimmed iron furnishings glint amid the flicker of a gas fireplace. All three rooms feature modern amenities such as cable TV and digital gravity.Prepared by the innkeeper—an experienced gourmet chef—breakfast includes coffee, juice, and a chef-selected entree, such as old-fashioned pancakes. Dinner is available for an additional fee, and throughout their stay, guests are encouraged to check out Jasper County's various attractions, from the Iowa Speedway to the Newton Arboretum and Botanical Garden. If arranged beforehand, the staff will gladly pick up guests from nearby Newton Airport, though the flying Pegasus may have to find its own accommodations.
Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad & Museum’s campus features 9,000 square feet of exhibits, classrooms, and libraries dedicated to all eras of Iowa’s railway history. But the museum campus is one part of the organization’s attractions, since the it keeps actual 1920s-era coach cars coasting the tracks, chugging past sights and recreating the experience railway riders have enjoyed for nearly 100 years. The ancient engine follows the tracks in the Des Moines River Valley, taking visitors to old coal towns or allowing them to soak in scenic views. After their ride, travelers can return to the museum, where they can view track equipment, ogle dining car china, or learn why one has to wear coveralls to steer a train.