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 the Cosmic Jukebox, which allows you to create your own show. Interact with exhibits that demonstrate the basic principles of physics in the themed scenario, the Eureka! Lab. The renovated Small Discoveries exhibit features Dahl's Produce Market and Edna's Kitchen, a favorite of younger visitors.
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 Historic Register, the August Bergman Inn houses five private guest rooms, each with its own unique, antique charm. A wood-burning fireplace and mosaic-tile floor decorate the Bergman suite, whose 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, or brighten their quarters without relinquishing privacy by cracking blinds that draw from the bottom up. 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.
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.