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.
Blank Park Zoo educates the public about the wonders of the wild by re-creating far-flung habitats and ecosystems that house more than 1,000 animals and 104 different species ranging from Siberian tigers to hissing cockroaches. Zookeepers lead chats about animals and offer conservation tips, while exhibits include hands-on feedings that allow humans to go face-to-face or nose-to-beak with hungry giraffes and parakeets. Recent new arrivals welcome curious kids to commiserate with the growing pains and early bedtimes of young wallabies, camels, and seal pups, setting a foundation for learning that may be continued in classes designed for those aged 6 months to 5 years.
In addition to raising awareness about the environment, Blank Park Zoo contributes to conservation efforts to preserve the future of native animals and their natural homes. The zoo participates in seven endangered-species breeding programs and donates a portion of admissions proceeds to several different wildlife initiatives.
Built in the 1920s by Carl and Edith Weeks as a replica of the King's house in Salisbury, England, Salisbury House and Gardens drapes 22,500 square feet and 42 rooms of architectural reverence across the Iowa countryside. The historical landmark and public museum hosts cultural events year-round. During the gingerbread house making workshop, an expert Hy-Vee baker will teach you how to construct sweet, edible miniature abodes that dazzle as holiday dinner centerpieces and provide adequate shelter for smurfs. At the holiday decorating ideas event, a Pottery Barn decorator will impart DIY wisdom for inventive and bewitching seasonal garnishing. Both events are accompanied with generous samplings of wine, cheese, and amiable conversation.
An award-winning organization, the Iowa Children’s Museum engages and expands the imaginations of youngsters with interactive exhibits and hands-on programs. The Move It! Dig It! Do It! event invites pintsized minds to stretch themselves around the enormous equipment wielded by construction professionals, farmers, and bus drivers, and then witness how each vehicle fits into the next to defend the galaxy as Voltron. More than 40 activities and machines ensure all-day entertainment. Tots can scramble into the driver’s seat of a fire truck for a hero’s-eye view of the engine’s three-alarm chili dispenser or enjoy a haystack ride. Create your own cement garden stone before retiring to the Volunteer Guild’s Dig It! Café for purchasable snacks and water divvied up out from under a big tent.
Nestled on the banks of the Cedar River, the 17,000-square-foot nonprofit museum educates more than 30,000 people annually through tours, exhibits, and community programs celebrating African-American heritage and culture. Packed with more than 2,000 artifacts, 200 oral histories, and a library with more than 1,000 volumes covering African and African American topics, the museum crams craniums full of historical knowledge. Endless Possibilities, part of the flagship permanent collection, traces the history of Iowa's African American citizens through photos, objects, stories, and multimedia. A rotating lineup of compelling exhibits includes Unconditional Loyalty, running through December 17, which pays tribute to African-Americans who've served in the U.S. military from the Revolutionary War era to the present day. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday