The 10 Best Guided Tours in Iowa!

While learning on your own is often a rich experience, being guided by an expert can really bring the most out of an experience. All across the state of Iowa, there are learning and educational opportunities to take part in, and whether it’s touring the state capitol or visiting the Iowa Veterans Museum, going solo is always a good option, but you’ll be blown away by all the things to learn while utilizing these 10 best guided tours in Iowa

1. State Capitol, Des Moines, IA

Literally a symbol for the state of Iowa, not only is the capitol in Des Moines an astonishing thing to look at, the historic building is wide open to the public to learn about and witness Iowa history. While the capitol building is open for anyone to walk around on their own during operating hours, to get the full experience and more access to all this eloquent building holds, guided tours are available by reservation for groups of 10 or more, and can provide more of a story to the historic surroundings and stunning architecture of the state capitol of Iowa.  

2. National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library, Cedar Rapids, IA

Providing an outlet for the history and continuing story of the Czech and Slovak culture in Iowa and beyond, the National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library encourages all members of the community to come and learn about the world around them. While it’s no challenge to explore the museum and library yourself, besides finding enough time to explore it all, a guided tour is well worth your while when visiting this culturally significant place of discovery, and through both the knowledge on the walls and from your trained guide, you can get the full experience while visiting the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library. 

3. Salisbury House and Gardens, Des Moines, IA

Built in the 1920s by the Weeks family, the Salisbury House is a 42-room estate that is full of antiques, decadence and a well-maintained snapshot of a different lifestyle than most of your average Americans. It’s an exciting Iowa adventure all in its own exploring the Salisbury House and surrounding gardens on a self-guided tour, but to really get the story behind the many different pieces of rare furniture, art and architecture, a guided tour by one of the professional curators is definitely an amenity that can define the entire experience. 

4. Maiden Voyage Tours, McGregor, IA

The Mississippi River, found on the eastern border of the state of Iowa, is a defining feature and natural landscape for the state of Iowa, and you can get the full experience of this twisting and turning waterway through Maiden Voyage Tours in McGregor. Whether you opt for the traditional group tour exploring and learning about this historic waterway, or you go for something more fun like the Tom Sawyer Adventure tour or Friday Night Music Cruise, you’ll not only get a good view of the Mighty Mississippi in front of you, but you’ll experience first-hand the kind of culture and community that it brings to life. 

5. Brucemore, Cedar Rapids, IA

Brucemore is a historic estate in the city of Cedar Rapids, and much before it became a community gathering spot and point of pride, three different influential families called the manor home over the years, each putting their own personal touches on eloquent estate. Nowadays, no one lives at the manor exclusively, and both the historic home and surrounding landscaped estate serve as a place for concerts, programs and personalized tours. While the standard Brucemore tours include looks throughout the house, Brucemore also offers special tours that take unique peeks into the past that can entertain every member of the family. 

6. Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA

The Des Moines Art Center has been providing a key cultural aspect to Des Moines and the surrounding metro for over 70 years, and while this hub of creative space has seen some renovations and additions over those years, the one thing to remain the same is the varied amount of mixed art found within its walls. While it’s an entertaining experience just walking through the many different exhibits housed at the Des Moines Art Center, by utilizing the guided tours made available throughout the week, you can gain some very valuable insight towards the art you are looking at. 

7. Spook Cave Tour, McGregor, IA

Perhaps one of the most unique tours in the state of Iowa, the Spook Cave Tour in McGregor puts patrons on boats and sends them underground to explore a darkened cave system. While the name and logo may imply ghoulish aspects on this underground tour, it’s really more of an educational experience than scare factory, and as your guide shines a light on the different stalactites and other natural formations found in the cave, as well the history and development of the limestone space, you’ll see for yourself that yes, it’s a bit spooky being on a boat underground, it’s also a really fun time. 

8. National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, Dubuque, IA

Featuring interactive exhibits, live animals and enough floor space to explore throughout a long weekend, the National River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque is a premier destination to learn not only about the might Mississippi, but all National Rivers throughout the country that define much of the ecosystem. It’s a super fun day exploring this modern museum and aquarium on your own, but to really dive deep into all that the Mississippi and all National Rivers have to offer, any one of the guided tours offered by the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium are a great way to get the whole experience. 

9. Amana Colonies, Amana, IA

Listed as a National Historic Landmark, the Amana Colonies in Amana comprise of seven different villages that date back to the mid-19th century when German Pietists settled in the area. For many years, the Amana Colonies were self-sufficient with their communal economy, remaining largely uninfluenced by outside modernization, and for that reason, even today, when visiting and touring the Amana Colonies it feels like taking a step back in time. While it is fun to simply feel a different era surround your visit, to get even more insight on what it’s like to forgo some of your more modern conveniences, it’s always a fun experience to hop in with a guided tour and learn more about the lifestyle and surrounding elements of the Amana Colonies. 

10. Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum, Waterloo, IA

Honoring the bravery and sacrifice of all Iowa veterans from the Civil War to our current surroundings, the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum is a real look into a lifestyle that protects many of the freedoms that most people never have to fight for. With over 35 interactive exhibits to check out and explore, there is plenty to see and do at Sullivan Brothers to explore on your own, but to get a distinctively human touch to your Iowa Veterans Museum, there are plenty of guides at the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum to help tell the story. 

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