1.) Meet The Blank Park Zoo Babies
The Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines is enjoying a bit of a baby boom – an endangered black rhino calf named Tumani was born last November and in December, Lizzy the giraffe calf made her debut. A new giraffe viewing facility is planned for spring 2017. (Lizzy will join the rest of the giraffes when warmer weather arrives.) Tumani and her parents are currently on display.
2.) Learn About the first 2017 Quarter
3.) Touch Sting Rays In Dubuque
A new permanent exhibit at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in Dubuque is the Mississippi River Delta Sting Ray Touch Tank. Other temporary exhibits include the highly interactive Top Secret: License to Spy (February 11-April 23), and the newest National Geographic Giant Screen 4D Film “Extreme Weather!” (through October).
4.) Celebrate Frank Lloyd Wright’s Architecture
Frank Lloyd Wright would have turned 150 in 2017. This year is the perfect time to book a stay at the Wright-designed Historic Park Inn in Mason City, visit the nearby Stockman House and Architectural Interpretive Center or tour the home he designed at Cedar Rock State Park.
5.) Go Bowling At The Hotel Pattee
6.) Sail On The Riverboat Twilight
Sail the Mississippi to celebrate this Le Claire riverboat’s 30th anniversary. In addition to the one- and two-day cruises, the Riverboat Twilight now offers 1.5 hour cruises on some days. Cruises are held from the end of May through October.
7.) Eat An Ebelskiver
Elk Horn will host the first-ever National Ebelskiver Eating Contest during their annual Tivoli Fest on Memorial Day weekend. The contest is sanctioned by Major League Eating and will feature a professional and amateur eaters. An ebelskiver, also known as a fried pancake ball, is a traditional Danish pastry.
8.) See A Show At The Okoboji Summer Theatre
More than 1.5 million people have enjoyed an evening under the awning at the Okoboji Summer Theatre/Boji Bantam Theatre over its 60 year history in Spirit Lake. The 2016 season includes nine shows, including Footloose (July 4-9), On Golden Pond (July 18-23) and South Pacific (August 8-13).
9.) Bike Or Walk Snake Alley
Burlington has many reasons to celebrate 2017! In addition to Snake Alley’s feature on the cover of the Iowa Travel Guide, the Snake Alley Criterium marks its 35th anniversary (Memorial Day weekend), the Snake Alley Art Fair is celebrating 50 years (June 18) and Burlington’s Steamboat Days is holding its 55th annual event (June 15-18).
10.) Tour The Field Of Dreams House
Guided tours of the first floor of the house near Dyersville that was a backdrop in the classic movie Field of Dreams are offered daily (must reserve in advance). Visit on a Ghost Player Sunday to watch actors dressed in old-school uniforms play a game. 2017 games will be held on July 2, July 16, July 30, August 13 and September 3.
11.) Sample Beer At Iowa’s New Breweries
The brewery boom in Iowa continues in 2017 when several new and expanded breweries open across the state. Spots to watch: Peace Tree Brewing has expanded to Des Moines (now open), 7 Hills Brewing will open in the spring in Dubuque and Marto Brewing comes to Sioux City this summer (Paste Magazine named it a brewery to watch).
12.) Learn About A Jazz Legend At The Bix Museum
The Bix Museum is slated to open in mid-2017 on the lower floor of the River Music Experience in downtown Davenport. The museum will include Bix Beiderbecke’s piano and other memorabilia from the internationally recognized jazz musician’s life. You can also attend the annual BixFest, set for August 3-5, 2017.
13.) Attend The Solheim Cup
Photo Courtesy The Solheim Cup
The Des Moines Golf & Country Club will host the Solheim Cup August 14-20, matching the best female golfers from the United States against the best from Europe. The West Des Moines club will be the first 36-hole facility to host the event in the United States.
14.) Drive A New State Scenic Byway
15. Attend The Clay County Fair
Known as the “World’s Greatest County Fair,” the Clay County Fair will mark its 100th birthday September 9-17 in Spencer. To celebrate, the fair will debut a new exhibit building, Centennial Plaza, and many other “Centennial Vision” renovations. Since 1917, the Clay County Fair has attracted more than 300,000 guests each year.
16.) Experience The Loess Hills And Heritage Week
From September 23 through October 1, parks in the Loess Hills will celebrate Iowa’s most unique geological formation with special tours, hikes, camp-outs, music festivals, bike rides and more.
17.) Shop At The Outlets Of Des Moines
Scheduled to open in October 2017 (just in time for holiday shopping), the 300,000-square-foot outlet center will feature some of the best brand names in retail. The facility will be located in Altoona near the intersections of Interstate 80 and Highway 65.