Iowa has something to offer just about every visitor. Whether you’re coming to the state to visit family and want to see famous movie locations, you want to hang out at an amusement park with friends, or you just want to learn more about American history, Iowa is a stellar choice. Some visitors, especially those with limited mobility, may need a little extra help finding the right places for their Iowa vacations. Here are six destinations that keep accessibility in mind to make your trip to the Hawkeye State a fun and memorable experience.
The Sioux City Orpheum
Whether it’s the sweet sounds of the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra, a Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, or stand-up from the biggest names of all time, the Sioux City Orpheum has you covered. The wheelchair-friendly destination has reserved parking and seating, giving you access to some of the best seats in the house any time of year.
Their schedule is available online, and it also features concerts from classic rock stars alongside up-and-coming acts sure to entertain the whole family. The Orpheum itself is a spectacle of design. Its crystal chandeliers catch the eyes and imaginations of all who enter, and the historically accurate wall hangings depict scenes from entertainment ages long past.
The Field of Dreams Movie Site
Iowa is also home to the site of one of the most inspirational films of all time, a movie cited by many sports fans who have taken up careers in the industry. “Field of Dreams” led a generation to discover restored hope, heroes and the serene beauty of the sport of baseball at the cinema.
The Field of Dreams Movie Site invites fans of the film and baseball, in general, to come down and play a few innings on the iconic corn-bound diamond in Dyersville. The readily accessible field is open for most of the year, with occasional weekend-only visits in November, and house tours are also available.
Historic Madison County
Another site made famous by a movie, the iconic covered bridges of Madison County are not to be missed. Many of the bridges across the nation are in dire need of repair or replacement, but in Madison County, the legendary covered bridges have become a pilgrimage for fans of the books and movies. Tours of the bridges are available with step-on guides from the Madison County Iowa Chamber and Welcome Center. These knowledgeable guides can easily step into your vehicle to share stories about the history and the covered bridges in the area.
While the annual Madison County Covered Bridge Festival is not to be missed, historic Madison County also includes two more important stopover points. Tours of the Madison County Historical Complex, where many of the buildings feature the same look and feel as they did in the 1800s, are also available. Fans of the American Western cinema also turn out for the ADA-compliant John Wayne Birthplace Museum, learning more about the most memorable cowboy on the silver screen.
Arnolds Park Amusement Park
What if you’re a history buff, but the thought of museums and tours isn’t exactly your cup of tea? How about historic roller coasters and attractions sure to bring you back to your childhood? If you not sold on new theme parks that seem to keep replacing traditional coasters with virtual reality rides, there’s a place for you in the heart of Iowa.
Arnolds Park Amusement Park stands as one of the largest and most thrilling adventures to be had in the Lake Okoboji region. Take a trip down memory lane at the Midway, or board the Legend (the 7th oldest coaster in the United States) for a real thrill ride. Arnolds Park is truly a one-stop destination for family fun in Iowa and it's fully accessible for all.
Wheelchair rentals are available for those who have limited mobility, and the amusement park offers accessible dining and amenities on site. If you’re traveling to Iowa for medical tourism and seeking adventure, remember that some rides do have physical restrictions. These include no riders with back problems, heart issues or recent surgeries.
The National Mississippi Museum and Aquarium
If historic locations like the classic coaster are right up your alley, how about taking an afternoon to learn more about the fourth longest river in the world? The National Mississippi Museum and Aquarium is ADA-ready, and it features favored sights and sounds not to be found on the banks of any other great river.
Marvel at the gigantic paddle boat wheel out front, or head out on the decks of the retired vessel just waiting for you behind the museum itself. Take the time to discover the wildlife in the museum’s multiple large aquarium displays, and visit the gift shop for local collectibles and souvenirs for those who couldn’t make the journey. The river isn’t everything at the museum, either, check out a mock mine shaft or spend some time with the local rescued birds and mammals that call the location home.
Living History Farms
Many places in Iowa make sure they’re ADA-compliant and ready to meet the needs of visitors, but few take it to the extreme that Living History Farms embodies. The living museum is an outdoor marvel that showcases two centuries of life in Iowa. Ramped slopes, special handrails and additional considerations make this an easy trip for people with varying levels of mobility. Tour guides can even suggest specific routes to make the visit as interesting and accessible as possible.
Workers portray life as it was in pre-colonial times, and another site showcases pioneer life. A third farm gives visitors a chance to work with real horses and discover how their introduction transformed Iowan life, and the final farm is a true-to-life community straight out of the 1860s. The Family Halloween Event is the star of the show, but there’s always something around the corner at this unique destination.
Iowa offers no end to the wealth of handicapped-accessible vacation options, but it’s really the people who make this such a warm and welcoming place. Even during the cold days of winter, many attractions are still filled with smiling hosts just waiting to help out and ensure your trip is the best it can be. Remember to pack everything you need for your adventure, and schedule early if you plan to visit during peak seasons in the spring through fall. Hope you enjoy every bit of your travels to the Hawkeye State.