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15 Ways to Fall into Fun in Ames!
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15 Ways to Fall into Fun in Ames!

Students back in town, cooler temperatures, and football season are a few things that come to mind when thinking of fall in Ames. Whether the kids are looking for something to do on the weekend with their friends, you want to see a live music concert for date night, or adults want to get crafty while enjoying a beverage, there are plenty of ways to “Fall Into Fun” around town this autumn season. 

Movie Night in Campustown – Friday, September 9

In what has become an annual tradition, the Campustown Action Association will host Movie Night in Campustown in the St. Thomas Aquinas Parking Ramp, on September 9. This year, the feature film will be Zootopia, Disney's comedy-adventure set in a modern mammal metropolis! Cookies, popcorn and Rice Krispie treats will be available for all while they last! Several local food vendors will also be on-site from 6-8 p.m. to grab some dinner before the movie. Families and attendees are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets as well as snacks of their own!

Great Ames Adventure Race – Sunday, September 11

Paddle, bike, run! Challenge yourself, or challenge family, friends, and coworkers in a paddle-bike-run event that keeps bringing people back, year after year. Participants compete in solo, tandem or relay divisions on a course that starts and ends at Ada Hayden Heritage Park.

Maximum Ames Music Festival – Thursday, September 15 – Sunday, September 18

The 6th annual Maximum Ames Music Festival (MAMF) returns to historic Downtown Ames on September 15-18, for a four-day celebration of music and culture. The festival will feature over 100 acts, spanning numerous genres, at a dozen venues all within walking distance. MAMF continues its mission of providing a diverse and unpredictable lineup of local, regional, national and international talent with its 2016 lineup. 

Day Out With Thomas – September 17, 18, 23, 24 & 25

A fun family event that offers aspiring engineers and their families the unique opportunity to take a ride with the classic storybook engine, Thomas the Tank Engine™ at Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad. A ticket for Day Out With Thomas includes the train ride with Thomas the Tank Engine, as well as a variety of Thomas & Friends themed entertainment, including Storytelling and Video Viewing, Temporary Tattoos of Island of Sodor friends, and an Imagination Station with Arts & Crafts and more. Guests will also have the opportunity to meet Sir Topham Hatt, the Controller of the Railway on the Island of Sodor.

Iowa State Football Games – September 3 & 24, October 1 & 29, November 3, 19 & 26

Under new head football coach Matt Campbell, the Cyclones look ahead to an exciting season full of new opportunities! The team kicks off the season at Jack Trice Stadium against in-state rival UNI on September 3 and has seven home games in total. Whether you come to town just to tailgate, or have season tickets, Cyclone Football season is always a blast!

Forte Studios Battle of the Bands – Saturday, September 24

An inaugural event in Boone, Iowa where Midwest bands will battle to win a free album recording. An outdoor festival style concert where audience participants will vote for their favorite band during the afternoon battle rounds reducing the competition to six bands for the evening concerts. In total twelve bands will compete and perform on an outdoor live stage downtown. The event will have a beer garden and food vendors on the street to satisfy your immediate thirst and hunger while you listen to live regional music!

Octagon Art Festival – Sunday, September 25

The ever anticipated art festival celebrates its 46th year of promoting visual arts, children’s art and performing arts. With more than 14,000 attendees, over 100 professional artists from across the Midwest produce and display high-quality original artwork in a wide variety of media. The festival is held outdoors on pavement in the Main Street Cultural District, rain or shine.

MusicWalk –Thursday, September 29

A fun showcase of downtown businesses on Main Street as well as local musicians. With downtown businesses featuring musicians along with artists performing on the sidewalks of Main Street, this event will allow you to experience the many things Main Street has to offer as the district comes to life with music, vendors and more! 

Ames Area Studio Tour – Saturday, October 8 & Sunday, October 9

This tour throughout the community features local artists who invite you behind the scenes to experience live demonstrations, ask questions and see how their work is done!  The Studio Tour does not have a single location, instead there are participating studios throughout the Ames area. You provide your own transportation, pick up a map from the headquarters at Worldly Goods on Main Street and visit one or all the studios during the open hours. 

Pumpkin Express Train – Saturday, October 8, 15, 22

Take the family on this one hour and thirty-minute journey (across the 156' tall Bass Point Creek High Bridge, and the Des Moines River Bridge) to the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad's pumpkin patch. Once at the patch, children will be able to select their perfect pumpkin before returning to town. On the return trip, children will receive an activity booklet and a treat.

Crafts & Draughts – Saturday, October 15

An event new to the Campustown district, Crafts & Drafts hopes to appeal to the demographic of those who like attending craft brew festivals and also don’t mind a little DIY project. This family-friendly afternoon in Campustown will feature food from local vendors, craft beer from local breweries, live music and crafts for all ages!

Oktoberfest – Saturday, October 22

The annual Oktoberfest in the Ames Main Street Cultural District is back! Sample 20 different beers from commemorative tasting cups, enjoy polka music, dancing, great German Food, "Guten Tag" games, and much more! The fun gets underway at 9 a.m. with a Harvest Market. Live music and authentic German food starts at 1p.m. and continues through 10 p.m.  Oktoberfest beer tasting starts at 4 p.m. Dig out your lederhosen and don’t miss this!

Iowa State Homecoming – The week of October 23-29

This year’s theme is “Leave your Legacy.” The return of a favorite Iowa State tradition, the Homecoming Parade, kicks off the week on Sunday, October 23 at 2 p.m. in Downtown Ames. On Friday, October 28, celebrate Homecoming with food, cash bar, giveaways, games, and merchandise for sale. The pep rally is a can't-miss ISU tradition featuring the marching band and spirit squad, coaches, student-athletes, Yell-Like-Hell finals, and Cardinal Court. Friday’s festivities begin at 5 p.m. On Saturday, October 29, cheer on the Cyclones in the Homecoming Football Game vs. Kansas State. Kickoff time is yet to be announced.

Ride the High Trestle Trail – Throughout the fall

Towering 130 feet above the Des Moines River, the signature bridge delights curious travelers both during the day and with its LED lights at night. The trail is 25.6 miles in total. A great place to hop on is in Madrid. If you don’t have your own, you can rent a bike (available in adult and kid sizes, tandems, trikes and trailers) for the day from Trailside Rentals located just two blocks from the trail.

Reiman Gardens – Throughout the fall

Reiman Gardens’ color themed exhibits continue through the fall. “Nature Connects: Art with LEGO® Bricks” simulates how all living things are interconnected through 13 larger than life, eye-popping displays made with 500,000 LEGO® brick pieces by artist Sean Kenney. Additionally, Reiman Gardens thinks it’s important to make the beauty and educational value of the Gardens as available as possible to all. So, on the second Wednesday of every month, all guests may visit Reiman Gardens free of charge during standard hours.

These aren’t the only events happening in Ames and the surrounding communities this fall. Check out to keep up on all things to DO, EAT, SHOP, and STAY.

Leave a Comment

  1. Travel Iowa Team
    Travel Iowa Team
    What a fantastic list! Thanks for posting!
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