Whether you are looking for thrilling rides or slick water slides, Iowa offers parks and attractions to get your adrenaline pumping. The state's largest collection of roller coasters can be found at Adventureland. For water parks, there are both outdoor ones that offer cool relief in the warmer months and indoor ones that make it possible to soar down water slides all year long.
As Iowa's biggest amusement park, Adventureland offers three wooden coasters and two steel coasters amid its 100 rides and shows. Among the highlights is The Monster, a steel coaster that opened in 2016. It reaches 133 feet, a speed of 65 mph, and includes five inversions. Other highlights include the wooden coasters, Outlaw and Tornado, the Space Shot drop tower ride, and the Sidewinder pendulum ride.
Adventure Bay water park is included with admission to the amusement park. The outdoor water park includes water slides with funnels, a lazy river, a wave pool, and other ways to get wet. Adventureland also offers a campground and Adventureland Inn, an on-site hotel.
Located in the northwest corner of the state, Arnolds Park is a delightful, traditional turn-of-the-century amusement park. Among its features is the circa-1927 Legend wooden roller coaster. The small park offers free admission (visitors pay per ride), free parking, and free shows, including a concert series. In addition to the rides, Arnolds Park offers boat rides around the adjacent lake in the Queen II, a maritime museum, a fun house museum, and activities on the beach and lake.
The Beach Ottumwa is a relatively small outdoor water park (which also has an indoor pool that is open year-round) run by the community of Ottumwa. Attractions include a wave pool, water slides (including a speed slide), and sand volleyball. A children's play area offers small slides and other activities.
Boji Splash is a small indoor water park that includes water slides, an interactive water play center with a dump bucket, and a lazy river. The Bridges Bay Resort has other activities, including a zip line which water park guests can ride for free during the summer season. The resort offers hotel rooms, condo rentals, and vacation cabin rentals.
Grand Harbor includes a small indoor water park. Attractions include a lazy river, body slides, a tube slide, an interactive water play structure with tipping bucket, and whirlpool spas. The resort's other attractions are an arcade, a restaurant, and a fitness center.
Huck's Harbor at Pzazz Resort Hotel (Burlington)
Huck's Harbor is a small indoor and outdoor water park open to registered hotel guests and the general public. The indoor park includes water slides, an interactive water play structure, a lazy river, and other features. In warmer weather, the outdoor park offers a lazy river, body slides, tube slide, activity area for young children, activity pool. Other attractions at the Pzazz Resort include bowling, go-karts, laser tag, a rope bridges course, and an arcade.
King's Pointe Waterpark Resort is another small indoor and outdoor water park that is open to registered hotel guests as well as the general public. The outdoor water park includes the Twisted Tornado bowl ride, a lazy river, speed slides, and a zero-entry pool.
A good-sized outdoor water park, Lost Island features a Polynesian theme. Attractions include a wave pool, lazy river, enclosed tube slides, a family raft ride, the Lost Soul Falls speed slide,a bowl ride, and a kids' interactive play area.
Lost Island Theme Park (Waterloo)
Scheduled to open in 2022, the same folks that operate Lost Island Water Park (see above) are building a sister theme park. At an estimated cost of $100 million, it will include a variety of rides and attractions, including roller coasters, situated in five lands. It will be located near the water park.
If you want larger parks with bigger coasters and more water slides, here are some select places to consider in neighboring states.
Six Flags Great America: Gurnee, Illinois
Valleyfair: Shakopee, Minnesota
Oceans of Fun and Worlds of Fun: Kansas City; Missouri
Kalahari Resort: Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
There used to be a few more parks in Iowa, including Dodge Park Playland, which operated from 1948 to 1970 in Council Bluffs. It included a Wild Mouse coaster and a wooden coaster. It also included a race track, which closed in 1977. Riverview Park was open from 1915 to 1978 in Des Moines and also offered a Wild Mouse and wooden coaster.