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Iowa’s Seasonal Treats

Light shows, twinkling shops and sugary snacks are in season during the holidays in Iowa. Travelers can enjoy these festivities and more as they trek through the state’s winter wonderland from west to east.


Wells Visitor Center & Ice Cream Parlor

Le Mars

In 1994, Le Mars was named the Ice Cream Capital of the World. This hard-working town lives up to its name by making more ice cream than anywhere else on the globe. The Wells Visitor Center & Ice Cream Parlor represents over a century of ice cream history. In 1913, Fred H. Wells Jr. started delivering milk to the people of Le Mars via his horse-drawn wagon. By 1925, he founded the Wells Ice Cream Company with his brother, Harry C. Wells. The brothers sold that company, and in 1935, they launched a new one: the now-legendary Blue Bunny. Today, the Wells Ice Cream Parlor boasts an expanded menu with 40 flavors of ice cream, including exclusive blends not found anywhere else. Feast on a cone or sundae while marveling over the fact that Le Mars produces more than 150 million gallons of ice cream per year.

Lights at Kennedy

Fort Dodge

Celebrate the holiday season with Lights at Kennedy, a drive-through show in Fort Dodge’s Kennedy Park. Displays are sponsored by local organizations and businesses. Many of the displays are set to blink and twinkle in time with music. The light show has been a local tradition for over 20 years. As enthusiasm has grown for the event, so have the displays. Each year seems to bring something new: more twinkly entrance arches, more feet of programmable LED lights (more than 1,200 as of now) and more creative design choices. As of late, the show has featured as many as 35 light displays, with more than 4,000 vehicles driving through the past few holiday seasons. Visitors are invited to vote on their favorite displays. Because the event is fully experienced by car, it’s a great option for motorcoach tours.

Winter Wonderscape at Reiman Gardens


Each year the holidays come to life at Reiman Gardens, a tranquil public garden owned by Iowa State University. Located on 17 acres of striking outdoor gardens, Winter Wonderscape is a walk-through light show with dazzling colors and designs that can get just about anyone into the holiday spirit. The idea for the inaugural Wonderscape came to light just a few years ago in 2018 as a way to bring more guests to the garden during a historically slow time of year. In a few short years, the event has far surpassed its original purpose and has become a local must-do. The lights take over 1,200 hours to prepare, and they stretch about three-quarters of a mile. Guests can expect colorful tunnels, laser lights, a decorated frozen lake, glowing orbs, a light fountain and magical forests. Every year brings new designs alongside classic favorites, so you never know exactly what you’ll find on your visit.

International Christmas Market

Amana Colonies

The Seven Villages of Amana, or the Amana Colonies, are a National Historic Landmark with a whole lot of stories to tell. The Amanas were settled by a German faith community seeking freedom from religious persecution in their home country, and from 1856 to 1932, the Amanas were an almost entirely self-sufficient communal society. Many of their craftsmanship skills, communal practices and history have been preserved, and the Amanas’ surroundings and historic buildings make a great setting for a magical holiday experience. At the Amana General Store, groups will find the International Christmas Market, a year-round holiday-themed shopping experience. The market is decorated with a whimsical and festive collection of holiday décor, from gingerbread houses to Christmas trees. A large selection of ornaments and home décor are available for purchase. It’s also the perfect place to find an internationally imported or unique, handmade gift for a loved one.

Miracle at the Freight House

Quad Cities

The Miracle Christmas Pop-Up Bar is a series of festive holiday pop-ups across the U.S., each offering its own charms unique to its host community. In 2020, Miracle Bar in Davenport became the first of the franchise to open in Iowa, to great success. The pop-up is hosted in downtown Davenport’s historic Freight House, which was built in 1917 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The building also hosts Davenport’s popular Freight House Farmers Market, so it’s no stranger to lively community get-togethers. When the cozy pop-up moves into the Freight House each holiday season, it brings with it the nostalgia of your warmest childhood Christmas memories — with a grown-up twist, of course. With fully decked halls, creative seasonal drinks and fun features like a S’Elfie Station, there’s a whole lot here to celebrate.