Things to Do in Ankeny Iowa – 2024 Ultimate Guide

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Welcome to Ankeny, Iowa, a hidden gem in the heart of the Midwest! Nestled just outside of Des Moines, Ankeny offers a unique blend of small-town charm and big-city amenities. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, history buff, or foodie, Ankeny has something for everyone. Join me on a virtual tour as we explore the top things to do in Ankeny, Iowa.

Can’t-Miss Attractions

Ankeny, Iowa, is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. Here are the top 5 must-see attractions that showcase the beauty and charm of this vibrant city:

1. High Trestle Trail Bridge: Offering breathtaking views and a unique architectural design, the High Trestle Trail Bridge is a must-visit for nature lovers and photography enthusiasts. Spanning the Des Moines River Valley, this iconic bridge features stunning light displays that illuminate the night sky, creating a magical experience for visitors.

2. Ankeny Art Center: Immerse yourself in the local art scene at the Ankeny Art Center. This cultural hub showcases a diverse range of artworks created by talented local artists. From paintings to sculptures, the center offers a glimpse into the creative spirit of Ankeny and is a must-see for art enthusiasts.

3. Wagner Park: Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and unwind at Wagner Park. This serene green space is perfect for picnics, leisurely strolls, and outdoor activities. With its lush landscapes and peaceful ambiance, Wagner Park provides a welcome retreat for visitors looking to connect with nature.

4. Otter Creek Golf Course: Golf enthusiasts will delight in a visit to the Otter Creek Golf Course. This premier golfing destination features challenging courses set against the backdrop of Iowa’s natural beauty. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a novice player, a round of golf at Otter Creek is an experience not to be missed.

5. Ankeny Historical Society: Delve into the rich history of Ankeny at the Ankeny Historical Society. Housed in a historic building, the society offers a fascinating glimpse into the city’s past through exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays. History buffs and curious travelers alike will appreciate the opportunity to learn about Ankeny’s heritage.

From scenic bridges to cultural centers, Ankeny, Iowa, has something for everyone. Explore these top attractions to discover the heart and soul of this charming city.

One-day trip

Looking for exciting day trip ideas near Ankeny, Iowa? Here are five fantastic destinations within a 2-hour drive that offer a mix of outdoor adventures and cultural experiences.

1. Pella – Known for its Dutch heritage, Pella is located just an hour away from Ankeny. Explore the charming streets lined with tulips, visit the Vermeer Windmill, and indulge in delicious Dutch pastries. Don’t miss the annual Tulip Time festival for a vibrant celebration of spring blooms.

2. Ledges State Park – Situated around 45 minutes from Ankeny, Ledges State Park is a nature lover’s paradise. Hike along picturesque trails that lead to stunning sandstone cliffs and a peaceful canyon. Enjoy a picnic by the river or try your hand at trout fishing.

3. Ames – Only a 20-minute drive from Ankeny, Ames is a bustling college town with plenty to offer. Visit the Reiman Gardens for beautiful plant displays, explore the Brunnier Art Museum, or catch a game at Jack Trice Stadium. Stroll through the historic Main Street for unique shopping and dining experiences.

4. Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad – Just 30 minutes away, Boone is home to a historic railroad that offers scenic train rides through the Des Moines River Valley. Step back in time aboard a vintage train and take in the breathtaking views of Iowa’s countryside. Check their schedule for themed rides like the popular Santa Express during the holidays.

5. John Wayne Birthplace & Museum – Located an hour from Ankeny in Winterset, this destination pays tribute to the legendary actor. Explore exhibits showcasing John Wayne’s life and career, including movie memorabilia and personal artifacts. Afterward, take a stroll through Winterset’s picturesque town square and visit the covered bridges featured in the film “The Bridges of Madison County.”

These diverse day trip options near Ankeny, Iowa, offer something for everyone, whether you’re a nature enthusiast, history buff, or art lover. Pack your bags, hit the road, and embark on a memorable adventure just a short drive away.

Restaurants and bars

When exploring Ankeny, Iowa, be sure to check out these five exceptional dining spots that offer a taste of local flavors:

1. The Prairie Kitchen – Indulge in their famous Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwich, a local favorite known for its generous portion size and perfectly seasoned meat.

2. Harvest Moon – Savor the unique flavors of their Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf, a dish that perfectly combines comfort food with a gourmet twist, making it a must-try for visitors.

3. Fire Creek – Treat yourself to their signature Fire Creek Burger, a mouthwatering creation that features locally sourced beef and a secret sauce that keeps customers coming back for more.

4. Waterfront – Enjoy a delightful dining experience with their Pan-Seared Walleye, a dish that showcases the freshest catch of the day and is a highlight of their diverse menu.

5. The Cellar – Delight in their flavorful Chicken Marsala, a classic Italian dish prepared with a modern twist that has earned rave reviews from both locals and visitors alike.

For a relaxing break or a fun night out, make sure to visit these top two cafes and bars in Ankeny that offer a unique and memorable experience:

1. The Frothy Mug – Known for its cozy ambiance and artisanal coffee blends, this charming cafe is a favorite among locals for its quality brews and friendly service.

2. The Tipsy Squirrel – Step into this lively bar for a one-of-a-kind experience, featuring creative cocktails and a vibrant atmosphere that makes it a popular spot for both locals and tourists looking to unwind and socialize.

Interesting Facts

Ankeny, Iowa, may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking of exciting destinations, but this charming city has a lot to offer. Here are three surprising and interesting facts about Ankeny that will pique your interest:

1. Prairie Trail: Ankeny is home to the innovative Prairie Trail development, a mixed-use community that seamlessly blends residential, commercial, and recreational spaces. This unique concept promotes a walkable lifestyle, with parks, shops, restaurants, and schools all within easy reach. Visitors can explore the scenic trails, attend community events, or simply soak in the vibrant atmosphere of this modern neighborhood.

2. Sports Hub: Despite its relatively small size, Ankeny has made a name for itself as a sports hub in Iowa. The city boasts top-notch athletic facilities, including the Prairie Ridge Sports Complex and the Ankeny Sports Complex, which host a wide range of sporting events and tournaments throughout the year. Whether you’re a player or a spectator, Ankeny offers plenty of opportunities to stay active and engaged in the local sports scene.

3. Cultural Heritage: Ankeny may be a growing suburban community, but it also has a rich cultural heritage that is worth exploring. The city is home to the Ankeny Area Historical Society, which preserves and promotes the history of the region through exhibits, events, and educational programs. Visitors can learn about Ankeny’s agricultural roots, its role in the railroad industry, and the stories of the people who have shaped the community over the years.

Overall, Ankeny, Iowa, is a hidden gem with a lot to offer visitors and residents alike. Whether you’re interested in modern urban planning, sports and recreation, or local history, this vibrant city has something for everyone to enjoy.

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