Traveling With Your Pup? Here Are 6 Pet-Friendly Iowa Attractions.

Image via Jaromir Chalabala/ Shutterstock

Pet owners know the look well: Just as you’re handing over your dog’s leash to the kind caretaker at the boarding facility because you’re getting ready to leave town for a fun trip, Bingo turns to you, his eyes staring you down. They say: How dare you abandon me.

It never feels good to leave your furry friend behind when you’re traveling. That’s why we’ve put together this list of pet-friendly attractions across Iowa to consider for your next adventure. Keep in mind, however, that although these locations support you bringing along your pet, most do not allow dogs inside their buildings and require your pup to be leashed. 

Sergeant Floyd Monument, Sioux City

2601 S. Lewis Blvd.
Open 24 hours

Image via Ali Eminov / Creative Commons

Located at Floyd’s Bluff along the Missouri River in Sioux City, the Sergeant Floyd Monument is the first national monument in the US. It commemorates Sergeant Charles Floyd, the only person to die (likely of complications from a ruptured appendix) on the Lewis and Clark expedition. The monument is located in a scenic 23-acre park making it the perfect place to bring your pup. Like other parks, dogs are welcome as long as their humans clean up any messes. 

Iowa Arboretum & Gardens, Madrid

1875 Peach Ave.
Open Mon. through Fri. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., summer weekends 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Photo courtesy of Iowa Arboretum

The Iowa Arboretum & Gardens is the perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts to hang out with their dogs and connect with nature. Here you’ll find 160 acres of woodland, prairies, and gardens to explore with your leashed pup. Even if you don’t want to wander too far because you have a small dog, the outer loop of The Woodland Trails is only 0.8 miles. The Iowa Arboretum & Gardens also offers regular education programs, such as fall color walks and wildlife identification. 

Fenelon Place Elevator Company, Dubuque

512 Fenelon Place
Open daily 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Apr. 1 to Nov. 30

This pet-friendly Iowa attraction only allows medium to small lap dogs, but it’s such a special activity, we had to include it in the list. Fenelon Place Elevator Company, known as the “Fourth Street Elevator” by locals, is the world’s shortest and steepest elevator ride. The extremely small cars go up almost 200 feet from Fourth Street to Fenelon Place. You and your pup have a 360-degree view of the historic Dubuque business district, the Mississippi River, and three states: Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. 

Fossil & Prairie Park Reserve, Rockford

1227 215th St.
Open Mon. to Thurs. 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Closed Fri., Sat. and Sun. 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. 

If you haven’t visited the Fossil & Prairie Park Reserve, you are missing out. It’s the perfect place for dogs, kids, and adults who like to dig. The reserve is one of only three places in the US where people can come and dig for prehistoric fossils, including those from the Devonian period, which was 365 million years ago when modern-day Iowa was underwater. The fossils at the reserve are from marine animals that lived in a shallow sea environment. 

And for those who aren’t interested in fossils, the reserve also has another 60-plus acres of prairie to explore. Pups are welcome throughout the grounds, but they cannot go into any buildings. 

Effigy Mounds National Monument, Harpers Ferry

151 Highway 76
Open daily 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Photo courtesy of National Park Service

American Indian ceremonial mounds are found throughout the US, but the mounds in northeastern Iowa are some of the only ones in the shape of animal effigies. The Effigy Mounds National Monument in Harpers Ferry is full of many examples of mounds that give visitors the chance to understand the area’s indigenous people. The national monument is more than 2,500 acres with over 200 mounds, 31 in bear and bird forms. Your leashed pup is welcome throughout the park as long as you clean up any messes. 

Bonus: Paws & Pints, Des Moines

6218 Willowmere Drive
Open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mon. to Thurs., 8 a.m. to midnight Fri. and Sat., 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sun. 

Photo courtesy of Paws & Pints

This list is meant to cover pet-friendly Iowa attractions, but Paws & Pints is better described as a dog attraction that is human-friendly. If you are traveling in the Des Moines area with your pup, you should definitely stop in. This place needs to be franchised across the US. They offer everything your pet needs from vet service to grooming and doggy daycare, but visitors will love the 20,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor dog park space. The facility cleans the artificial turf to keep it safe and sanitary for play. While your pup plays, you can watch TV, enjoy live music, and have a pint, or two. 


by Jessica Lee

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