8 Iowa Theme Parks for an Unforgettable Summer

Dive into the Thrilling World of 8 Iowa Adventure & Theme Parks for an Unforgettable Summer

Photo courtesy of City of Sioux Center via Facebook

By Shane Lantz

July 9, 2023

Summer is here, so it’s time to find your water shoes or flip-flops, put on some sunscreen, and head to one of Iowa’s many fun theme parks.

Whether you’re looking for something cheap or a place to do it all, there’s a theme park in Iowa for you.

Lost Island Themepark and Waterpark

Dive into the Thrilling World of 8 Iowa Adventure & Theme Parks for an Unforgettable Summer

Photo courtesy of Lost Island Waterpark via Facebook

Where: 2600 E. Shaulis Road, Waterloo, IA, 50701

Hours of operation vary depending on the day. For a full list of opening and closing hours, click here.

As the largest water park in Iowa, Lost Island in Waterloo has plenty to keep you occupied on a hot summer day. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, you can try out the Amara Aviators ride or the legendary Waila Kapua Water Coaster, or take it easy with options like a tube float down the Kailahi River or Adventure Golf. 

Know before you go: Go early in the season and midweek if you want to save some money on admission. Until June 30, you’ll pay $43 on weekdays and $46 on weekends for theme park admission, while water park admission is $32 on weekdays and $34 on weekends. 

Starting in July, those prices rise to $48 on weekends and $45 on weekdays for the theme park, while water park pricing will be $36 on weekends and $34 on weekdays. 

If you plan to be a frequent visitor, season passes will cost you $375 per person. A one-day park pass for both parks is $62. 

Arnolds Park Amusement Park

Dive into the Thrilling World of 8 Iowa Adventure & Theme Parks for an Unforgettable Summer

Photo courtesy of Arnolds Park Amusement Park via Facebook

Where: 37 Lake St., Arnolds Park, IA 51131

Hours of operation vary depending on the day. For a full list of opening and closing hours, click here.

First founded in 1889, Arnolds Park has been a part of Iowa summer fun for as long as any of the state’s living residents can remember. The park has 23 rides to choose from over its 20 acres on the shores of Lake Okoboji. 

A few iconic places to check out include the Legend Roller Coaster, advertised as the 13th-oldest wooden roller coaster in the world; and the Nutty Bar Stand, which has been serving the eponymous chocolate treats since 1945. There is also live music throughout the summer at the Roof Garden Ballroom. 

Know before you go: Admission to the park is free, but you’ll need to purchase a pass if you plan to go on rides. A park day pass is $37.95 and good until Sept. 4. 

Adventureland Park

Dive into the Thrilling World of 8 Iowa Adventure & Theme Parks for an Unforgettable Summer

Photo courtesy of Adventureland Park via Facebook

Where: 3200 Adventureland Drive, Altoona, IA 50009

Hours of operation vary depending on the day. For a full list of opening and closing hours, click here.

It’s not the cinematic Adventureland where Kristen Stewart taught Jesse Eisenberg to stop being such a dork in the 2009 comedy; it’s the one in Altoona that has been a staple of Iowa summer memories since 1974. 

Adventureland is Iowa’s largest theme park, with over 100 attractions located just a short drive from Des Moines. See how brave you are by trying the Monster infinity coaster, float on the state’s longest lazy river at Adventure Bay, and try out the Saw Mill Splash on those hot Midwestern summer days. As for snacks, the buffalo cheese curds are a popular new item at the park. 

Know before you go: Go on Tuesday if you want to avoid the massive crowds that descend on Adventureland during the busy summer weekends. Midweek tickets are also a few dollars cheaper. The park recently went cashless, so bring your debit and credit cards.

King’s Pointe Waterpark Resort

Dive into the Thrilling World of 8 Iowa Adventure & Theme Parks for an Unforgettable Summer

Photo courtesy of King’s Pointe Resort via Facebook

Where: 1520 E Lakeshore Drive, Storm Lake, IA 50588

Hours of operation vary depending on the day. For a full list of opening and closing hours, click here.

A more affordable and less crowded theme park than some others in Iowa, King’s Pointe in Storm Lake features a 50,000-square-foot outdoor water park with waterslides, raft rides, and a place called Spray Island. 

In the indoor park, there is a fast, thrilling waterslide called the Runaway Rebel, as well as an indoor lazy river. Admission is free for resort guests. 

Know before you go: If you go on Sunday Funday, tickets for both adults and kids are $5 cheaper.

Jester Park Outdoor Recreation & Wellness Center

Dive into the Thrilling World of 8 Iowa Adventure & Theme Parks for an Unforgettable Summer

Photo courtesy of Jester Park Nature Center via Facebook

Where: 12112 NW 128th St., Granger, IA 50109

Hours of operation vary depending on the day. For a full list of opening and closing hours, click here.

Located 22 miles northwest of Des Moines, Jester Park in Granger is open seven days a week from Memorial to Labor Day and offers budget-friendly indoor and outdoor activities. Rent a canoe to paddle on nearby Discovery Pond, climb around on the indoor bouldering wall, or take your shot at indoor archery and air rifle shooting, all for the super cheap price of $5. 

Along with the outdoor recreation center, Jester Park also has a nature center where you can learn about the local wildlife, and an equestrian center for the horse-minded among you. There is also a free monthly outdoor summer music series. 

Know before you go: There is currently a free art exhibit highlighting local watercolor artist Bill Allen, which runs until Aug. 27.

Siouxnami Waterpark

Where: 770 7th St. NE, Sioux Center, IA 51250

Hours of operation vary depending on the day. For a full list of opening and closing hours, click here.

Siouxnami Waterpark in Sioux Center has three outdoor waterslides, a lazy river, and a 16-foot climbing wall that overhangs the pool—but it’s the zip line that really makes this place worthy of the admission cost. 

Advertised as “The Only Aqua Zip Line in Iowa,” the attraction starts off on an 8-foot platform before riders zip down toward the water. In the indoor part of the water park, there is a hot tub for adults who need to rest their weary bones, along with a few more waterslides to try if the outdoor summer weather drives you indoors. 

Know before you go: Admission for ages kindergarten to adults is $8. You can also get a single water park membership for $150 that is good through Aug. 1, or a family pass for $270. Sioux Center residents get discounts on all membership deals.

Boji Splash Indoor Waterpark

Dive into the Thrilling World of 8 Iowa Adventure & Theme Parks for an Unforgettable Summer

Photo courtesy of Bridges Bay Resort via Facebook

Where: 630 Linden Drive, Arnolds Park, IA, 51331

Hours of operation vary depending on the day. For a full list of opening and closing hours, click here.

With Lake Okoboji, Arnolds Park, and this indoor water park, the Okoboji area is hopping during summertime. When the weather isn’t up to snuff for outdoor activities, Boji Splash is a good place to fritter away a summer day. 

Located inside Bridges Bay Resort, Boji Splash has both an indoor and outdoor water park, with a zip line, a lazy river, and several waterslides. The best part about this park is the flexibility; on beautiful days the outdoor pool is popular, but the indoor park is a good option year-round. 

Know before you go: Go during the offseason if you want to save a bit of money. From Labor Day to the following Memorial Day weekend, the general admission price is just $14, but during the summer, the price jumps to $25 per person. Admission is free for Bridges Bay Resort guests. 

Huck’s Harbor Outdoor Water Park (indoor open this fall)

Dive into the Thrilling World of 8 Iowa Adventure & Theme Parks for an Unforgettable Summer

Photo courtesy of FunCity Resort via Facebook

Where: 3001 Winegard Dr, Burlington, IA 52601-2061

Hours of operation vary depending on the day. For a full list of opening and closing hours, click here.

With admission at $12 per person, Huck’s Harbor in Burlington is an affordable option for a fun day around the pool. 

They’ve got water slides, a tube ride, and a splash pad to keep you cool, as well as an arcade, go-karts, bowling, laser tag, a tiki bar, and a nearby casino on the property of the FunCity Resort. One disappointing thing: the indoor pool is currently closed for renovations, and won’t be open until the fall. 

Know before you go: If you happen to go on a Wacky Wednesday, the park will open early and only charge half price for admission. Admission goes down to $5 every day after 5 p.m. 

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