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Iowa Rides, Slides, and Thrills: Water and Amusement Parks

Have fun making memories filled with laughter and delight. Exhilarating rides, wild water slides, and family-friendly thrills turn quality time together into unforgettable adventures. Speed down roller coaster tracks, bounce along whitewater rapids, and soar into the sky on a lakefront Ferris wheel. Discover your ultimate day of rides and thrills in Iowa.

Adventureland and Adventure Bay: The Biggest

Laugh loud and scream big at Iowa’s largest amusement park and water park. Situated just northeast of Des Moines in Altoona, this adrenaline junkie’s paradise features more than 100 rides and shows, including five rollercoasters. Hold on tight on a daredevil trip on the Monster, the park’s newest steel rollercoaster - it turns upside down five times. Float on a whitewater river raft trip, get shot into outer space, and ride a giant Ferris Wheel. The theme park and water park are located right next door to each other, and both offer plenty of activities for teens as well as younger kids.

Lost Island Water Park: Tropical Thrills

Relax in a Polynesian paradise at this island-themed outdoor water park. Play all day in the wave pool and lazy river, and get your heart pumping on 14 different rides. Favorites include the Los Soul Falls speed bowl slide and the Wailua Kupua, a wild hydro-magnetic water-coaster. You’ll also find tube slides, a family raft ride, and an interactive play area for kids and toddlers. Lost Island Water Park is easy to reach off Highway 20 in Waterloo.

Arnold’s Park: Lakefront Nostalgia

Grab a hand-dipped ice cream cone and kick back on the beach. With a charming setting on West Lake Okoboji, this traditional, turn-of-the-century theme park is the place to go for old-fashioned family fun. In addition to 30 rides and attractions, there’s a beach with boat tours on the Queen II and a maritime museum. The park’s wooden, 1927 roller coaster “Legend” has recently been restored, and there are free music concerts all summer long. Too hot? Hit the indoor water park. Admission and parking are also free; you pay per attraction via tickets.

Urban Whitewater Parks: Ride the Rapids

Grab your paddle and conquer the rapids at Iowa’s whitewater parks. Manchester Whitewater Park is the biggest, a 900-foot-long course with six 18” drop features. It’s open 24/7 and you can rent kayaks at local outfitters The Watershed and River Rec. Surf, stand-up paddleboard, and spin your kayak on the Cedar River at Charles City Whitewater. At Elkader Whitewater Park, a gobbler park-and-play wave is perfect for practicing your freestyle moves.

Outdoor and Indoor Water Parks: Year-Round Fun

No matter what the weather is like, you can have fun in the water year-round at Iowa’s smaller water parks. Laze on an indoor beach and zoom down four slides at The Beach in Ottumwa. Huck’s Harbor at FunCity Burlington is modest in size, but makes up for it with indoor and outdoor play: an interactive splash playground, two water slides, and a whirlpool. A zero-depth entry pool at Marshalltown Aquatic Center is easy to access for everyone, including small children. Leap across lily pads at King’s Pointe, an indoor/outdoor water park in Storm Lake.

Family Fun Parks: Go-Karts, Bumper Boats, Laser Tag

Enjoy an action-packed afternoon at immersive family fun parks. Compete for glory in an indoor laser tag arena and try to get out of two Escape Rooms at Battlefield Midwest, located in Clear Lake. Get lost in Michael’s Fun World, a Davenport hotspot for go-karts, arcade games, and mini golf. For serious go-kart racing, head to Joe’s Indoor Karting Center in Council Bluffs. Reach speeds up to 45 mph on this European-style indoor track. Fort Frenzy in Fort Dodge lets you try a little of everything: bumper boats, go-karts, roller skating, and mini bowling.