Whether you are taking a multi-day trip through Iowa or simply planning a quick day trip, there are plenty of resources available to you. Or maybe you live here and are just looking for an easy way to find some interesting places to visit? Personally, while I am a fan of the regular paper Iowa map and the Iowa Travel Guide— technology is providing even more ways to plan your adventures. With technology advancing the way it has, for everything you ever want to do, “there’s an app for that.”
Here are eight apps that will help make your Iowa adventures even better. Best of all, these eight apps I am featuring are all available for FREE through the iTunes store. You can’t beat free, right?
- Iowa State Parks & Recreation Outdoors Guide
The Pocket Ranger app sponsored by Iowa State Parks & Recreation has lots of information crammed in one app! As you visit state any of Iowa’s state parks, this mobile app can help you learn of the variety of ways to obtain useful park information, and also news and alerts for the location you are visiting. As you can see in the photo examples below, you can get information about making a camping reservation, learning what the rules are for the state parks, as well as find activities close to your location. Whether you are looking for a great park for bird-watching, want to take a day trip to a great fishing spot, or maybe are just looking for a spot to camp for the weekend, this app will help you do all of that– quickly and easily!
This app was created by the Iowa Restaurant Association, with the intent of helping us discover a variety of the best food and drink Iowa has to offer. The Dine Iowa app has the capability to search by name, city, food types, amenities (carry out, children’s menu, or even gluten-free menus) as well as locations that serve lunch and/or dinner.
The app asks “Where do you want to go?” and you type in the town you are wanting to visit. It’s that simple! The location pops up and you are immediately given the following categories: See & Do, Eat & Drink, or Book Hotels and Hostels. It also gives “Practical Information” by providing some interesting information about the city as well as directions for getting there, as well as the closest location of various services, such as hospitals, banks and post offices. It even tells you the current temperature and future weather forecast!
The Iowa Culture app, sponsored by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, is the go-to app for Iowa’s best places for Art, History, or Science & Nature. Find art museums in all areas of the state, as well as sites such as gardens, nature centers, zoos. The menu of historic sites is quite extensive, too– cemeteries, hotels, theaters. A great way to experience Iowa’s history!
The Food Finder app was developed by the Des Moines Register as an interactive aid when visiting the best fair in the world– the Iowa State Fair! Want to find where you can get a turkey leg, a monster corndog, or a deep-fried Snicker on a stick? This app not only shows you WHERE to find it at the fairgrounds, but even provides some basic nutritional information (some you might not want to know!). You can even see how much physical activity it will require to burn off that fried Snickers (FYI, it’s a 2.25 hour walk– yikes!) If the deep fried Snickers is too much for you to handle, click on the “Healthy Fare” option and find the locations of the healthiest food items, as well as any health-related events happening at the Fair. The app also includes a daily schedule for anything and everything happening at the fair. This app is a must-have this August!
Need to take a 2+ hour walk to burn off that deep-fried Snickers? Use the Iowa By Trail app and find a great spot for your walk! You can search by many activities (not just walking!), and also filter out by trail surface, difficulty and more. Care to share your trail experience with your friends? The app even lets you log your visit and share it on both Twitter and Facebook.
Until recently, I think I only used this app in the winter. It’s great for seeing current road conditions, whether due to winter weather or road closures. But the biggest obstacle I seem to have in the warmer months is navigating all of the road construction being done. The Iowa 511 app, sponsored by the Iowa Department of Transportation, has you covered. You can view your location on the map and see incidents reported, road construction, and even find the nearest rest areas. The app helps you get to your favorite locations quicker and easier by letting you plan ahead for detours and delays.
Discover many of the best wine and beer Iowa has to offer with this app featuring Iowa’s wineries and breweries. Want to visit The Cider House in Fairfield, Green Tree Brewery in Le Claire, or the Wooden Wheel Vineyard in Keota? Use this app to see photos, as well as get addresses, websites, hours and even the phone numbers!
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