Collage of summer activities in Iowa

We’re gonna let you in on a secret: many Iowans merely tolerate winter. It’s often spoken about as something to be endured. We learn to live with it, and we make the best of it.

But summer. Summer is another story. It’s the season of more daylight and flip flops and fresh sweet corn. Of parades and picnics and camping trips. Ever notice there are a lot of songs about summer? Yeah, there’s a reason for that. Summer RULES.

In celebration of the hottest season, here are 10 things we love about summer in Iowa.

1. Patio chilling

Whether we’re dining al fresco at home or having drinks on the patio at our favorite local hot spot, putting in some patio time and enjoying the great outdoors has a classic summer vibe. Bonus points if you spot lightning bugs at dusk or smell fresh-cut grass. Check out this list of some of the best patios in Des Moines.

2. H2O yeah

When summer turns up the heat, we love making a splash to stay cool. It’s time for swimming at the local pool, boating and kayaking at the lake, or tubing on the river — we’re ready to dive in.

3. Pedal power

Central Iowa has an amazing network of bike trails when we want to change gears and get out on two wheels. The state’s longest bike trail (the Raccoon River Valley Trail, at 89 miles long) is just west of the Des Moines metro, and there are great trails to be found all around the state. Here’s a list of some of the best bike trails in Iowa.

4. Bonfire it up

Who doesn’t love a summer evening around the fire pit, being serenaded by cicadas? It doesn’t matter if the bonfire is in the backyard or outside a cabin by the lake. Throw in some s’mores and we are SOLD.

5. Getting into the swing of it

Hitting the links is a popular summer pastime in Iowa, where even some of the smallest towns have a course. There are more than 440 golf courses in the state. And did you know that Iowa is home to more nine-hole golf courses than any other state in the U.S.? So grab your clubs and get swinging.

6. Let the music play

Summer and live music go hand in hand. At a winery, in the park, at an amphitheater — we love taking in live music on a summer night. And it wouldn’t be summer without a festival or two. 80/35 and Hinterland are two of our favorite music festivals that draw great national acts to Iowa.

7. Going to market

The farmers’ market, that is. The Downtown Farmers’ Market in the heart of Des Moines delivers the goods from dozens of vendors showcasing Iowa-grown food, entertainment, and crafts. There’s a reason it consistently ranks among the best farmers’ markets in the country. We love wandering the streets to stock up on fresh produce, flowers, and other fabulous market finds.

8. Light the grill

Whether we grow it ourselves or pick it up at the farmers’ market, food just seems to taste better when it’s cooked on the grill, from our famous pork chops to our even more famous sweet corn. Let’s just rename summer in Iowa as “grilling season,” OK?

9. Batter up!

A lazy summer day spent watching a game at the ballpark? That’s a grand slam in our book. Bring on the peanuts and a cold beer. We love rooting for our local Iowa Cubs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.

10. Meet us at the midway

No list of favorite Iowa summer traditions would be complete without a little event called the Iowa State Fair. So famous it has inspired a movie and a Broadway musical, the Iowa State Fair draws more than 1 million visitors annually, making it the largest single event in the state. Summer wouldn’t be complete without a look at the Butter Cow, a trip through the Ag Building, and a footlong corn dog.

Want more inspiration for some serious summer fun? Check out our list of 17 great summer road trip ideas and then hit the road! 

And if you have questions about our agency or living or working in Iowa, give us a shout. Reach out today.