Did you know that Midwest Living magazine named the Iowa State Fair one of the “Top 30 Things Every Midwesterner Should Experience“? We definitely agree and can confirm! We found so much fun at the Fair this summer! Our day was full of carnival rides, games, Fair food (that Spam burger was pure nostalgia for me), ice cold beer, and even a wine down experience in the garden. Here’s our recap for you to start planning your trip next August!
The Iowa State Fair is the largest single event hosted in the state and one of the oldest. Fun fact: The very first Iowa State Fair was in 1854 and the most popular event was an impressive new exhibit – ladies riding horseback! Since it’s beginning the Iowa State Fair has always celebrated excellence, recognized individual achievement, and showcased the future of agriculture. This year, from August 11-August 21, 2022, over 1 million people enjoyed 53 new foods, the “legendairy” (sorry, I had to) Butter Cow, major grandstand acts like Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood, and lots of other classic Americana fun!
We drove to Des Moines on a Friday night, so that we could enjoy some time in the city and eat breakfast the next morning at the State Fair! It was about a 5-hour drive.
Friday in Des Moines
We checked into the Hilton Des Moines Downtown. Our room was huge and beautiful, and they completely spoiled us with goodies. The hotel and attention to detail was exceptional. We were very happy with the cleanliness, customer service, amenities, and overall vibe. Based on our research, there are other great options in the area (some of which we hope to check out eventually), but if you’re someone who chooses hotels based on personal recommendations, we can sincerely recommend staying here the next time you’re in Des Moines.
After settling in, we took a short drive to Zombie Burger + Drink Lab for lunch. They serve creative burgers and yummy spiked milkshakes. It was awesome! Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel to freshen up and plan our day at the Fair! Make sure you download the app, it was so helpful!
Our Friday night activity was attending the Iowa Cubs game – the minor league team of the Chicago Cubs. They won the game and we got to enjoy fireworks from the stadium! The fireworks show is after every Friday home game. After the game, we ended the night with pizza by the slice from Fong’s Pizza. So good!
Saturday at the Iowa State Fair
The Iowa State Fair app was paramount in helping us plan our day and making sure we didn’t miss any of the food or activities we had on our wishlists. You guys know how we are about our food!
Our first stop was to check out the baby animals at the Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center! We saw chicks hatch, baby goats, and Ryan even got to pet a piglet! The exhibit is all about educating about the animal birth process, various stages of development in different species, and general care for Iowa’s livestock.
Then we headed over to Applishus for breakfast – delicious Apple Bacon Waffles! Here’s part of our foodie recap:
- Spamburger Hamburger
- Thelma’s Ice Cream Sandwiches
- Brafford’s Lemonade
- 27 Degree Beer
- Cheese Curds (Deep Fried)
Of course, no fair is complete without some rides and games! We rode the Skyglider to get some great views and a nice breeze!
We also cooled off by visiting some of the must see indoor attractions like the butter cow, fine arts exhibits, and best tasting tomato contest!
Our final stop at the Fair was Wine Down in the Garden. Complimentary wine samples in a pretty garden with live music? Sign me up!!
On our way back to the hotel, I made Ryan drive me to see the Iowa State Capital Building at night. Yes, I’m a dork, but look how pretty!
If you’re looking for a summer road trip, we strongly suggest checking out the Iowa State Fair! Next year’s dates are August 10-20, 2023. Des Moines is such a fun city to explore, too! We can’t wait to come back!
Jacquie & Ryan
If you enjoyed this you might also like our Weekend Getaway in Okoboji Iowa!