Some Free Things to Do in Iowa City

A few weeks ago, during spring break, I visited the Museum of Natural History in downtown Iowa City with my daughter and granddaughter. I had not been there for several years and decided a visit was due.

The museum has three main halls. Iowa Hall is described on the UI website as a 500-million-year adventure through Iowa’s geological, cultural, and ecological history. Mammal Hall was my favorite and has animals from almost every continent, including a giant sloth, an anteater, and an ape. The Hall of Birds features an interactive computer station where you can listen to the sounds of different birds. You can also buy stuffed animal birds in the gift shop that sound like the actual bird. We bought two as gifts. We also came home with a magnifying glass and a geode with instructions on how to crack it open and discover the beautiful crystals inside. If you are looking for a unique way to celebrate a birthday, you can have a party at the museum complete with a personal museum attendant, custom cake, hands-on activities, and party favors.

As we left the museum, we decided at the spur of the moment to walk through the Old Capitol Museum right next door. We saw interesting displays, such as the bell that was partially destroyed in the 2001 fire. The Iowa Youth Diaries Project was fun and interactive; my five-year-old granddaughter wrote on a notebook provided why she likes to be an Iowan.

Whether you are visiting Iowa City or live in the area, it is well worth the time to visit these museums—and admission is free.

Jane Kirsch
Programs Assistant

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