The Ultimate Iowa Honeymoon Guide: Top Resorts, Excursions, and Travel Tips

The Hawkeye State might not be the first place that springs to mind when you think of romantic getaways, but you might be pleasantly surprised to know that it has quite a few romantic hotels and interesting attractions.

For example, some of the excellent resorts around Lake Okoboji. There are many dotted around the lake that offers comfortable stays and all of the water activities you can think of.

But this is just one of the many great places to stay and things to see in Iowa.

What Makes Iowa Perfect For A Honeymoon

As we have mentioned above, Iowa is definitely not the first place people look when planning their honeymoon. However, you might be surprised to know that the state actually has quite a lot to offer.

The Iowa Great Lakes area is an excellent attraction in the summer months, as you and your partner will be able to laze in the water and catch a tan. However, if you and your partner would prefer something more action-packed, then you can try many of the watersports that are offered in these areas.

Iowa is so much more than just its lakes, though; the capital city of Des Moines is a cultural hub, so it’s very easy to find live music, art, and great food there. Regardless of what you decide to do or where you decide to stay, Iowa is definitely an underrated honeymoon destination, so read on to find out why!

Best Areas To Stay In Iowa

Iowa is not a very densely populated state, as much of the flat land is used for farming. This means that many of the great attractions and cities are quite spread out. If you and your partner haven’t planned for a particularly long honeymoon break, then you should pick a general area and see all it has to offer.

Below we have listed some of the best destinations for romantic getaways in Iowa, so they should be high on your list of places to stay if you’re planning on honeymooning in the region.

Des Moines

Image Courtesy of Austin Goode via Unsplash

Des Moines is the capital of Iowa, and therefore it is home to many of the best attractions that the state has to offer. Art galleries and museums are plentiful in Iowa, so if you and your new spouse enjoy some history and culture, it will be excellent for a romantic getaway.

One of the best attractions in the city is the Blank Park Zoo, as it is home to more than 800 indigenous and exotic animals. Another excellent attraction in the area is the Bridges of Madison County. These man-made landmarks are a sight to behold and also offer some great picnic spots.

The large number of tourists that visit the city every year has caused a large number of accommodation options to spring up. This means it won’t be all that difficult to find a romantic hotel in the region.

Sioux City

Image Courtesy of Drew Risner via Unsplash

Sioux City is right on the state line of Iowa but is, thankfully, only a three-hour drive away from Des Moines. Like Des Moines, Sioux City is also known for its rich culture.

It is often renowned for its mix of modern art and history, so culture and history lovers will be in for a treat. One of the best places to experience some of the history the state has to offer has to be the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. Here, you can find out more about the famous explorers and even go on some hiking trails.


Image Courtesy of Erik Brolin via Unsplash

Dubuque, which is known to many as the city of craft beer, is located alongside the Mississippi River. Besides the city’s excellent craft beer, it is also known for being home to the stunning Crystal Lake Cave.

The cave system is massive and is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful attractions in all of Iowa. The cave lighting and the faint sound of trickling water make for a very romantic environment, so it is a great place to check out if you’re on a romantic getaway.

The Fenelon City Elevator is another great attraction that can be found in Dubuque. It is both the world’s shortest and the world’s steepest scenic railway and offers magnificent views from the top.

Best Honeymoon Resorts, Hotels, and Other Stays in Iowa

There are a number of romantic hotels, quaint bed and breakfasts, and even resorts located in Iowa. Where you decide to stay in Iowa for your honeymoon will depend on what you are looking to get out of your vacation.

If you want to see Iowa’s Great Lakes, you should consider staying at Fillenwarth Beach Resort in Arnolds Park. It is definitely one of the best places to stay if you want to experience what the area has to offer. However, if you’re planning on honeymooning in Des Moines, then there is the excellent Des Lux Hotel, which offers all of the modern amenities you could ever need.

If you and your new spouse would like to see everything that Dubuque has to offer, then the Mont Rest Inn will be perfect for you. It is one of the best places in Iowa for romantic getaways, as it offers some great views of the Mississippi River.

1. Fillenwarth Beach Resort

Image Courtesy of Fillenwarth Beach Resort
  • Price per Night: From$334.28
  • Best For: Long stays, Families, Young couples, Old couples
  • Availability: Easy to book

Fillenwarth Beach Resort is located near West Lake Okoboji, Northern Iowa, and as a result, has all of the water sports activities you can think of. It is definitely quite a romantic hotel, as there are a number of accommodation options.

Depending on how much you spend, you can even get a lakeside cabin of your own, and there are few lodging options more romantic than that!

While it is far from being the cheapest accommodation around, the resort offers a number of complimentary activities. Some of the best activities include cruises, water skiing, paddling, and even sailing. This means there will always be something to do on the water.

The resort is not really suited for short stays, as their prices are charged per week, so if you’re planning on honeymooning here, it would be best to stay for a while if you can.

2. Des Lux Hotel, Des Moines

Image Courtesy of Des Lux Hotel
  • Price per Night: From $190
  • Best For: Couples, Short Stays, Long Stays
  • Availability: Easy to book

The Des Lux Hotel can be found in downtown Des Moines and is easily one of the best places to stay in the city. It is very central, so you will only be 5 minutes away from the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, which is an excellent place to spend the day having a picnic amongst the beautiful flora.

The Des Lux Hotel could definitely be considered to be one of the more romantic hotels in the city. Nearly every room features a fireplace, so you and your new spouse can curl up in front of a fire while sipping champagne.

Another great attraction that isn’t all that far away is the Pella Historical Village. Here you will find a number of preserved 19th-century buildings and also some museums that will give you some more information about the area and everything that has occurred there over the years.

3. Oakwood Inn, Okoboji

Image Courtesy of Oakwood Inn
  • Price per Night: From $119
  • Best For: Couples, Families, Long Stays, Short Stays
  • Availability: Easy to book

The Oakwood Inn is a luxury bed and breakfast located in Okoboji and is considered to be the best-rated hotel in the area. The romantic hotel gained this rating by offering excellent amenities at rather affordable prices.

Both King Rooms and Queen Rooms offer whirlpool tubs, spacious verandas, and walkout patios. There is also quite a bit for you to do while you’re on hotel property, as the hotel offers various hikes, which will allow you to take in some of that Okoboji fresh air.

The inn’s close proximity to Okoboji Lake also means you will have access to a number of water-based activities, like swimming, fishing, water-skiing, and even paddling. If you’ve been looking for romantic hotels in Iowa that feature some natural scenery, then this inn should be high on your list.

4. Mont Rest Inn, Bellevue

Image Courtesy of Mont Rest Inn
  • Price per Night: From $178
  • Best For: Older couples, younger couples, short stays, long stays
  • Availability: Easy to book

The Mont Rest Inn is considered by many to be one of the best places for romantic getaways in Iowa. While the inn was built over 100 years ago, it has been upgraded to include many excellent modern amenities. So, if you’re willing to spend a bit more, you can even get access to your own private hot tub.

While the Mont Rest Inn is located in Bellevue, it is only a 30-minute drive away from Dubuque. This means you and your partner will be able to explore Crystal Lake Cave and will also get to see the famous Fenelon City Elevator.

One of the most interesting things about the hotel is the fact that guests can even get involved in a murder mystery dinner if they’d like.

5. Hotel Pattee

Image Courtesy of Hotel Pattee
  • Price per Night: From $178
  • Best For: Older couples, younger couples, short stays, long stays
  • Availability: Limited

Hotel Pattee can be found in Perry, Iowa, and is regarded by many as one of the finest historic boutique hotels in the world. It is also one of the more romantic hotels in the state, as it offers many different themed rooms and suites.

Perry is a rather quaint town, and there are quite a few restaurants where you can find some great Mid-West cuisine. It is also home to some interesting museums like the Iowa Fire Museum, where you will find some firefighting-related artifacts dating back to 100 years ago.

If you’re looking for a quiet, relaxing honeymoon in Iowa, then Hotel Pattee will be a great place for you and your spouse to stay.

6. Sleep Inn & Suites, Ames

Image Courtesy of Sleep Inn & Suites
  • Price per Night: From $107
  • Best For: Short stays, Long stays, Families, Couples
  • Availability: Easy to book

The Sleep Inn and Suites can be found very close to Iowa State University. While the hotel itself is not particularly beautiful, the amenities it offers make it one of the more romantic hotels in Ames. If you’re willing to spend a bit more for your room, you can even get your own private hot tub.

The surrounding area of Ames is the real highlight here, as there is quite a bit to see and do. One of the best things you can do in Ames is taking a trip to the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad. Here, you and your partner can take an open-air train ride that will take you through some of the most beautiful scenery in all of Iowa.

The Sleep Inn & Suites will also make sure that your stay is comfortable and that you are well-fed for the trip to the railroad, as it offers complimentary breakfast too!

7. Hilton Garden Inn, Ames

Image Courtesy of Hilton Garden Inn
  • Price per Night: From $102
  • Best For: Families, Long stays, short stays, couples
  • Availability: Easy to book

Another great way to gain access to the city of Ames is by staying at the Hilton Garden Inn in Ames. The hotel has all of the modern amenities you would expect a Hilton hotel to have, and, once again, if you’re willing to spend a bit more, you can get access to your own private hot tub.

We have already mentioned one of the best things to do in Ames, but there are a few more. The Santa Maria Vineyard is a great place for you and your partner to sip wine, enjoy some great live music, and eat some delicious wood-fired pizza. It is a quick 1-hour drive from Ames.

The Reiman Gardens is a great place to spend the day and is an excellent spot for a picnic. One of the best gardens the Reiman Gardens has to offer is the Jones Rose Garden, which is perfect for a romantic stroll.

8. The Richards House, Dubuque

Image Courtesy of The Richards House
  • Price per Night: From $60
  • Best For: Couples, Long Stays, Short Stays
  • Availability: Limited

If you’ve decided to spend some of your honeymoon in Dubuque, then you should definitely consider staying at The Richards House Bed And Breakfast. The boutique hotel is also rather romantic, as it specifically offers honeymoon suites.

Some of the honeymoon suites feature private fireplaces and even pianos to add to the ambiance. While this bed and breakfast was built back in 1883, it has been upgraded many times over the years, so it has plenty of modern amenities.

One of the best things about The Richards House is its location. It is only a stone’s throw away from the Mississippi River, the National Mississippi Museum & Aquarium, and the Grand Opera House.

9. Prairie Meadows Casino Racetrack and Hotel

Image Courtesy of Praire Meadows
  • Price per Night: From $156
  • Best For: Couples, Short Stays, Long Stays
  • Availability: Easy to book

If you and your partner are feeling lucky, and are willing to test that luck, then Prairie Meadows in Des Moines is an excellent place to stay. You might be wondering why the hotel has “racetrack” in its name, and you might be surprised to know that the hotel actually has a horse racing track on the premises.

Besides the casino and race track, the hotel also has its very own fitness center and saltwater pool. So, it will be perfect for you and your partner if you want to keep up an active lifestyle while on vacation.

While the hotel doesn’t have any honeymoon suites, there are plenty of luxurious suites for those who want to spend a little more. The presidential suite is particularly large and luxurious and even features a two-sided fireplace and its own kitchen.

Top Excursions & Activities To Do On Am Iowa Honeymoon

There are many great things to do and see in Iowa. We mentioned some of these above, but in this section, we will go into more detail.

Visit Crystal Lake Cave

If you and your partner are adventurous, then you should consider visiting this famous cave. Crystal Lake Cave features beautiful crystal formations and is overall a very interesting sight to behold.

Do some water sports

There are many lakes in Iowa, which also means there are many excellent opportunities for you and your partner to do some water sports. Lake Okoboji is a great lake for water sports, and there are many businesses here that rent equipment out, like Okoboji Boat Works.

Visit landmarks

Iowa is a state that is brimming with history, and as a result, it has many interesting landmarks. One of the most famous landmarks is likely The Bridges of Madison County, which are some beautiful covered bridges that offer great picnic areas nearby.

Visit museums

Much of Iowa’s history can be found in the many museums littered around the state. One of the best museums to visit has to be the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. It features many exhibits relating to the two famous explorers and their companion Pochahontas.

Sample Itinerary & Budget For Your Honeymoon To Iowa

In this section, we will provide you with a four-day sample itinerary for your honeymoon trip to Iowa.

Day 1

If you’re flying to Iowa, then Des Moines would be a great place to start. You can start your day by exploring the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, which is the perfect setting for a picnic. The botanical garden is quite large and will take a while to explore, so it can make for a relaxing start to your honeymoon.

If you’d like to get a little more out of your first day, then you can even head to the Pella Historical Village, which is only one hour away. Here you can explore some well-preserved 19th-century buildings and even visit the Wyatt Earp Museum.

Day 2

Now that you’ve settled into your accommodation, you should consider taking a day trip to Ames. It is only a 40-minute drive away and will allow you to explore a few attractions in one go. When you arrive in Ames, you can take a ride on the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad and see what the Iowa countryside has to offer.

When you get back from your train ride, you should consider stopping for some wine and pizza at the Santa Maria Vineyard before you start making your way back to your accommodation.

Day 3

If you and your partner are willing to travel for a few hours early in the morning, then it will also be possible to visit some of the attractions in Dubuque. While it is a 3-hour drive, it is definitely worth it, as you can visit the ever-popular Crystal Lake Cave System and go on a tour.

If you still have some time left over, then you should head to the National Mississippi Museum & Aquarium to see some of the wildlife they have on offer.

Day 4

On the last day of your honeymoon, it might be nice to visit the Fenelon City Elevator, so you can get a good view of the city of Dubuque. A great way to end your last night would be to go on a Mississippi River dinner cruise, where you’ll be able to enjoy some excellent cuisine and some great views of the river.


In this section, we will provide the average amount you will spend per day in Iowa as a couple on honeymoon.

  • Accommodation – $100 to $200
  • Car rental – $34
  • Food and drinks – $100
  • Excursions – $50

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does an Iowa honeymoon cost?

The cost of a honeymoon will greatly depend on where you plan to stay and what you plan to do, as staying in honeymoon suites and drinking expensive champagne could cause you to run up quite a large bill.

We have estimated that you can have a comfortable honeymoon in Iowa for around $400 per day.

When is the best time to visit Iowa?

Many people recommend that you visit Iowa from early September to late October, as the weather is pleasant, and it isn’t all that busy.

What is the best way to travel around Iowa?

Iowa’s public transport system is well-developed, but everything is quite far apart, so it would be best to hire a car if you want to get where you are going quickly and efficiently.

Start Planning The Perfect Romantic Getaway

While Iowa is not often a top pick for honeymoons, you should definitely consider it after now knowing what there is to see and do there. You and your new spouse can spend lazy days relaxing near lakes, tour museums, and visit some of the great gardens and landmarks the state has to offer.

Be sure to check out the Couple’s Travel resources, so you can start planning the perfect honeymoon for you and your new spouse.