Southwest Iowa is full of day trip adventures for families in the Omaha metro. One county that’s has a lot to offer is Pottawattamie County, which includes cities like Council Bluffs, Walnut and Crescent. Here’s a list of attractions, activities and other fun things to do with kids in Pottawattamie County.
Related post: Did you know Pottawattamie County is the Trail Capital of Iowa? Read about 14 trails you can find there!
Water activities in Pottawattamie County
If your kids are like mine, it’s always best if it involves water. Walnut is home to a cool splash pad that is up and running.
If you guys are pool purists, the Oakland Pool is big, with a short diving board and plenty of room for friends. If you are more about zero-depth and water slides, check out the Splash Aquatic Center in Avoca, complete with a dog park next door for your furry friends.
Related post: Family-Friendly Outdoor Activities Near Council Bluffs
Indoor things to do in southwest Iowa
If you’re looking for rainy day activities or your children are more the indoor history-buff type, do the Highway 59 museum tour.
Head to Macedonia to visit the Stempel Bird Museum and the Pioneer Trail Museum, then on to Oakland to see the Nishna Heritage Museum. The Nishna Heritage Museum has dolls, tools, and clothing from the early 1900s – complete with a jail cell!
From there, you can visit the Sweet Vale of Avoca Museum, which has a taxidermied bear in it. And if the sun is shining, be sure to check out the musical garden at the Avoca Public Library, it’s new and fun.
Special events in southwest Iowa
Pottawattamie County is also home to great summer events. Catch the Carson Rodeo Aug. 1-3. Thursday night during the rodeo is the kids’ night, including a chance to mutton-bust. (No worries, moms, they can just watch, too.) They also have a parade that Saturday of the rodeo.
Speaking of parades, Avoca and Oakland both have Fourth of July parades with plenty of candy to last the whole summer. Underwood also has Fourth of July festivities with a downhome feel.
Rural Pottawattamie takes fairs seriously. Swing through the East Pottawattamie County Fair from July 18-21 for plenty of animals to pet, a tractor pull to watch, and art in the park.
WestFair kicks off July 24-29 in Council Bluffs with livestock shows and carnival rides for everyone!
Best free thing to do in Pottawattamie County
One of the most interesting, educational whole family activities I know of is geocaching. Pottawattamie County has a lot of spots including one outside Oakland, one in Carson, and one near Crescent.
Get a little time in nature and feel the excitement of a treasure hunt with geocaching.
Best southwest Iowa parks
You can’t beat the parks in Pottawattamie County! Double check the one you want to visit is open, as a few are closed due to flooding in 2019. Here are a few you can visit:
– The Shelby Trail has historic architecture and ends at the world’s largest corn stalk.
– Neola has brand-new playground equipment put in May 2019. Arrowhead Park has fishing and camping.
– The grand-daddy of them all parks in Pottawattamie County is Hitchcock Nature Center. It’s is worth the hike. The view is amazing and they have programming year-round.
Tip: Hitchcock Nature Center is part of the 99 Parks campaign in Iowa. Read all about it in this post.
Whatever you’re looking for, it’s only a short drive away in Pottawattamie County.
About the guest blogger
This post was written by a good friend of mine, Erica, who I met when she was a blogger but now she’s the director of Western Iowa Development Association. Have any questions? You can email Erica at EricaForWIDA@gmail.com. She also suggested you all check out the upcoming events at www.WIDAIowa.org.