With winter just around the corner, and the first snow already here, it’s time to start planning all your snow day adventures and holiday fun. This season, ditch the mall Santa and check out these 12 unforgettable places in Iowa:
1. Sundown Mountain Resort, Dubuque
What better way to spend a winter day than hitting the slopes? Sundown in Dubuque offer 21 runs, 2 terrain parks, 4 lifts, and 475 feet of vertical for all levels of skiers and snowboarders. And don’t worry, if you’ve never skied before, you can get some lessons from an expert before you hit the slopes!
2. Seven Oaks Recreation, Boone
Another great place to check out is Seven Oaks Recreation in Boone. Seven Oaks offers 600 ski rentals and 120 snowboard rentals to winter adventurers of all ages. Hit the slopes here and check out their 11 runs that vary from beginner to expert, and take a ride on the ski lift.
3. Benton Skating Plaza, Des Moines
Ice skating is one of the most perfect ways to spend your snow day. Glide around the ice at the Benton Skating Plaza in Des Moines, for a start.
4. Wells Fargo Arena for an Iowa Wild game
Don't want to freeze out in the cold but still want to have some wintery fun? Check out an Iowa Wild game at the Wells Fargo Arena! If you're like me (not a very good ice skater), then it can be more fun watching the experts race around the rink while you cheer them on with a snack in your hand.
5. Sleigh Rides in Jester Park Equestrian Center
There's no better way to enjoy the winter wonderland of Iowa than a horse drawn sleigh ride. Jester Park Equestrian Center in Granger offers sleigh rides throughout the season.
6. Snowshoeing at Ledges State Park
Ledges State Park in Boone is gorgeous in the summer, but in the winter it's absolutely magical. Next time there's snow, grab a pair of snow shoes and get to exploring.
7. Victorian Pines Christmas Tree Farm, State Center
And you can’t forget about the joy of picking out your own Christmas tree at one of Iowa’s many tree farms, like Victorian Pines Christmas Tree Farm in State Center.
8. Orange City for Sinterklaas Day
Every year, the Dutch Sinterklaas (Santa Claus) visits Orange City to bring Christmas tidings to the townsfolk. This year, he will be making his appearance on Saturday, December 5 - be sure to bring the kids and grandkids to witness his grand arrival.
9. Santa's Castle, Storm Lake
Located in the historic Carnegie Library, Santa's Castle is the perfect place to bring the kids this weekend. With Santa Claus himself there to take orders for Christmas gifts, and a plethora of antique Christmas toys and gifts, there is plenty of magic to be experienced here.
10. Pioneer Village Christmas Wonderland, Le Mars
Take a horse-drawn sleigh ride on a beautiful winter night, or check out the live nativity scene and musical performances. When you're done with that, roast marshmallows and sip hot chocolate around a campfire in the snow.
11. Grumpsters Log Cabins
Need a getaway this winter but don't want to spend big bucks on an Aspen vacation? Check out Grumpsters Log Cabins in McGregor. After a good snow, these cabins nestled along the Mississippi will beat a crowded ski resort in Colorado any day.
12. The Santa Express, Boone & Scenic Valley Railway
The Santa Express is an absolute must for those with young children or grandchildren. Let the kiddos put their PJ's on and head over to Boone for your own "Polar Express" experience. The ride lasts about an hour, and during that hour you will be treated to cookies and cocoa, story time, Christmas carols, and a visit from Santa Claus - complete with your own gift. Don't miss out on this truly magical experience this holiday season.
This list is a start, but it just barely scratches the surface. Do you know of any seasonal gems to visit this winter? Share your suggestions with us in the comments section!