Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Pottawattamie County, IA

  • Published 2023/03/06

Pottawattamie County is situated in the southwest part of the state of Iowa.

It was founded in February 1847 and named after a Native American tribe that once inhabited Iowa.

This county was renowned as one of the most populous and the second largest counties, with a total area of 959 square miles.

Pottawattamie County comprises 14 cities, including Council Bluffs as the county seat, and offers a variety of museums, parks, and entertainment options to complete your itinerary.

Here are the 15 best things to do in Pottawattamie County, Iowa:

Get to Know Famous Railroad Builders at RailsWest Railroad Museum

Exterior of RailsWest Railroad Museum

Smallbones, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

RailsWest Railroad Museum is one of eight museums established in Council Bluffs by the Historical Society of Pottawattamie County.

This museum was founded in 1899, and it still stands proudly today, showcasing the railroads’ history in the city.

RailsWest Museum allows you to learn about famous railroad builders such as Grenville Dodge, as well as historic train cars and railroad artifacts on display.

Exterior of a locomotive at RailsWest Railroad Museum

Smallbones, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The museum’s historical displays include Union Pacific locomotive 814, Quincy locomotive 915, a 1953 switch engine constructed by the Plymouth Locomotive Works, and more.

RailsWest Railroad Museum, which is also on the National Register of Historic Places, is perfect for a family trip or for avid train enthusiasts.

A locomotive at RailsWest Railroad Museum

Smallbones, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

See a Vast Collection of Historical Artifacts at The Sweet Vale of Avoca Museum

The Sweet Vale of Avoca Museum in the city of Avoca was established by the Newtown-Avoca Historical Society.

The museum, which opened to the public in September 1992, has stood for a long time with the goal of protecting the area’s historic heritage, today’s current works, and the city’s future legacy.

Avoca Museum houses a vast collection of items, including Native American historical artifacts, clothing and cooking items, Danish plates, wildlife trophies, and more.

Some of the artifacts inside the museum are from donations, such as the collections of animal displays from Dr. Schultz, a retired veteran.

The collection includes the Combat Scene that involves an Arctic Wolf and Musk-Ox and the Sheep Grand Slam display.

The Sweet Vale of Avoca Museum also offers special events held on the third Sunday of every month, in which everyone can participate to learn and enjoy history.

Take Pleasure in Fishing at Farm Creek Public Wildlife Area

Farm Creek Public Wildlife Area is a 320-acre wildlife park in the city of Carson.

This area, which was purchased in 2001, is known for being a one-of-a-kind stream in Iowa that had never been touched or channeled by people.

The park was named after the stream that runs through it, featuring picturesque waterways with mini-oxbow ponds along its course.

The majority of the area is made up of native grassland fields with a variety of native grasses and flowers.

The Farm Creek Public Wildlife Area also features two ponds: the 16-acre Young Pond and the five-acre Riepe Pond, both of which are used for recreation and public fishing.

Relax at Old Town Park

Old Town Park is one of the best attractions to visit in the county, just one mile west of Macedonia, along the historic Mormon Trail.

This park spans 9.5 acres and is home to the breathtaking Nishnabotna River.

It offers amenities such as a playground, a hydrant, picnic tables, and pit toilets.

Some visitors come here for camping and the serene and quiet ambiance.

Old Town Park is also perfect if you love activities such as kayaking or canoeing, strolling, and biking.

See Artifacts, Art Displays, and Local Plants at Nishna Heritage Museum and Garden

Nishna Heritage Museum in the city of Oakland displays collections of artifacts illustrating life in southwest Iowa in the past.

This museum is in a former grocery store that was reconstructed in 1975 by the Oakland Historical Society.

The museum houses a collection that includes a 1900s-era kitchen, relics from early farm machinery, a telephone switchboard, and other items that depict life in Oakland in the late 1800s.

The garden, which is located next to the museum, exhibits local trees and flowers, as well as public art displays, including a mural by Malvern artist Zack Jones.

Both of these exhibits may be viewed for free at Nishna Heritage Museum.

Take in the Beautiful Scenery of Wavecrest Park

Wavecrest Park is one of the many parks in the city of Carter Lake.

It is the perfect place to relax and unwind with its well-maintained, neat surroundings and peaceful atmosphere.

You can also enjoy various activities, such as picnicking in shaded areas, playing on the playgrounds, or shoreline fishing.

This park is accessible from dusk till dawn and can be visited by everyone, including your adorable furry family companions.

There’s something for everyone at Wavecrest Park, so come visit today!

Discover How Farming Practices Evolved at Carstens Farm

Carstens Farm is a unique 80-acre farm established in 1880 in Shelby, a city in Pottawattamie and Shelby counties.

It is operated by a non-profit organization with a mission to preserve the farm history of Iowa.

This farm houses a history exhibit that showcases how farming practices evolved over time.

You’ll have a glimpse into how farmers shifted from hand and animal machinery to various types of tractors.

With its motto, “Preserving and Celebrating Iowa’s Farm History,” Carstens Farm also offers seasonal events and activities that visitors should try.

Improve Your Bowling Skills at Thunderbowl

Thunderbowl is a bowling alley in Council Bluffs that provides the best bowling experience.

This bowling alley, owned by the Bowlero Corp, has been serving many families in the city by providing unparalleled fun.

Inside the Thunderbowl are 32 bowling lanes that offer different types of games like Sunday Funday, Night Strike, and Triple Play.

This facility not only offers bowling but also has an arcade, sports bar, indoor fire pit, and pro shop.

Thunderbowl is also available for business events, children’s parties, teen parties, and other social gatherings.

Immerse Yourself in the Tranquility and Magnificence of Hitchcock Nature Center

Landscape of Hitchcock Nature Center

cassi saari, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hitchcock Nature Center is a nature preserve located in an unincorporated Honey Creek, featuring nearly 1,300 acres of land.

With its tranquil beauty, this park has become a favorite among many.

From camping and picnicking to hiking through sweeping savannas and woodlands, visitors can enjoy the beauty of nature with an abundance of activities.

Whether you are looking for rest or recreation, this verdant landscape has something for you!

The park features a 10-mile trail, campsites, and Loess Hills Lodge, where visitors can access restrooms, picnic tables, an observation deck, a gift shop, a gallery, and more.

With the serene location and numerous amenities that the Hitchcock Nature Center offers, visitors will never run out of things to do here.

Tour around Walnut Creek Historical Museum

Walnut Creek Historical Museum in Walnut is housed in the former masonic lodge established in 1911.

The Walnut Creek Historical Society developed this museum to carry on its mission of preserving and promoting Walnut Creek’s history.

The museum has three floors, each containing displays and collections of relics connected to farming, the military, inventors, early families, and more.

If you want to learn about the history of the city, the Walnut Creek Historical Museum is a great place to visit since it has information from the 1800s to the present.

Anyone can visit this museum by booking a tour.

Jump on a Trampoline and Throw an Axe at The Hub

The Hub is an amusement center known to be the only family entertainment facility in Council Bluffs.

This hub was established in May 2018 to offer a welcoming, enjoyable, and secure environment for every family to enjoy.

There are two attractions inside the hub, which include a trampoline park with games like ninja warrior courses, a jousting beam, dunk baskets, and more.

Axe throwing is another activity available here.

It has five lanes with six throwers on each one and includes games like Standard Target, Zombie Hunter, and Duck Hunter.

You can count on The Hub to provide the most incredible family entertainment!

Look for the Perfect Gift at The Painted Camel

The Painted Camel is an art gallery in downtown Macedonia that houses art in various mediums.

It is not only known as a fine art gallery but also as a gift shop.

This gallery features various locally produced art, including paintings, photos, pottery, jewelry, and baskets.

If you are in need of a unique gift or simply wish to appreciate artwork, The Painted Camel is the place for you.

This store, owned by Paul & Carol Jean Koch, displays works of art by more than 35 talented artists who specialize in painting, fabric arts, sculpture, pottery making, and jewelry design.

Designers, photographers, and weavers also contribute their creations to The Painted Camel, ensuring that no two pieces are alike!

Hit the Links at the Historic Quail Run Golf Course

Quail Run Golf Course is a golf facility in the city of Neola founded in 1990.

The golf course features a 9-hole par 36 courses with a noteworthy hole #3 and a water feature, making it one of the best golf courses and practice ranges in the city.

It features a wide green field and various amenities such as cart rentals, a driving range, clubhouses, and a full bar.

To build trust and meaningful relationships with their visitors, Quail Run Golf Course ensures to provide the best golfing experience in Neola.

Satisfy Your Need for Speed at Joe’s Karting

Joe’s Karting is a public go-kart track in Council Bluffs that provides racing opportunities and training courses for unlicensed and underage drivers.

This go-kart track was established in 2009 and is the first indoor karting facility to exist in the city.

Here, visitors can expect to have a thrilling racing experience.

Joe’s Karting is a well-designed indoor go-kart that also offers membership packages and special pricing options that every visitor should take advantage of.

You should consider trying it out with your family and friends or for certain special private occasions, such as birthdays.

Enjoy Some Tee Time with Your Loved Ones at Treynor Recreation Area

Treynor Recreation Area is a recreation facility featuring a nine-hole golf course in the small, quiet city of Treynor.

This golf course is a 2,966-yard and par 36 golf course, with tall trees, irrigated fairways, and rolling hills.

Like any other golf course, this facility offers amenities like a clubhouse that offers bar food, a full salad bar, sandwiches, and more.

They also offer Tee Times, which is open from dusk or dawn, which you can try via accommodations.

With its excellent amenities, good service, and family-friendly environment, Treynor Recreation Area is an ideal place to try with your family and friends.

Final Thoughts

Are you looking for a vacation destination where your family can learn something new, immerse themselves in nature, or explore the past?

Look no further than Pottawattamie County.

From recreational facilities with plenty of sports to try to nature preserves and museums that let you step back into history, there’s something here for everyone!

Add these best things to do in Pottawattamie County, Iowa, to make the most out of your journey around the area!

© All rights reserved.