Ames, Central Iowa offer activities for those looking for fun in spring

Malena Whetro

Now that Spring Break is over, the countdown begins until students finish their final class for the semester. Many students are cramming in hours to study for exams, complete final projects and ace finals (fingers crossed).

But too much work and no play can prove to be strenuous.

Consider bookmarking that biology page or clicking save on your English paper and go out and enjoy what Ames has to offer this spring.

State Gym

What better way to take a break from your studies than shaping up for the summer in Iowa State’s newly remodeled State Gym? Originally built in 1911, the gym has been upgraded significantly with all of today’s newest equipment. Amenities include a swimming pool, a track, three regulation-sized basketball courts, cardio and strength equipment and a rock wall.

Lied Recreation Athletic Center and Southwest Athletic Complex

If you are good at excusing yourself away from the treadmill, sit back and relax while watching others work out instead. Lied Recreation Athletic Center is a great place to find the track and field team setting new records while the Southwest Athletic Complex hosts the women’s softball team.

Check out the athletic website for upcoming schedules. Admission is free.

Stable Run Disc Golf Course

Disc golfing has become increasingly popular in the past few years. Iowa State’s very own Stable Run Disc Golf Course is a great way to catch some rays and have fun with friends. The 18-hole course offers plenty of room to practice your putt or tomahawk throw.

Principal Park

Feeling adventurous? Pack up you and your friends and head to Principal Park in Des Moines to cheer on Iowa Cub’s baseball. General admission tickets are $7 in advance and $8 on game day.

Hickory Grove

If Des Moines is too far to travel, Hickory Grove is a quaint lake located about 20 minutes east of Ames. Springtime visitors can picnic, hike, hunt or camp. Camping is $12 to $17 per night.

It’s the perfect opportunity to break out the grill and cook up hamburgers and hot dogs.


On your journey back to Ames, be sure to take Old Highway 30, better known as Lincoln Way. There, you will drive through the town of Nevada and stumble upon Starbucks. This restaurant is not to be confused with your go-to coffee spot.

Locally owned and operated, Starbucks serves the best cheese balls, loose-meat beef burgers and soft-serve ice cream in Iowa. It’s worth a try or two or four, whether you’re heading back from a day at the lake or taking a quick road trip.

Ledges State Park

Ledges State Park is another outdoor favorite. The park, located outside of Boone, is widely known for its hiking trails, amazing scenery, wildlife and campgrounds. Enjoy spectacular views while climbing over canyons before camping overnight in one of the 94 offered campsites.

Reiman Gardens

On the return back to Ames, stop by Iowa’s largest public garden.

Reiman Gardens has several award-winning features and includes a 2,500-square-foot butterfly exhibit. ISU students are able to visit this beautiful display of flowers and garden art for free. It’s the perfect and much-needed way to relax after a hard day of studying.

Main Street Farmers Market

Wrapping up your excursions, head out shopping to Main Street to the local farmers market where you will find locally grown produce, baked goods and crafts for a great price. This is a healthy and wallet-conscious way to grocery shop for snacks while hitting the books.

Refresh your mind from the stress of school this spring and take the time to visit a few of the local activities Ames and Central Iowa have to offer.