Ames offers restaurants, activities for unique summer bucket list


Photo: Megan Wolff/Iowa State Daily

Ames British Foods, located at 429 Douglas Ave., sells a variety of foods and gifts from the United Kingdom. Marcus Johnson started the store in 2008, and itmoved to its present location in 2009.

Joy Wessels

While most students pack up their stuff and head back to their hometowns for the summer, some stay to endure summer school or work around the Ames area. Whatever their reasons for staying in Ames, students should take a break from those activities to explore the city and what it has to offer during the summer months.

Ames has many restaurants unique to its area that students should take the time to try, especially when in the mood for something cold on a hot day.

Make it a goal to try all of the different concoctions that Tropical Sno has to offer. Nothing beats deliciously flavored ice when temperatures soar into the 90s. This little snowcone shack offers a wide variety of flavors, and at a cheap price, too.

Hickory Park, perhaps one of Ames’ most honored institutions, has an extensive ice cream list that knows no end. Whether you’re in the mood for a banana split, sundae, shake or parfait, there is sure to be something for you at Hickory Park.

If you’ve never been to Italy and had gelato, Capanna’s might be the next-best place to try it. Gelato is less deeply frozen, air filled and fat-filled than ice cream, which gives it an authentic Italian taste. Located across from Hy-Vee on west Lincoln Way, Capanna’s gelato is created daily, and ranges in flavors from tiramisu, blood orange, pineapple, to chocolate. You’re given the chance to sample as many as you like before choosing one, leaving you to find the flavor best suited for your taste buds.

If you’ve been successful in trying different kinds of foods around Ames, then it’s time to work it off with a little fun in the sun. The Ames area boasts several different recreational parks to take advantage of.

Brookside Park is a great place to grill out, throw a ball around in, or even bike through. Try to get a big group of friends together to grill out one night. The park offers grills, picnic tables and shelters for the times when the weather isn’t great.

Ledges State Park, located just 15 miles west of Ames, offers 95 different campsites to take advantage of. Whether you’re new to camping or a veteran of spending time outdoors, Ledges is a place for all to enjoy. As one of Iowa’s most popular state parks, it offers 13 miles of hiking trails, boating and fishing with the Des Moines River flowing through the west edge of it, and beautiful scenery, including bluffs and canyons.

If you really want to get wet and wild, try out the Furman Aquatic Center. The park offers two towering slides, a three-meter platform, a 550-foot lazy river and 5,000-square-foot recreational pool. The best part yet? It’s only $4.50 for ISU students to get in.

Two other places to enjoy Ames’ scenery are at Ada Hayden or Peterson Pits/ They are located on the north side of Ames along U.S. Route 69. If you enjoy running, walking, or biking, Ada Hayden offers a 3.2-mile figure eight path that runs along the lake. If you’ve never kayaked or canoed before, make it a goal to rent one and head out to Ada Hayden for the day to take advantage of the lake’s calm waters and accessible boat launch.

What better way to spend time outdoors than listening to bands as the sun goes down? Bandshell Park, located at the intersection of 6th Street and Duff Avenue, offers music every Friday night from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. At a cost of only $3, it’s cheap entertainment, especially for the college crowd. Though the structure has gone through many renovations, the park has been in Ames since 1882, making it the first and oldest park in Ames.

If you want to escape the hot summer sun but still have a good time, try out Perfect Games, which is located in West Ames. The place offers bowling, laser tag and a full restaurant to enjoy. You can’t do any better than free bowling, so check that out between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday. Perfect Games also hosts a “Patio Party” from 7 to 10 p.m., offering discounts on food and bowling. If you’ve never played laser tag before, make sure to head out to Perfect Games sometime before the summer ends to play for less than $5.

There’s no reason that Ames should be a drag for you this summer. Whether you want to spend all your time eating delicious food, playing out in the sun, finding fun things to do inside, or perhaps a little bit of everything, Ames has something for you.