Discover Ames

Ames: The perfect home for the holidays

December 12, 2023

Whether your family is here to visit, or you’re staying in Ames for the holidays, it’s the perfect time of year to show off all the attractions and activities this wonderful city has to offer. If you’re looking to impress the in-laws with amazing winter scenes, or round up the kids for holiday craft activities, this is the guide for you.

Perfect Games

As the name implies, this sports bar is filled with activities that are nothing short of flawless. Mini golf, bowling, laser tag, and arcade games are only half of the experience at Perfect Games. Satisfy your hunger with their made-from-scratch pizza, mouth-watering burgers, pasta, and more! Stop by any day of the week to enjoy their daily specials.

Winter Wonderscape

See Reiman Gardens transformed into a dazzling winter wonderland with 17 acres of outdoor gardens filled with holiday lights. This activity is fun for the whole family and is offered Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights in December. Be sure to buy tickets in advance as popular time slots tend to fill up!

Cyclone City Tour

If you want to explore the whole city and check off local landmarks, follow Cy! Iowa State’s beloved mascot Cy the Cardinal has famous statues placed around the city. Each statue has a unique story and design, including Astro Cy at Howe Hall, Pilot Cy at the Ames Airport, and so many more. Download a map or stop by the Discover Ames office for a free copy!

Downtown Ames

There is nothing more beautiful than a winter stroll through Historic Downtown Ames. The ambiance of Christmas lights paired with unique local shops and restaurants make it hard to resist. Grab some last-minute gifts at Ames Silversmithing, Nook & Nest, and Moose on the Loose. Don’t forget to explore the quirky attractions while you’re there! The Octagon Center for the Arts and No Escape Iowa are a few fan favorites.

Center Grove Orchard

This family-owned orchard has more than 20 acres of beautiful land and over 6,000 apple trees. During the holiday season, activities at Center Grove Orchard get even better. Enjoy a delectable meal at Brunch with Santa or step into a world of enchantment at their Winter Wonderland.

Iowa State Memorial Union

Get the true college experience on the – Iowa State Campus! At the Union, explore the rich history behind the beautiful architecture and learn about unique Iowa State traditions. Grab a snack at the food court and visit the Iowa State Bookstore filled with amazing Cyclone merch!

Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad

These railroads are a one-way ticket to fun! The Santa Express has become a staple holiday tradition for many Midwest families. This ride takes you through Boone to the “North Pole” with a special surprise visit from Old Saint Nick himself. While at the station, you can explore the history of the railroad, and discover something new at the James H. Railroad Museum.

Bricktown Bakery

Celebrate the 12 days of Christmas with a new flavor of donuts or popcorn everyday at Bricktown Bakery in Nevada! Their delicious donuts are freshly made every morning and accompanied by other treats like cookies, cakes, and pies. While there take a walk down Main Street Nevada and admire the beautiful winter village in the bakery’s windows.



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