Plan a Visit to the State of Iowa Capitol

Iowa State Capitol tour in Des Moines
photo by paulbrady for Canva

One of my favorite field trips our class took when I was a fifth-grade teacher was to the State of Iowa Capitol Building. I was able to do this tour five times and each time I learned new things. I highly recommend a capitol building tour to anyone with school-age children or older. (Younger kids can still go, but there is a lot of walking and they may not enjoy the facts as much as an older child.)

Take the Guided Tour

Did you know the Iowa Capital is one of the only working capitol buildings in the US where you can observe the daily processes of our government? I learned that from a tour guide!

While you can explore the Iowa Capitol on your own, taking a guided tour is a great way to learn more about the history and architecture of the building. The tours are free and are offered on the hour from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. You can find more information on the website at Visit the Iowa State Capitol |

Self-Guided tours are available too if that is more of your style.

The Architecture of the Iowa Capitol

Between the artwork throughout the building and the gold dome, the capitol is really a stunning place. There’s a lot of history and significance in the choices that were made when it was built. My favorite place in the building is the library. (It even smells like old books!) I could spend all day in there!

Depending on the day, you may even be able to climb the stairs to the dome observation floor, way up in the dome. It is really far up there, and I’ve never been brave enough but my students were. It was a big highlight!

Learning About Government

Another highlight for most of my students is getting to visit the House and Senate Chambers. You can view the desks for their representatives and see the names on the voting board in the front of the room. The architecture and artwork in these rooms is also pretty cool.

Other Exhibits at the Iowa Capitol

I am not sure what is on display there currently, but in the past, we’ve seen a doll exhibit that had dolls dressed and featured for each First Lady of Iowa. There was also a really big model of the USS Iowa in a case on the main floor that my students enjoyed.

While there are a lot of great parts of the capitol building, I think one of the best parts of doing a tour is that it makes government “real” for our kids. I hope you’ll check it out soon and comment with your favorite parts too!


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