We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“The Iowa State Fair is the BEST!”

Iowa State Fairgrounds
Ranked #2 of 72 things to do in Des Moines
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: For 11 days in August, it’s a fairground, but for the other 354 days of the year, the Iowa State Fairgrounds is home to auto shows, livestock exhibitions, flea markets, antique shows, concerts, trade shows and more. See what’s happening this month at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.
Reviewed September 20, 2011

We had a day full of entertainment included in our fair admission. From music, to a hypnotist to all of the food. The livestock shows were excellent also. We spent a good 10 hours going through the fair and still didn't see everything. This is a fair you can go back to year after year for sure.

Thank 100hawkeye
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a ReviewReviews (731)
Traveler rating
Traveler type
Time of year
  • More languages

713 - 717 of 731 reviews

Reviewed September 8, 2011

In full disclosure, I tried to avoid going to this event for a number of years for no other reason than personal preference. I changed my mind once I had a family with a toddler. We visited during the day and our visit mainly focused around more family friendly entertainment. There are many other attractions at the Iowa State Fair that we did not have a chance to visit with such a young child.
First off for those parents who have young children and worry about access to changing stations and things like that, please place your worries behind you. Numerous fully updated restrooms are available and nearly all are equipped with changing stations!
There are entire sections of the fair grounds dedicated to young children. There is a minature farm that demonstrates what it is like to be a farmer and how food gets to the dinner table.
There are live animal exhibits that are focused on young animals such as chicks, ducklings, young pigs, cows etc. My little girl loved looking at these little critters running around.
A good time was had by all and we thoroughly enjoyed our trip.

Thank Francisco O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 24, 2011

As long as you don't mind mingling with large crowds of friendly people, you have to visit the Iowa State Fair at least once in your life. There is plenty of Carnival, Americana, Agriculture's finest, and anything you want to eat on a stick! Just get your walking shoes on and experience one of the American Classic Fairs. If you leave hungry you must have forgot your wallet. If you can't find something that interests you, you must be really boring!

1  Thank TravelFromIA56
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 22, 2011

I grew up with this fair - went almost every year for a time, then moved to Minnesota and had only been back once in the last 20 years or so, although we go to the Minnesota State Fair almost every year. The Iowa and Minnesota fairs are similar yet different - I get the idea that the MSF is more of an agricultural showcase to show the city folk how farming works (for example, one year they had an attraction where you could pay $25 or so to drive a Bobcat for 5 minutes- a farmer from Iowa was looking on and commented that if folks wanted to come to his farm he'd PAY them to drive his all day). The ISF, on the other had, seems to be the real deal - a farm-focused fair for farm-focused people. Of course there's still plenty to do for us folks who converted to city life as well. Definitely plenty to do - we got there around 9AM and left just before 9PM. Do note that if you go on the last day of the fair, as we did, that some things (like the livestock displays) will start breaking down around 5-6PM so you might not see as much as if you went another day.

My biggest complaint is the prices of the food vendors. WIth so much food there, it would be nice to sample some different things. I expect to pay high prices at a fair, but when they have $5 sno-cones and $3.50 glasses of Coke, it gets a bit expensive for a family of 4, especially on a hot day like yesterday. In essence it makes me stubborn and I buy as little as possible - they probably would have gotten more money out of me if the prices were lower. Instead we drank some pop out of the car cooler, and stopped by the Dairy Zone on University (near I-235) for malts on the way home - where the ice cream was excellent and much more reasonably priced.

Thank Rehcsif
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 19, 2011

So much to see, esp livestock barns. Delish Pork Chop on a Stick and yummy Iowa craft beer tent. Ride the gondola back at the end of evening. I love the green spaces and breathing space.

Thank jane_h_neuharth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Iowa State Fairgrounds also viewed


Been to Iowa State Fairgrounds? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing