Ames, Iowa! So many memories tied to this city. Ames is my first home away from home in United States of America. This is the first place where I lived all by myself and also where I first met my husband. For me, Ames is a small city crammed with a lot of important memories. I still go back and visit often. I feel like I know Ames pretty well by now. Hence I decided to create a city guide with things to do and places to eat if you ever happen to visit. Hope you find it handy!
Where to stay?
Accommodations in Ames is pretty limited. So if you are planning a trip during commencement week, make sure to book it ahead of time. We stayed at Best Western Plus during our last visit and I can’t think of a better deal than this place. The space was clean and breakfast was included and it is very close to the university area. Overall a good deal. If you want a Cyclone experience then go for the Gateway Hotel which is just in front of the hotel that we stayed in. Iowa House Hotel is one of a kind hotel which is basically a renovated fraternity house. I have never stayed here but it definitely looks cute from outside!
What to do?
Ames is not a very big town. So don’t expect to find a lot of things to do. But if you are here for a weekend or couple of days then it’s not hard to find things to do. Ames is the home to Cyclone. If you visit during football season and are lucky enough, you can catch a game at Jack Trice stadium. I love the team spirit around campus during game days. If football is not your thing, you can stroll around the beautiful campus. Don’t forget to go see the swan royalties Sir Lancelot and Lady Elaine in Lake LaVerne.
Reiman Garden is home to 800 butterflies and many aromatic plants. The best part, it is open year around. If you are into arts and theatre then do check out Brunnier Art Museum. Christian Petersen Art Museum is another one that showcases the art in campus. Both the museums are free but donation is encouraged. Likewise Iowa State University brings many acts along with theatre performances in Fisher Theatre as well as in Maintainance Shop.
The city of Ames has a traditional quaint downtown with many local stores. Be sure to check out the main street for one of a kind goods and cafes. If you like parks and trails then check out Ledges State Park or Ada Hayden Heritage Park both of which are in close proximity to Ames with Ada Hayden being in Ames.
Where to eat?
Finally my favorite thing to talk about – where to eat! Ames might be a small college town but don’t let that disappoint you. There are quite few choices. When it comes to coffee, Morning Bell Coffee is my personal favorite as it is kind of hidden and is less crowded. I got a chance to meet the owner once and he was one of the nicest guys I have met. He took his time to explain the blends as well as their cold brew nitro taps. Also this is in no way sponsored! Cafe Diem is a popular spot. It does get busy with college students. Arcadia Cafe is an oldie but a goldie. This place is quite tiny so to-go will be a good choice if you happen to visit here. Little Wood Tea and Herbs is a new one for me. I didn’t get a chance to go inside (It was closed) but it looked like tea lover’s paradise from outside.
Chocolaterie Stam took me by surprise. So many good chocolates and gelato. Their pistachio gelato is the best I have ever tried! You can sometimes find live music too.
For casual dining I recommend Bar La Tosca , Provisions Lot F , Thai Kitchen or The Cafe. For good barbecue either check out the classic Ames eatery Hickory Park or the new kid on the block Jethro’s Barbecue. Both of them are equally good. It’s the vibe that is different between the two.
And if you want something cheap, fast but filling at the same time, check out every college kid on a budget (including mine) favorite, Little Taipei!
Hope this city guide was helpful. If you happen to be in Ames and need help navigating around the city or have any questions in general, please feel free to tweet me at @thefunkybeans or leave a message in the comment section below!