Tour the Iowa State Capitol

Tour the Iowa State Capitol

The Iowa State Capitol

While I’ve known for a while (I’m talking years here) that we could tour the state capitol, we hadn’t made the time to do it. While we were at the Capitol for the march this weekend, I made the comment how some weekend we need to make time to take a tour of the Capitol like we’ve been meaning to do.”Why not now?” my husband suggested. I had assumed they were closed, but alas, they were open. We walked in, went through security, and quickly joined a guided tour that had started a few minute prior.

Des Moines, Iowa, Capitol

The front desk was incredibly helpful and let us join an in-progress tour as we didn’t want to wait a half hour for the next one (waiting and kid don’t always mix well). Our guide was incredibly friendly, knowledgeable, and great with the mix of adults and kids in our group. I wasn’t sure how entertained the kids would be with the tour, but they LOVED it! We all learned a lot about the Capitol, from it’s history to the interior decorations to funny stories about our state senators.

Des Moines, Iowa, Capitol

The one thing I enjoyed about doing this tour on a Saturday was that we had access to several rooms we wouldn’t have been allowed in during the weekdays (the library for one, which was also my favorite room) and if the House and/or the Senate was in session, our guide wouldn’t have been able to speak while we were in those rooms. That’s where we got all of the good stories, so to have missed that would have been disappointing. However, I would like to go back during the week sometime so we could see building while it’s bustling.

The highlight of the tour came at the very end. We had the option to go up into the dome (you know, that big gold dome we see from the outside?). Unfortunately, it’s only for ages 6+ and there was no waiting place for the kids that couldn’t (or didn’t want to) go. Since our youngest is 5 1/2 she wasn’t allowed and our oldest is afraid of heights, Hubs had to miss out while our middle child and I went. We loved looking down and being so close to the top, but the walk up the winding narrow staircase was a tad dizzying for me and a few others in our group.

Des Moines, Iowa, Capitol

[The library is a fully functioning library. If you tour during the week and the library is open, you won’t be allowed in unless you are a legislator]
Des Moines, Iowa, Capitol
 [Supreme Court Chamber]
I’m still shocked how well the kids did with this tour and how much they learned. There’s always the option to do a self-tour of the building (weekdays and weekends), but I highly recommend doing a guided tour because you get the good, inside info.
8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday
9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturdays
Cost: Free
For more info, visit: 

About the Author


Ashlen Sheaffer is a proud Des Moines resident who was born and raised here.  In her free time Ashlen enjoys exploring all Des Moines has to offer, road trips, and adventuring all with the kids in tow. 

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