99 Counties, 99 Parks

By Lauren Kollauf on Monday, April 22, 2019

Our 5 favorite things to do at Iowa county parks

Parks are great places to encourage physical activity and healthy lifestyles, and Iowans are lucky to have more than 300 county parks to explore in their own backyards. 

Travel Iowa has announced a new 99 Counties, 99 Parks initiative featuring an interactive map that highlights one park in each county across the state. There's no better time than spring and summer to visit your local county park, venture to a neighboring county — or maybe even road trip across the state!


Dickinson County Nature Center

You can filter the map by region and the website identifies amenities available at each park. Travel Iowa has also curated lists of parks ideal for pet lovers, adventurers, "glampers" and more. Plus, there's a comprehensive, printable checklist if you want to visit all 99 Parks!

Use #99Parks when you post about your visits to county parks this summer!

The Healthiest State Initiative is proud to partner with Travel Iowa on a 99 Parks Family Fun Guide to encourage families and children to be active in Iowa county parks.  The Family Fun Guide has nearly 50 activities, games and recipes for families to enjoy.

Here are our five favorite things to do in Iowa county parks:

1. County BINGO

Instead of using an tablet or phone for entertainment while you drive to your destination, play County BINGO.  Just print off a map of Iowa for each player, watch for county names on the bottom of license plates and then color in the counties on the map. 

CAR FUN PACK: 5 games to play along your journey

2. Sensory Scavenger Hunt

From listening for birds chirping to seeing animal tracks, there are so many things to explore at Iowa county parks. Draw greater awareness to your senses with a Sensory Scavenger Hunt. Head out on a nature walk or hike and see what you can find.

FAMILY FUN PACK: 14 educational activities to guide exploration

scavenger hunt

Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center in â€‹Woodbury County

3. Go Fish

Many of Iowa's parks offer fishing. Fishing is a great way to connect with family members and enjoy the scenery. Don't know how to fish? No problem. Here's everything you need to know about fishing, from getting a license, preparing the pole and cooking your catch.

FISHING 101: Steps to a successful fishing trip


Quarry Lake at Lime Creek Conservation Area in Cerro Gordo County

4. Get Moving!

The whole family can enjoy the wide open spaces of a county park. Play "classic" outdoor games like Capture the Flag or Flashlight Tag.  On a hot day, cool off with water relays using cups and buckets or Drip, Drip, Splash (like Duck, Duck, Goose — but wetter!) 

GET MOVING GUIDE: 15+ games and activities for the whole family

5. Pack a Picnic

Fuel your outdoor adventure with healthy foods and water! One of our favorite snacks to pack in the cooler are colorful kabobs made with wooden skewers and your favorite fruits. Camping? Try a veggie packet! Roast zucchini, carrot, potatoes and spices in foil over a cookfire.

RECIPE BOOKLET: 9 recipes perfect for camping and picnics

5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count!

5210Want to learn more about how to encourage an active lifestyle for your family? Healthy Choices Count! is a health-focused movement for kids that’s under the nationally recognized program, 5-2-1-0. This proven, scientific method helps keep kids healthy by focusing on the importance of good habits. And it all starts by encouraging them to eat and play the right way. Learn more.