Gateway Hotel and Conference Center is on the south side of Ames, near the intersection of University Avenue and Hwy 30; it is one mile south of Iowa State University via University Avenue.   Hwy 30 and I-35 largely bypass Ames but are convenient for connecting to major streets.

Lincoln Way (old Hwy 30) is the main east-west road through Ames, while Duff Ave and Grand Ave (Hwy 69) form the main north-south route.

“Downtown” is one mile east of Iowa State University, on Main Street between Duff Ave and Grand Ave; it has multiple shops and a few restaurants.  North Grand Mall is two miles north of downtown, on Grand Avenue.  South Duff Avenue has numerous stores and commercial enterprises.  Areas along Lincoln Way east of Duff Ave and west of North Dakota Ave have more industrial businesses.

Food and drink

Restaurants are mainly along Duff Avenue south of Lincoln Way, but others are on Stange Rd north of ISU, on Airport Rd east of the Gateway Center, and on South Dakota at US 30.

Locally-owned restaurants on Main Street:

Aunt Maudes, Cornbred, Sweet Carolines, Whiskey River, Downtown Deli, The Spice, Great Plains Pizza, Café Diem


Provisions                               2400 N Loop Dr, just east of Gateway HCC

Alluvial Brewing                    on 190th St north of Ames

Prairie Moon Winery            on 190th St north of Ames

Della Viti Wine Bar               323 Main Street, Ames

Chocolaterie Stam               230 Main Street

Torrent Brewery                   504 Barnett, downtown Ames


Iowa State University

(in most lists of “Most beautiful campuses”;

Reiman Gardens  (admission charge, but is in the American Horticultural Society’s Reciprocal Admissions Program, in case you have a garden membership that qualifies)


Plants on campus

The ISU campus has 12,500 trees mapped, including hundreds of native and exotic species.  Individual trees are not labeled, but all are named and mapped at:  

ISU has hostas planted all over campus, although most are common and unnamed; just east of the Memorial Union parking structure is a cool, shaded, creekside collection of hostas.

Art on Campus tour

ISU has over 2500 public works of art both outside and in buildings.

Grant Wood murals in Parks Library

Christian Petersen Art Museum in Morrill Hall

Elizabeth and Byron Anderson Sculpture Garden around Morrill Hall

Farm House Museum  (601 Farm House Lane)

Brunnier Museum in Scheman Building

Parking on the ISU campus is limited during the day but open after 5:30 p.m.  Free parking during the day is available south of Stephens Auditorium in the Iowa State Center; there is a free bus from there that circles through campus regularly.

ISU Mascot

There are multiple statues of ISU’s CY mascot scattered around town:

More things in Ames:

Plants for sale

Country Landscapes & Nursery                3801 E Lincoln Way

Earl May Garden Center                            (intersection of S. 16th St. and S. Kellogg)

Holub Garden and Greenhouses              22085 580th Ave

Lincoln View Farm                                       1071 X Avenue (listed as Boone, IA, but closer to Ames)

Salama Greenhouse                                   204 S. Division Street, Boone

Red Granite Farm                                        2013 130th St, Boone



(20 miles north of Ames)

There are several boutique shops in the downtown area on Hwy 69; on Friday, there will be additional activities and vendors.

Des Moines 

(35 miles south of Ames)

Des Moines Botanical Garden

Iowa State Capitol

Pappajohn Sculpture Park  (1330 Grand Ave)

downtown Des Moines river walk

Des Moines Art Center   4700 Grand Ave


(east of Des Moines)

Enabling Garden   1051 First Ave South

“This Polk County Master Gardener project provides an area that illustrates gardening for individuals with physical impairments by demonstrating the construction of barrier-free gardening.”


(NE of Des Moines)

Lucille’s Garden Center  2009 NE Hubbell


(south of Des Moines)

Quilted Gardens and Nursery    19635 – 130th Ave


(south of Des Moines)

Bedwell Gardens   8044 Hwy G-14



(southwest of Des Moines)

Ted Lare Design Build & Garden Center

Brown Equipment   –has an extensive collection of old tractors (and sells new ones)



(15 miles west of Ames)

Ledges State Park

From the east entrance (on 250th St), drive down the canyon through 300 million-year old sandstone cliffs–a dramatic difference from the surrounding corn-soybeans landscape.  This can be a convenient side trip on the way to/from the Iowa Arboretum & Gardens.