18 Most Fun Things To Do In Ottumwa, Iowa

Ottumwa, Iowa is a vibrant city in the heart of Wapello County. The city beckons visitors with its rich history, unique attractions, and welcoming atmosphere. 

Ottumwa has a steady stream of approximately 50,000 visitors annually and has established itself as a popular tourist destination in the American Midwest.

Ottumwa was originally named “Buckingham,” and was founded in 1843 and was later renamed in honor of the Ojibwa Chief Ottumwa. The city gained recognition as the backdrop for Grant Wood’s famous “American Gothic” painting.

This fact continues to draw art enthusiasts from far and wide. Its history is steeped in the Underground Railroad’s legacy which is a testament to its role in the fight for freedom.

The city’s inviting charm extends to its climate that makes it an excellent year-round destination. Ottumwa experiences a temperate continental climate, with warm summers and chilly winters. 

The best time to visit is during the spring and summer months when the weather is mild and outdoor attractions like Riverside Park and Ottumwa Water Park are in full swing.

Ottumwa’s appeal is further enhanced by its diverse range of activities, including exploring historic sites, enjoying outdoor adventures, indulging in local culinary delights, and partaking in cultural experiences. 

Its strong community spirit and the array of annual events and festivals contribute to its status as a must-visit destination in the Midwest.

Whether you’re a local looking for something new or a visitor exploring the area, Ottumwa offers a wide range of fun things to do. From outdoor adventures to cultural experiences, this list of the 18 most enjoyable things to do in Ottumwa, Iowa has something for everyone.

1. Ottumwa City Campground

The Ottumwa City Campground is a scenic outdoor haven for travelers. It offers a place to rest and enjoy the great outdoors. This campground was established in 1949 and has a long history of providing a welcoming space for visitors. 

Ottumwa City Campground

The Ottumwa City Campground is nestled along the Des Moines River and boasts picturesque riverfront views. It’s a favorite spot for fishing, picnicking, and taking leisurely walks. 

The campground has 32 active campsites and offers electricity, water, and sewer hookups for RVs and campers. The campground also features modern restroom facilities, showers, and a dump station that makes it a convenient and comfortable stop for travelers.

Ottumwa City Campground is known for its tranquil and family-friendly atmosphere that makes it a popular destination to enjoy charming things to do in Ottumwa. 

So, if you’re passing through or planning a camping adventure, this campground provides a great opportunity to enjoy the beauty of Iowa’s outdoor landscapes.


1 Joe Lord Memorial Dr, Ottumwa, IA 52501, United States

2. Iowa Heartland History Connection

The Iowa Heartland History Connection is a treasure trove of historical records and stories, preserving Ottumwa’s rich history. The center was established in 2009 and has been serving the community since.

Iowa Heartland History Connection

This local repository holds a vast collection of documents, photographs, and artifacts from Ottumwa and the surrounding region. This makes it a valuable resource for historians, researchers, and anyone curious about the past. 

The organization plays a vital role in documenting the history of Ottumwa and Wapello County. They host numerous events, workshops, and exhibits which make history accessible and engaging for the community. 

One interesting fact about the Iowa Heartland History Connection is that they offer digital access to their collection that allows people from all over the world to explore Ottumwa’s history online. 

This establishment serves as a vital link to the past, preserving the stories and heritage of Ottumwa, Iowa, for generations to come. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or just curious about the city’s roots, the Iowa Heartland History Connection is a fascinating place to visit.


700 Farm Credit Dr, Ottumwa, IA 52501, United States

3. Beach Ottumwa

Iowa Beach in Ottumwa, Iowa, is a picturesque and beloved spot along the Des Moines River. This family-friendly recreation area was established in 1922 and has a rich history.

Beach Ottumwa

This beach originally served as a public swimming beach that offered a delightful escape from the summer heat. While it no longer operates as a swimming beach, it remains a scenic location for picnics, fishing, and enjoying the riverside ambiance.

Iowa Beach spans several acres that makes it a perfect place to spread out a picnic blanket and take in the stunning riverfront views. It’s a peaceful spot for nature enthusiasts and a popular location for family to enjoy charming things to do in Ottumwa.

The park hosts annual events like “Beach Bash,” a community celebration that brings people together to enjoy music, food, and games. Iowa Beach continues to be a cherished destination for residents and visitors that capture the essence of Ottumwa’s natural beauty.


101 Church St, Ottumwa, IA 52501, United States

4. Wapello County Historical Museum

The Wapello County Historical Museum is a treasure trove of Ottumwa’s history. The museum was established in 1949 and houses a vast collection of artifacts and records.

Wapello County Historical Museum

The museum is located in a beautiful historic building that provides a window into Ottumwa’s past and showcases the rich heritage of the city and Wapello County.

The museum has an array of exhibits and delves into the stories of Ottumwa’s early settlers, its industrial history, and the role it played during the Civil War.

One of the interesting facts about this museum is that it houses a remarkable collection of Native American artifacts that showcase the rich indigenous history of the region.

The museum is actively involved in preserving and sharing Ottumwa’s history, hosting events, workshops, and educational programs to engage the community. 

The museum offers visitors a chance to step back in time and gain a deeper understanding of Ottumwa’s fascinating history while exploring other unique things to do in Ottumwa.


 210 W. Main St., Ottumwa, IA 52501 United States

5. Bridge View Center

The Bridge View Center is a versatile venue for entertainment and events. The center was established in 2006 and adds a dynamic cultural dimension to the city.

Bridge View Center

The center has a prime location along the Des Moines River and boasts a striking design that includes a glass-walled lobby that offers breathtaking views of the river and the historic Ottumwa Bridge.

This state-of-the-art facility plays host to a wide range of events, from concerts and performances to trade shows and conventions that make it a hub for both cultural and community gatherings.

One interesting fact about the Bridge View Center is its ability to adapt to various events, thanks to its flexible event spaces and modern amenities. It can accommodate both large and small-scale functions.

Whether you’re seeking entertainment, hosting a special event, or attending a convention, the Bridge View Center is a central hub for cultural and community activities and explore some new things to do in Ottumwa.


102 Church St, Ottumwa, IA 52501, United States

6. Canteen Lunch in the Alley

Canteen Lunch in the Alley is a beloved and historic eatery in Ottumwa, Iowa. The diner was established in 1927 and is famous for its classic loose meat sandwiches.

Canteen Lunch in the Alley

This iconic restaurant was founded by a Greek immigrant, Thomas “Greek” George, who introduced Ottumwa to a unique and delicious culinary tradition. The loose meat sandwich, often compared to a sloppy joe, quickly became a local favorite.

One interesting fact about Canteen Lunch in the Alley is that it’s been serving its signature sandwiches in the same location for nearly a century and earned a reputation for its tasty, affordable, and straightforward menu.

The “Canteen” has a charming, old-fashioned ambiance, complete with a vintage soda fountain. It has been featured in various media outlets and television shows that draws both locals and tourists who seek a taste of Ottumwa’s culinary history.

If you’re in Ottumwa, make sure to stop by Canteen Lunch in the Alley to savor a piece of this classic eatery’s delicious past and explore some unique things to do in Ottumwa.


112 2nd St E, Ottumwa, IA 52501, United States

7. Market On Main

Market on Main is a vibrant and bustling community hub in Ottumwa, Iowa. The market was established in 2014 and offers fresh produce, crafts, and a friendly atmosphere.

Market On Main

This market was created to revitalize Ottumwa’s downtown area that brings together local farmers, artisans, and residents to promote economic growth and community engagement.

One interesting fact about Market on Main is its emphasis on providing a platform for local vendors that encourages entrepreneurship, and fostering a strong sense of community pride.

Visitors can explore a wide variety of products, from farm-fresh vegetables to handmade crafts. The market often hosts live music, entertainment, and special events which make it a lively gathering place.

Market on Main is a fantastic spot to support local businesses, enjoy a vibrant social scene, and experience Ottumwa’s close-knit community. Whether you’re shopping for fresh groceries or seeking a fun outing, this market is a must-visit destination in Ottumwa.


331 E Main St, Ottumwa, IA 52501, United States

8. Owl’s Nest

Owl’s Nest is a unique and captivating destination in Ottumwa, Iowa, where owls take center stage. This owl sanctuary was established in 2017 and is home to a variety of owls, each with its own personality and story. It was founded with a mission to educate the public about these majestic birds.

Owl’s Nest

One interesting fact about Owl’s Nest is that it not only provides a sanctuary for these owls but also offers educational programs that allow visitors to learn about these creatures up close.

Visitors can observe and interact with the owls and gain insights into their habitats, behaviors, and conservation efforts. It’s a hands-on experience for owl enthusiasts of all ages.

Owl’s Nest is a one-of-a-kind destination that provides a rare opportunity to connect with these fascinating birds while promoting their welfare and the importance of their preservation. Whether you’re a nature lover or simply curious about owls, this sanctuary is a must-visit in Ottumwa.


116 S Court St, Ottumwa, IA 52501, United States

9. Cedar Creek Golf Course

Cedar Creek Golf Course is a picturesque and popular 18-hole golf course in Ottumwa, Iowa. The course was established in 1973 and is known for its beautiful landscapes and enjoyable play.

Cedar Creek Golf Course

This well-maintained course is a favorite for golf enthusiasts of all skill levels that offers a challenging yet inviting layout.

One interesting fact about Cedar Creek Golf Course is that it’s open to the public that provides a welcoming atmosphere for both locals and visitors. It features lush fairways, well-kept greens, and a friendly staff.

Golfers can enjoy a serene round of golf while taking in the natural beauty of Ottumwa’s surroundings. The course hosts tournaments, events, and leagues which make it a vibrant hub for the local golfing community.

Cedar Creek Golf Course provides a relaxing and scenic way to enjoy the great outdoors and perfect your swing. Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or a novice, this course offers a delightful golfing experience in Ottumwa. Don’t forget to add this delightful location to your list of things to do in Ottumwa.


13120 Angle Rd, Ottumwa, IA 52501, United States

10. Ottumwa Regional Airport

Ottumwa Regional Airport is a vital transportation hub in Ottumwa, Iowa. The airport was established in 1948 and serves both commercial and general aviation needs.

Ottumwa Regional Airport

The airport has a rich history and have played a significant role during World War II when it was known as Ottumwa Naval Air Station. This facility was used for pilot training that housed seaplanes on the Des Moines River.

One interesting fact about Ottumwa Regional Airport is its partnership with Indian Hills Community College that offers aviation programs and hands-on training for aspiring pilots.

Today, the airport features a 6,702-foot runway that makes it capable of handling a wide range of aircraft. It continues to serve the community and offers air travel services, flight training, and aircraft maintenance.

Ottumwa Regional Airport is a vital part of Ottumwa’s transportation infrastructure, connecting the city to the broader region and offering aviation education opportunities for those passionate about flying. Explore the area for more fun things to do in Ottumwa.


14802 Terminal St, Ottumwa, IA 52501, United States

11. Indian Hills Community College

Indian Hills Community College is a prominent educational institution in Ottumwa, Iowa. The college was founded in 1966 and has a rich history of serving students and the community.

Indian Hills Community College

This college was established to provide accessible, quality education for students in the Ottumwa area and beyond. It has expanded over the years to include multiple campuses.

One interesting fact about Indian Hills Community College is its strong emphasis on technical and career-focused programs that offer students opportunities to gain hands-on experience and prepare for the workforce.

The college also boasts a successful athletic program, known as the “Warriors,” participating in various sports and achieving numerous accolades.

Indian Hills Community College’s commitment to education and community development has made it a cornerstone of Ottumwa’s higher education landscape that provides diverse academic programs and vocational training to help students succeed in their chosen fields.


 525 Grandview Avenue Ottumwa, IA 52501, United States

12. Ottumwa 8 Theatre

Catch the latest blockbuster or enjoy a cozy movie night at Ottumwa 8 Theatre. Ottumwa 8 Theatre was established in 1986 and is a popular entertainment venue in Ottumwa, Iowa. It is known for providing a diverse selection of films for the community.

Ottumwa 8 Theatre

This multiplex cinema has a rich history of bringing the latest blockbusters and movies to Ottumwa that creates an enjoyable movie-going experience for residents and visitors alike.

One interesting fact about Ottumwa 8 Theatre is its commitment to staying up-to-date with the latest in cinematic technology that offers moviegoers the opportunity to enjoy films in high-definition and immersive sound.

The theater has become a cultural hub in Ottumwa which offers not only the latest releases but also hosting special events, screenings, and promotions for the community.

Whether you’re looking to catch the latest Hollywood hits or enjoy a family movie night, Ottumwa 8 Theatre has been a go-to destination for film enthusiasts for several decades. The theatre contributes to Ottumwa’s vibrant entertainment scene while offering some new things to do in Ottumwa.


1215 Theatre Drive, Ottumwa, IA 52501, United States

13. Greater Ottumva Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Greater Ottumwa Convention & Visitors Bureau serves as a dynamic organization in Ottumwa, Iowa. The center was established in 1987 and is dedicated to promoting the city and attracting visitors.

Greater Ottumva Convention & Visitors Bureau

This bureau has a history spanning decades and has played a crucial role in showcasing Ottumwa’s attractions and helping to boost tourism in the area.

One interesting fact about the Greater Ottumwa Convention & Visitors Bureau is its role in hosting events that include the annual “Eldon Turkey Run,” which draws car enthusiasts and visitors to Ottumwa.

The bureau actively collaborates with local businesses that provide information to visitors and offering support for conventions, meetings, and events. This makes Ottumwa a welcoming destination for tourists and event organizers.

The Greater Ottumwa Convention & Visitors Bureau is doing dedicated efforts and continues to contribute to Ottumwa’s growth and draw people from near and far to explore the city’s rich history, cultural offerings, and natural beauty.


102 Church St, Ottumwa, IA 52501, United States

14. Iowa Disc Golf Company

The Iowa Disc Golf Company is a pivotal entity in Ottumwa, Iowa. it was established in 2010 and fosters a love for disc golf in the community.

Iowa Disc Golf Company

This company has a relatively recent history, yet it has quickly become a driving force behind the growing popularity of disc golf in Ottumwa and its surrounding areas.

One interesting fact about the Iowa Disc Golf Company is its dedication to organizing tournaments and events that encouraging friendly competition and community engagement among disc golf enthusiasts.

The company also serves as a hub for disc golf equipment that provides a wide range of discs, bags, and accessories for players of all skill levels.

Through its initiatives and events, the Iowa Disc Golf Company has significantly contributed to Ottumwa’s recreational landscape that provides outdoor fun for individuals and families to experience charming things to do in Ottumwa.

For disc golf enthusiasts or those looking to explore a new recreational activity, the Iowa Disc Golf Company stands as a valuable resource and a testament to Ottumwa’s vibrant sports community.


402 Church St, Ottumwa, IA 52501, United States

15. Antique Airfield

Antique Airfield is a unique aviation destination in Ottumwa, Iowa. It was established in 1953 and is renowned for its love of vintage aircraft and aviation history.

Antique Airfield

The airfield was founded by Robert Taylor and serves as a hub for antique and classic airplanes, becoming a place where aviation enthusiasts gather to celebrate the golden era of flying.

One interesting fact about Antique Airfield is its annual “Antique Airplane Fly-In” event, which attracts vintage aircraft from across the country. This gathering showcases the beauty and history of these antique planes.

The airfield houses a museum, an airstrip, and hosts various aviation events throughout the year. It actively promotes the preservation and appreciation of vintage aviation.

Antique Airfield stands as a testament to Ottumwa’s aviation heritage and continues to be a cherished destination for aviation enthusiasts and those with a passion for the golden age of flying.


22001 Bluegrass Rd, Ottumwa, IA 52501, United States

16. Main Street Ottumwa

Main Street Ottumwa is a vital organization in Ottumwa, Iowa. It was established in 1989 and is dedicated to revitalizing and preserving the historic downtown district.

Main Street Ottumwa

Main Street Ottumwa has been at the forefront of efforts or over three decades to enhance the economic, cultural, and social aspects of Ottumwa’s city center.

One interesting fact about Main Street Ottumwa is its commitment to promoting local businesses and community events that foster a vibrant and inviting atmosphere.

The organization actively collaborates with local merchants, property owners, and residents to create a thriving downtown scene and hosts events like “Market on Main” and “Ottumwa Oktoberfest.”

Through its initiatives, Main Street Ottumwa has played a pivotal role in preserving the city’s historic charm while boosting economic growth and community engagement. Explore the area for some more exciting and unique things to do in Ottumwa.

Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, Main Street Ottumwa is at the heart of the city’s cultural and economic life that makes Ottumwa’s downtown a lively and welcoming place to explore.


624 E. Main St. Ottumwa, IA 52501, United States

17. Albia Road Southern Baptist

The Albia Road Southern Baptist Church is a significant religious institution in Ottumwa, Iowa. The Church was established in 1954 and has a rich history of serving the spiritual needs of the community.

Albia Road Southern Baptist

This church has played a pivotal role in providing a place of worship, fellowship, and community outreach in Ottumwa for nearly seven decades.

One interesting fact about the Albia Road Southern Baptist Church is its commitment to various community programs that include youth groups, Bible studies, and charitable endeavors.

The church actively engages with the local community that offers a welcoming and supportive environment for its members and neighbors.

The Albia Road Southern Baptist Church has an unwavering dedication to spiritual growth and community service. It continues to be an integral part of Ottumwa’s religious and social landscape that provides a place of faith, unity, and compassion for its members and the broader community.


1601 Albia Rd, Ottumwa, IA 52501, United States

18. Underground Railroad History

The Underground Railroad History has a history dating back to the 19th century when Ottumwa played a vital role in the abolitionist movement. Many homes and individuals in Ottumwa provided refuge and assistance to escaped slaves on their journey to freedom that helped them evade capture and find safety.

Underground Railroad History

One interesting fact about Ottumwa’s involvement in the Underground Railroad is that several of these brave individuals risked their lives to support the cause of emancipation, underscoring the city’s rich history of standing against slavery.

Today, Ottumwa takes pride in its historical role in the Underground Railroad and its continued commitment to preserving this important part of American history. 

Visitors can explore this history through various landmarks and educational programs and gain insight into Ottumwa’s contributions to the fight for freedom.


 213 E. Second St. Ottumwa, IA 52501, United States


Ottumwa, Iowa, is a city teeming with delightful surprises and entertaining activities. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, history buff, foodie, or art lover, Ottumwa has something for everyone. 

These 18 attractions are just a glimpse of what this charming city has to offer, so don’t hesitate to start exploring most fun things to do in Ottumwa, Iowa.