Small Towns & Rustic Trails in West Central Iowa

Find easygoing outdoor activities, natural beauty, and delightful small towns here on the edge of Iowa, which is bordered by the Missouri River. Wander over gentle peaks and quiet valleys in the Loess Hills, which run along the western side of the region.

Forest-covered bluffs, narrow ridges, and rolling prairieland create a distinctly appealing landscape. Follow the path of American pioneers along the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail. Onawa’s Lewis & Clark State Park is a great place for fishing, boating, and swimming.

Dine, shop, and savor Iowa’s quintessential small-town charm in communities like Carroll and Walnut, Iowa’s “Antique City.” Explore the journeys of German and Danish immigrants in tight-knit villages like Kimballton, Manning, and Elk Horn. For culture and excitement, head to Council Bluffs, West Central Iowa’s major city. Three casinos here provide gaming, entertainment, and thrills.

Connect with the region’s heritage at the Grenville M. Dodge House, the Lewis and Clark Monument, and the Union Pacific Railroad Museum. Explore Wild West history on the banks of the Missouri River at the Western Hills Trail Center - and find your own outdoor adventures at Lake Manawa State Park.

Lewis and Clark State Park in Iowa

Lewis & Clark State Park in Iowa

Click or press the down arrow to select a date
1  Adults
0  Children

Top Things to Do

Lake Pier in Iowa

Outdoor Fun at Lake Manawa State Park

“Manawa” is an American Indian word that means “peace and comfort.” Indeed, Lake Manawa State Park is a place of serene relaxation - with a little adventure thrown in for fun. This attractive oxbow lake is a prime destination for outdoor recreation. Explore hiking trails, go swimming at the beach, or simply unwind in nature. Fish for a big catch on the glassy waters, which are teeming with catfish, bluegills, crappies, bass, and walleye.

Old Train Wheels in Iowa

Railroad Pioneer: General Dodge House

Step inside the three-story home of a railroad scion at the Grenville M. Dodge House in Council Bluffs. Built in 1869, this Second Empire mansion is famous for its architecture and its powerful resident. Dodge was a Union Army general, Congressman, and important pioneer in the development of the railroad system. You can visit this National Historic Landmark to see furnishings owned by the Dodge family, ornate woodwork, and a historic carriage barn.

Historic Routes & Vintage Homes

Explore historic trails, Victorian architecture, and vintage downtowns in this region. Check out the full-size replica of a keelboat at Lewis & Clark State Park, which is similar to the transport used by the explorers when they floated up the Missouri River here in 1804. In Council Bluffs, visit the stately mansion where General Dodge lived and a California Golf Rush Trail Historic Site. Historic Route 66 also runs through West Central Iowa.

Iowa Map Pin

Discover Best Western Hotels in Iowa

With 18 Best Western locations in Iowa ~ you're bound to find something new where you're headed.