Whether you’re a young family looking for fun, kid-friendly activities, a retired couple searching for a relaxing getaway or a college student who just wants something fun to do on the weekend, Ames and Iowa State University are for you! Are you planning a trip to see us soon? Check out the blog posts below for more information about all the fun things we have to offer!
Music lovers have a reason to celebrate this summer in Ames. No fewer than eight outdoor venues will be rockin’ the area starting in June – and they won’t break the bank. Most are free or require a minimal entrance fee.
Let’s start with the offerings at Bandshell Park: On Thursday nights, Ames Municipal Band will perform patriotic tunes, marches, selections from popular movies and Broadway, and more. Then, through June, Ames Jaycees present Ames on the Half Shell each Friday night, with a different style of music each week.
Summer concerts at area wineries are a great opportunity to get out and enjoy the Iowa countryside…and sample the local wine! This summer, Snus Hill Winery in Madrid will present concerts both on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons. Prairie Moon Winery in north Ames offers music, wood-fired pizza, sangria, and more each Sunday afternoon. Another Sunday option is The Cellar at White Oak, a winery in Cambridge (just south of Ames).
If that’s not enough music for you, consider Roosevelt Summer Sundays in Roosevelt Park, each Sunday evening. Or enjoy Tunes in the Trees at Iowa Arboretum in Madrid on Tuesday nights. Finally, the Ames Main Street Farmers’ Market always features musical entertainment each Saturday morning. Shop for produce, then stop and listen!
Pro tip: Bring your own lawn chair or blanket to these events. Also, many venues will allow you to bring in your own food and non-alcoholic beverages; others have food trucks and wine/beer for sale. Check details before you go.
For details on featured musical entertainment, entrance costs (if any), food and drink, go to the specific event on the DiscoverAmes.com calendar.
Best places to take a mental health break in Ames
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so it’s a great time to think about ways to take a mental health break. Take this opportunity to escape the frantic chaos, step back, breathe, and recharge in Ames. Here are some suggestions from Andrea Poteet-Bell, writer for Sunshine Behavioral Health:
If you are looking for some good, old-fashioned family fun, the Furman Aquatic Center should be top of the list. Release your inner child, frolic in the waters, take a slow ride on the 550-foot lazy river, and enjoy the variety of water slides and attractions. Laughter is the best medicine!
Reiman Gardens is a 17-acre wonderland boasting 26 unique garden areas to explore. The Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing is one of two glass houses and home to a diverse collection of exotic butterflies, flying freely for you to enjoy. It is the perfect place to soak up some nature, recharge, and reconnect with yourself.
If you enjoy retail therapy, Ames Main Street is the perfect destination. It is packed with more than 50 locally owned shops, restaurants, and art galleries and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2018. If shopping isn’t your motivation, sit back in one of the coffee shops, grab an ice cream cone, or pop into a book shop or library and enjoy the peace.
If you want to reconnect with nature and indulge in the therapy it offers, visit Ada Hayden Park and explore one of its hiking trails. Alternatively, sit and relax by the lake with your fishing rod. It is a fantastic family option; you can picnic, bike, barbecue, walk the dog, or enjoy paddle sports.
Studies show that certain classical music can ease the symptoms of depression, and very few people are not moved by one type of music or another. So, indulge yourself in the beauty of the symphony, treating your soul as much as your ears.
The Ames Main Street Farmers’ Market is a hugely popular community event that draws visitors from the surrounding areas to share in the farming community’s incredible bounty. The stalls burst with locally grown produce, mouthwatering home-baked goods, and expertly crafted handmade items. With over 120 vendors, the market draws around 3,000 visitors each market day, and it is a great outing for the whole family.
Never underestimate the value of a good mental health break. It doesn’t have to be all zen and meditation. Prevention is better than cure, so embarking on little adventures and spending quality time with your loved ones (and yourself) will do wonders for your mental health and help you avoid burnout in the first place.
Don’t miss these 3 things in Ames this week
It’s finally May! We’re so excited for this weekend’s farmers’ market and spring plant sales. We’re also looking forward to hearing a variety of local and world-class music. Here are our top picks for the week of May 2:
1.Opening day for 2022 Ames Main Street Farmers’ Market
The long-awaited opening of the farmers’ market is this Saturday, May 7. Drop by for spring produce, your favorite locally made food and other products, food trucks, live music by Ace Jones and free face painting for the kids by Joyful Colorz. The market is open from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
2.Two spring plant sales
Just in time for spring planting, you can take advantage of two local plant sales. Typically, Mother’s Day is the first frost-free weekend in central Iowa for planting, so stock up on plants for your home garden.
The Iowa Arboretum in Boone County will hold its Spring Plant Sale Friday and Saturday, May 6-7.
And on Saturday and Sunday, May 7-8, Reiman Gardens presents its Plant Sale Extravaganza. Plants for sale include perennials, herbs, vegetables, trees, shrubs, Buck roses, evergreens, container annuals, hanging baskets, and more.
3.Local and international music
If you’re a music lover, Ames is always a great place to be, but this week is exceptional for its diversity of musical and cultural styles.
Paulo Padilha e Bando will be in town for a residency May 5-7 as part of Arts Midwest World Fest. A public concert by the Brazilian ensemble will be presented at Stephens Auditorium on Thursday, May 5, and a free workshop with the group will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 7.
On Saturday, May 7, Central Iowa Symphony plays a Rare Gems concert at 7:30 p.m. in Ames City Auditorium.
India Cultural Association of Central Iowa presents Chai Tunes, a Bollywood band (plus samosas and chai!) on Sunday, May 8 at 5 p.m. in Ames City Auditorium.
Also on Sunday, don’t miss Ames Town & Gown Chamber Music Association’s season-closing concert by Hui Weng and The Telegraph Quartet in Tye Recital Hall on the ISU campus. Town & Gown originally commissioned “Quintet for Guzheng and Strings” (by LA-based composer Michael Gordon Shapiro) in 2020 to celebrate its 70th season.
4 things to do this week
1.Get down, Downtown
Enjoy one of Downtown Ames’ signature events this Thursday night (April 28): the Music Walk. Get an early start on the weekend with live music and local shopping! The Music Walk is a free, family-friendly event. Get to know some of the musicians in this post written by our awesome marketing intern, Kaitlin Wille.
2.Go to Reiman Gardens
Yeah, we know that we mentioned this last week. But, seriously: go. If all those April showers have done their work, we should see a colorful explosion of spring bulbs this week. Check out the gardens’ “Spring Enchantment” event, where you can also search for dozens of whimsical fairy doors. Hours are extended until 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (April 28-30). While you’re there, check out “Lewis and Art” a sculpture exhibit by artist Dale Lewis.
3.Learn a bit of Ames history
Local historians Kathy Svec & Dennis Wendell will take us for “A Ride on the Dinkey” Wednesday night at Ames Public Library. The Dinkey was the small train that carried passengers, mail, and freight between downtown Ames and the young Iowa State campus from 1891 to 1907. The talk is sponsored by the library and Ames History Museum.
4.Explore crafts and vintage finds
Head downtown on Sunday (May 1) for the first Beautiful Land Market of the season. This free pop-up market in the Fareway parking lot will feature more than 50 handmade and vintage makers and collectors, food trucks, live music, and more. Get there early: The first 100 visitors score free tote bags.
Top 3 things to do this week:
1.Check out the new garden art
Reiman Gardens’ latest exhibit, “Lewis and Art,” opened last weekend. The sculpture by artist Dale Lewis features a whimsical mixture of metal plants, insects, and animals made from found objects. The exhibit will be on display through Oct. 9.
It’s not happening this week, but while we’re on the subject of Reiman Gardens, here’s another event to put on your list: “Spring Enchantment” signals the arrival of spring flowers, and to celebrate, the gardens’ hours are extended (April 21-23 and April 28-30). In addition to a colorful explosion of spring bulbs, you can also find dozens of whimsical fairy doors waiting to be discovered. (Important disclaimer: If the temps are too low, the tulips might bloom quite this early. Stay tuned!)
Finally, mark your calendar for Reiman Gardens’ Plant Sale Extravaganza. The plant sale is open to the public May 7-8, but members get a sneak peek online (April 21-25) and in person (May 6).
2.Fly in to Ames
Enjoy all-you-can-eat pancakes and 15-minute airplane rides – and help fund the Boys & Girls Club of Story County and Ames Police Benefit Association all at the same time. Pancakes are $10 per person; flights are $30; the event runs 7 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 23 at the Ames Municipal Airport.
3.Say “I do”
The wedding industry is booming this year. If marriage vows are in your future, you won’t want to miss “United at the Union” Wedding Expo Sunday, April 24 at the Memorial Union. Meet wedding professionals and receive expo-exclusive vendor discounts, giveaways, and wedding planning inspiration.
This week in Ames: April 11-17
Check out this list of things to do in Ames this week:
It’s First Amendment Week, and there’s much to learn and explore.
- The Ames Public Library invites you to stop by the library to make your own yard sign advocating for a cause you care about. All supplies are provided through support from the Ames Public Library Friends Foundation.
- Also at the library, you can attend a panel discussion titled “Your Rights, Your Libraries: The First Amendment and the Freedom to Read” on Tuesday, April 12. This conversation will examine how libraries protect your freedoms, support the community, and represent diverse perspectives – particularly during the current controversies about library materials.
- On Wednesday, you can attend First Amendment Days: Depth and Dialogue sessions in the ISU Memorial Union. Sessions will explore First Amendment topics, including “Think Like a Journalist,” “Dare to Listen with Empathy,” and “Move Over Free Speech: Exercising Your Right to Protest.”
- Also on Wednesday, spend your noon hour learning more about the right to peaceably assemble. You’ll learn what it means and how it works, especially when responding to provocative speakers. This dialog will be held in the Memorial Union Campanile Room.
- On Thursday evening, catch a lecture on the First Amendment and Content Creation. If you create content that is published online, in print, in audio, anywhere, a Supreme Court case called New York Times v. Sullivan affects you.
Get out and walk this week! A weekly series of Story County Conservation-sponsored spring Walk the Trails events starts Tuesday morning. This week’s walk will be at Hertz Family Woods in Nevada.
On Tuesday night, catch up on current events with this lecture: “How Cultural Diplomacy Breaks Political Barriers and Stereotypes” in the Memorial Union Sun Room. Speaker Maria Lvova is the program officer for education, exchanges, and community building with the US Russia Foundation. Cultural diplomacy appeals directly to the citizens of different nations through the work of musicians, dancers, artists, writers, and filmmakers.
Two fairs this week are designed to help you find a job and a place to live:
- On Tuesday, a Housing Fair will be held in the Memorial Union Great Hall at Iowa State. The fair is a free event designed to help both students and members of the Ames community find a home and learn about tenants’ rights.
- The next day, Ames Public Library and IowaWorks will host a County Career Fair in the library’s auditorium. Learn about job opportunities in the Ames/Boone area and meet with local employers at this free career fair. Veterans are invited to drop by early, starting at 10 a.m.; the general public may attend from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Singer/songwriter and actor Jesse McCartney will host Iowa State University’s annual singing competition, Cyclone Voice, on Thursday. The event will feature 14 ISU students vying to become the next Cyclone Voice. Admission to the show in the Great Hall is free and open to the public. McCartney will host the competition and will perform a music set himself during the judges’ deliberations, before the 2022 Cyclone Voice champion is announced.
Ames Anglers and ISU Fishing Club will be on hand Saturday for Spring Fishing Day at Ada Hayden Lake. Learn about fly fishing from Ash Burton of Skunk Bugs Freshwater Flies. Come for the fishing, but stay for the games, the Hungry Boys food truck, and the prizes! The event is sponsored by JAX Outdoor Gear, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the City of Ames, and Story County Conservation.
Your family will love this modern way of hunting eggs: the Geocache Egg Hunt. Join naturalist Jess Lancial on Saturday at McFarland Park to learn how to use a GPS. Then go search the woods to find the Conservation Bunny’s nests of hidden treasures! Discover prizes, candy, and nature’s treasures along the way, being sure to keep a watchful eye out for the “golden egg,” which earns you a special prize. Registration is required.
Railroad author, professor, and historian Don Hofsommer will present an illustrated program highlighting people he has met in the railroad industry over the years, from locomotive engineers to CEOs. “Railroaders I Have Met Along the Way” will be presented Saturday at the James H. Andrew Railroad Museum in Boone.
This is opening weekend for the “Lewis and Art Exhibition” at Reiman Gardens. Come out and explore this new sculpture exhibit by artist Dale Lewis on Saturday and Sunday.
Finally, are you looking for a place to eat Easter brunch – or just an excuse to eat a special breakfast? Check out this guide to getting your brunch on in Ames!
This week in Ames: April 4-10
Happy April! Here’s what’s happening the week of April 4-10 in Ames:
To start the week off, three lectures on the ISU campus will help expand your mind. On Monday, “Eating Tomorrow: The Battle for the Future of Food” will be presented at 5:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union Sun Room. Speaker Timothy A. Wise, senior advisor at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, is the author of the recent book Eating Tomorrow: Agribusiness, Family Farmers, and the Battle for the Future of Food.
Enjoy two lectures on Wednesday:
“Impostor Syndrome: Coping Strategies for High Achievers” starts at 6 p.m. in the Memorial Union Great Hall with speaker Dawn Bratsch-Prince, ISU associate provost for faculty and professor of Spanish. “Imposter syndrome” is defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud; it disproportionately affects high-achievers and often causes anxiety and depression.
Next, it’s “Selling the Past as Innovation in Africa’s Green Revolution” at 7 p.m. in the Sun Room. Timothy A. Wise, a senior advisor at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, will discuss the shift from high-input, chemical-intensive agriculture to low-input, ecological farming – a transition to more sustainable farming.
Also this week, you can catch an original theatre production on campus. Developed and workshopped by ISU Theatre students, BABA: A New Musical, reimagines a classic Russian fairy tale. The show will be presented Thursday, April 7 through Sunday, April 10 at Fisher Theater.
On Thursday, the Talbott Brothers will perform a concert at the Memorial Union M-Shop. The Talbott Brothers are an alternative/indie-pop duo from Portland, Ore.
Back for its second weekend, Doublewide, Texas will be presented by ACTORS Ames Community Theater from Friday, April 8 to Sunday, April 10. If you missed it last weekend, take advantage of this second chance!
Bad Bad Hats, an indie rock trio from Minneapolis, will perform at the M-Shop on Friday, April 8. Ames is so lucky to have this performance space with its terrific lineup of musicians and comedians.
On Saturday, The Fashion Show celebrates its 40th year with a 7 p.m. start in Stephens Auditorium. The Fashion Show began as a simple runway show held in a classroom in 1982 with attendance of only a few Iowa State students. Today the show has grown into one of the largest student-run fashion shows in the country.
Tickets went on sale last week for two upcoming shows: Country music star Aaron Lewis and the Stateliners will perform at Stephens Auditorium on Friday, July 15. And Beatles tribute show The Fab Four makes a return appearance at Stephens on Friday, Sept. 30. Get your tickets now while good seats are available!
This week in Ames: March 28 – April 3
This week is filled with local theatre productions and talent shows, so get ready to support these home-grown performances!
First up is “Doublewide, Texas” presented by ACTORS Ames Community Theater, Thursday, March 31 through Saturday, April 2. In this fast-paced comedy, the inhabitants of one of the smallest trailer parks in Texas are thrown for a loop when they realize the nearby town of Tugaloo is determined to annex them. Watch these colorful residents as they deal with everyday trials and work on various ways to save their community.
Next, Story Theater Company presents “Badger,” by Don Zolidis. This story takes a dynamic look into the lives and friendships of several employees of the Badger Ordnance Works, one of the largest munitions factories in the U.S., during WWII. Facing dangerous work in a hostile working environment, five women form an unlikely bond through joy, heartbreak, and hope. Performances are Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon.
India Cultural Association presents Talent Nite on Saturday at Ames City Hall. A showcase of talent (both kids and adults) from the Ames community perform in this annual flagship event.
Finally, on Sunday afternoon, Ames Children’s Choirs presents “Ames Has Talent!”, a competition patterned after “America’s Got Talent.” Participants are in grades K-12. The show will be held at First Baptist Church on Lynn Ave.
Here are two more activities for you to consider this week:
On Tuesday night, a lecture titled “Josiah Bushnell Grinnell and the Iowa Underground Railroad” will be presented by David Connon, independent researcher, writer, and historical interpreter, at Ames Public Library. The lecture is sponsored by the Ames History Museum & Ames Public Library.
This weekend, you’ll have an opportunity to visit University Museums that are normally open only during the week. Open House Weekend at Christian Petersen Art Museum and Farm House Museum will be held Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 p.m. At the Christian Petersen Art Museum, see the Julie Chang exhibition and All the Evils: Christian Petersen and the Art of War. At the Farm House Museum, the exhibition Arts & Craftsman: Simplicity, Honesty, and Truth to Materials will be open.
Is it too early to start thinking about SUMMER? No, it’s never too early! We’re excited to pass along the information that registration has opened for the annual Fourth of July Parade in Downtown Ames. If you’re a local business or organization, you can entertain the thousands of residents and visitors who attend the parade each year. Here’s a link to the registration form.
This week in Ames: March 21-27
If you’ve been away, welcome back to Ames! We hope your spring break was exciting… or restful… or whatever you wanted it to be. Last week saw up-and-down temperatures, a St. Patrick’s Day celebration, and the thrilling first rounds of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. (Go, Cyclones! Good luck in the Sweet Sixteen!) Let’s see what this week has in store:
On Tuesday (March 22) Stephens Auditorium presents another youth matinee series. This one, for grades 3-8, is a deeply moving musical history lesson: Harriet Tubman & the Underground Railroad.
Also on Tuesday, Geneva Lewis & Sahun Sam Hong perform at Tye Recital Hall on the Iowa State campus. Lewis is a New Zealand-born violinist, and Hong is a pianist. The show is presented by Ames Town & Gown Chamber Music Association.
Popular comedian Hasan Minhaj will perform his “King’s Jester” show on Wednesday at Stephens Auditorium. Minhaj has been featured on The Daily Show, on The Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, and in an hour-long Netflix comedy special. We think this will be a very funny show.
If you didn’t quite get your fill of all things Irish last week, you’ll love Velocity Irish Dance, an expressive, fast-paced performance Thursday night in Stephens Auditorium.
With eight music acts and comedian Max Power as emcee, Ames-based record label Nova Labs is ready to celebrate spring with an evening of laughter and music, including the debut of two new local bands. The event, titled “Nostalgia in Reverse,” will be held Saturday night at Ames City Auditorium and then moving to The Angry Irishmen on Main Street for a two-band after-party.
Television personality, author, and Food Network star Alton Brown presents “Alton Brown Live – Beyond The Eats” at Stephens Auditorium on Saturday. Brown has created a new form of entertainment – the live culinary variety show – with his “Edible Inevitable Tour” and “Eat Your Science,” which played in over 200 cities with more than 350,000 fans in attendance.
Last but not least, the Broadway musical “Hairspray” brings its unstoppable beat to Stephens Auditorium on Sunday night. The New Yorker calls Hairspray an “exhilaratingly funny and warm-hearted comedy.” Don’t miss this one!
This week in Ames: March 7-13
It’s nearly spring (although it definitely feels like winter). Here’s what’s going on in Ames this week:
Author Rachel Mans McKenny will be at the Ames Public Library on Monday, March 7 at 7 p.m. She’ll be discussing her debut novel The Butterfly Effect, which is one of the 2022 All-Iowa Reads selections. A book signing will follow.
Also on Monday night, Teresa Wilhelm Waldof will present “Wilhelm’s Way: The Inspiring Story of the ISU Chemist Who Saved the Manhattan Project.” Waldof is the granddaughter of Dr. Harley Wilhelm, co-founder of the Ames Laboratory on the Iowa State University campus. The lecture will start at 6 p.m. in the Memorial Union Sun Room.
Folk musician Joe Purdy will perform Tuesday (March 8) at 8 p.m. at the M-Shop. And on Friday (March 11), Sara Routh will be live in concert at 7 p.m. at Ames City Auditorium.
This week, don’t miss a chance to get a great deal on bargain books at Ames Public Library Book Sale. The sale starts Thursday night with $2 admission, continues on Friday and Saturday with free admission, and concludes on Sunday with free books and other items for $1 admission. Bring your boxes and bags, and stock up!
It’s in Kansas City, not Ames, but the Big 12 Basketball Tournament starts this week. Head to any one of Ames’ sports bars to watch Iowa State compete in the tournament (men’s games are March 9-12; women’s games are March 10-13). And don’t miss Selection Sunday on March 13!
In other basketball news, Ames High School boys’ basketball team is ranked No. 1 in 4A competition at the state tournament at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Ames will go up against No. 8 Burlington on Wednesday, March 9 at 12:15 p.m. Semifinals are Thursday (March 10), followed by the championship game on Friday at 7 p.m.
Don’t forget to spring forward on Sunday! Daylight Saving Time begins March 13. And speaking of spring, spring break starts March 14 (through March 18) for ISU and the Ames Community School District.
This week in Ames: Feb. 28 – March 6
What happened to February? This week ushers in the windy month of March! Events blowing through Ames this week offer a wide variety of options, from symphony orchestras to a popular ventriloquist to theatre productions created just for kids.
The Polish Wieniawski Philharmonic Orchestra takes the Stephens Auditorium stage Monday (Feb. 28) at 7:30 p.m. The beginnings of this orchestra date back to World War II, and the musicians have been acclaimed by critics around the world.
You’ll have the opportunity to hear two lectures Monday night. The first, “Disordered Thoughts About Food and Exercise,” takes place at 6 p.m. in the Memorial Union Sun Room. All-American runner Rachael Steil discusses her issues with anorexia and binge eating.
At 7:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union Great Hall, hear personal development coach Jessica Lundy present “Now That’s Magic: How Black Women Have Shaped History Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow”. Learn about “Black girl magic” in this inspiring lecture!
It’s another big week for collegiate sports. Cyclone women’s basketball regular-season play at Hilton Coliseum wraps up Monday night at 6 p.m. in a matchup between two top-10 teams: ISU and Baylor. On Wednesday night, Cyclone men’s basketball plays its last home game of the season against Oklahoma State at 6 p.m. And on Friday, Cyclone gymnastics takes on in-state rival Iowa at Hilton Coliseum. Spring sports are also getting started. Check out Cyclones.com for all the details.
Three events this week are designed especially for school-age (and younger) kids, all at Stephens Auditorium:
- A colorful adaptation of the New York Times best-selling children’s book Pout Pout Fish will be presented twice on Wednesday: at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
- The next day, ISU Orchestra will present a youth matinee at 10 a.m. featuring violinist Samuel Vargas.
- And finally, a top-rated television series from Fred Rogers Productions, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live! (above), will round out the offerings on Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. Bring your little ones and enjoy Daniel and his friends as they sing, dance, and share stories of friendship and helping others.
For something completely different, Canvas Crowe is returning to Great Harvest Bakery on Thursday for a painting tutorial. Registration is required.
Starting Thursday and running through Sunday (March 3-6), ISU Theatre students present a One-Act Play Festival at Fisher Theater.
Singer and ventriloquist Darci Lynne will perform Saturday (March 5) at 7 p.m. at Stephens Auditorium. Lynne is the youngest contestant ever to win NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” when she was barely a teenager. Now age 17, she’s crisscrossing the country on her “My Lips Are Sealed (Except When They’re Not)” tour.
On Sunday, a Central Iowa Symphony concert features young soloists selected from Young Artists auditions. The concert will be held in the Ames Middle School auditorium.
Rounding out the weekend, The High Crest performs as part of the Goldfinch Room’s Iowa Songwriter Showcase. The High Crest music is a blend of dueling guitars and powerful harmonies. The concert begins Sunday at 5 p.m. in Stephens Auditorium.
This week in Ames: Feb. 21-27
This week in Ames brings another outstanding show to Stephens Auditorium. Cirque Mechanics will present Birdhouse Factory on Tuesday (Feb. 22) at 7 p.m. Cirque Mechanics, although inspired by modern circus, finds its roots in the mechanical and its heart in the stories of American ingenuity. Birdhouse Factory, set in a 1930’s widget factory, is transformed by the resourcefulness and creativity of the American worker. But the true essence of the show comes from the circus: contortionists, unicycles, trapeze artists, acrobats, trampoline wall artists, and more. Don’t miss it!
Also on Tuesday, head downtown for a Margarita Pub Crawl. Start at Sweet Caroline’s, Cornbred, or any other participating location, then cast your vote for best margarita at Della Viti between 6 and 8 p.m.
Marielle Kraft will perform on Thursday at the Memorial Union M-Shop. Kraft regularly plays at venues across the United States, and her live shows evocative yet encouraging, deeply reflective yet refreshing. The raw authenticity with which she invites listeners into her story cultivates a relationship with them beyond the song, as she is known to “bring together a room full of strangers.” Joining Kraft on the stage is Skout, AKA Laura Valk.
Basketball fans already know this fact: It’s getting close to March Madness. Because regular-season play is starting to wind down, why not make it a point to experience a little Hilton Magic this week? The Cyclone men’s team will take on West Virginia Wednesday night at 6 p.m. The highly ranked women’s team will play host to Texas Tech at 1 p.m. on Saturday (Feb. 26).
In other sports news, the Big 12 indoor track & field championships will be held this weekend (Feb. 25-26) in Ames, and Cyclone Gymnastics take on Lindenwood at 6:30 p.m. Friday night in Hilton.
Expand your mind through a variety of lectures this week:
On Wednesday, join Ames Public Library and the Outdoor Alliance of Story County for a presentation on “Land Protection in a Changing Climate.”
Award-winning Author Jackie Haley will teach you the art of storytelling on Sunday at Dog-eared Books on Main Street.
NASA astronaut Eileen Collins reveals encouraging perspective and insight on the leadership skills needed to break barriers and become a successful pioneer in any field. Her lecture, “Through the Glass Ceiling to the Stars” will be presented Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Memorial Union Sun Room.
Next Monday (Feb. 28), hear personal development coach Jessica Lundy present “Now That’s Magic: How Black Women Have Shaped History Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow” in the Memorial Union Great Hall.
This week in Ames: Feb. 14-20
Celebrate Black History Month this week at Ames Public Library. The library, along with Ames Human Relations Commission, will kick off a series of events called “Sharing Our Own Stories: Ames’ Black Voices” in the Library’s Auditorium on Tuesday, Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. Join Jahmai Fisher and Wayne Clinton in a conversation about the role of storytelling in the Black community, and how it relates to this new project.
Also in downtown Ames, stop by Ames History Museum and view the exhibit “Black Trailblazers.” This interactive mural takes you through local Black lives, such as Jack Trice and Nellie Shipp, with an augmented reality experience on your smartphone.
Fans of traditional musical theatre won’t want to miss Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific on Thursday night (Feb. 17) at Stephens Auditorium. Set on a tropical island during World War II, this sweeping Pulitzer Prize-winning tale centers around two unlikely love affairs and features a Tony Award-winning score. We guarantee you’ll be humming when you leave the theater!
Renowned Chicago blues artist James Armstrong will perform a must-see show for any blues fan on Thursday night. Armstrong pays tribute to the past with traditional blues and his unique songwriting skills. The concert will be held in the Memorial Union M-Shop.
On Saturday, the 33rd annual Town & Gown Musicale will be held at St. John’s by the Campus Episcopal Church. The fundraiser features musical talent from Iowa State University and the Ames community.
Rudy Daniels will present “Steam Glory 101” at the James H. Andrew Railroad Museum on Saturday in Boone. Daniels, a railroad author, teacher, and historian, will trace the evolution of the steam locomotive from its earliest experiments to the “spectacular speedsters” of the 20th century.
Get your weekend Cyclone sports fix, starting with Saturday’s doubleheader in Hilton Coliseum: ISU men’s basketball vs. Oklahoma at 1 p.m., followed by women’s basketball – also against Oklahoma – at 6 p.m.
Then on Sunday, catch the “Last Chance Open” at Hilton Coliseum, a wrestling tournament for unattached entries.
Your Valentine’s Day plan is here!
Just because Valentine’s Day falls on a Monday this year doesn’t mean you can’t have a special evening. Ames is full of wonderful spots to eat, drink, and be romantic. But the holiday is for all – not just couples! – so make the most of it and bring your friends. Here’s our list of best Valentine’s Day activities. (Tip: Pick your favorite from this list and make a reservation now!)
100 feet above our great city stands Clouds, a European style café with exquisite dining options. Join them for an early celebration on the Friday or Saturday before Valentine’s Day, as they host a Valentine Dinner. Tickets go fast, so be sure to secure some for a date or a group of friends!
Provisions Lot F is one of those places that contributes to the unique excitement of Ames. Share their baked brie and red wine cherry streusel with your beau or keep the vegetable curry all to yourself. Head to South Ames for a couple’s escape, but be sure to get there early, as they do not take reservations.
Just up the road, make a reservation for one or book a couple’s massage at DreaM Massage. Treat yourself to the relaxation you deserve and start the week out right.
Locally owned Aunt Maude’s has everything you need for a special night downtown. Their signature dish, Maude’s slow-roasted prime rib, is sure to wow, especially when paired with their well-rounded wine menu.
Then, save room for dessert and take a short walk to Chocolaterie Stam for some delectable chocolates and gelato.
Wallaby’s Bar and Grille puts an Ames twist on the classics. Alumni sweethearts and friends can enjoy the ISU décor while feasting on incredible sandwiches and pasta dishes. This North Ames sports bar is great for those just looking for some good food and conversation.
While you’re in the area, North Grand Mall hosts inside golf, axe throwing, and a movie theater. Whichever activity best fits the mood, this entertainment hub is sure to provide a great night.
— By Kaitlin Wille, Ames CVB marketing intern
Valentine’s Day shopping guide
Whether you’re looking for a sweetheart surprise, a token of affection for your BFF, or something special for your parents or kids, you’ll find both unique and traditional gift ideas in Ames.
Here’s an early celebration idea: Take your Valentine to a tropical paradise without leaving Ames! Orchid Fest at Reiman Gardens features exotic flowers in a variety of species and colors – on display indoors and available for purchase Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 12-13.
Find a one-of-a-kind gift at a special Pop Up Art Shop. All this week (Feb. 7-11) The Workspace will be hosting a Valentine pop-up shop. Choose a succulent planted in pottery. Write an ode to your partner and illustrate it in a small accordion-style book. Find the perfect little painted dish. Or choose from an array of delightful, hand-crafted Valentine’s Day cards. Hours are 10 a.m. -2 p.m. daily, near the entrance to the University Book Store at the Memorial Union.
For the traditionalist, you can’t go wrong with flowers and chocolates, and Ames has some exceptional choices. You’ll find mouth-watering chocolates at Chocolaterie Stam, as well as top-quality flowers and houseplants at Everts Flowers, Home & Gifts and Coe’s Floral, Gifts & Décor.
Of course, another traditional gift is jewelry. Check out Ames Silversmithing, Gilger Designs, or Melissa Stenstrom Fine Jewelry (all on Main Street); buy or make something unique from Grandma’s Attic in Campustown; or head to North Grand Mall for jewelry options at every price.
Buy a Valentine’s Day-themed gift basket from Prairie Moon Winery. Baskets include wine and other goodies.
If you’re looking for a unique gift for rugged, outdoorsy types, check out a full range of ideas at Jax Outdoor Gear, from hiking socks to new fitness gadgets to a new pair of snowshoes.
Last (but certainly not least), everyone knows that the key to Valentine’s Day success is food. Try ordering a heart-shaped pizza from Great Plains Sauce and Dough or a giant heart-shaped cookie from Cookies, etc. Your significant other, friend, or family will love you!
This week in Ames: Feb. 7-13
Here are some highlights for your week in Ames:
On Monday, Fiddler on the Roof returns to Stephens Auditorium with a fresh take on a classic Broadway musical.
Also on Monday, you could attend a fascinating lecture: “From ISU Student to CIA Spy: The Dangers of Clandestine Government Operations.” When he was an Iowa State student, Verne Lyon was recruited by the CIA to spy on college professors and fellow students as part of Operation CHAOS, a massive domestic surveillance program carried out at the height of the Vietnam War. He was later dispatched to Cuba to subvert the Castro regime. He wrote a book, Eyes on Havana: Memoir of an American Spy Betrayed by the CIA, that chronicles the actions he took on campus and abroad. The lecture is at 6 p.m. in the Memorial Union
Music fans will want to check out Fred Love with Cal Rebhuhn for a night of cowpunk and classic country live at Alluvial Brewing on Thursday.
Take the kids to Dinosaur World Live on Friday for a family-friendly show featuring remarkably life-like dinosaurs on the Stephens Auditorium stage, including T-Rex, Triceratops, and more.
Another option for your Friday night is a live performance by Lily DeTaeye in the Memorial Union M-Shop. DeTaeye is a Des Moines native, harmonica-wielding singer-songwriter signed to Station 1 Records. She’s a prolific writer with a captivating and powerful voice, seamlessly blending her musical influences of folk, indie-rock, blues, and jazz.
Take a break to the tropics this weekend with Orchid Fest at Reiman Gardens. Exotic orchids in a variety of species and colors will be on display and available for purchase Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 12-13. While you’re there, check out the origami sales at the gift shop.
Cyclone athletes are in action on Saturday: The Iowa State Classic indoor track and field meet will be in Lied Rec Center all day, and the men’s basketball team takes on Kansas State at Hilton Coliseum.
Staying true to your resolution? Here are the best places to get your fitness on in Ames!
With the first month of the new year gone, it’s good to check back in with yourself and your resolutions. Maybe you vowed to drink less coffee this year, or to not be on your phone as much. One common resolution is to be more active. If that’s true for you, Ames has several opportunities for you to stick to your promises.
The Ames Fitness Center has THREE convenient locations in Ames for exercise and wellness. Ultramodern design and a variety of equipment make them some of the best gyms in the city. The north and south locations also offer massage and personal training programs. (Pro-tip: If you’re unsure on what kind of workout to do, try their group fitness classes!)
An easy way to get active is by doing something you enjoy. The Ames ISU Ice Arena offers public skating, broomball, hockey lessons, and an adult league! Whether you’ve never stepped foot on the ice, or if you could skate laps around the Zamboni, the Ames ISU Ice Arena is a great place for bodies in motion.
A sense of community is a great advantage in helping you reach your goals. Lucky for you, you live in one of the most inclusive and welcoming communities in the world. The Ames Community Center is a full-service facility, offering a plethora of workout classes and programs. Located in the heart of downtown Ames, our community center truly has something in it for everyone.
Tucked into the hills of North Ames lies Ada Hayden Heritage Park. The beautiful water and the wide paved trail that runs around it make Ada Hayden the perfect spot for a serene workout. Brave the Iowa winter and take yourself ice fishing, take a walk, or just take it all in.
Recently opened, The Athletic Club of Ames eliminates excuses by being open 24/7. Grab a complimentary chocolate milk after your workout in their three-tier facility. Don’t forget to take advantage of their state-of-the-art Fit3D scan, along with physical therapists from Home Team and Premier Athlete Training.
— By Kaitlin Wille, Ames CVB marketing intern
This week in Ames: Jan. 31 – Feb. 6
TGIF (Thank Goodness It’s February!) January always feels at least three months long. February’s weather will probably be no better, but at least there are some fun holidays and it’s only 28 days long.
So, yes, the last day of January is Monday, followed by Groundhog Day on Wednesday. Will the groundhog see his shadow??? We are ready for spring!
Meanwhile, here are some things to look forward to this week in Ames:
Country singer/songwriter Walker Hayes will bring his “Fancy Like” tour to Stephens Auditorium on Friday (Feb. 4). Hayes has charted four singles on Hot Country Songs and has released two albums.
Also Friday night, catch a FREE comedy show at the Memorial Union M-Shop. Jak Knight, an LA-based stand-up comic, writer, and actor, will perform at 8 p.m.
On Friday and Saturday (Feb. 4-5) Iowa State University’s Orchesis I Dance Company Barjché presents “Project Earth,” a unique modern dance performance inspired by themes of sustainability and climate change. Performances will be held in Fisher Theater.
If you missed the ACTORS performance of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express last weekend, don’t despair. This Ames Community Theater presentation is again on stage this Friday and Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
Have you always wanted to dress like a Cyclone? Now you can. The ISU Athletics Department will hold an apparel and equipment sale on Saturday (Feb. 5) in the Sukup End Zone Club. Grab yourself an authentic Nike game jersey, backpacks, sweats, practice jerseys, and more. Get there early, because when it’s gone, it’s gone.
No matter how you dress, Cyclone sports fans will have plenty to keep them busy this week. Of course, basketball season is in full swing. The men take on the Kansas Jayhawks on Tuesday at 6 p.m.; the women host Kansas State at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and Oklahoma State at 6 p.m. Saturday – all in Hilton Coliseum.
But there’s also swimming (Friday night and Saturday morning vs. Kansas in Beyer Hall pool) and wrestling (Friday night vs. West Virginia and Saturday vs. Air Force in Hilton Coliseum).
This weekend in Downtown Ames
The weather is cold, but the action is hot this weekend in Downtown Ames.
Friday night (Jan 28)
Live at Noir, 7 p.m., 405 Kellogg
Torrent Brewing, 7 p.m., 504 Burnett
Live at Sweet Caroline’s, 9 p.m., 316 Main
Live at Cornbred, 7 p.m., 526 Main
Live at Della Viti, 7 p.m., 323 Main
Throughout the weekend
Shop small and save big! Plus, free parking on Saturday.
This week in Ames: Jan. 24-30
Happy last week of January, all!
On Wednesday, the Cyclone women’s basketball team (currently 16-3) takes on Kansas at 6:30 p.m. in Hilton Coliseum. Show up and support one of the BEST women’s basketball teams in the country!
(Please note that due to non-COVID related travel disruptions, Wednesday’s performance of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at Stephens Auditorium has been cancelled. More information here.)
You’ll have several options on Thursday night. First, don’t miss Yusef Salaam, one of “The Central Park Five,” presenting a lecture titled Better, Not Bitter: Living on Purpose in the Pursuit of Racial Justice. This ISU Martin Luther King Jr. keynote lecture will be held at 6 p.m. in the Memorial Union Great Hall. Salaam was just 15 years old when, in 1989, he was one of five New York youths convicted of committing a brutal rape in Central Park. Their convictions were vacated in 2002, and the young men were later exonerated. The case was recently featured in the documentary series “When They See Us.”
Your second Thursday option is an ACTORS performance of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. This Ames Community Theater presentation is also on stage Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m.
Also on Thursday, Downtown Ames launches its annual Dollar Days sales. Don’t miss out on local bargains – and free parking on Saturday! Dollar Days runs through Sunday, Jan. 30.
The Iowa State gymnastics team competes against West Virginia on Friday night at 6:30 p.m. in Hilton Coliseum.
For more high-energy feats of physical prowess, head to the Memorial Union’s Great Hall Friday night at 9 p.m. for The Great DuBois. Recently featured in the hit film “The Greatest Showman,” The Great DuBois will perform a two-person circus featuring juggling, hula hoops, unicycle, magic, and other stunts.
On Saturday, head to Stephens Auditorium for Drumline LIVE, an international tour based on the Historically Black College and University marching band tradition. With riveting rhythms, bold beats, and ear-grabbing energy, the stage show is a synchronized musical showcase with eye-popping choreography.
And, as if you haven’t had enough entertainment for one week, there’s ANOTHER event at Stephens Auditorium Sunday night. Dancing with the Stars is America’s favorite dance competition, and Ames is lucky to be one of the show’s stops on its 2022 live tour. Enjoy this spectacular night of pulse-pounding dance performances!
Another option for your weekend is the Iowa Maker Series, featuring Ceramics with Ingrid Lilligren on Sunday (Jan. 30) at Brunnier Art Museum. Lilligren is a ceramicist who will discusses how she works with clay to create unique sculptures that incorporate the senses. The Iowa Maker Series is in conjunction with the Collecting Craft exhibition.
This week in Ames: Jan. 17-23
Here are a few suggestions for you this week:
On Wednesday (Jan. 19), be prepared to be dazzled. Glass artist Amber Cowan’s fantastical world will be on full display in Mythical Bounty: Glass Sculpture by Amber Cowan. An opening reception will be held from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in Brunnier Art Museum. Then, stay to hear Cowan speak (starting at 5:30 p.m.) about her highly intricate works of art and her unique process of repurposing pressed glass.
The next day, get out of the house with other outdoor enthusiasts on a winter hike along the Heart of Iowa Nature Trail in Cambridge. The hike begins at 1:30 p.m. and will last no more than two hours. The hiking is free, but registration is requested.
This week, you’ll have two chances to experience Hilton Magic. On Wednesday (Jan. 19), the ISU women’s basketball team plays host to Texas at 6:30 p.m. in Hilton Coliseum. Then, on Saturday (Jan. 22), the men’s team takes on TCU at 3 p.m. (The Ames Convention & Visitors Bureau is Saturday’s game-day sponsor!)
Also, track fans take note: The Cyclone Open indoor track and field meet will be held on campus all day Saturday (Jan. 22) at Lied Recreation Center.
And on Sunday (Jan. 23), the Iowa State wrestling team presents the Wrestling Triangular starting at noon at Hilton Coliseum. The meet features ISU, Utah Valley, and North Dakota State.
Finally, check out Joshua Sinclair in the Iowa Songwriter Showcase at Stephens Auditorium’s Goldfinch Room on Sunday (Jan. 23) at 5 p.m. Sinclair’s styles range from pop to alternative to crossover country.
This week in Ames: Jan. 10-16
If you’re in Ames this week, the good news is that is won’t be nearly as cold as last week. So, what are you waiting for? Bundle up and get outside! Story County Conservation sponsors weekly hikes; the next one is Thursday, Jan. 13 at 1:30 p.m. at West Peterson Park in north Ames.
Story County Conservation has also created a family challenge called Polar Play that kicked off Jan. 1. You can get your kids out of the house and into Story County parks with a new mission each week.
This Saturday, visit the Ames Main Street Indoor Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Shop for produce, meats, cheeses, mushrooms, jams and jellies, honey, baked goods, decor, and handcrafted items, all from local producers and artisans. The market is located at 500 Main Street.
Another Saturday option: Railroad fans and history buffs should head over to Boone to the James H. Andrew Railroad Museum. Bill Greenley will be giving a lecture titled “Iowa Railroad Depots” at 2 o’clock. His presentation will highlight rare and unusual Iowa railroad depots.
Also on Saturday, the Cyclone men’s basketball team (currently 13-2) will take on Texas at 1 p.m. in Hilton Coliseum. Get out and enjoy some Hilton Magic!
As you round out your week, don’t forget that next Monday (Jan. 17) is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The city of Ames and Story County will celebrate with a social and program that evening at Ames Middle School.
Earlier in the day, plan to pop in The Workspace in the ISU Memorial Union for free, all-ages crafts, including freedom quilt squares and MLK coloring pages. Everyone will also receive a Black Lives Matter button.
And, celebrate the legacy of Dr. King by donating materials or volunteering your time for a service project at Ames Public Library.
The following week, on Thursday, Jan. 27, Iowa State University Lectures Series presents the Martin Luther King, Jr. keynote speaker Yusef Salaam.
5 indoor things to do in Ames to help get you through the winter
The holidays are over. Daylight hours are short. January and February seem to drag on forever. So, we’ve assembled a short list of things you can do to help you get through the long Ames winter:
- Be creative. Take up knitting or quilting (visit Knittery Nook and Quilting Connection in downtown Ames), or drop by the Workspace at the ISU Memorial Union for ceramics or walk-in crafts.
- Find a film. Grab some popcorn, and settle into a big, comfy seat at North Grand Cinema or Cinemark Movies 12.
- Test your skills. Have you tried axe-throwing yet? You can, at Inside Golf in North Grand Mall! Try out the golf simulators, too.
- Read a book. Winter is the very best time to catch up on your reading. Visit Dog-eared Books or the Ames Public Library for the latest best-sellers and timeless classics.
- Play a game. Check out laser tag, arcade games, bowling, and more at Perfect Games in west Ames.
Watch for our winter outdoor recreation guide and Ames’ coziest winter foods guide, coming soon!
Rock your New Year’s Eve in Ames
Looking for something fun to do on New Year’s Eve? Ames has the answer! Here are just a few activities for you to enjoy:
- Families and children of all ages are invited to the Ames Public Library to celebrate the start of 2022 with a NOON Year’s Eve Party. Drop in for crafts and a dance party, followed by a countdown to noon and a kid-friendly toast!
- Bring your friends to celebrate the New Year at Della Viti in downtown Ames. Enjoy food, drink, live music, a photo booth, party favors, and games for a fun evening together. Choose from a VIP happy hour from 5-7 p.m., table reservations starting at 8 p.m., and more. Don’t miss the premium champagne toast!
- At Cornbred, you’ll find barbecue, live music, hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, sweets, games & prizes, a photo booth, and a champagne toast with ball drop at midnight. It all starts at 7 p.m.
- Down the street at The Angry Irishmen, you’ll find the emphasis on live music. For a $5 cover charge, you can hear The Masterplan, Strong Like Bear, and Alleygrass. Doors open at 8:30 p.m., and music starts at 9 o’clock. End the year with a bang!
- There’s even a New Year’s Eve Dance at Ames Moose Lodge (644 W. 190th St.) sponsored by Red Friars Dance Club & High Society Big Band. Enjoy dancing (obviously), dessert, champagne, and favors.
- Or join in on a Piano Sing-along at Noir starting at 7 p.m.
- For a different kind of New Year’s Eve activity, head to Reiman Gardens and walk through the Winter Wonderscape Holiday Light Show. This is the final weekend for the light display; it’s open Thursday through Saturday evening.
Happy New Year! Take a hike!
What better way to start the new year than with a hike?
Take a New Year’s Hike at Tedesco Environmental Learning Corridor in Ames, or enjoy a guided First-Day Hike at Ledges State Park. (Meet at Oak Woods Shelter at 4 p.m. and journey into the heart of the Ledges for a sunset First-Day Hike.) Also, Story County Conservation has created a family challenge called Polar Play that kicks off Jan. 1. (The activity will take families from their homes into Story County parks.)
There are lots of great outdoor spaces in Ames and the surrounding area, so get out and enjoy the day!
This week in Ames: Dec. 20-26
It’s finally here: The biggest holiday week of the year for those who celebrate Christmas. This week, we still have a few remaining holiday treats for you in Ames.
Tonight (Monday, Dec. 20) let A Magical Cirque Christmas take you to a place of dazzling performances and breathtaking cirque artists. If you aren’t already in the holiday spirit, this family-friendly performance should do the trick! Get tickets now for this 8 p.m. show at Stephens Auditorium.
Don’t wait another minute to reserve tickets to walk through the Winter Wonderscape Holiday Light Show at Reiman Gardens! This immersive light display throughout the gardens’ 17-acre site will be open this Thursday and Friday night (Dec. 23-24) but NOT on Dec. 25. However, if you’re unable to go this week, you still have one more weekend – the light display runs through Jan. 1.
Still looking for unique gifts for family and friends? Check out our last-minute shopping guide, or just head to one of Ames’ many shopping areas. But remember…the clock is ticking!
And don’t miss out on a visit to the North Pole. Santa will be available for pictures at North Grand Mall through Dec. 23. (And then he gets very, very busy.)
Next week, watch for our Ames New Year’s Eve guide. Happy holidays, everyone!
Last-minute holiday shopping guide
Are you scrambling to find last-minute gifts for the holidays? Consider these uniquely Ames finds to get your creative juices flowing:
- Adorable kids’ clothes from Bizzy’s Boutique at North Grand Mall
- Books for everyone on your list at Dog-Eared Books in Downtown Ames
- A garden calendar from Iowa State Extension and Outreach
- The gift of experience! Think Reiman Gardens membership, tickets to a show at Stephens Auditorium, or golf lessons from one of Ames’ golf courses
- A cozy, hand-poured candle from Oak Lane Candle Co.
- Cans of locally brewed beer from Torrent or Alluvial Brewing, or a bottle of wine from Prairie Moon or Della Viti (and don’t forget about Cyclone Liquors!) – great for hostess gifts or holiday gatherings!
- Unique toys for the littles at Pumpkin Patch
- Perfect gifts for cooks and anyone who loves to entertain at Nook & Nest and Cooks’ Emporium in Downtown Ames
- A new green plant from Back Alley House Plants
- Iowa State gear from Dogtown University or Barefoot Campus Outfitters in Campustown for all the Cyclone fans on your list
- A dozen monster cookies from Cookies, etc. or an assortment of mouthwatering chocolate at Chocolaterie Stam
- Healthy, great-smelling stocking stuffers from Life Distilled, a new modern-day apothecary in Downtown Ames
- Freshly roasted bags of coffee from Burgies, Morning Bell, or any one of Ames’ awesome coffee shops — or perhaps some tea from Little Woods Herbal
- A floral arrangement or other home décor at Everts Flowers, Home & Gifts or Coe’s Floral, Gifts & Décor (delivery is available!)
- Or go for a gift certificate for one of Ames’ best restaurants (great for those hard-to-buy-for friends and in-laws!)
We hope this list sparks some ideas. There are dozens of places to shop in downtown Ames, North Grand Mall, Campustown, and other areas of Ames. Shop local!
This Week in Ames: Dec. 13-19
This week is the final push before the big holiday week!
Don’t wait any longer to reserve tickets to walk through the Winter Wonderscape Holiday Light Show at Reiman Gardens! The show features immersive light displays throughout the gardens’ 17-acre site Thursday through Saturday evenings through Jan. 1.
On Thursday, enjoy local artists at work and finish out your holiday shopping at the Holiday Open Art Studio in Downtown Ames. Visit AmesCart.org for a list of participating artists and their studio locations.
Also on Friday, there’s a Luminary Walk at McFarland Park.
A Holiday Ames Main Street Farmers’ Market will be held Saturday, Dec. 18 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 500 Main Street. Check it out for all your holiday needs.
Visit Santa at North Grand Mall through Dec. 23!
And make a note that several ongoing activities in and around Ames are closing this week:
- Yuletide 2021: Hearth and Home, a Victorian holiday display, closes Dec. 15 at the Farm House Museum on the ISU campus
- Charles Ginnever: Folded Forms exhibition closes Friday, Dec. 17 at the Christian Petersen Art Museum, also at Iowa State
- Holidays at Center Grove activities at Center Grove Orchard in Cambridge run through Dec. 19.
Residents may see a little extra traffic this weekend around the Iowa State Center. ISU’s graduate commencement will be held at 7 p.m. Friday in Hilton Coliseum, and Saturday is the larger undergraduate commencement at 1:30 p.m., also in Hilton. On Sunday, the men’s basketball team takes on Southeastern Louisiana at noon, followed by a women’s basketball match-up against Prairie View A&M at 5 p.m.
This Week in Ames: Dec. 6-12
Are you making a list and checking it twice? This week in Ames continues to offer lots of opportunities to enjoy holiday activities.
You’ll definitely want to make plans to walk through the outdoor Winter Wonderscape Holiday Light Show at Reiman Gardens. The show features immersive light displays throughout the gardens’ 17-acre site each Thursday through Saturday evening through Jan. 1 (buy timed tickets in advance!) While you’re there, don’t miss the RG Express holiday train exhibit inside the conservatory.
Cue the Sugarplum Fairy! The classic Nutcracker Ballet takes the Stephens Auditorium stage for three performances, Dec. 11-12. This is the highlight of many families’ holiday traditions. This year’s show features choreography by Robert Thomas and Miyoko Kato Thomas of Ames’ Robert Thomas Dancenter and involves more than 200 local dancers.
Ready to get the kids outside to blow off some steam? Check out the Geocache Elf Hunt at McFarland Park on Sunday, Dec. 12. Kids learn how to use a GPS, then go search the woods to find stockings of goodies and elves hiding nearby. Register today to reserve your spot.
Also, don’t forget that the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad Santa Express makes its festive run to the “North Pole” every weekend, now through Dec. 19. Bring the family and enjoy this central Iowa tradition!
Of course, not everything has to revolve around the holidays, right?
On Monday night (Dec. 6), local author Denise Williams will discuss romance novels, her writing process, and life as a published author at 7 p.m. at Ames Public Library. Williams is the author of How to Fail at Flirting and The Fastest Way to Fall; copies of her books will be available for sale (courtesy of Dog-Eared Books), and a book signing will follow the talk.
This Week in Ames: Nov. 29 – Dec. 5
Hold on to your sleigh bells – this week is going to be a real holiday hullabaloo!
First up is The Lindsey Stirling Christmas Program on Wednesday (Dec. 1) at Stephens Auditorium. Stirling is a platinum-selling electronic artist, violinist, and multi-talented entertainer. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to see her live on stage!
Perhaps the highlight of the holiday season in Ames is the Winter Wonderscape Holiday Light Show at Reiman Gardens, and it starts on Thursday. Don’t miss this outdoor walk-through holiday light show featuring immersive light displays throughout the gardens’ 17-acre site. Enjoy the show with the whole family Thursday through Saturday evenings from Dec. 2 to Jan. 1. While you’re there, don’t miss the RG Express holiday train exhibit inside the conservatory.
If you’re looking for unique, one-of-a-kind holiday gifts – and who isn’t? – the ISU Memorial Union’s Art Mart Pop-Up Shop is for you! From Wednesday, Dec. 1 through Saturday, Dec. 4, you can shop for pottery, blown glass, jewelry, accessories, and décor.
The holidays get even brighter on Friday, Dec. 3 with the Snow Magic Kickoff in downtown Ames. Join local businesses from 5-8 p.m. as they formally launch the holiday season with a tree-lighting ceremony, horse-drawn carriage rides, visits with Santa, holiday décor, children’s activities, and other celebratory events.
Also on Friday, Dec. 3, the traditional WinterFest at ISU offers an evening of winter-themed events, activities, displays, and traditions to help students connect with the Ames community. Activities include face painting, holiday crafts in the Workspace, a photo booth, bowling and billiards in CyBowl, bingo, a “Jingle Jog” run, chili feed, cookie decorating and hot cocoa, central campus carriage rides, swing dance lessons, an ugly sweater competition and a showing of the holiday classic “Home Alone” – and more!
In conjunction with WinterFest on Dec. 3, Iowa State University Museums opens the Farm House Museum for a Victorian Yuletide Evening from 5-8 p.m. Take part in Victorian yuletide-themed activities and crafts while you enjoy holiday treats. (The carriage from the Memorial Union will stop at the Museum.) The Yuletide Celebration continues on Saturday (Dec. 4) with treats, tours, and pictures with Santa.
The popular local Beautiful Land Holiday Market opens Friday night (Dec. 3) from 6-10 p.m. at Prairie Moon Winery and Alluvial Brewery in north Ames. The market continues on Saturday (Dec. 4) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and features local crafts, unique holiday gifts, and vintage finds. Festive food and drink will be available for purchase, and free market totes go to the first 100 shoppers.
For the most unusual holiday concert around, don’t miss TUBACHRISTMAS on Saturday, Dec. 4, at 3 p.m. in Stephens Auditorium. It’s holiday joy with tubas!
Need another Santa fix? He’ll be at JAX Outdoor Gear in West Ames, ready to pose for pictures with the kids at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5.
Also, don’t forget that the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad Santa Express will makes its festive run to the “North Pole” every weekend, now through Dec. 19. Bring the family and enjoy this central Iowa tradition!
This week in Ames: Nov. 22-28
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! This will be a great week to spend time with family and friends, to whip up a feast in the kitchen, and to enjoy being together again after being apart last year.
So, of course, Thanksgiving is Thursday, Nov. 25, and that means that Black Friday is Nov. 26, the official kickoff to holiday shopping – although it seems as though we’ve all been shopping for weeks already.
The next day, Small Business Saturday reminds us to share joy, shop small, and shop all season long at your local small businesses!
As you plan your holiday shopping spree, note the extended hours for downtown shops, North Grand Mall businesses, and other stores.
Also on Friday, Nov. 26, the ISU Cyclones take on the TCU horned frogs at 3:30 p.m. at Jack Trice Stadium. Enjoy the last home game of the season!
On Sunday, Nov. 28, country music superstar Martina McBride will bring her popular “Joy of Christmas Tour” to Stephens Auditorium at 7 p.m.
And don’t forget that the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad Santa Express will begin its festive run to the “North Pole” starting Nov. 26 and will continue each weekend through Dec. 19. Bring the family and enjoy this central Iowa tradition!
This week in Ames: Nov. 15-21
Think of this week in Ames as sort of the calm before the holiday storm. This is the week for you to get ready to celebrate all the winter holidays!
Start with a jazzy vibe this Wednesday (Nov. 17) at Jazz Night. Iowa State’s Jazz ONE will perform Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite with a twist, as seen through the lens of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. The concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Martha-Ellen Tye Recital Hall, located in the ISU Estes Music Hall.
Things really kick off on Saturday, Nov. 20 with Santabration at North Grand Mall, from noon to 1 p.m. Santa arrives on a firetruck!
That same day, head to the Ames Main Street Holiday Farmers Market for all your local Thanksgiving supplies. This farmers market will be held indoors at 500 Main Street from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
As you plan your holiday shopping, note the extended hours for downtown shops, North Grand Mall businesses, and other stores. Many Ames retailers are already kicking it into high gear. (Shop early! Shop local!)
Here are just a few upcoming dates to note:
- Thanksgiving is Thursday, Nov. 25.
- Black Friday is Nov. 26
- Small Business Saturday is Nov. 27
- Martina McBride’s “Joy of Christmas Tour” is Sunday, Nov. 28 at Stephens Auditorium
- The following weekend (Dec. 3-5) is when many, many holiday events will be held in Ames. Watch this space for more information!
Of course, there are also a few non-holiday things to do this week:
This weekend, Story Theater Company continues its stage run of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” – a musical based on the Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz.
On Sunday, one of our favorites, Iowa native Susan Werner, will be in concert at Stephens Auditorium at 7 p.m. If you’ve never seen Susan live on stage, you’re missing out. She’s funny and warm tells the most wonderful stories with her music!
This week in Ames: Nov. 8-14
Hilton Magic begins this week in Ames with two Cyclone basketball games on Tuesday (Nov. 9) in Hilton Coliseum. The women’s team takes on Omaha at 11 a.m., followed later by a men’s game against Kennesaw State at 7 p.m. You can also catch a volleyball match at Hilton Thursday night at 6:30 when the Cyclones take on Kansas State, and on Friday, the men’s basketball team faces Oregon State at 7 p.m.
This week, we have plenty of music and theatre to keep you entertained, starting with country artists Levi Hummon and Roman Alexander performing at the M-Shop on Wednesday, Nov. 10.
Starting Thursday, Nov. 11, ISU Theatre and ISU Music’s Opera Studio join forces to present “Street Scene: An American opera in two acts.” The show will also be performed Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in Fisher Theater. The show — featuring youthful desire, forbidden love, and brutal vengeance in the diverse melting pot of a 1940s New York City tenement — won Best Original Score at the 1947 Tony Awards.
You can also hear the music of John Philip Sousa Thursday night during a concert at ISU State Gym. The ISU Wind Ensemble is celebrating the one-hundred-and-first anniversary of the historic concert the Sousa Band played on Nov. 11, 1920 in that very location.
Another option for your Thursday night is laughing along with comedian Becky Robinson, who will perform at the M-Shop.
Don’t miss independent country singer/songwriter Cody Jinks in concert Friday night, Nov. 12, at Stephens Auditorium.
Also beginning Friday, Story Theater Company presents “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” – a musical based on the Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz. Performances continue through the weekend.
The M-Shop is super busy this week! On Saturday, Los Angeles-based indie rock band The Wrecks perform in the popular on-campus venue.
On Sunday, Ames band Strong Like Bear will perform at the Goldfinch Room on the Stephens Auditorium stage. The concert begins at 5 p.m.
Calling all tuba players! Tuba, euphonium, baritone, and sousaphone players are invited to participate in the 11th annual Ames TUBACHRISTMAS concert. This festive event will be held Saturday, Dec. 4 at Stephens Auditorium on the Iowa State campus. Musicians must be 12 years old or older to participate. Information for players/musicians is available here. Questions? Contact Mike Golemo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week in Ames: Nov. 1-7
This week, you can learn about global pandemics past – from cholera to Covid – in Tuesday night’s lecture by ISU professor Michael Christopher Low.
On Thursday night, celebrate movement in dance and art with “Folded Forms & Twisted Figures: An Evening of Dance and Art” at Iowa State’s Christian Petersen Art Museum. Choreography is inspired by the sculptures and drawings on display in the museum.
This Saturday, Downtown Ames businesses are partnering with local non-profits to raise awareness and support their causes, with their “Shop for a Cause” event. Bonus for shoppers: Parking is free all day. Shop small and support local!
Saturday’s Cyclone football game pits Iowa State against the Texas Longhorns. Kickoff time is 6:30 p.m. FYI, the Cyclones have defeated Texas in the last two matchups.
Mark your calendars for a couple of upcoming opportunities:
-Tickets went on sale last week for Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live, based on the popular children’s PBS television series from Fred Rogers Productions. The show is March 4 at Stephens Auditorium.
-If you love putting up holiday lights, we have a fun volunteer activity for you: Reiman Gardens is now recruiting volunteers to help install this year’s Winter Wonderscape holiday light show Nov. 1-5 and 8-12. You’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at this festive event and receive two complimentary tickets to the light show each time you volunteer. Win-win! More information and the light show volunteer application are online.
This week in Ames: Oct. 25-31
It’s Halloween week in Ames! Grab your costume, grab the kids, and grab some candy at one of these trick-or-treat events:
- On Thursday, you can Trunk or Treat in Boone from 5-7 p.m. on Story Street.
- Also on Thursday, head to North Grand Mall to help celebrate “Malloween” and Trunk or Treat, and pick up some free candy and books. Fun activities will be inside and outside North Grand Mall’s north parking lot from 5-7 p.m.
- The next day, enjoy Trick or Treat downtown Ames from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – a great opportunity to take the little ones in costume in the light (and warmth) of day. Visit the friendly businesses of downtown Ames!
- The official Trick or treat night throughout Ames is Sunday, Oct. 31. Suggested hours are 5:30-7:30 p.m.
- And, if you’re into spooky stuff, check out the Ames Haunted Forest Friday or Saturday night from 7-11 p.m.
- The ISU Symphony Orchestra will get into the Halloween spirit with “Journey to the Dark Cyde,” a program that features the hallowed sounds of popular movie soundtracks (think “Star Trek” and “Star Wars.”) The concert is in Stephens Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 31.
If you like true crime podcasts…
Iowa State offers a huge number of lectures throughout the year, and most are open to the public. This week, we think you’ll enjoy this lecture by Bill James and Rachel McCarthy James. They’re the father/daughter duo who wrote the book “The Man From The Train,” which includes new research on the 1912 Villisca axe murders. This book is just WOW – a methodically researched true-crime account that reads like a novel. Their lecture, not unsurprisingly, is titled “Massacres, Trains, and Iowa: Connecting the 1912 Villisca Axe Murders to a Cross-Country Serial Killer.” The lecture is this Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in the Memorial Union Great Hall. And here’s a fun fact: Bill James’s work on baseball “sabermetrics” was used as the background for the 2003 book (and subsequent film) “Moneyball”!
Other stuff happening this week:
Folk-rocker Elizabeth Moen will perform at the M-Shop on Thursday.
The last three Story Theater Company performances of Disney’s “Frozen Jr.” musical will hit the stage at 7 p.m. Friday night and at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. This is a family-friendly show that expands on the relationship between sisters Elsa and Anna.
Don’t miss the Straight No Chaser “Back in the High Life” Tour. The chart-topping a cappella group will be in Ames on Saturday at 8 p.m. in Stephens Auditorium.
This week in Ames: Oct. 18-24
Ames will see an influx of visitors this week, with Iowa State University’s homecoming in full swing. We also have plenty of music, theatre, comedy, and haunted houses!
We have three options for your Thursday night: Comedian Ron White performs at Stephens Auditorium; the Chicago-based alternative pop artist Jamie Jacobsen (AKA Tedious & Brief) will be on stage at the M-Shop in the Memorial Union; and also in the Union, three best-selling authors – who also happen to be Iowa State graduates – will speak in the Sun Room.
On Friday night, things will get loud. The ISU homecoming pep rally (7 p.m. in the parking lot east of the Alumni Center) features the popular Yell Like Hell competition, as well as the ISU varsity marching band, and other spirited entertainment. Afterwards, stroll through homecoming lawn displays at ISU’s fraternity and sorority houses, and cap off your night with pancakes, campaniling, and fireworks on central campus. Find all the details here.
The excitement continues on Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium (and surrounding tailgate lots), when the Cyclones take on Oklahoma State University in the annual homecoming football match-up. Kickoff time is 2:30 p.m.
Still looking for something more to do? How about Ames Haunted Forest (Friday and Saturday nights from 7-11 p.m.)? Or a Story Theater Company performance of Disney’s “Frozen Jr.” musical (7 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday)?
Or…you could just rest up, carve a pumpkin, and work on your Halloween costume. Halloween is NEXT WEEK!
This week in Ames: Oct. 11-17
What’s happening in Ames this week? A lot! So, let’s get started.
On Thursday night, the band RIVVRS performs at the M-Shop at 8 p.m. RIVVRS has just released Start Living, a raw, vulnerable collection of alternative folk songs about the struggles that come with addiction, mental health, and sober recovery.
ISU Theatre performs Corner’s Grove, a story about “growing up, hometown, friendships, and drinking in parking lots,” Thursday, Oct. 14 through Sunday, Oct. 17 at Fisher Theater. The play, a reverent nod to Our Town, follows a group of young people in the town of Corner’s Grove from high school into adulthood as they deal with leaving home, falling in love, gender identity, and the death of Whitney Houston.
Want something lighter? On Friday night, Stephens Auditorium presents Whose Live Anyway?, 90 minutes of hilarious improvised comedy and songs all based on audience suggestions. Bring your best ideas and prepare to participate.
Your weekend looks scary, with Ames Haunted Forest offering chills and thrills Friday and Saturday night, and Reiman Gardens’ popular Spirits in the Gardens providing a more kid-friendly experience Friday through Sunday, Oct. 15-17.
The Gardens’ annual Spirits in the Garden event features more than 1,000 carved Jack-o-lanterns, candy, entertainment, and more. Bring the kids in costume!
Ames Haunted Forest, on the other hand, is not for the faint of heart. Check it out weekends throughout the month of October…if you dare!
If spooks and spirits are not your thing, head to Downtown Ames on Saturday morning for one LAST (sob!) Ames Main Street Farmers’ Market of the season. Scoop up pumpkins, mums, apples, other fall produce, and baked goods while you can. The market is open from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Runners will want to check out Fletcher’s 5K from 9 a.m. until noon Saturday at Ada Hayden Heritage Park. The event is sponsored by Mary Greeley Medical Center’s Birthways Unit and supports The Fletcher Foundation, whose mission is to support families who have experienced miscarriage or stillbirth.
Also on Saturday and Sunday, the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad continues its popular Pumpkin Express runs. Bring the kids!
On Sunday, you have two more opportunities to get outdoors. The 35th Run for the Roses begins Sunday morning at 9 a.m. at the Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center. This fun event benefits arthritis research grants. Later that day, grab your mountain bike and saddle up for an exploration of the Skunk River greenbelt with Story County Conservation’s Bike the Greenbelt event.
Also on Sunday, Iowa’s poet laureate Debra Marquart offers a free afternoon of music and readings from her new essay collection, “The Night We Landed on the Moon: Essays Between Exile & Belonging,” at Ames Public Library. A book signing will be held afterwards at Dog-Eared Books on Main Street.
Sunday also kicks off Iowa State University’s Homecoming celebration. Head downtown for the annual parade, featuring floats, music, and much more.
Finally, take in a performance of Ballet Hispánico, the nation’s renowned Latino dance organization and one of America’s cultural treasures. Ballet Hispánico will take the stage Sunday night at 7 p.m. at Stephens Auditorium.
Have a great week!
Fall for Ames
Hey, it’s fall, y’all! And there are so many fun, fall-themed things to do in Ames that you need to get started NOW!
This week (Oct. 4-10), head downtown for a new fall event: Witches Walk! Downtown businesses will be open late and hosting snacks and sips from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 7. This event invites the community to come out for a scary good time. Participating Main Street businesses include Cooks’ Emporium, Della Viti, Heroic Hair, Oak Lane Candle, Nook & Nest, and Dog-Eared Books. The first 250 people will receive a commemorative wine tumbler.
Another option for your Thursday night is First Thursday Oktoberfest, from 5-7 p.m. in Boone. Boone Valley Brewing will bring a selection of local favorites, plus you can enjoy food trucks, a farmers’ market, live music, and craft vendors.
On Saturday, Oct. 9, Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad offers its second Pumpkin Express of the season. Take the family on this hour-and-30-minute journey to the railroad’s own pumpkin patch. Children may select their perfect pumpkin before returning to town.
It wouldn’t be fall without visits to local apple orchards and pumpkin patches. Lucky for us, Ames has several fun destinations within easy driving distance:
– Black’s Heritage Farms pumpkin patch is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily until Nov. 1 – and it’s located just two miles south of Jack Trice Stadium. Choose from pre-picked pumpkins, or ride on the hayrack to the pumpkin patch to pick your own. Bring the kids!
– Red Granite Farm is located west of Ames (2013 130th St., Boone) is a horticulturalist’s delight. The farm offers locally grown produce, farm-fresh eggs, perennials, and succulents. In the fall, you’ll find one of the most sophisticated selections of pumpkins and mums in central Iowa.
– Located south of Ames on 32835 610th Ave., Cambridge, family-friendly Center Grove Orchard is the Disney World of pumpkin patches. This place has it all: 25 acres of pumpkins and gourds, more than 6,000 apple trees, a farmyard filled with more than 25 activities (including a corn maze and super slides), plus dining venues, a coffee shop, and Country Store retail shop. Don’t miss the cider donuts from the bakery!
– Finally, head to Geisler Farms for pumpkins, straw bales, gourds, homemade pies, and jams. Their kid-friendly Fun Zone has more than 30 attractions including grain wagon hoops, a pumpkin punch rope maze, the barrel roll, and steer roping. Located at 5251 N.E. 94th Ave., Bondurant.
And that’s not all!
– For fall produce – pumpkins, mums, apples, and more – visit Ames Main Street Farmers’ Market Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
– Take a hike at McFarland Park (just north of Ames) or Ledges State Park (south and west of Ames). Both parks have abundant fall color, hiking trails, water features, and picturesque spots for your fall picnic.
– If you’re looking for inspiration for your 2021 Halloween costume, look no further than Spirit Halloween, now open at North Grand Mall.
– And while it’s not this week, you should get your tickets to Reiman Gardens’ annual Spirits in the Garden event so you don’t miss the fun. The popular fall celebration is held the evenings of Oct. 15-17, with more than 1,000 carved Jack-o-lanterns, candy, entertainment, and more. Bring the kids in costume!
But not everything this week is bathed in pumpkin spice.
– Take in a free performance by comedian Amos Gill on Thursday, Oct. 7, at 8 p.m. at the Memorial Union M-Shop.
– Don’t miss The Fab Four on Friday, Oct. 8 at 8 p.m. at Stephens Auditorium. It’s the ultimate Beatles tribute!
– On Saturday, Oct. 9, take a self-guided tour of nearly a dozen artists participating in the Ames Artists Studio Tour. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., visit any or all of the studios to view demonstrations and purchase original artwork.
– For the first time in more than a year, you can hear the Central Iowa Symphony in concert on Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. in the Ames City Auditorium.
– Cap off your weekend with the Bonsai Show at Reiman Gardens. Open Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 9-10 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the annual Bonsai Show features an ancient Asian artform that uniquely weds horticulture and art.
This week in Ames: Sept. 27 – Oct. 3
The evenings are getting cooler, and pumpkins are springing up on porches all over Ames. Fall is in the air!
This week, grab the kids and head out to Doolittle Prairie for Story County Conservation’s Prairie Seed Harvest event (4:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 30). The family-friendly seed harvest is a great opportunity to learn more about the prairie.
Also on Thursday, you can attend the first of two concerts this week at the ISU Memorial Union Maintenance Shop. Indie rock band Fox Royale performs Thursday night at 8 p.m.; The Get Up Kids perform the next night at 8 p.m. All M-Shop concerts are open to the public; get your tickets in advance and save the $2 upcharge at the door.
On Friday, Prairie Rivers of Iowa presents the Wild & Scenic Film Festival – A Celebration of Our Environment, a collection of documentary films that educate, entertain, and inspire. The film festival begins at 6:30 p.m. at Ames City Auditorium. The festival’s finale will be the Iowa PBS documentary “Iowa Land and Sky: Iowa Cities, Towns and Waterways.”
Another option for your Friday night entertainment is country music star Gary Allan in concert at Stephens Auditorium on the ISU campus. Get your tickets at Ticketmaster.com.
There’s a whole lot happening in Ames this upcoming weekend:
Start your Saturday morning at Ames Main Street Farmers Market. Come out for pumpkins, mums, apples, and other fall produce, plus food trucks and baked goods. Don’t forget that market hours change this weekend: 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
If you have trouble getting to museums during the week, you can enjoy three fall exhibitions during the Fall Open House Weekend on the ISU campus. At the Christian Petersen Art Museum see Charles Ginnever: Folded Forms and reACT exhibition Color Matters. At the Farm House Museum, catch the exhibition Flicker and Flame: Whale Oil and Kerosene Lamps. Both museums will be open Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 p.m.
Of course, the big event this weekend is Cyclone football vs Kansas. Kickoff time is 6 p.m. at Jack Trice Stadium, but tailgate lots will open at 7 a.m. for Cyclone Club members; general public lots open at noon.
On Saturday at 10 a.m., Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad’s Pumpkin Express takes its first fall 2021 run to a pumpkin patch, where kids can select their perfect pumpkin before taking the train back to Boone. Additional Pumpkin Express rides will be held later in October. See details here.
Homemade and vintage vendors will be out in force at the Beautiful Land Pop-Up Market on Sunday, Oct. 3 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Enjoy more than 60 local makers, vintage collectors, food trucks, and live music at the market, located in the Fareway parking lot, 619 Burnett, in the heart of downtown Ames.
While you’re downtown on Sunday, head for the Ames City Auditorium at 2 o’clock to hear a concert by the Lake Wobegon Brass Band. The performance is a fundraiser for local Scout Troop 160.
Also downtown on Sunday, you can catch a performance of Climate Change Theatre Action 2021 at the Ames Public Library at 3 p.m.
And finally, end your busy Ames weekend with Three Dog Night in concert at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Stephens Auditorium. The legendary rock band brought us the iconic “Joy to the World” way back in the early seventies and is now in its fifth decade of making joyful music.
This week in Ames: Sept. 20-26
What’s happening in Ames this week? Concerts, lectures, this fall’s biggest arts festival, a wedding expo, a junk jaunt, and a whole lot more.
Music fans, take note: This week marks the last performances in TWO summer concert series. On Tuesday (Sept. 21), singer/songwriters David G. Smith and Robert Deitch will wrap up the nine-show Goldfinch Room on the Lawn series. The show starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Stephens Auditorium. On Sunday, Chad Elliott will entertain at Prairie Moon Winery from 3-6 p.m. Five bucks gets you access to music and a glass of sangria.
Our local prairie spaces will be abuzz this Tuesday and Wednesday. On Tuesday, it’s Prairie Seed Harvests from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at Doolittle Prairie (560th Ave. in Story City). This family-friendly seed harvest is a fun opportunity for kids to learn more about the prairie. Then on Wednesday, kids will enjoy the Prairie Pollinator Party from 2-3:30 p.m. at McFarland Park. They’ll explore the blooming, buzzing prairie, hunt for insects, and even make a seed ball to take home. Both events are sponsored by Story County Conservation.
Two lectures will be held this week on campus. On Wednesday, Kesho Scott, a diversity trainer/consultant and professor at Grinnell College will discuss “The Black Holocaust: How the Atlantic Slave Trade Still Affects Us Today.” The next night, Ruben Viramontez Anguiano will present “Towns and Ranches: Testimonies of Latino/a Families and Communities in Northwest Iowa.” Find out more and peruse the full list of lectures here.
This weekend offers a variety of activities. Kicking it off is the popular Central Iowa Junk Jaunt. This vintage shopping road trip includes stops at brick & mortar shops, barns, sheds, and outdoor markets. Locations include Dakota Junction and 62 Prairie in Ames, seven stops in Boone, five in Story City, one in Randall, six in Jewell, and one in Slater. (See the map here.) The fall Junk Jaunt runs Friday through Sunday.
On Saturday, bring the family to “Play Ames: Imagine Your City,” a free community engagement festival. The grand opening is planned for at 10 a.m. at 5th Street & Burnett in downtown Ames. Then, from noon to 5 p.m., kids and adults are invited to four locations, each offering creative activities:
- Reliable Street: Guerilla gardening, origami of dreams, board games
- East 7th Street: Digital mapping, mapping of places, pop-up van with virtual reality
- Franklin Park: Breathing game, sensory path
- 5th Street & Burnett: Mural painting, live music
Sunday’s Octagon Art Festival is the highlight of the fall for art-loving central Iowans. Stroll Main Street from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and browse original artwork by 100 artists from 15 states, plus enjoy live music, food trucks, and family-friendly activities. A “Chalk the Block” contest will take place in the 400 block of Burnett Avenue, just north of Tom Evans Park beginning at 10 a.m., with judging at 2 p.m.
For brides- and grooms-to-be, don’t miss “United at the Union” Wedding Expo on Sunday from 1-3 p.m. in the Memorial Union Great Hall. You can meet with some of the best wedding vendors in central Iowa, all under one roof!
This week in Ames: Sept. 13-19
Happy Monday! Here’s what’s happening in Ames this week:
Lecture season has begun on the Iowa State campus. This week, you can catch a lecture titled “Youth Voting and the 26th Amendment: Youth Can Make a Difference” by Bobbi Gentry on Monday night (Sept. 13) in the Memorial Union Sun Room. But Iowa State offers so many lectures that you should just take a look at the full list and mark your calendar now. Most lectures are held in the Memorial Union; some are held elsewhere on campus, and a few are virtual events. All lectures are free and open to the public.
If you’ve been waiting to go to Reiman Gardens this fall, wait no longer. The Gardens’ new signature garden space, Sycamore Falls, is having its big grand opening Wednesday, and the Gardens will be open to everyone from 3-6 p.m. at no charge. The Sycamore Falls area includes a water wall, stream, waterfalls, reflecting pool, and a tower that overlooks the site – welcoming all Ames visitors driving down University Boulevard.
Maintenance Shop concerts have also begun their season at ISU. If you’ve never been to a concert at the Memorial Union’s M-Shop, you’re missing out. The musical acts are unique, and the venue is intimate, making each concert a dynamic experience. This Thursday, you can catch Vesperteen in concert starting at 8 p.m. Tickets for the general public are just $12 in advance, or $14 at the door.
Campus is going to be a little quieter this Saturday with no football game. We’re probably headed to the Ames Downtown Farmers Market for early-fall produce, and we might hang around for shopping and some gelato. Who knows? We might even eat dinner at The Spice and then go listen to Jack Curtis at Noir starting at 7 p.m.
If you missed it last week, your kids will be happy that Thomas the Tank Engine is coming back to town. “Day Out with Thomas” is rolling back into Boone this Friday through Sunday (Sept. 17-19) with the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad’s Party Train Tour. Advance tickets are required.
This weekend provides another great excuse to go to Reiman Gardens. The Garden Quilt Show is back, from Friday through Sunday, Sept. 17-19, co-sponsored by the Iowa Quilters Guild. You’ll see garden-themed quilts created by talented Midwestern textile artists. Vendors will demonstrate, display, and sell fabric art. While you’re there, be sure to check out the ongoing OrigamiintheGarden2 sculpture exhibit.
And, finally, Burnin’ Sensations will perform live at Prairie Moon Winery and Vineyards on Sunday from 3-6 p.m. If you haven’t been out to the winery in north Ames, what are you waiting for? It’s always a fun time!
This week in Ames: Sept. 6-12
We hope you’re enjoying this first full week of September! There’s a lot going on this week, so let’s get started:
Tuesday night, Society of Broken Souls, a Folk Noir songwriting duo of multi-instrumentalists Dennis James and Lauryn Shapter, will perform as part of the Goldfinch Room on the Lawn series at 5:30 p.m. Fingers crossed that the weather forecast holds! These outdoor concerts are fun and relaxing; you can bring your own picnic dinner, but The Traveling Pig food truck will also be around, as well as a bar selling beer and wine. Admission is $10. Bring your lawn chairs!
This week marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. In Ames, Friends of Army Aviation will sponsor a 9/11 Memorial Ride on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday (Sept. 9, 10, 12). Rides on a Huey Helicopter from the Vietnam era will be available from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Ames Municipal Airport. The Huey Helicopter will also be at the Boone Municipal Airport on Sept. 11. For both events, find ticket info here.
On Friday and Saturday, Maximum Ames is holding two nights of free live music at three venues in conjunction with Ames Pride’s “Pride Around Town” event. Check out the lineups at Alluvial Brewing Company, London Underground, and The Angry Irishmen. Find all the details here.
This is another BIG Cyclone football week. For the second time in three years, Iowa State will be the site of ESPN’s College GameDay, the network’s signature college football pregame show, on Saturday, Sept. 11. (The three-hour show begins at 8 a.m. central time on ESPN.) The set will again be located South of MidAmerican Energy Field at Jack Trice Stadium in the grassy area between the Sukup End Zone Club and Reiman Gardens. Plan for lots of extra traffic in Ames on Saturday morning.
Of course, that’s just the early part of the day. At 3:30 p.m., Iowa State takes on the University of Iowa, and the annual Cy-Hawk showdown promises to be as exciting as ever. The game, which is sold out, kicks off at 3:30 p.m. and will be shown on ABC. Tailgate responsibly!
If you have young kids, they’ll be thrilled that Thomas the Tank Engine is coming to Central Iowa. “Day Out with Thomas” is rolling into town Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 11-12) with the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad’s Party Train Tour. Advance tickets are required, but if you’ve waited too late to reserve your seats, another “Day Out” event is coming our way the weekend of Sept. 17-19. For tickets or more info, visit the Day Out With Thomas webpage or call the depot at 1-800-626-0319.
For outdoor fun and competition, check out the Great Ames Adventure Race on Sunday, Sept. 12 at Ada Hayden Heritage Park. The race is an all-ages amateur athletic event combining paddling, bicycling, and running, starting at 7:30 a.m. Check it out at
And finally, don’t miss Dueling Pianos Sunday from 3-6 p.m. at Prairie Moon Winery and Vineyards. $5 gets you access to the lawn and, as always, includes a free glass of sangria.
August 30, 2021
Get ready for gameday!
The big news in Ames this week is Cyclone football. After a 2020 season without tailgating, and limited fans in the stadium, this football season is highly anticipated.
The Saturday, Aug. 4 game against University of Northern Iowa Panthers begins at 3:30 p.m. in Jack Trice Stadium.
Parking lots open at 7 a.m., and stadium gates open 90 minutes prior to the game.
For parking information and for a list of what is (and isn’t) allowed in the stadium, click here.
Fans will see a lot of exciting changes when they head toward Jack Trice Stadium from the north. A $90 million, five-level Sports Performance Center has been completed, and an elevated north stadium concourse and north plaza have been added. The concourse extension creates a continuous pedestrian walkway around the stadium.
This year, the Cyclones have broken a school record total of season football tickets sold, surpassing the 48,000 mark for the first time ever. As of last Friday, a limited number of single tickets were still available. If you need tickets, they can be purchased online or by phone (toll free at 888-478-2925 or locally at 515-294-1816).
On gameday, if any tickets remain, you can purchase them at the will-call window at the Athletics Ticket Office.
Not in Ames? You can catch the game on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.
Get your Cyclone gear
Don’t forget to gear up for the season! Ames shops have what you need for late-summer games as well as those chilly fall events. Try Barefoot Campus Outfitters, Dogtown University, or Iowa State University Book Store for all the latest fashions and sports-worthy accessories.
Cyclone Central Tailgate
For pre-game fun, check out the Cyclone Central Tailgate at the ISU Alumni Center (429 Alumni Lane). Doors open at 12:30 p.m., and the ISU Cyclone Football ‘Varsity’ Marching Band performs a step show on the Alumni Center staircase before marching to the stadium. (Photo courtesy Matt Van Winkle, ISU Alumni Association)
Iowa State is ranked No. 7 in the preseason AP poll behind the strength of 19 returning starters from last year’s PlayStation Fiesta Bowl championship team that went 9-3. Three Cyclone football players have been named AP First-Team Preseason All-American, and four Cyclones made the USA Today Sports Preseason All-America Team.
August 23, 2021
This week in Ames
This is a big week in Ames, as students have returned to Iowa State for the fall semester. Classes officially began on Monday, Aug. 23. Welcome to Ames, everyone! Good luck with classes!
Before the summer gets away from you, be sure to enjoy Ames patios this week! Here are just a few options for local al fresco dining:
- Dublin Bay is an Irish pub with a generous beer menu, sandwiches, soups, salads, and more, all served on a vibrant outdoor patio.
- Wallaby’s, a bar and grill in Somerset, features a rooftop bar and dining area. Keep Wallaby’s in mind this fall, too…it’s a great place to watch the game on TV!
- Cornbred Barbecue features smoked meats, unique bar snacks, beer, cocktails, and non-alcoholic refreshers in the heart of downtown Ames at the Old Train Depot. Just follow the party lights!
- For local beer, check out Alluvial Brewing Company in north Ames, with live music on Thursday nights and food trucks available some weekend nights.
Midwestern American songwriter/folksinger Marques Morel will perform at the Goldfinch Room songwriter showcase on the Stephens Auditorium front lawn on Tuesday, Aug. 24 at 6:30 p.m. as part of the nine-show concert series this summer. Admission is $10 per person. “Doors” will open approximately 30 minutes before show time, and you are encouraged to bring your own lawn chairs and/or blankets for this outdoor concert. You may also bring a picnic with non-alcoholic beverages if you wish; a food truck and bar are available on site. This event is supported by the Ames Convention & Visitors Bureau Community Grant Program. PLEASE NOTE: DUE TO EXTREME HEAT ON TUESDAY, THIS CONCERT HAS BEEN MOVED INSIDE STEPHENS. PLEASE USE SOUTHWEST DOORS FOR ENTRY.
On Thursday, check out the Charles Ginnever Inside/Outside Party from 4:00 to 5:30 pm on campus at the Christian Petersen Art Museum and Anderson Sculpture Garden. On exhibit in both the Anderson Sculpture Garden and Christian Petersen Art Museum, Ginnever’s sculptures challenge the viewer to interact with art from multiple perspectives. Enjoy the start of the fall semester with refreshments and conversation, and experience these two exhibitions by the renowned sculptor!
This weekend, head over to Nevada for Lincoln Highway Days. Enjoy local music, food booths, a parade (Saturday at 10 a.m.), antique cars, craft show, and free family games. The events will run from 5-9 p.m. on Friday and 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday.
You’ll have two Ames farmers’ market options on Saturday: Ames Main Street and North Grand, both open from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Stop by for a variety of seasonal produce, flowers, hand-crafted items, live music, and prepared foods.
On Sunday, enjoy a fun, live music event at Prairie Moon Winery and Vineyards. Baberhood Bluegrass Band will perform an outdoor concert from 3-6 p.m. This group specializes in bluegrass, with an emphasis on folk, but they may surprise you with some rock or country music! Local wine and beer are available for purchase on site, and we highly recommend ordering one of the brick-oven pizzas, which are divine. A $5 entry fee at the door includes a glass of sangria.
Have a great week!
August 19, 2021
This week in Ames
This week, don’t miss out on the popular “OrigamiintheGarden2” sculpture exhibit currently on display at Reiman Gardens. And stop by the Ames History Museum, 416 Douglas Ave., to learn about groundbreaking women from Ames in the “A Woman’s Place is Everywhere” exhibit.
On Friday, support Prairie Rivers of Iowa and enjoy a pint of craft beer at Alluvial Brewing Company. The “Butterflies, Bees & Brew” event is a fun way to support Prairie Rivers’ environmental efforts. For $25, you can try Alluvial’s specially brewed “Rusty Patched Bumble Bee Blueberry Mead” made with locally sourced honey, as well as enjoy live music, prairie walks, and food trucks. The fundraiser runs from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m. at Alluvial Brewing Company, 3715 W. 190th Street in Ames.
• Head downtown for a late-summer farmers’ market on Saturday morning (8 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.)
• Stay downtown for some back-to-school shopping…or visit North Grand Mall for kids’ apparel and accessories. While you’re there, check out the new location for Coe’s Floral, Gifts & Design; an expanded Inside Golf; and new food options: Strawberry Hills Sweets & Treats and Time to Roll ice cream and Tex-Mex
• Enjoy an end-of-summer celebration at Bandshell Park on Saturday, sponsored by Ames Public Library. Bring a picnic dinner and listen to music by The Cherry Pickers from 5:30-6:30 p.m.
• Cap off your Saturday night with a performance by Coffeeshop Romance at Noir, 405 Kellogg.
• On Sunday, peruse more than 30 local handmade and vintage vendors at the family-friendly Beautiful Land pop-up market at the Fareway parking lot, 619 Burnett in downtown Ames, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Listen to live music by Fred Love from 12:30-2:20 p.m., and purchase delicious ice cream from the ISU Creamery from 2-4 p.m.
See our calendar for all the details!
Published June 13, 2019. Music abounds this summer throughout the Ames area with several outdoor entertainment options for you to enjoy the warmer weather and your tunes. More
Published November 14, 2018. Trading in the hustle and bustle of road trips or airports for a Thanksgiving in home sweet Ames? Enjoy the holiday with family and friends while leaving the kitchen clean-up to someone else! We’ve compiled a list of CYtes ready to welcome you and yours in for a Thanksgiving feast! More
Published November 7, 2018. As the temperatures get cooler and the days get shorter, a magical season begins in Ames and on the campus of Iowa State University. With all that’s planned from now through New Year’s, a weekend in Cyclone Country is the perfect addition to your holiday traditions. More
Published October 24, 2018. People around the country are drawn to compete in all kinds of sports. Still more gather on the sidelines to cheer for their favorite athletes and teams. Nowhere do people more intimately connect to sports than in their hometowns. More
Published September 11, 2018. In the fall of 1969, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra opened the first performance season at C. Y. Stephens Auditorium in Ames with a five-performance, week-long festival. This year Stephens Auditorium will begin a year-long campaign to celebrate 50 years of programming history launched by that premier event. More
Published August 2, 2018. Summer is winding down. But don’t start buying new notebooks and dusting off those bookbags just yet! There’s still plenty of fun events you can attend in Ames before summer is officially over. Keep reading to find out our top five favorite August events! More
Published July 16, 2018. It’s 100 degrees and 80 percent humidity outside. Your ice cream is melting, and the kiddie pool in the backyard just isn’t as fun anymore. You don’t want to spend another day inside watching cable, so where do you go to cool down? Ames, of course! Ames has lots of fun ways for you and your family to beat the heat this summer. More
Published July 3, 2018. Summer is in full swing! That means pools days, lots of ice cream and, of course, tons of fun events in Ames! Keep reading to check out our top five favorite things to do this month. All these events are open to the general public, so you’re more than welcome to bring the whole family. More
Published May 30, 2018. Are you looking for fun events to attend now that school is out? We’ve got you covered! Check out our favorite top five events happening in Ames this June! More
Published May 2, 2018. Ames and Iowa State University is a great place to visit this May. Summer is just on the horizon, and there are great events happening all month long! Keep reading to check out our five favorite events that you should attend this month. More
Published April 26, 2018. Do you enjoy pedaling on two wheels? Then you’re in luck! Ames is a great bicycling community, welcoming casual riders and experienced pros alike. Keep reading to check out just a few of the cyclist-friendly businesses that you might want to visit while you’re here. More
Published April 3, 2018. April is a great time to visit Ames and Iowa State University! The weather is beginning to warm up, flowers are starting to bloom and fun events are happening. Keep reading for a list of our top five favorite events to attend this month. More