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Downtown Ames’ Must-Visit Local Destinations You Won’t Want to Miss

From delicious dining and unique gift shops to historic attractions, downtown Ames has it all.

By Jessica Walker Boehm on May 5, 2019

Ames, IA Downtown Destinations

Ames’ historic downtown core has become a must-visit destination that seemingly has it all, and thanks to Ames Main Street – an affiliate of Main Street Iowa & Main Street America – the district is only growing more vibrant.

If you’re hungry, you’re in luck. Downtown Ames has plenty of delicious dining spots, including The Great Plains Sauce & Dough Co. (a favorite local pizza joint), Bar La Tosca, Downtown Deli and Cafe Diem, which has been voted the No. 1 coffeehouse in Story County for the past 15 years.

Thirsty? Head to Little Woods Herbs & Teas for hand-blended artisan beverages, or grab coffee at Morning Bell Coffee Roasters, a roastery and tasting room with fresh-roasted coffees, pour-over service, nitro cold brew and espresso bar options. For drinks with a little more of a kick, visit one of downtown Ames’ watering holes like London Underground, Whiskey River, Della Viti and DG’s Tap House.

Whether you’re looking for a gift or something special for yourself, there are dozens of shops to choose from. There’s Dashing Boutique that’s filled with jewelry, accessories and gifts, while stores like Duck Worth Wearing and The Pumpkin Patch cater to kids with books, toys and clothing. For both at-home and professional chefs, go to Cooks’ Emporium, and if you’re searching for a unique gift, look no further than Worldly Goods for a selection of items from more than 50 countries.

Wineries and Craft Breweries Are Thriving in This Iowa Community

Downtown Ames delivers when it comes to health and wellness, too. Ames Yoga Center is a favorite local destination for meditation, beginner yoga, prenatal yoga, integrative yoga therapy and more. The district’s Bandshell Park plays host to free yoga classes during warm-weather months.

Check out Ames Main Street, which organizes events and retail promotions; enhances partnerships; maintains green spaces, public art installations and window displays; advocates for historic preservation; and works to attract and retain businesses.

Ames’ downtown district draws major crowds throughout the year, hosting family-friendly events like the springtime Music Walk and the annual 4th of July Parade that attracts thousands of attendees.

In the fall, downtown hosts the city’s popular Oktoberfest celebration, and the holiday season kicks off with a community tree lighting ceremony each November.

Running errands is quick and easy with spots like Hy-Vee Drugstore, as well as Wheatsfield Cooperative Grocery and Deli for fresh, local and organic food. There are also specialty shops for unique gifts, including those for your pup, like pet store Treats on a Leash.

Services from hair care to dentistry are covered, too. For salons, check out Valor & Violet, an Aveda hair salon, or The Salon in Ames. For chiropractic care, sport recovery services and acupuncture, visit Ames Spine & Sport. Downtown Ames also includes the Ames Public Library, Pyfferoen Dentistry, banks, insurance agencies and real estate offices.

Moving to Ames, IA? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Parking is a cinch thanks to the ParkMobile app. The free app provides pay-by-phone services for the collection of parking meter fees, and it maps the city’s parking stalls to show drivers where parking is available downtown and in nearby Campustown.

Coming Soon: Ames Main Street recently received a $75,000 grant through the Iowa Economic Development Authority and Main Street Iowa to add a four-season rooftop bar to Olde Main Brewing Co., and Ames Main Street plans to host First Friday events each month.

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