Iowa leads the American Midwest in numerous categories, and The Hawkeye State has many cities that are attractive for raising a family, building a career, or enjoying retirement.
Best Places to Live in Iowa
List includes Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls
Home to the University of Iowa, Iowa City has several entertainment venues and nightspots that cater to students. Also serving the community is the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and many lists rank Iowa City among the top U.S. cities for doing business. In addition, the ACT college testing service is headquartered here.
On both sides of the Cedar River is Cedar Rapids, recognized as the arts and culture regional hub of Eastern Iowa. Grain processing is a leading industry, and the city has 12 active neighborhood associations. Quality of life amenities include museums, two main theaters, 74 parks and two major hospitals.
West Des Moines
An excellent transportation system serves West Des Moines, with Interstates 35, 80 and 235 bringing more and more business to the city. The largest employer is Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, and shopping opportunities are led by Jordan Creek Town Center. West Des Moines also has premier golf courses.
Home to Iowa State University and its 15,000 employees and 35,000 students, Ames is also headquarters for the Iowa Department of Transportation. Campustown is a vibrant neighborhood of student apartments, shops, restaurants and nightlife, and livability luxuries for residents include many parks and Mary Greeley Medical Center.
The capital of Iowa, Des Moines ranks among the wealthiest cities in America. The insurance industry, financial services and publishing are major economic sectors, and Mercy Medical Center is another key employer. Education options are highlighted by Drake University and Grand View University. The city has 76 parks and three golf courses.
A pretty community that is experiencing robust residential growth is Marion, home to a nationally acclaimed Marion Arts Festival as well as more than 40 parks and green spaces. Numerous homes are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the city's two public school districts are rated among the best in Iowa.
Along the Mississippi River and on the border of Iowa and Illinois is Davenport, home to Saint Ambrose University. The city offers 50 parks and 20 miles of recreational paths, and motorists can access four interstates. Davenport is strong in manufacturing and has a dynamic downtown and two hospitals.
Sioux City features a diverse economy with large employers like Tyson Fresh Meats, Briar Cliff University, Mercy Medical Center and St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center. The community has a downtown district with many entertainment venues and a casino, and popular Riverside Park graces the banks of the Big Sioux River.
Home to the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls has 41 parks and 29 miles of recreational trails along with a natural forest and wetland areas. Quality of life choices include a championship 18-hole Pheasant Ridge Golf Course. Cedar Falls Industrial & Technology Park houses many technology companies.
Just south of the Des Moines state capital is Indianola, part of an 11-mile asphalt Summerset Trail in south-central Iowa. Indianola is home to the National Balloon Classic and National Balloon Museum, and local Simpson College dates to 1869. The community has a growing tech-based economy.
Across the river from Iowa City and the University of Iowa is Coralville, which houses the Iowa Firefighter’s Memorial. Coralville has 20 miles of recreational trails and a good parks system in place. Eleven sculptures by Iowa artists make up the Iowa River Landing Sculpture Walk.