It’s no exaggeration to say that Reiman Gardens is the only landscape of its kind in Iowa. Located just north of the Greater Des Moines metro, this 17-acre botanical garden is a truly magical mixture of conservation science and fairytale wonder. With 40 different gardens, including an award-winning rose garden and world-famous butterfly garden, this isn’t only a must-stop but a must-visit-again-and-again. 

1. Hang with Hundreds of Butterflies 

The Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing is one of the largest and straight-up best in the entire Midwest. It’s basically a tropical paradise with up to 800 butterflies representing 80 different species from all around the world. Pro tip: Impress your kids by pointing out how the structure of the Butterfly Wing happens to also resemble a butterfly. 

2. Snap a Selfie with Elwood 

Have you met Elwood yet? Standing 15 feet tall and weighing in at 3,500 pounds, he’s officially known as “The World’s Largest Concrete Gnome.” When Elwood was constructed in 2010, he was going to be the world’s largest gnome of any kind … but there’s evidently a taller gnome in Poland of all places. However, Elwood remains #1 in our city, state, country, and of course, hearts. 

3. Tour a Top Ten Garden 

Reiman Gardens was named one of the “Top Ten Gardens in North America Worth Traveling For” at the 2023 International Garden Tourism Conference. Those folks certainly sound like experts on the matter, but for the record, we agree! Oh, also, special shout to Sycamore Falls, a super-popular attraction with cascading waterfalls and an explosion of floral colors in the summertime. 

4. Live Like a Literal Hobbit 

At the very beginning of The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien made sure to mention just how comfy and cozy a hobbit hole can be — but you don’t have to take his word for it anymore. From June 1 to September 30, you can actually kick back in the Hobbit House at Reiman Gardens’ Garden Playhouses exhibit. Feel free to wear your favorite cloaks and waistcoats. Just please keep any huge, hairy feet in shoes. 

5. Play Around with Sustainability 

In addition to the Hobbit House at the Garden Playhouse exhibit, you’ll find 9 more custom-built, fully accessible playhouses. The Polycarbonate Cube is one that we’re really, really looking forward to seeing because it’s made completely of recyclable materials. But you’ll have to let us know which of the playhouses ends up being the biggest wow for your family.