Things to do in Ames over the summer.

Hello guys!

I’ve been meaning to post this since, well….since classes ended. But aside from the fact that I went home to Puerto Rico right after that for three weeks, and lately all I’ve been doing is working (Yes, I’m calling ALL you people on the phone to remind you to correct your address, ask if you’re still interested in ISU, remind you to accept your offer, etc, etc 😉 ), I haven’t had much time to get acquainted with my sweet Ames this summer.

The truth is that Ames can be a pretty slow location over the summer. There isn’t much going on, or that many people around, really; which can mean good things to those of you who cringe at the thought of the arrival of the thick student population in August 😉 . I happen to both love it, and hate it. I love it because it allows for the opportunity to focus more on more pressing matters like for instance, in my situation, studying for the GRE, working to save some cash, and writing these blog posts… 😛 At the same time, I hate it because, to be honest, sometimes I’m stuck doing the same thing over the period of a whole week for lack of many activities going on; which, if you’re a writer, or a photographer, or any creative soul at all, you’d be with me when I say that it can turn into a creative rut at times.

But in light of that, and because I’ve finally had some free time to enjoy a little bit of the sunshine outside and look at Ames with more endearing eyes, here is a list of things to do over the summer if you have a free Saturday afternoon and any friends around.

1. Grab a book and set up a picnic at Ada Hayden Heritage Park.

Ada Hayden

This one is the first on the list because it’s the one I’ve actually been dying to do. I feel like every Saturday I say the same thing: ” Today, I’m waking up early and going to Ada Hayden!” But besides not having enough time in the mornings, or much company, I end up always leaving it. It’s not going past this next week though. Either I post something on it by next week or you guys can fire me. Haha.

Ada Hayden is beautiful to just sit around, catch a little bit of sun, and open up a good book. Alternatively, you could grab a friend and walk around to burn that Blizzard from Dairy Queen you ate last night, or something. 😉 I’ll take the former. I’m an avid reader, and once I’m done with a book I pick up a next one. Currently I’m starting The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (who really is J.K. Rowling in secret!) These are some of my recommendations:

2. Try a new restaurant every Saturday

"The Cafe" in Ames

…Something that might be difficult to accomplish if you’re on a tight budget like I am, haha, but worth the try! As small as Ames may seem sometimes, it offers a good variety of places to try that are local, with some new restaurants opening up here and there. It’s easy to get stuck eating at the same spot over and over again because you know what to expect and you know you’ll like it, but it’s fun to try something new and tickle that corpus callosum (if you’ve ever taken a psych class, you’ll know…). Some of my favorite places to try are:

For a more extensive list and some different reviews, check out this post I wrote a little while ago. (It doesn’t include some of the ones listed above, which are newer!)

3. Visit the Furman Aquatic Center

Furman Aquatic Center

When the scorching days are becoming a pest, hit the aquatic center with your crew of friends! It’s not specially big or spectacular, but it sure will freshen you up and can be the greatest excuse to come out looking sun-kissed, or like a lobster, whichever one applies to you. 😉 Enjoy the lazy river, recreational pool, and slides that it has!

4. Visit the farmer’s market on Saturday mornings

Ames Farmer's Market

If you like waking up early, or you don’t, but still like to scout for some fresh foods and start your day on the right foot, come to the Ames Main Street Farmer’s Market! It is happening every Saturday morning, from 8am-12:30pm, until the end of October. It’s a perfect opportunity to get yourself out of bed early and enjoy the day ahead! Maybe after the farmer’s market you could take a couple snacks you bought and have a picnic at Ada Hayden? 😉

5. Take an art class at the Octagon or the Workspace


For those of you crafty people, what are you waiting for? There may not be a fancy museum in Ames to go ogle some art, but you can make some! If you want to keep it “local” look at the classes offered at the Workspace, which vary from jewelry casting, to sewing lessons, to mat cutting and even Tai Chi and Argentine Tango. Alternatively, if you want to make the “huge” trek to the Octagon Center for the Arts on Main Street (it’s like…10 minutes on the bus 😉 ), they offer classes such as wheel throwing, digital photography basics, and pottery. Sounds like an awesome way to meet some new people!

6. Pick up a hobby and get good at it.

Playing Guitar

Once upon a time, my girlfriend Maggie and I decided that it’d be useful if we both got good at playing pool. Just imagine all the possibilities: being able to beat some of your friends, leaving them wide-eye and open-mouthed, not having to turn down an invitation to hang out at the Underground, and well…just because we were tired of being so bad at it! Whenever you’re feeling out of options this summer, try these:

  • Get a guitar and start “youtubing” some how-to’s
  • Rent a camera from the Communications Building at ISU and start shooting photos and/or videos
  • Pick up the Daily everyday of the week and make it a point to finish the crossword puzzle by the end of the day
  • Write a new poem every weekend
  • Get golfing! The Veenker Memorial Golf Course wants your attention
  • See #5, above

7. Visit Perfect Games

Laser Tag Crew!

If you’re running out of options this weekend, and like me, you’re sick and tired of renting a new movie every night at Family Video, don’t fret! There’s still Perfect Games around the corner. It’s the perfect place to brush up on your bowling skills, air hockey, and Crazy Taxi. Oh! And did I mention there’s laser tag? With a huge selection of arcade games and a couple of slices of pizza, sounds like a fun Saturday night to me!

8. Have a bonfire and make s’mores.


I can’t voucher for how “legal” it is to light up a bonfire “anywhere you want” in Ames, but I do know people will usually try it in their backyards, with some stray pieces of wood, and an igniter. However, if you know of any places where there might be a pit, by all means enlighten me! Otherwise, get grilling! There are many outdoors bbq’s set up already in some of the parks around Ames. For a list of the parks, visit here.

And because I’m a good citizen most of the time, here’s the Recreational Fire Compliance Form from the City of Ames. Don’t tell me you didn’t know. 😉

9. Go bike riding along Brookside Park

Brookside Park

Don’t waste another sunny day! Grab your bike and go explore some of the beautiful parks Ames has to offer you. If you don’t have a bike, borrow one or just go walking. My all-time favorite, besides Ada Hayden, is Brookside Park. It’s more scenic and it’s located in a nice neighborhood, where beautiful homes reside. Additionally, it has great big open spaces, say, for a game of soccer? 😉

10. Sign up for a sport.

rock climbing

And at last, if sports are more your thing, don’t forget to sign up for intramural events this summer through our amazing Recreational Services at ISU. It seems like the upcoming things are battleship, badminton, and water basketball (don’t ask me how that goes). Go here for the full schedule!

Alternatively, you might want to try going on one of the Outdoor Rec trips this summer! I went rock-climbing with Outdoor Rec to Blue Mounds, Minnesota, and it sure was fun!

Will you be signing up for any of these? What are your amazing summer plans?

Photo sources: 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10

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