Characterized by rolling farmland and fertile fields, Iowa state may seem like an unexpected destination for outdoor adventures. But this Midwestern state is also home to gentle hills, dramatic ridges, and craggy bluffs, a result of the network of winding rivers, streams, and placid lakes that crisscross the state.
With 63 state parks and recreational areas, ample hiking trails, bike trails, dense forests, and glacial lakes, you’ll be surprised by Iowa’s abundance of opportunities for outdoor recreation. Kayak to sea caves and explore the Upper Iowa River, the state’s most widely-recognized river that begins in southeastern Minnesota and eventually flows into the Mississippi River. Explore the pine-forested hills of the Driftless Area in northeastern Iowa, head to the south for its gentle plains, or hike along the dramatic ridgelines of the Loess Hills in the west.
[For more Midwest vacation rentals, check out our top picks for Ohio cabin rentals & Indiana escapes, and Wisconsin glamping destinations.]
Iowa is a place to go to experience the outdoors relatively uncrowded. And if you’d rather do that with a side of luxury, we’ve rounded up seven of the best cabin rentals across the state.
The Best Iowa Cabin Rentals
Magnolia Cabin — Decorah, IA
Vibe: Romantic Getaway for Two
Backed by rolling hills and enveloped by rugged limestone bluffs and meandering rivers, the Magnolia Cabin is the ideal remote escape for two. Take in sweeping views of the Driftless Area from the hot tub on the deck while bald eagles soar above, or lounge in a pair of Adirondack chairs set next to the fire pit. It's a cozy cabin, but inside there's a living room, kitchenette, air conditioning, and wifi.
Away from the property, go trout fishing, or explore the Upper Iowa River by kayak, canoe or inner tube. For a more laidback getaway, check out the breweries in Decorah, a short 25-minute drive away.
Summer Waterfront Getaway - Iowa City, IA
Vibe: Refresh by the River
This pet-friendly cabin features a beautiful view of the Iowa River right outside its door. Inside, thoughtful mid-century decor flows throughout the interior, which features multiple beds, a spacious living area, and a downstairs entertainment area. Outside, take in the river view from the hot-tub, deck, or around the brick fire ring.
Knotty Pine Guest House - Decorah, IA
Vibe: Classic Log Cabin
Located in the bluff country of Iowa, this cabin getaway features generous vaulted ceilings, a large limestone fireplace, a spacious deck, and a fully equipped kitchen. Upstairs, a loft area provides a king-sized bed and private bathroom.
Trout River Log Cabin — Decorah, IA
Vibe: 1800s Norwegian-American Log Buildings, Reinvented
Situated on an expansive family farm in Northeast Iowa, this rustic log cabin guest house welcomes visitors seasonally from April to October. Its exterior is classic friendly cabin, but its interiors are handcrafted from repurposed 19th-century Norwegian-American log homes, while salvaged wood headboards and planked wood ceilings give the place its vintage charm.
From here, take a trip to Decorah, a convenient seven miles away, go fishing and swimming in Trout River, or just stay and revel in the views of the verdant valley from the cabin’s porch.
The Little Red Cabin — Decorah, IA
Vibe: Eclectic Fishing Lodge
This little cottage is located nearby South Bear Creek, one of the top trout streams in Iowa. Eclectic design meets midwest comfort inside the cozy interior, while outside, there are plenty of Adirondack chairs and a porch swing for relaxing on the deck.
Hill Top House — Decorah, IA
Vibe: Hilltop Hideaway
Check in at the Hill Top House for a convenient location in the Upper Iowa River valley and close proximity to the trendy restaurants of Decorah. The home’s rustic coziness is thanks to its use of natural materials like hardwood floors and wood plank ceilings, contrasted by pops of color in its furniture, which give this Airbnb vacation rental a modern vibe. This dreamy luxury cabin is ideal for large groups with room for eight, and everyone can go trout fishing at Coldwater Creek or kayaking on the Upper Iowa River among limestone cliffs.
Secluded Log Cabin — Iowa City, IA
Vibe: Family Weekend
Featuring soaring ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a grand fireplace, this spacious log cabin is the perfect home for a group trip or family reunion. Ten beds are packed throughout cozy rooms, and the full kitchen, loft sitting area, and large living room are all great spaces to gather.
Cozy, Sunset View Cabin on Lake Cornelia — Clarion, IA
Vibe: Dreamy Lakeside Getaway
This waterfront cabin about an hour from Des Moines provides direct access to the southern end of Lake Cornelia. The private dock gives you a secluded setting to swim, fish, and watch the sunset, and the cabin brings the outdoors in, as its stylish interiors incorporate the use of natural materials, as seen in its stone shower and knotty pine walls.
As a year-round destination, you can spend summer days boating and jet skiing on the glacial lake and winter afternoons snowmobiling and ice-fishing. This cabin comfortably sleeps four, and is also a short leisurely walk to Lake Cornelia Park, home to a beach and a number of walking trails.