Our Favorite Locations for Family Photos Around Iowa City

For my family in the 1980s, the destination for family photographs was a department store portrait studio.  While studios continue to be a great option, outdoor locations can bring personality and variety to framed photos and holiday cards.  Iowa’s crisp weather and beautiful colors make fall a wonderful time to move beyond the traditional choice of blue vs. gray backdrop. We asked local moms about their favorite spot to snag that perfect family picture. Read on for their recommendations and pictures!

Family Photo Locations around Iowa City

Amana Colonies


“I love the Amana setting because there is SO much beauty in the history. It’s beautiful in any season–spring you have the bright green against the old buildings, but fall and winter are my favorite times. The fall colors always accent the historic buildings! They have so many “hidden” in plain sight spots for amazing pictures!” – Carrie, mom to Lydia

Picture shared by Carrie, taken by family

City Park

200 Park Rd, Iowa City

“I loved our family photos at City Park last summer. It’s a large enough park that it’s easy to find an area where you/the kids won’t be distracted by other people.” – Jessi, mom to Skylar and Hazel

Picture shared by Jessi, captured by Lindsay McGowan Photography

Devonian Fossil Gorge

2850 Prairie Du Chien Rd NE, Iowa City

Harvest Preserve

1645 N Scott Blvd, Iowa City

Permission is required for non-members; please email [email protected] to obtain a visitor code.

Picture shared by Michele, captured by Amanda Monday, BirdsDream Design

Herbert Hoover National Historic Site

110 Parkside Dr, West Branch

Picture shared by Michele, captured by Amanda Monday, BirdsDream Design

Hickory Hill Park

800 Conklin, Iowa City

“This is such a great natural setting for photos! There are beautiful trees in all seasons and there is a lot of opportunity for variety in the photos. There are open fields, woodsy trails, trees and rocks to climb. It offers a lot of options. And for my family, this is a place that we go often, so it doesn’t feel forced when we do photos. Our kids are already comfortable and have fun there, so it’s easy to capture more natural feeling photos.” – Laura, mom to Ethan, Anna and Kate

Picture shared by Laura, captured by Naughty or Nice Photography

Hunter’s Run Park

924 Duck Creek Dr, Iowa City

“This is a great place for photos because there are picturesque background areas, but also a few fun play structures. Those help keep your kids busy when it’s not their turn to be in front of the camera and they can also be a fun place to get action shots.” – Laura, mom to Ethan, Anna and Kate

Picture shared by Laura, captured by Emily Jia Photography

Indian Creek Nature Center

5300 Otis Rd SE, Cedar Rapids

Kent Park

2048 Highway 6 NW, Oxford

Permit is required; please contact Charlie at (319)645-2315 for more information.

“Kent Park is a hidden treasure of conservation living in harmony with Iowegians 🙂   This Park has beautiful vistas and wildflowers plus picturesque spots to picnic or take the perfect family portrait.” – Gwen, mom to Josh, Joey and Jamie, mother-in-law to Sara and Jordon, and grandmother to Caleb, Logan, and baby on the way!

Picture shared by Kristy, captured by Bella Vista Photography

North Ridge Park

2250 Holiday Rd, Coralville

Palisades Kepler State Park

700 Kepler Dr, Mt Vernon

“Palisades-Kepler State Park has a large sandbar for a dramatic backdrop to your family photos – sand, river, and high rugged cliffs! If you plan to take your photos as the leaves turn, the colors throughout the whole park are fabulous, too.” – Johanna, mom of 3

“Palisades-Kepler State Park offers a variety of places for your portraits. One of the most popular photography locations showcases the bluffs along the Cedar River with the beach and a fallen tree. The park is beautiful year round but the trees and trails have amazing colors in the fall!!” –Kristy, mom to Kayson and Kyra

Picture shared by Kristy, captured by Bella Vista Photography

Ped Mall

210 S Dubuque St, Iowa City

“I absolutely LOVE taking photos downtown Iowa City. Anywhere in the ped mall, especially with the brightly colored benches, just reminds me of walking around there as a college student when I first fell in love with this city. The Old Capitol makes an amazing backdrop for photos, and the lobby of Hotel Vetro is super modern and full of natural light. You can’t go wrong in Iowa City!” – Sara, mom to Sam, Cooper, Nora and Adam

Picture shared by Sara, captured by Lindsay McGowan Photography

Terry Trueblood Recreation Area

579 McCollister Blvd, Iowa City

“Not only is this a beautiful location for walking, renting a kayak, or picnicking in their shelters, you can come here and use as a backdrop for beautiful outdoor photographs. The buildings offer modern and rustic options or you can use nature to compliment any family photo.” – Megan, mom to Charlie and Gwen

Picture shared by Megan, captured by Erin Kirchhoff, The Locket Photography

“Terry Trueblood is great because it has it all–shaded trails with large trees and winding paths, a natural playground area for action shots with kids, a lake with tall reeds, a beautiful boathouse–all these different aspects make for several great backdrops, all in one location.” – Jasia, mom to Jack and Griffin

UI Visual Arts Building

107 River St, Iowa City

“The arts building was a great location. Even though it was extremely hot out that day we made it work. It was a place we’ve never done before and enjoyed it very much. Not too much walking around either. Just a few buildings for different scenes. Our 5 yo daughter at the time was a trooper with the heat too, even with one outfit change as well!” – Beth, mom to Claire

Picture shared by Beth, captured by Chad and Erica Lautner

Waterworks Prairie Park

Near I-80 and Dubuque Street, Iowa City

“Waterworks Prairie is beautiful because it’s a wide open area, and the tall prairie grass and bright light make it a beautiful backdrop. The winding paths make great action shots, and you don’t have to walk far to find a good photo spot.” – Jasia, mom to Jack and Griffin

West Liberty Heritage Park

407 N Elm St, West Liberty

Picture shared by Jessi, captured by Infinite Image Design

Willow Creek Park

1117 Teg Dr, Iowa City

Wilson’s Orchard

4823 Dingleberry Rd NE #1, Iowa City

“My daughter had her senior pics done there. We did her pics in October I believe. Peak fall colors are beautiful. They had the old farmhouse look, pumpkins, hay bales etc.” – Pamela, mom to Karyssa

Picture shared by Pamela, captured by Amanda Monday, BirdsDream Design

What are your favorite locations for family photographs?  Comment and share!


Susie is a mom of two, book-lover and frequent challah baker. In addition to working at The University of Iowa, Susie is a PTA volunteer and sorority advisor. She loves date nights in the Ped Mall, catching a show at the Englert, and most of all, cuddling her family on the couch.


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