Terrace Hill Governor’s Residence – Des Moines Iowa

Place/Event: Terrace Hill Governor’s Residence 
Location: 82300 Grand Avenue in Des Moines, lA 50312
Cost: Free for students on a class tour. Adults $5, Children 6-12 $2. 
Grade/age range: All ages are welcome but older students will gain more from the tour. 
Group size: Smaller groups make viewing the rooms easier. Staff can accommodate lager groups. 
Hands-on: No
Stroller friendly: No. Stairs make it challenging to use a stroller. Parents can wear a baby in carrier. If a special needs student attends the tour, accommodations can be made.
Bathrooms: Yes (in Carriage House)
Food: No

Terrace Hill has been called home by five Iowa governors and their families. Recognized as one of the most accessible governors homes in the country, Terrace Hill was donated to the state of Iowa in the late 1960’s. 

Children's puzzle of Terrace Hill in gift shop -Terrace Hill Governor's Residence - Des Moines Iowa

The Tour

Students and families can visit this magnificent home and learn about the fascinating history. Tours start out in the Carriage House & Gift Shop. A short fifteen minute dramatized film gives a brief history of the mansion. Tours last around one hour including the video presentation. 

Terrace Hill is watched over by a dedicated staff and the Iowa State Patrol. You cannot enter the mansion without a chaperone.  The third floor of the home is dedicated to the governor and his/her family. The tower is accessible only through the third floor and therefore is not open to the public. 

School tour outside of Terrace Hill

Inside the mansion, visitors are guided from room to room by knowledgeable staff. Rooms are roped off, so smaller groups make viewing the rooms easier. 

Girls viewing the dinning room at Terrace Hill

Groups are escorted up to the second floor, where a few rooms are on display.  These rooms include the governor’s office, which is used for special occasions, and the first spouse’s office. Guests bedrooms are enjoyed by special invitation only.

The governors office at Terrace Hill

The governor and his/her family are able to use the public portions of the home for personal parties and occasions. The public is also permitted to rent out the space. Events and special celebrations are held in the home throughout the year. Check the website for ticket information. 

The tour ended with a stroll around the exterior of the home and through the gardens. Our visit was during early April so the garden was not alive and green like it is in the summer. 

A school tour in the gardens at Terrace Hill

Terrace Hill Governor’s Residence – Des Moines Iowa

Other Tours

Historical home tours of a favorite of mine and a fun way to take children back in time. Throughout the Midwest, you can find home tours in every major city. 

We personally love The Salisbury House & Gardens and the historic Finn Mansion at the Living History Farms in Des Moines. 

Find more homes in Iowa on the National Register of Historical Places list. 


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