This summer and fall, a visit to eastern Iowa means more ways to explore the bustling urban areas and idyllic rural landscape than ever. Outdoor adventures await throughout the region’s parks and glimpses into the Hawkeye State’s rich past abound at countless historic sites. What’s more, communities from Dubuque to Davenport invite visitors to find a sense of local life through an array of special events, sports, cultural festivals, and more family-friendly fun.
If four wheels are more your speed, how about a scenic driving tour along the Avenue of the Saints? Connecting St. Paul to St. Louis, the Avenue of the Saints is a gorgeous way to travel, and the Iowa stretch allows travelers to discover attractions like University of Iowa and its Museum of Natural History in Mount Pleasant, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art in Cedar Rapids, and the Buddy Holly Crash Site, north of Clear Lake.
Iowa may not lay claim to its own MLB team, but that doesn’t mean eastern Iowa visitors can’t enjoy America’s Favorite Pastime this summer – the region is home to numerous MiLB teams. Baseball fans can see the Cedar Rapids Kernels step up to the plate at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids, and fans in Davenport can watch the Quad Cities River Bandits swing for the fences at Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport. Check the schedule during your visit and catch a game.
The town of Ely, midway between Cedar Rapids and Coralville, welcomes fall with the Annual Ely Fall Fest in September, drawing visitors near and far with a nighttime glow light 5K, a craft fair, local food offerings, all sorts of fun and games for kids, and more.
Savor the flavors of a variety of bacon dishes from local purveyors at the Dubuque Area Baconfest. Not only will it be a treat for your tongue, it’s also in support of a worthy cause – proceeds go to benefit Area Residential Care.
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Iowa history is American history. Explore the life of the celebrated Wild West showman at the Buffalo Bill Cody Homestead in rural Scott County. Built in 1847 by his father, this two-story limestone farmhouse has been restored with typical 19th-century furnishings. You can also indulge your love of history and shopping at Antique Archaeology in Le Claire, home base of the hit TV show American Pickers.
Following the path of the Mississippi River from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, the Great River Route National Scenic Byway cruises down the eastern side of the state. With ever-changing views of the mighty Mississippi, this easygoing route passes by picture-perfect towns, limestone buffs, and laid-back riverfront hangouts. In East Iowa, you can also hop on the Historic Route 66 in the Quad Cities and head west.
Be amazed and inspired at local museums. With 12 aquariums and a boatyard, the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque showcases the river’s special ecosystem. Take a break at the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum in Walcott, which is located next to the world’s largest truck stop. Davenport is a hotbed of museums, including the Figge Art Museum, the German American Heritage Center, and the Putnam Museum of history and science.