Considering a stop in Cedar Rapids on your next journey through Iowa? From extraordinary restaurants to striking natural landscapes, this list of the best things to do in Cedar Rapids, IA, will have you counting down the days until your vacation!
Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is a versatile city with plenty of unspoiled nature to boast about. If you’d like to explore the city’s natural side, be sure to check out attractions like the Indian Creek Nature Center or Palisades-Kepler State Park. On the other side of the coin, you can get the full urban experience by watching a performance at the Paramount Theatre or exploring the microbrewery scene at Clock House Brewing.
Stressed over planning what to do in Cedar Rapids and wanting to choose the perfect activities? This guide to the best places to visit in Cedar Rapids, IA, will have your itinerary overflowing in no time!
Best places to visit in Cedar Rapids, IA
The DISTRICT: Czech Village & New Bohemia
If you’re looking for a neighborhood in Cedar Rapids to explore at your own pace, a visit to The DISTRICT: Czech Village & New Bohemia is a must. A clear favorite among tourists and locals alike, this city-bound destination is a hotspot for arts, cultural tourism, dining, and shopping. There’s almost always some sort of event or live music going on, too, so come prepared to stay awhile.
Looking for an environmentally friendly and affordable way to get around town? The DISTRICT: Czech Village & New Bohemia offers a bike share program. Here, you can rent bicycles and scooters to toot around town, which can be returned at several spots throughout the city.
National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library
Looking for a great museum to round out your Cedar Rapids itinerary? The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, an affiliate of the Smithsonian museum. The history museum presents the opportunity to learn about the early life of European immigrants to the United States. Located in the heart of Czech Village, this unique gallery is one of the top points of interest in Cedar Rapids.
The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library hosts many events throughout the year and even leads cultural tourism experiences across the globe. Perhaps you’ll find some inspiration for your next holiday here!
Ushers Ferry Historic Village
Go on a trip back to the year 1890 at Ushers Ferry Historic Village. Located in a ten-acre segment of Seminole Valley Park, this community-scale living museum features several important Cedar Rapids landmarks and a cluster of 20 historic buildings.
Be sure to sign up for a guided tour for the ultimate Ushers Ferry Historic Village experience. You’ll be led through the village by costumed historical interpreters and learn about the daily lives of early Iowa settlers.
There are frequent events held on-site at Ushers Ferry Historic Village, too, like a Czech heritage tea or a night out at the Saloon.
Seminole Valley Park
Looking for a classic urban park to enjoy during your time in Cedar Rapids? Check out Seminole Valley Park. As the park spans over 400 acres, you’ll find plenty of green space for unfurling your picnic blanket, as well as some playgrounds to keep the little ones entertained.
For a fun and accessible nature walk, be sure to check out the Seminole Valley Park Loop. Taking just 40 minutes to complete, this waterfront trail is an easy undertaking for all fitness levels, whether you’re embarking on the journey with dogs or kids.
Indian Creek Nature Center
A hike through the woodlands, wetlands, and prairies at the Indian Creek Nature Center is a fantastic way to spend some quality time outside during your Cedar Rapids, Iowa, vacation. The popular nature center also a great choice for outdoor recreation if you’re traveling with children. In addition to educational programming, wildlife watching, and easy trails, kids love wading through the creek and catching frogs in the summer heat.
During the winter months, activities like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing become quite popular at the Indian Creek Nature Center; don’t skip out on a visit just because there’s snow blanketing the ground! As the season nears its end and the thaw begins, you can even go and see how maple syrup is made!
Whether you’re a history buff to the core or you want some serious home and garden inspiration, a trip to Brucemore is a wonderful plan. Connect with history at this opulent estate, dating back to 1884. The mansion has been home to several interesting Iowa residents throughout the years. The last owners, Margaret and Howard Hall, even kept a pet lion in the home!
At Brucemore, you can wander the halls of the greatest mansion in Cedar Rapids and take a leisurely stroll through 33 acres of manicured gardens. Love geocaching back home? Be sure to bring a trinket or two; there are a few caches hidden throughout the property.
Cedar Rapids Museum of Art
From surrealism to printmaking, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art celebrates every medium and artist in their own unique way. What started as a private art club in 1895 is now a wildly popular gallery of over 7,200 works created throughout several eras of art history.
The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art is a staple in any Cedar Rapids itinerary, showcasing award-winning exhibitions, pop-ups featuring the works of local artists, and of course, a brilliantly curated permanent collection.
Whether you’re a self-proclaimed art snob or you’ve never held a paintbrush for yourself, visiting this popular art museum is a must on your Iowa vacation.
Old MacDonald’s Farm
Want to get up close and personal with some of Cedar Rapid’s cutest citizens? Old MacDonald’s Farm is the perfect attraction for you! Located in the heart of Bever Park, this free petting zoo has been a common meeting place for locals and tourists alike for over 100 years.
Open daily through the warmer months, you can expect to pet, hug, and feed your favorite farm animals at Old MacDonald’s Farm. Not to mention, you can pose with your new furry friends for a few Instagram-worthy photo opportunities.
The farm is home to cows, chickens, goats, lambs, ducks, pigs, and rabbits. Oh my! With sweet residents like these, trust me, you’re never too old for the petting zoo.
African American Museum Of Iowa
To expand your knowledge of historical and contemporary issues facing the BIPOC community, plan a trip to the African American Museum Of Iowa. Open since 1993, this colorful history museum features a plethora of permanent exhibits and traveling exhibitions that depict the African roots of Iowa citizens.
During your visit to the African American Museum Of Iowa, you’ll learn about the history of the Civil Rights movement and explore collections of important cultural artifacts.
NewBo City Market
A great rainy-day activity, the NewBo City Market is one of the top attractions in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Located in the Oakhill Jackson District, this indoor market is home to dozens of pop-up shops, artisanal vendors, and small-scale counter-service restaurants.
Consider yourself a pro farmer’s market dweller? Do you prefer to support local artists when shopping for souvenirs? Or do you love taste-testing regional street food? If so, the NewBo City Market is your ideal destination for some retail therapy and a delicious lunch. With a little bit of everything to keep you entertained, you’ll want to stay here all day long!
Manhattan/Robbins Lake Park
If you want to cast a line during your Cedar Rapids holiday, the Manhattan/Robbins Lake Park is your ideal fishing destination. Spanning over 140 acres, this nature reserve is largely aquatic, drawing in sports fishermen from all over the region. Here, you can expect to catch species such as Bluegill, Channel Catfish, Common Carp, Green Sunfish, and a few varieties of Bass.
Even if you’re not an amateur fisherman, Manhattan/Robbins Lake Park is a great place to hang out. With peaceful waterfront picnic sites, you can bask in the sun with a book, good company, and lovely views.
Clock House Brewing
Looking for Cedar Rapids’ best brew? Celebrating its fifth anniversary this year, Clock House Brewing has mastered the art of good beer.
Grab a flight inside the ancient Clock House Building (it’s 107 years old!), and then bring a growler back to the hotel. In addition to lagers and lighter palette beers which are always on tap, they also specialize in experimental limited-time-only imperial stouts, sours, ciders, and more.
Nothing pairs better with a pint than good pub food. And Clock House Brewing has partnered up with one of the best restaurants in cedar rapids to offer you just that! Pineapple chili wings, beer brats, and dessert soft pretzels are all brought to you by the Black Sheep Social Club.
Why not add a concert at the Paramount Theater to your Cedar Rapids itinerary? This vintage-style venue, refurbished in 2008, hosts several big names each year, along with regular performances from the Iowa Orchestra. It’s a music lover’s dream!
As it’s one of the best places to visit in Cedar Rapids if you want to feel like society’s elite, a show at the Paramount Theatre practically begs you to dress up in your finest duds. With balcony seating, velvet draping curtains, and ornate vaulted ceilings, this opulent venue is restoring the prestige of the theater-going experience.
Veterans Memorial Stadium
If you are traveling with a sports lover or you’re an athlete yourself, you’ll want to check out Veterans Memorial Stadium during your trip to Cedar Rapids. The stadium is home to the local minor league baseball team, the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
Grabbing tickets to a game will offer you a whole evening of sports entertainment, ballyard snacks, and memories you’ll never forget! Veterans Memorial Stadium has several themed nights to add an extra dose of excitement to your evening, including fireworks day, giveaways, and $1 hotdog day.
Heading to the stadium with little ones? Be sure to check out the kid zone, featuring a fun bouncy castle for blowing off steam between innings.
Palisades-Kepler State Park
Rocky cliff faces, trickling ravines, and lush forests… Palisades-Kepler State Park truly has it all! With five miles of hiking trails and wildflower fields aplenty, this reserve is an Iowa bucket list destination for anyone who loves the outdoors.
Palisades-Kepler State Park is stunning year-round, so don’t let a nip in the air stop you from visiting. During autumn, you’ll witness the leaves ablaze with color, and you’ll find frosty mirrored lakes in the winter that are just begging to be photographed.
The Iowa state park is also one of the top-rated spots in Cedar Rapids to camp overnight, so hobby naturalists may want to consider pitching a tent and staying a while. Even if you’re more of a glamping kind of camper, or you’re visiting during the winter months, there are lovely cabins up for grabs where you can cozy up by the woodstove and listen to the howling of the wind.
Dash Coffee Roasters
When it comes to a cup of Joe in Cedar Rapids, Dash Coffee Roasters does it best! This exposed-brick cafe has been roasting its own beans and stripping it back to basics since opening in 2017. Since then, the menu has also evolved to include a few java specialties, including N’Awlins Ice Coffee and Espresso Tonic.
Though the coffee game at Dash Coffee Roasters is always on point, they also rock when it comes to satisfying grumbly tummies. On the menu, you’ll find a wide array of nibblies, including pancakes, pastries, oat bowls, and some avocado toast, all dressed up.
Daily specials in the past have included barbacoa breakfast tacos and pistachio waffles; it’s safe to say that brunch at this quaint establishment is always a good idea!
Black Sheep Social Club
Want to know where the elite dine in Cedar Rapids? The Black Sheep Social Club is top of the list. As its name suggests, this restaurant aims to march to the beat of its own drum, taking Midwestern soul food and turning it on its head. The vibe here is undeniably cool, with brick walls, mosaic-tiled floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, and an industrial flair.
Some of the Black Sheep Social Club’s most loved dishes include oddities like duck fat fries, PB &J pork belly, gnocchi bolognese, and smoked blueberry veggie burgers.
The menu also offers some standard choices for little ones as well as an extensive selection of vegetarian options. This unique dining experience is one that everyone can enjoy. Hungry yet?