The richly-detailed pioneer life of Iowa native Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books comes to life on 20 Christmas trees in this seasonal exhibit at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. Historically adorned conifers such as the Fiddle and Harmonica Tree will transport minds to simpler days when Wilder's father, Pa, would bow up a tune, or to the memories of last weekend's trip to prairie band fantasy camp. The natural charms evoked by the exhibit's Wildflower Tree or enchanting Doll Tree, adorned with dolls Laura herself may have cherished, loom adjacent to a display of authentic artifacts from the Wilders' original Mansfield, Iowa home. A Little House Christmas offers whimsical holiday cheer to both adults and children (under 16 admitted free) with the added convenience of free parking for both motor vehicles and horse-drawn SUVs.
The Niabi Zoo houses 900 animals from 160 species hailing from a quintet of continents on its 40-acre grounds. Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, this Midwestern menagerie abides by rigorous standards for bird and beast welfare. Traverse the educational trails, sighting zebras, ostriches, and giraffes trying on oversized bowties in the African exhibit or large cats such as the jaguar, leopard, and bengal tiger. The Niabi Zoo also protects 200 acres of area land for native wildlife preservation and bocce-ball tournaments.
Before it was the Adler, Davenport's flagship theater was known as the Radio-Keith-Orpheum. Built in 1931 to include the Mississippi Hotel, the movie house was a picture of extravagance: gold leaf on the ceiling, crystal light fixtures, black ebony and marble detailing. Although the rise of multiplex theaters made it impractical for the venue to continue lighting its silver screen and hosting shadow-puppet contests, it transformed into a hotspot for rock concerts and road shows. Today, renovated to its original glory, the art-deco space is once again a go-to spot for Broadway shows, standup, and live music.
The sun and the stars serve as constant companions at Hillcrest Event Center, where a 9-hole golf course, a swimming pool, and camping grounds entertain visitors day and night. A breezy par 30, the executive course caters to all experience levels, inviting beginners to take on its short holes while letting seasoned golfers hone their approach shots. After navigating the water hazards, guests can purposely head to the Olympic-sized swimming pool, which ripples at the center of a 3,000-square-foot sundeck where waiters serve poolside food and drinks. Or, dine at The BBQ Pit, home of the Illinois BBQ Fest.
As the sun sets, the crackling glow of fires peppers the campgrounds, illuminating the nylon sides of tents or canvas hulls of mobile RVs. Tent sites include access to the resort's hot showers and restrooms, while the RV facilities' hookups pump water and electricity into mobile homes so residents can bathe in private and use electric carving knives for whittling. When the sun rises, residents can begin their day with a hike on the resort's nature trails.
Patchy forest to the north and 265th Street to the south border Cedar Valley Golf Course, separating the grassy haven from miles of Iowa farmland on the other side. Within the oasis lie ponds that enter play on all but five of the holes, including hole 13, where the green juts out into a large water hazard that regularly swallows up overly-forceful approaches. Players will find themselves facing other risk-reward scenarios throughout their bout with the course, such as on hole 5, where they must either lay up or go for the green, and on hole 16, where they must decide between hitting a 210-yard shot that carries the water or just picking the ball up and carrying it to the hole.
Course at a Glance: