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Things To Do In Iowa City

Iowa City is a college town with an artsy vibe. One of the few UNESCO City of Literature awardees, this city’s love for literature informs much of its culture. It’s also home to the prestigious Iowa Writers Workshop, which has produced authors such as Flannery O’Connor and David Milch. Visitors can expect to enjoy a variety of cultural museums and downtown attractions as well as hip eateries and a thriving art scene. Active visitors will enjoy its many gorges, lakes, and trails nearby. Keep scrolling to discover Iowa City in a whole new way.

Iowa City is truly adventure-affirmative. With outdoor exploration and great food around every corner, this city is a memorable place to enjoy a vacation.

The best attractions near Iowa City include:

  • Cruise across Coralville Lake in a rented boat at Coralville Lake Marina
  • Find your sense of wonder at the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History, which has operated since 1858
  • See an authentic Jackson Pollock mural at the University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art
  • Hunt for fossils or climb the 375 million year old rocks at The Devonian Fossil Gorge
  • Visit the Iowa Old Capitol Building, which now serves as a prominent landmark at the center of the University of Iowa Campus

Make some magic without breaking the bank by exploring a forest or taking an historic tour through Iowa City.

Cheap activities near Iowa City include:

  • Explore 90 acres of forest, abandoned fields, reconstructed prairie, and wetlands at Hickory Hill Park
  • Celebrate born-or-bred Iowa authors like Kurt Vonnegut and Amy Clampitt on the Iowa Avenue Literary Walk
  • Shop for fresh produce and local art at Iowa City Farmer’s Market
  • See how the Iowa City Mural Project is evolving with a walk through downtown Iowa City
  • Enjoy the lakeside breeze along the Woodpecker Trail at Coralville Reservoir

This vacation, finally snap that Instagram-worthy photo you’ve always dreamed of at one of Iowa City’s fantastic activities for tourists. Explore a cultural festival or visit a historic site.

Popular attractions near Iowa City include:

  • Attend a lively cultural festival at Amana Colonies, a quaint string of German colonies and Amish communities
  • Support artisan business at the NewBo City Market
  • Learn about the history of farming in America at Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area
  • Visit the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum for an intimate look into the life of the 31st president of the United States
  • See well-aged cars at the Antique Car Museum of Iowa

There’s always something new and exciting happening in Iowa City. Hike, bike, or canoe at a nearby State Park.

Exciting activities happening in Iowa City today include:

  • Take a guided tour through the home of Governor Robert Lucas at Plum Grove Historic House
  • Bike the well-maintaining loop trails at Waterworks Prairie Park
  • Sip a chai tea latte while you read a book from Iowa City Books & Cafe
  • Devour the famous barbeque for lunch at Jimmy Jack’s Rib Shack
  • View the work of local artists at Iowa Artisans Gallery

Tonight, find a riveting live performance and then strap on your dancing shoes at a local club. Whether you’re hoping to party the night away or relax at a theater performance, Iowa City has you covered.

Nighttime activities near Iowa City include:

  • See a live music performance at Hancher Auditorium
  • Pair Korean chicken wings with freshly brewed beer at Big Grove Brewery
  • Groove to a live DJ at EDEN Lounge & Nightclub
  • Enjoy beer and billiards at The Club Car, one of the city’s friendliest bars
  • Snag front row seats to a City Circle Acting Company Performance

Iowa City was made for the weekend warriors. Find a new keepsake at a thrift shop or become a boxing champion in an afternoon.

Weekend activities near Iowa City include:

  • Explore the mushroom forest along the Squire Point Trail
  • Spend a peaceful day enjoying the natural beauty at Harvest Preserve
  • Watch a riveting live performance inside a renovated Vaudeville-era playhouse at Englert Theatre
  • Rummage through aisles of unique trinkets at Silver Spider gift store
  • Build some muscle at a boxing class with Title Boxing Club

Show your family a whole new world of fun and excitement at the Children’s Museum, then grab pizza at a loca joint. Enjoy these attractions for all ages in Iowa City.

Family-Friendly things to do near Iowa City include:

  • Order a family-sized pizza at Monica’s, an upscale Italian restaurant with options for all ages and tastes
  • Explore the world around you through play at the Iowa Children’s Museum
  • Climb around a three-story playground at The Play Station in Cedar Rapids
  • Test your dodgeball skills in an indoor trampoline park at Sky Zone Trampoline Park
  • Run out all your energy at an open gym session at Synergy Gymnastics

Cuddle together at a park or toast to one another at a local winery. Romance is just around the corner with these Iowa City date night activities.

Date night ideas near Iowa City include:

  • Split a few cupcakes at Deluxe Iowa Cakes & Pastries
  • Watch your favorite team play your favorite sport on the screens at Joe’s Place
  • Tour the winery and tastes the fruits of the vineyard at Cedar Ridge Winery
  • Day trip together to nearby Kolana, IA and shop for antiques
  • Watch the sunset near the ponds at F.W. Kent County Park

Travelling with a crowd means planning to visit group-oriented attractions. Iowa City makes that planning easy. Bring the whole gang to a restaurant or paint pottery together.

Things to do with your friends near Iowa City include:

  • Enjoy the down-to-earth menu and comfy interiors at Bluebird Diner
  • Groove to live jazz at a Friday Night Concert Series
  • Book a group campsite and roast some marshmallows on Lake MacBride
  • Cool off in the water at the Wetherby Park Splash Pad
  • Paint your own pottery at Renee’s ceramic Cafe

Iowa City offers many ways to make memories indoors. Fill up on popcorn at a local movie showing before enjoying a relaxing spa treatment.

Indoor attractions in Iowa City include:

  • See a classic film at the compact FilmScene Cinema downtown
  • Enjoy the teppanyaki and other Japanese cuisine at Three Samurai Japanese Restaurant
  • Book a soothing manicure and hand massage at Zen Salon & Spa
  • Sweat away your worries at a one of the yoga classes at Hothouse Yoga
  • Ice skate year round at Coral Ridge Ice Arena

Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty of things to do in Iowa City. Camp on the beach during the summer or pick apples with your friends throughout the fall.

Outdoor activities in Iowa City include:

  • Rent a paddleboard and grab a snack at the concession stand at Terry Trueblood Recreation Area  
  • Camp on the bank of Coralville Lake at Devonian Fossil Gorge
  • Pick more than 1210 varieties of apples and pumpkins seasonally at Wilson’s Orchard
  • Fish for walleye and bass from the docks at Coralville Reservoir
  • Tee on on the green at Pleasant Valley Golf Course

Iowa may be landlocked, but in nearby Cedar Rapids you can visit the local island attractions. Here are all of the hidden gems near Iowa City.

Must-see places near Iowa City include:

  • Test fate when you view the Black Angel of Oakland Cemetery, which is rumored to be connected to the supernatural
  • Visit the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History on Obscura day, when they show off their strangest objects and collections
  • Find the plaque that marks the future birthplace of James T. Kirk, better known as Captain Kirk from Star Trek
  • Drive by a country barn that is painted to look like the famous American Gothic painting
  • Listen to live music on the bank of the Cedar River at the McGrath Amphitheatre