The 10 Best Historic Theaters in Iowa!

Across the state of Iowa, historic theaters stand tall among cities and are tucked away in quaint towns—providing much more of an experience than just catching a live show. From opera houses to vaudeville theaters, catch a memorable live performance at one of these 10 incredible historic theaters in Iowa. 

1. Englert Theatre, Iowa City, IA

First opened in 1912, the Englert Theatre of Iowa City has spent the last century as one of the finest theaters in Iowa. Featuring local, regional, national, and international performances, including movies and a wide range of entertainment, the Englert caters towards University of Iowa students and Iowa City community members alike. Stepping inside the Englert, it’s easy to feel the abundance of history that has shared the stage and seats of this historic theater.  

The stage is set for Don McLean. Photo: @_for_petes_sake_

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2. Paramount Theatre, Cedar Rapids, IA

Owned and operated by the city of Cedar Rapids, the Paramount Theatre hosts over a thousand seats in a decadent and restored historic theatre. All types of acts take the stage at the Paramount, including music performances, stand-up comedy and variety of variety shows. The historic theatre’s primary tenant, Orchestra Iowa, puts on professional shows throughout the year.

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3. Hoyt Sherman Place, Des Moines, IA

Originally a family-home built in 1887 for the prominent Des Moines community member Hoyt Sherman and his family, Hoyt Sherman Place stands today as one of the most popular entertainment venues in Des Moines. Nestled on a hill in the Hoyt Sherman neighborhood, this refurbished and restored theater features local, regional and world-touring performances on their luxurious hardwood stage. 

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4. Adler Theatre, Davenport, IA

Originally known as the RKO Orpheum Theater when it opened in 1931, the now-named Adler Theatre stands as one of the most beautiful historic theatres in the state. After some major renovations and restorations in the 1960s, the Adler Theatre reopened to the public in the same Art Deco-style it was originally created with. Today, patrons can enjoy the radiating aesthetics while watching regional, national and world-class performances and shows.  

5. Grand Opera House, Dubuque, IA

First opened in 1890, the Grand Opera House has been long serving the Dubuque community and beyond, hosting local, regional and national live performances and shows. Today, the Grand Opera House has seen some renovations over the past century to keep up with the times, but anyone who visits to see a show or perform on stage, can still feel the history that seeps from the aesthetics and decor of the Grand Opera House of Dubuque. 

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6. Avery Movie Theater, Garner, IA

First opening on Main Street of Garner in 1931 as a single-screen movie theater, the Avery Theater made its way back into the 21st century with a reopening in 2013. Much of what made Avery Movie Theater a popular place in 1931 remains today, including cozy confines and new movies every Friday. Avery Movie Theater still has a show every day (except Monday) at 7 p.m., and admission for adults is only $4 (not including popcorn). 

7. The Iowa Theater, Winterset, IA

Built approximately before the turn of the 20th century, the Iowa Theater of Winterset has remained opened nearly continually for the past 100-plus years, effectively chronicling the history of cinema and live entertainment. From silent movies to the talkies, and featuring vaudeville and variety acts, still to this day, you can find a wide range of entertainment at the Iowa Theater, and a theater ambiance that has stood the test of time.

8. Castle Theatre, Manchester, IA

Serving as the only movie theatre in Delaware County, the Castle Theatre is over 80 years-old, and much of what has kept the doors open to this historic movie theatre all these years, can still be found with the price of admission today. For just $4, adults can catch some of the latest movies and cinema technology in this antiquated theatre ($3 for children), and alongside the show, every who visits always enjoys the historic decor. 

9. Capitol Theater, Burlington, IA

What started as a grocery store location in the 1930s was then transformed into the Capitol Movie Theater in 1937. After 40 years of entertaining the public, the Capitol Theater shuttered its doors in 1977, remaining vacant for over 30 years until a grand re-opening and restoration in 2012. Today, the Capitol Theater is still a great place to catch a movie, and to check out the variety of performance arts that come across the stage.

10. Cresco Theatre & Opera House, Cresco IA

From silent movies to 3D pictures with surround sound, the Cresco Theatre and Opera House has lived the timeline of motion picture entertainment for the last 100 years. Throughout all that history and shows, the Cresco Theatre and Opera House has solidified itself in the community as a first-class entertainment experience. Between the historic renovations and comfortable atmosphere provided by the historic theatre, there is no bad seat in the house at the Cresco Theatre and Opera House.

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