10 Best Things to Do in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Cedar Rapids—the second largest city in Iowa characterized by wonderful art, culture, and history. From its fascinating art museums to its buzzing marketplaces, Cedar Rapids is a vibrant city with activities and events to satisfy guests and locals alike. We’ve curated a rundown of the best things to enjoy in the City of Five Seasons. Here are a few of our favorites.

Explore Brucemore

Brucemore is a 26-acre estate anchored by a brick mansion with more than 20 rooms. The estate echoes the agricultural history of the area: It was originally built by the family of a meatpacking tycoon and eventually came into the hands of one of the families who were instrumental in the success of Quaker Oats. Today, the estate is owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and managed by a local board of trustees for the enjoyment of all who visit.

Head to Palisades Kepler State Park

Just east of Cedar Rapids, on the banks of the Cedar River, you’ll find Palisades-Kepler State Park. The park is 840 acres of ravines lined with hardwoods, carpets of wildflowers and, of course, the river bluffs for which the park was named. It’s a great place to take a quick break from the bustle of Cedar Rapids.

Go back in time at the Amana Colonies

Located a few minutes south of Cedar Rapids, the seven villages of the Amana Colonies will transport you back in time. The Colonies were founded in the mid-19th century by a group of German Pietists who lived there communally, with a self-sufficient local economy, until the 1930s. Today, it is a popular destination for shopping, dining and exploring a way of life that is unlike anywhere else.

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Shop the NewBo City Market

Located in the New Bohemia District and not far from downtown Cedar Rapids, NewBo City Market was founded as an event center, a gathering place and a business incubator. Here, you’ll find some of Eastern Iowa’s most forward-thinking food vendors, retailers and entertainers.

Revisit the state’s roots at the African American Museum of Iowa

Founded in 1993, the African American Museum of Iowa is a repository for the history of black culture in the state. Along with its tens of thousands of annual visitors, the museum also offers outreach, traveling exhibits and education programs so that the importance of Iowa’s African American heritage can be preserved, taught and celebrated.

Cheer on the Kernels

If you’re a baseball fan, head over to Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium and take in a Cedar Rapids Kernels game. The Kernels are a Class A minor league affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. They play other Class A teams throughout the region in the Midwest League. It’s a great way to catch an up-and-comer or some well known greats in an intimate, small-park setting.

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Paddle Indian Creek

Indian Creek is a wide, infinitely paddle-able waterway in the greater Cedar Rapids area. You can put in at Thomas Park in Marion and enjoy a five-hour paddle to Indian Creek Nature Center on the Cedar River. A couple of caveats: There is a small dam that you’ll have to portage—quick and easy, though—at the Cedar Rapids Country Club; and the flow tends to be low in fall, so go in spring or summer. And be sure to take some time to explore the Nature Center itself!

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Hit the singletrack at Sugar Bottom

Grab your knobby tires and head just south of town to the Coralville Reservoir on the Iowa River, where you’ll find the Sugar Bottom Mountain Biking Trail System—the granddaddy of singletrack in the Hawkeye State. The 13 miles of trail are managed by the Army Corps of Engineers and were designed to create a challenging course while minimizing environmental impact.

Embrace Czech and Slovak culture

If you weren’t aware of the strong influence of Czech and Slovak culture on the community before you got Cedar Rapids, it won’t take you long to find out about it. But don’t stop there: Take a deep dive into the culture at the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library.

Visit the past at Ushers Ferry Historic Village

Operated by the city’s Park and Recreation Department, Ushers Ferry Historic Village recreates life the way it was lived at the end of the 19th century. Twenty historic buildings are located on ten acres in Seminole Valley. Tours, re-enactments and demonstrations are offered at the park.

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