Nestled along the Cedar River, Cedar Rapids is the second-largest city in Iowa, boasting a population of over 130,000 residents. Most people know this city as the “City of Five Seasons”.
With a rich history that dates back to the 1800s, Cedar Rapids has a strong Czech heritage, reflected in festivals, architecture, and cuisine.
As a tourist, you will be captivated by the diverse range of attractions like the art at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, which houses an impressive collection of American artwork, including the largest collection of works by native Iowan artist Grant Wood.
Another amazing and unique attraction in Cedar Rapids is the unique Brucemore Historic Site, a stunning 19th-century mansion with breathtaking gardens and intriguing history.
Food lovers will relish the culinary scene in Cedar Rapids, which offers a mix of traditional favorites and international delights. Savor local delicacies like Czech kolaches or treat your taste buds to farm-to-table creations at the many charming restaurants in the city.
If you read this article it means you are ready to pack your bags and get ready to experience the charm of Cedar Rapids – the City of Five Seasons awaits your arrival!
Things to Do in Cedar Rapids
1. Visit the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art
The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art (CRMA) is a cultural gem, showcasing an extensive collection of American art, with a particular emphasis on works by the renowned regional artist Grant Wood.
The museum’s collection features over 7,200 pieces of art, including paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, and textiles. Visitors can admire iconic works such as “American Gothic,” one of Grant Wood’s most famous paintings.
The CRMA’s dedication to promoting and preserving the legacy of regional artists makes it a must-visit destination for art enthusiasts and history buffs alike.
The museum is open to the public on most days, and it often hosts temporary exhibitions and educational programs for visitors of all ages.
2. Explore the Czech Village
Czech Village, located in the heart of Cedar Rapids, celebrates the city’s rich Czech heritage and cultural influences.
Explore the charming streets adorned with colorful buildings, boutiques, and delightful Czech eateries.
The village is home to the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, which offers a fascinating journey through the history, traditions, and contributions of Czech and Slovak immigrants to the region.
Czech Village hosts lively events and festivals, such as the annual Houby Days (Mushroom Festival), offering an opportunity to experience the warm hospitality and vibrant traditions of the Czech community.
3. Enjoy a performance at the Paramount Theatre
The Paramount Theatre, a historic landmark in downtown Cedar Rapids, is a splendid venue for live performances and events. With its stunning architecture and grand ambiance, the theater hosts a variety of shows, including Broadway musicals, concerts, dance performances, and comedy acts.
The Paramount Theatre is a beloved cultural hub that brings world-class entertainment to the city, allowing visitors to indulge in a night of elegance and artistry.
Check the theater’s schedule for upcoming events and ticket information.
4. Discover the African American Museum of Iowa
The African American Museum of Iowa provides a powerful narrative of African-American history, culture, and contributions to the state of Iowa. The museum’s exhibits offer insights into the struggles, achievements, and resilience of African Americans throughout history.
Interactive displays and artifacts allow visitors to engage with the stories and experiences of African Americans in Iowa and beyond.
The African American Museum of Iowa serves as an educational resource and community center, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of African-American heritage and culture.
5. Wander through the Indian Creek Nature Center
Nature enthusiasts will find solace in the serene beauty of the Indian Creek Nature Center, a 290-acre natural oasis in Cedar Rapids. The center offers an array of trails, including accessible boardwalks and winding paths, leading visitors through diverse habitats, including woodlands, prairies, and wetlands.
Along the trails, visitors can spot native wildlife, observe migratory birds, and learn about the region’s ecological importance. The Indian Creek Nature Center also hosts educational programs, workshops, and family-friendly events, making it a welcoming place for all ages to connect with nature.
6. Attend a concert or event at the McGrath Amphitheatre
The McGrath Amphitheatre, situated along the Cedar River, is an open-air venue that hosts a variety of concerts, live performances, and community events throughout the year. With its scenic backdrop of the river and the city skyline, the amphitheater offers a picturesque setting for entertainment and gatherings.
Visitors can check the amphitheater’s schedule for upcoming concerts and events, as well as ticketing information for an enjoyable night of live music and cultural experiences.
7. Have a coffee at Brewhemia
Are you a coffee lover? Head to Brewhemia for a coffee, brunch, or morning breakfast to taste delicious specialty coffee. This coffee place is the best in town so look no further.
This American coffee place has a European twist due to its food menu which is full most of the time, especially during the morning.
8. Take a stroll through the beautiful Brucemore Historic Site and Gardens
Brucemore is a National Historic Landmark that is an elegant mansion surrounded by amazing gardens.
This place is located in the heart of Cedar Rapids and offers guided tours through the stately home, providing a glimpse into the lives of the influential Sinclair family who once resided there.
Brucemore also hosts cultural events, concerts, and seasonal festivals, making it a dynamic and cherished cultural center in the city.
9. Visit the Ushers Ferry Historic Village
Ever wondered how it was around the 1890s? You can have a glimpse while visiting the Ushers Ferry Historic Village which offers a living history experience.
The village features authentically restored buildings and costumed interpreters who portray the lives of early settlers and residents of Cedar Rapids.
You can even engage with historical demonstrations, participate in interactive activities, and gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and triumphs of life in the late 19th century. Ushers Ferry Historic Village provides an educational and enjoyable outing for families and history enthusiasts.
10. Play golf at Twin Pines Golf Course
Twin Pines Golf Course offers golfers of all skill levels a scenic and challenging experience on its 18-hole course. The well-maintained fairways and greens are set amidst rolling hills and natural beauty.
The course provides an enjoyable and affordable opportunity to tee off with friends or family. Twin Pines Golf Course also offers practice facilities and a welcoming clubhouse, making it a popular destination for golfers seeking a leisurely round in a picturesque setting.
11. Experience the NewBo City Market for local food, crafts, and events
NewBo City Market, located in the New Bohemia District, is a vibrant marketplace that celebrates local vendors, artisans, and food producers. The market features a diverse array of offerings, including fresh produce, handmade crafts, artisanal foods, and unique gifts.
Here you can choose from a variety of dining options, from gourmet sandwiches to international cuisine, all showcasing the region’s culinary talents.
NewBo City Market hosts community events, concerts, and festivals, making it a lively gathering place that embodies the spirit of Cedar Rapids’ creative and diverse community.
12. Enjoy outdoor activities at Ellis Park and Jones Park
Ellis Park and Jones Park are two of Cedar Rapids’ beloved green spaces, offering ample opportunities for outdoor recreation and relaxation. Ellis Park features playgrounds, picnic areas, and sports fields, providing a perfect setting for family outings and friendly gatherings.
Jones Park, known for its serene walking trails, offers picturesque views of the Cedar River and natural landscapes. Both parks are cherished by locals and visitors alike for their peaceful ambiance and accessible outdoor amenities.
13. Take a riverboat tour with Cedar Rapids River Tours
Cedar Rapids River Tours offers a unique perspective of the city from the waters of the Cedar River.
Go on a riverboat cruise to enjoy scenic views of the city’s skyline and historic landmarks.
Whether during the day or under the evening lights, the riverboat tour offers a delightful and relaxing way to discover the city from a different vantage point.
14. Attend a Cedar Rapids Kernels baseball game at Veterans Memorial Stadium
Baseball enthusiasts can catch a game of the Cedar Rapids Kernels, a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Minnesota Twins. Veterans Memorial Stadium, the team’s home field, offers an intimate and family-friendly setting to enjoy America’s favorite pastime.
Attending a Kernels game provides an authentic baseball experience with a vibrant atmosphere and plenty of excitement on the diamond.
Check the team’s schedule for game dates and ticket information.
15. Discover the historic Grant Wood Studio
The Grant Wood Studio is the former residence and workspace of the iconic American artist Grant Wood. Known for his masterpiece “American Gothic,” Wood was a leading figure of the Regionalist art movement.
Make sure you check this studio to gain insights into Wood’s artistic process, view his original art supplies and personal belongings, and admire some of his lesser-known works.
The studio serves as a testament to Wood’s lasting impact on the art world and the city’s artistic heritage.
16. Enjoy the exhibits at the African American Historical Museum
Situated in the historic African American neighborhood of Oakhill Jackson, this museum honors the contributions and experiences of African Americans in Cedar Rapids.
The museum features exhibits and displays that highlight the achievements, struggles, and cultural heritage of the local African American community.
The museum provides the opportunity to learn about influential figures, civil rights activists, and notable events that have shaped Cedar Rapids’ diverse history.
Update: this museum is temporarily closed.
17. Take a hike along the Sac and Fox Trail
Put your shoes on and go on a hike at The Sac and Fox Trail, a picturesque recreational trail, that winds along the Cedar River, offering a peaceful and scenic route for walking, jogging, or even cycling if you want.
The trail provides a connection to nature within the urban landscape, with opportunities to spot native wildlife and observe the tranquil flow of the river.
The Sac and Fox Trail is a popular choice for fitness enthusiasts and nature lovers seeking a serene escape from the bustling city.
18. Learn about the history of Czech and Slovak immigrants at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library
The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library offers an immersive exploration of the heritage, traditions, and contributions of Czech and Slovak immigrants to the Cedar Rapids region and the United States.
The museum’s exhibits showcase artifacts, folk art, and historical documents that reflect the lives and experiences of these vibrant communities.
The library serves as a valuable resource for genealogical research and historical studies related to Czech and Slovak history.
19. Have family fun at the Science Station
The Science Station, a hands-on science center located in Cedar Rapids’ Lindale Mall, caters to curious minds of all ages.
The center features interactive exhibits, educational programs, and demonstrations that engage visitors in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts.
Families can enjoy interactive displays and experiments that spark creativity and curiosity. The Science Station offers a dynamic and entertaining learning experience for families and young learners.
20. Visit the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena for ice skating and events
This activity is great if you are having kids. The Cedar Rapids Ice Arena is a popular destination for ice skating both for kids and sports lovers. The arena hosts ice skating sessions for the public, offering a fun and active way to enjoy winter activities year-round.
In addition to public skating, the arena hosts various ice hockey games, figure skating competitions, and special events. It’s an ideal venue for families, sports enthusiasts, and anyone seeking a cool and entertaining experience on the ice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Cedar Rapids Iowa worth visiting?
Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is worth visiting for its vibrant arts scene, historic landmarks, and outdoor recreational opportunities along the Cedar River.
What is Cedar Rapids famous for?
Cedar Rapids is famous for its strong cultural heritage and is often referred to as the “City of Five Seasons” due to its commitment to quality of life.
What are the top tourist attractions in Cedar Rapids?
Some top tourist attractions in Cedar Rapids include the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Brucemore Historic Site, Indian Creek Nature Center, and NewBo City Market.
Are there any museums or cultural sites worth visiting in Cedar Rapids?
Cedar Rapids offers several museums and cultural sites worth visiting, such as the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, African American Museum of Iowa, and the historic Paramount Theatre.
What is the best time to visit Cedar Rapids in terms of weather and events?
The best time to visit Cedar Rapids in terms of weather and events is typically during the summer months, from June to August. The weather is warm, and there are various outdoor festivals and events.
Is Cedar Rapids a family-friendly destination, and what are the family-oriented activities?
Cedar Rapids is a family-friendly destination with activities like the Science Center of Cedar Rapids, Ushers Ferry Historic Village, and outdoor parks like Ellis Park and Bever Park that cater to families.
Are there any unique shopping or entertainment districts in Cedar Rapids?
Cedar Rapids has a unique shopping and entertainment district known as the NewBo District, which features shops, restaurants, and cultural events. Downtown Cedar Rapids also offers a range of entertainment options.
Does Cedar Rapids have a zoo?
Yes, Cedar Rapids has a zoo called the “Indian Creek Nature Center,” which focuses on environmental education and wildlife conservation. It’s not a traditional zoo with a wide variety of animals but rather a nature center.
Is Cedar Rapids a good city to live in?
Cedar Rapids is considered a good city to live in for its strong sense of community, good schools, and diverse cultural offerings. However, the desirability of living there may vary depending on individual preferences and priorities.