Take in Cedar Rapids History and Support Local in The District
I do not think many realize that Cedar Rapids, Iowa is full of so much amazing history. Near the Cedar River, you will find two amazing neighborhoods filled with local shopping, restaurants, museums, entertainment, and so much more. The Czech Village and New Bohemia neighborhoods are what make up The District in the heart of Cedar Rapids. If you live or are visiting Cedar Rapids this is a must-stop for couples, families, or even a fun solo trip for exploring.
New Bohemia Main Street District
The New Bohemia District (or New Bo District) neighborhood is located on the East side of the Cedar River. The kids and I had so much fun spending an afternoon eating and shopping our way through this side of The District.
NewBo City Market
As we walked into the NewBo City Market I quickly fell in love with this building and concept. This market is filled with local, small businesses selling their goods and food. It is a great way to shop and learn about new businesses and support many new startups all in one spot. I loved the unique food options, the large hall to sit and chat with others within the community, and of course the shopping!
Right outside of the NewBo City Market is a large green space with tables, chairs, and an amphitheater. A great place to sit and chat with friends while the kids run around on a beautiful Iowa day!
There are some great local businesses to shop outside of the NewBo City Market as well. We made a stop at Next Page Books where the kids fell in love with all the amazing children’s book options. There is always something about a local, independent bookstore, and whenever we come across one in a new city we love to stop!
Although we have one in Des Moines, we made a stop at Raygun. I am a huge fan of Raygun because you know, “it’s the greatest store in the universe”, and loved how the Cedar Rapids location really embraced all the fun of Cedar Rapids. The kids and I both received super fun t-shirts designed by Raygun from Cedar Rapids Tourism. We had a lot of fun wearing them on St. Patrick’s Day!
If you are a vinyl record fan then Analog Vault CR is a must-stop. This local shop buys and sells vinyl records, turntables, and vintage hi-fi equipment. A pretty fun shop to browse through.
Eat & Drink
There is no shortage of places to eat and drink in the NewBo area. We had the opportunity to check out many.
Kismet Coffee & Bloom
This local coffee and flower shop was a favorite. Who could turn down a delicious latte and beautiful, fresh-cut flowers? We walked away with a beautiful bouquet for our home and the people were so warm and welcoming. Kismet Coffee & Bloom is a bucket-list must-stop for any trip to Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Chromehorse Saloon is a unique spot where we stopped for lunch. They are known for their live music and offer great food and a great selection of drinks. The building is kind of fun too! It looks like it might have been an old bank at some point.
Almost Famous Popcorn
No trip is complete without a visit to Almost Famous Popcorn for ice cream (or popcorn). After lunch, we made our way back to the car and made sure to grab a quick dessert of delicious ice cream.
We did not get a chance to stop at the Little Bohemia, but we have heard a lot of great things about this historic bar. They offer some great food and drinks.
Brewhemia is located directly across the street from Chromehouse Saloon. They are a local, family-owned cafe that offers great coffee and breakfast items in the morning and a full bar and lunch items in the afternoon. A fun atmosphere and great food!
African American Museum of Iowa
As you leave the NewBo District to head to the Czech Village you will drive by the African American Museum of Iowa just before the bridge over the Cedar River. This museum is the only statewide museum devoted to preserving and educating others about African American history and culture. The kids and I had a wonderful experience walking through the museum. We learned so much and it opened up many conversations after we left.
After you have spent your time walking and taking in everything the NewBo neighborhood has to offer, you will have just as much fun exploring the Czech Village in Cedar Rapids.
National Czech and Slovak Museum & Library
Our first stop in Czech Village was the National Czech and Slovak Museum & Library. The city of Cedar Rapids is home to many Bohemian, Moravian, and Slovak immigrants and their descendants. We spent a great time exploring and learning. I was very impressed with all of the hands-on, fun exhibits the museum had to offer. It was a great way to educate ourselves on Czech and Slovak heritage.
We walked through the permanent exhibit Faces of Freedom which provided us with a very small glimpse of World War II when families were sitting in their homes or on a ship. The kids enjoyed the puppets, looking at all the beautiful clothing, and listening to music. When you check-in at the front there is also a scavenger hunt that kept the kids intrigued as we walked through and discussed things.
Do not leave the National Czech and Slovak Museum without visiting the library. The kids were not too interested in going in, but I made them and they ended up really enjoying it. They recognized several books and characters but in a different language. It was definitely a different experience for them.
There are a lot of shopping options in the Czech District as well including the museum store. They had a ton of beautiful ornaments and egg decorating kits you could purchase to take home with you.
After you leave the museum and head towards the historic area you will find many more shops including Soko Outfitters. Soko Outfitters offers great outdoor gear and was fun to walk through. The Czech Cottage offers genuine Czech jewelry, window prisms, and other glassware gifts.
Eat & Drink
If you are interested in trying some Bohemian rye bread and other handmade bread and rolls, make a stop at Sykora Bakery.