Dubuque, Iowa Adventure | Where Iowa Started

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Dubuque, Iowa Adventure | Where Iowa Started

In March our family took an adventure to Northeast Iowa to visit and explore Dubuque, Iowa. Little did I know it would be our last extravaganza before COVID-19 shutdown the state completely. We had so much fun playing in the city where Iowa started. Dubuque sits right on the Mississippi River and offers so much to see and do. I did not realize how kid-friendly this Iowa gem was until we spent a few days there.


Grand Harbor Resort

350 Bell Street, Dubuque, Iowa

We stayed at Grand Harbor Resort which reminded me of a smaller and more simple Great Wolf Lodge. Indoor waterpark, activities, arcade, restaurant, and comfortable beds! I loved how simple it was. While I love the larger indoor waterpark lodging options, it was nice to be able to relax and go with the flow a bit more.

At Grand Harbor Resort they offer a kids activity room where they provide a schedule of arts and crafts, games, even movie nights. It was a fun option to keep kids busy when you are not swimming or exploring Dubuque.

The waterpark was perfect for our kids. The water was not over 3 ft deep which allowed me to relax a bit more. Of course, I was watching them swim but was not as stressed about whether they could touch or not. They offered four water slides. Two of the slides you used tubes for and the other two slides were body slides. The kids loved them all! There was a snack bar within the park to grab hot dogs, chips, drinks (they served beer), and more. The two nights we were there they also had a DJ playing fun kids music and a science experiment show which was tons of fun!


Dubuque, Iowa has some fun options to see and do. The other best part is that you are close to other fun attractions just outside of Dubuque. We did not get a chance to visit everything, so we definitely will be planning another visit back.

Mississippi River Museum

350 E 3rd Street, Dubuque, Iowa

I was so impressed by the Mississippi River Museum! This place was huge and offered so much education and hands-on activities for the kids. The kids could have easily spent the entire day playing and exploring. I recommend packing a lunch and stay the entire day!

The Mississippi River Museum is broken into two parts. We started our exploring on the East side of the museum which had the aquarium full of beautiful fish, stingrays that the kids could pet, and the 4D movie theater.

In between the two parts was a gorgeous plaza with picnic tables and you could see the river. Unfortunately, it was a pretty chilly day and it actually began snowing while we were there! I would love to go back and explore more of this area. We did walk this plaza connection to the West side of the museum.

The West side of the museum included a kid’s play area on top, sea otters (which were my favorite), other animals, hands-on rooms, and more. There is also a wetland off this portion. We did not get a chance to check it out due to the weather.

Fenelon Place Elevator

512 Fenelon Place, Dubuque, Iowa

The Fenelon Place Elevator is definitely a unique place to visit in Dubuque and offers amazing views. It is the world’s shortest and steepest railway. It goes up approximately 189 feet! When you get to the top you can see three states, the Mississippi River and the Dubuque Business District. This is definitely something to cross off your Iowa Bucket List.

Dickeyville Grotto

305 W. Main Street, Dickeyville, Wisconsin

The Dickeyville Grotto was a beautiful shrine to walk through. The kids were in awe by the many stones and intricate work that was used to put this grotto together. It is located a little outside of Dubuque, but definitely worth the drive to visit and walkthrough.

Field of Dreams

28995 Lansing Road, Dyersville, Iowa

A must stop and another Iowa Bucket List item! The Field of Dreams is where they filmed the iconic movie, Field of Dreams. They offer tours, gift shop, events, and more. This is definitely a place you want to grab that Instagram worthy picture so the next time you are watching the movie you can say “I’ve been there!”.


We love to eat out and enjoy local food and drinks. Dubuque (and surrounding area) offers some fun and unique options for dining. Here are a few we experiences while visiting.

Convivium Urban Farmstead

2811 Jackson Street, Dubuque, Iowa

I LOVE a good local, farm to table restaurant. The added bonus to Convivium is they are giving back to the community by offerings hands-on learning for under privilege children. Everything about this space made me happy. The fun mural walls, large gathering tables, delicious food, and kid-friendly atmosphere. Add this gem to your list when you visit.

Millenium Bar and Marina

780 Harbor Drive, East Dubuque, Illinois

Since we were in Dubuque we wanted to make sure we found a fun place to dine right on the Mississippi River. Millenium Bar and Marina was the perfect spot. They are located just across the river from Dubuque. Their food was incredible including their seafood boil bag. They also offered fun kids meals that were delivered in cardboard boats.

Catfish Charlie’s Brew Pub

1630 E 16th Street, Dubuque, Iowa

Another great restaurant right on the Mississippi River. They specialize in catfish (which was tasty) and brew their own beers. This was a great place to unwind after a day of exploring.

Inspire Cafe

955 Washington Street #105, Dubuque, Iowa

Inspire Cafe offers wonderful coffee and breakfast items, but they are also located in the Millwork District. The building they are in is a super old building, being revitalized and covered with local art. Such a unique location. Also, their motto “Coffee, Connection, Community”, count me in!

Dubuque, Iowa offers so much history and unique spots to visit. We will definitely be back to explore more of where Iowa started.

Dubuque, Iowa, Dubuque adventure, road trip, family travel, Travel Iowa, where Iowa started, Mississippi River Museum


Erin Huiatt

Erin is a reliable resource and stepping stone for women and families to find support and make connections within our community. She wants families to feel confident to reach out and ask for help and advice to get pointed in the right direction. She enjoys traveling and exploring with her two children in tow!

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