Exploring the Quad Cities

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Disclosure: This post was created in partnership with the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau, but all thoughts are my own.

A couple weeks ago our family took a road trip to the Quad Cities. I have been pretty familiar with the Quad Cities, but had NO idea how much they had to offer families. With the help of the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau, we spent a fun-filled two days in the Quad Cities.


Depending on if you are taking a family adventure or a romantic getaway, there are plenty of options.

We stayed at the Stoney Creek Hotel & Conference Center located right near the Mississippi River in Moline. We loved the woodsy theme and the kids loved the statues they saw throughout the hotel of bears, deer, trees and more.

When we entered our room, there was an even bigger surprise! Our room had bunk beds for the kiddos. That pretty much sealed the deal. Our room was spacious and included a mini refrigerator (necessity for snacks when traveling with little ones) and a coffeemaker (another necessity).

A complimentary breakfast was offered every morning that included make-your-own waffles, eggs, muffins, juice, sausage, cereal and more. It was a great way to grab what we needed to fuel our busy day.

We spent one evening swimming in their indoor/outdoor pool! The kids loved the fun decor and swimming indoor and outdoors. We had the pool to ourselves so there was a lot of splashing!


There are some fun and tasty places to dine in the Quad Cities! We checked out three awesome restaurants.

This was our first stop when we got into town. We had left early in the morning and arrived just in time for lunch. The kids were able to run around and burn off some of the energy they had built up during our 2-hour car ride.

Happy Joe’s is known for their Taco Pizza, so we made sure to order that! They had arcade games and a huge indoor jungle gym to climb on with tons of slides. In the back was a large climbing wall too. We could have spent hours there.

One the second day, we enjoyed lunch here after our morning at Niabi Zoo. This was a cute and fun place, loaded with chocolates, candies and ice cream! Largomarcino’s is a century-old, family-owned confectionery famous for their fabulous hot fudge sundaes. They also offer some tasty sandwiches and a soda fountain! It was the perfect lunch spot after a morning at the zoo.

  • Bent River Brewing Company; 512 24th Street, Rock Island

This was more of a stop for mom and dad, but they are definitely a family-friendly restaurant as well. They have yummy burgers, sandwiches, fries, and more. They brought chalk for the kiddos to draw on the walls! This is a great option if you enjoy craft beers and looking for somewhere that welcomes children also.

The Family Museum 

2900 Learning Campus, Drive; Bettendorf 

We visited The Family Museum after lunch on the first day we arrived to the Quad Cities. This was a fun place to run, explore and use your imagination. We could have easily spent an entire day there. The entire place reminds me of a small town that includes a grocery store, veterinarian’s office, pizza parlor, a house, a shoe shop and more.

The outdoor area included a plane that the kids could climb on and a water play area. There was also a small amphitheater. There was tons and tons to do!

Their summer hours are Sunday; Noon to 5 p.m.; Monday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Tuesday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission is $8 for everyone ages 2-59. If you are a Science Center of Iowa Membership holder you can get in FREE!

Niabi Zoo

13010 Niabi Zoo Road; Coal Valley 

The Niabi Zoo is a perfect size for families with small children. We spent one full morning exploring the zoo. We were also fortunate to meet their two sweet giraffe’s, learn more about them and feed them!

Niabi Zoo reminds me a bit like the Blank Park Zoo. There is a carousel, train that runs through the zoo, hands-on exhibit, giraffe feedings, and more. We packed water and small snacks, with no issues.

Niabi Zoo is open seven days a week 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the Summer season.

Admission is $8.25 for adults, $7.25 for Senior Citizens, $6.25 for kids 3-12 years of age, and kids 2-years and under are free.

Note: There is FREE admission Tuesday-Friday; September 12 – October 27

Ride Channel Cat Water Taxi 

Pick-up at 4-locations. Check here!

This was super fun and the kids loved the fact we got to take a ferry on the Mississippi River, until they fell asleep 🙂

The Channel Cat Water Taxi provides an open-air passenger ferryboat on the Mississippi River from Memorial Day through Labor Day. There are four stops made. You can hop on and off throughout the day after you purchase your ticket or you can ride the entire route which takes approximately 1-hour and 5-minutes. There are several drop-off and pick-up times you can choose from. This is a terrific and unique way to explore the Quad Cities.

After our long day exploring, the kids found the water taxi to be very relaxing.

Admission is $8 for adult, $4 for children ages 2 to 10 years, and children under age 2 accompanied by an adult is free.

John Deere Pavillion 

1400 River Drive; Moline

The John Deere Pavillion was a favorite for the kiddos. It was also super close to our hotel! If your children love tractors and climbing, this is the place for them.

There are several different John Deere tractors available to climb on and explore. They also offer kid-friendly, hands-on activities such as coloring, building, reading, and more. The entire thing is free!

You can spend 45 minutes or a few hours. We visited the morning before we headed home. It was the perfect way for them to burn some energy before our car ride home.

Other Places to Visit

We had a jammed pack couple of days exploring and having fun. There was still so much we did not see or do. Take a look at these other great places to visit:

This is the perfect trip if you are not wanting to travel far, but still want to explore and enjoy a change in scenery. Check out some other great places to travel, close to Des Moines here!



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!

One thought on “Exploring the Quad Cities

  1. I stopped with my family over in the Quad Cities in March over spring break and did lots of the same things. We were only there for a short period but had fun at the Family Museum, the John Deere Pavilion and the Jungle Bungle as well.

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