4 Days of Family Fun in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Our family loves a good adventure and many do not realize how much fun Iowa has to offer including Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Over Spring Break we jumped in the car and traveled just 2 hours east of Des Moines, Iowa for 4-days of family fun in a city full of history, a super hot food scene, lots of playing, and more. Cedar Rapids Tourism planned our 4-days of family fun and it was just so much fun I knew I had to share the incredible itinerary with all of you!
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel
If you are going to be playing and exploring Cedar Rapids you need a comfortable place to land each night while you are in the city. DoubleTree by Hilton is THE place to stay! The tallest hotel in the heart of downtown Cedar Rapids. It was clean, comfortable, and the staff was incredibly kind. When we checked in we were greeted with warm cookies (that hooked the kids immediately).
The view from our hotel room was also pretty amazing. The kids enjoyed looking out each night at all the lights and spotting different murals across the city from the 15th floor.
Once you have made your arrival to Cedar Rapids and checked in at the hotel make your way to The New Bohemian District. The NewBo neighborhood was settled by Czech and Slovak immigrants, and after devastating economic and weather events, this area is the newest hot place to shop, eat, and have fun. The District is made up of the New Bohemian and Czech Village neighborhoods.
Before you begin your shopping experience, grab some coffee at Kismet Coffee + Bloom and pick up some fresh-cut flowers too! We loved this little gem. We then spent our afternoon shopping at Next Page Books, Raygun, Scribe Stationery, Little House Artifacts, browsing Analog Vault, and shopping the NewBo City Market.
NewBo City Market
NewBo City Market is a pretty neat concept and I would love to see something like this in Des Moines! This public space is a place for local, startup businesses to have a physical shop and sell their goods. It is a great way to support locals and learn about new businesses, food, and ideas happening in Cedar Rapids. They offer special events, live music, and a large green area just outside with tables and chairs to relax with friends.
Eat & Drink
After shopping all afternoon you will want to grab some dinner before heading back to the hotel. We had a delicious dinner at Chromehorse Saloon which offered great options for the kids and me! They are known for hosting live music events and the building was really neat too.
As we walked our way back to the car, we could not leave without some yummy ice cream from Almost Famous Popcorn. If you have not tried their popcorn (or ice cream) it is a must.
We made one last stop before heading back to the hotel because it was just so beautiful out! Bever Park has a large playground, lots of green space, walking trails, a pool, and a petting zoo. Old MacDonald’s Farm was not open while we were in town, but I think this would be something really fun to check out when it is in season.
Rise and shine for day two in Cedar Rapids! Get ready for a day full of literature, art, and games.
Roasters at the Library
Roasters is located inside the Downtown Cedar Rapids Public Library. It was a super gloomy day, so this was the perfect first stop of the day. We grabbed coffee (much needed for this mama!) and some breakfast then headed to explore the library.
Cedar Rapids Public Library
Many may not think to visit the city library while in town, but I am so glad this was on our itinerary. The Cedar Rapids Public Library had such a fun children’s area filled with books, games, and toys. Monte snagged a book right when we arrived and read the entire thing while relaxing in some fun chairs. Amelia and I spent some time reading and playing some educational games on the computer. It was the perfect relaxing start to the day.
The second day we were in town was St. Patrick’s Day! After we spent the morning at the library we headed to Pub 217 which was not far from the area. You could walk to Pub 217 if you wanted, but it was cold and dreary so we decided to walk. It was a fun place that welcomed kids to eat lunch and see everyone dressed up for Leprechaun Day!
Cedar Rapids Museum of Art
The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art is just around the corner from the lunch spot, so we headed in that direction. The art museum is free on the third Thursday of each month from 5 to 8 p.m. You can enjoy scavenger hunts in the galleries to see who can find all the art pieces and hidden objects. My kids love a good scavenger hunt and it is a great way to keep their attention while we look at all the amazing artwork. I loved how it allowed us to start conversations about certain pieces and they really got into it.
BONUS! We turned in the completed scavenger hunt and the kids received a goodie bag full of art materials and instructions for art projects they could do at home. They actually did some of them that night at the hotel.
Cedar Rapids Public Art
Cedar Rapids offers a ton of public art outdoors from murals to sculptures. One area the kids enjoyed was the space between the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art and the Cedar Rapids Public Library. There is a large amount of green space, walking paths, and sculptures to look at. It also looks like there is a sprayground/fountains that run when the weather is warmer. A fun area for a picnic or to read a book!
Quarter Barrell Arcade & Brewery
Quarter Barrell Arcade & Brewery is such a fun spot and we spent a lot of time here! If you love old-school arcade and pinball machines, pizza, and craft beer this is the place. There is something for each member of the family. Their food was great too and geared towards kids. I loved how they served the kids meals on a lunch tray. Do not leave without ordering the Princess Peach dessert. Although we were completely stuffed from dinner, it was worth it.
Day three is full of history and you will learn so much!
Brewhemia is located back in the NewBo District and is a great spot to grab breakfast or lunch. It was a great place to fuel up before touring a couple of museums. They had a lot of great options and I loved my breakfast bowl and lavender latte. Brewhemia also offers a full bar and craft beer. A fun, local spot in Cedar Rapids.
African American Museum of Iowa
The African American Museum of Iowa has been on my list to check out since I wrote my post on how to Celebrate Black History Month in Des Moines. I did not know it existed until then. We all really enjoyed it and learned so much. There were several interactive activities and exhibits that really allowed us to think about what has happened in the past and what is continuing to still happen around us today. Sometimes being able to see a visual such of something allows it to really sink in.
National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library
Next, it is time to head over the Cedar River to the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library. Another wonderful and educational experience for all of us. The city of Cedar Rapids is home to many Bohemian, Moravian, and Slovak immigrants and their descendants. This museum was full of hands-on, interactive exhibits which really helped the kids understand what they experienced during World War II. They enjoyed playing puppets, tying knots, playing a game in a living room replica, and so much more.
Lion Bridge Brewing Company
After all that learning and exploring, you should be hungry! Lion Bridge Brewing Company is just across the way from the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library. They offer great food and craft brews (my type of place!). Before or after you eat make sure you take some time to explore Czech Village which offers tons of fun shops.
The Play Station
After a morning of learning history, the kids will be ready to burn off some energy! The Play Station is THE spot to run, climb, and play in the Cedar Rapids area. We spent a good long time here. The kids loved climbing all the different walls, running through the play structure, and playing more arcade games. It was a rainy day while we were visiting and it was definitely the hot spot to play.
Goldfinch Tap & Eatery and Fydae
Before heading back to the hotel we headed to the bordering town of Marion for dinner and an epic dessert. Goldfinch Tap & Eatery offered made from scratch food and great drinks. Directly across from the street is Frydae known for their over-the-top fries and milkshakes. This was the perfect end to our Friday! While we ate our sundaes/shakes we played PacMan.
The final day and time to go home, but not without some nature fun!
Whether you are staying at the DoubleTree Hilton or not, you will want to make a visit to the 350 First restaurant at the top of the hotel. The views are spectacular! Even though our room was on the 15th floor, it was fun to eat breakfast at the very top and take a look at Cedar Rapids, Iowa with a 350-degree view. We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast before we checked out and headed to the final stops of our visit.
Indian Creek Nature Center
The Indian Creek Nature Center reminds me a lot of Jester Park Nature Center if you are from Des Moines. It is a great place to get close to the nature surrounding Cedar Rapids. We loved all the hands-on activities that were offered indoors and outdoors. We also saw a ton of different birds in the bird viewing room. You can visit reptiles and amphibians, and when in season they have a butterfly hut. The highlight of the visit? It was Maple Syrupin’ Time! We just happened to be visiting during the perfect time which typically is a few weeks out of the entire year. We had a lot of fun learning about tapping trees, how syrup is made, and trying fresh syrup too!
The Flying Weenie
One final stop on our way out of town. The Flying Weenie is another unique, dining place in Cedar Rapids serving up Chicago-style hot dogs in a converted mechanics garage. This is a fun and yummy spot to end your trip in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
There you have it! 4-days filled with family fun in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Plan your next long weekend or Spring Break in this fun city of 5 seasons.