19 Best Things To Do In Iowa City

Lowa City is a hidden gem of the Midwest, full of rich history, unique culture, and adventure. From hiking to exploring the historic Amana Colonies or cheering on a Hawkeye football game, there’s something for everyone in Iowa City.

In this blog, we’ve curated a list of the 19 best things to do in Iowa City that will make your visit unforgettable. Discover the University of Iowa Campus, experience the adventure at Coralville Reservoir, or marvel at the world’s largest nickel.

Take a trip through history at the Old Capitol or immerse yourself in literature at Prairie Lights Bookstore. There’s also nothing like going out for breakfast or hiking Hickory Hill Park. Whatever your preference, this guide has got you covered.

1. Discover the University of Iowa Campus

University of Iowa Campus

Discover the vibrant University of Iowa campus, known for its world-class education and rich history. Immerse yourself in the cutting-edge research conducted at the university and engage with a diverse and inclusive community.

Explore the campus and its historical buildings, such as Macbride Hall and the Auditorium. Don’t miss the Museum of Natural History, where you can marvel at exhibits like the giant sloth.

With free admission, it’s a must-visit for nature lovers. The University of Iowa campus truly captures the spirit of this UNESCO City of Literature.

What Makes the University of Iowa Special?

The University of Iowa stands out with its top-ranked programs in various fields and a wide range of extracurricular activities for students.

Its beautiful campus houses state-of-the-art facilities while fostering a supportive and inclusive environment. As a hub of innovation and creativity, the University of Iowa offers a unique experience for students.

2. Experience the Adventure at Coralville Reservoir

Adventure at Coralville Reservoir

Experience the adventure at Coralville Reservoir, where you can enjoy outdoor activities like boating and fishing. Immerse yourself in the scenic beauty of Coralville Reservoir through its hiking and biking trails, perfect for nature lovers.

Relax and unwind amidst the peaceful surroundings or engage in thrilling water sports such as kayaking and paddleboarding. Don’t forget to capture the breathtaking views of Coralville Reservoir and its surroundings.

3. Feel the Energy at a Hawkeye Football Game

Hawkeye Football Game

Immerse yourself in the electrifying atmosphere of a Hawkeye football game and experience the passion of Iowa City fans. Witness the skill and athleticism of college football at its finest while creating unforgettable memories. Join the sea of black and gold to show your support for the team.

Feel the energy as the crowd roars and the stadium shakes. It’s an exhilarating experience that captures the essence of Iowa City’s love for sports.

What Other Sports Events Can You Attend in Iowa City?

Experience the thrill of basketball games at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Watch exciting wrestling matches at the University of Iowa. Support the Hawkeye athletes in various sports like volleyball and baseball.

Attend gymnastics meets and witness incredible displays of strength and grace. Catch soccer matches and see the talent of the Hawkeye teams.

4. Journey Through History at the Old Capitol

History at the Old Capitol

Step back in time and explore the historical significance of the Old Capitol. Discover the architectural beauty of this iconic building that played a crucial role in shaping Iowa’s history.

Marvel at the artifacts and exhibits that bring history to life at the Old Capitol Museum. Take a guided tour and delve into the captivating stories behind the Old Capitol.

Immerse yourself in the rich heritage of Iowa City’s past and gain a deeper appreciation for its cultural significance.

5. Immerse Yourself in the Arts at the Englert Theatre

Arts at the Englert Theatre

Experience captivating performances at the esteemed Englert Theatre, where you can enjoy a diverse range of artistic productions, including theater, music, and dance.

By supporting local and national artists, you contribute to the vibrant arts scene of Iowa City. Immerse yourself in the talent and creativity showcased at the Englert Theatre, and be inspired by the captivating performances that take place in this historical venue.

6. Get Lost in Literature at Prairie Lights Bookstore

Prairie Lights Bookstore

Explore the vast collection of books available at Prairie Lights Bookstore, where you can discover both hidden literary gems and popular bestsellers.

Immerse yourself in the cozy and inviting atmosphere as you peruse the shelves and find your next great read.

This beloved bookstore also hosts author readings and book signings, allowing you to engage with your favorite writers. Visit Prairie Lights Bookstore to get lost in literature and indulge your passion for books.

What Unique Finds Await at Prairie Lights Bookstore?

Discover an eclectic collection of independent titles at Prairie Lights Bookstore. Uncover rare and collectible books as you explore the diverse genres and subjects available.

Engage in literary discussions and book clubs, and receive personalized recommendations from their knowledgeable staff.

7. Uncover the Charms of Downtown Iowa City

Uncover the Charms of Downtown Iowa City

Stroll through downtown Iowa City’s pedestrian-friendly streets, where you can soak in the vibrant atmosphere and uncover its unique charms.

Indulge in diverse dining options and culinary experiences, from local favorites to international cuisines. Explore boutique shops, art galleries, and local businesses, offering a range of one-of-a-kind finds.

Immerse yourself in the cultural scene with live music performances and events that showcase the city’s creative spirit. Downtown Iowa City is a hub of activity and a must-visit destination for those seeking a memorable experience.

8. Start Your Day Right With a Hearty Breakfast in Iowa City

Hearty Breakfast in Iowa City

Experience the mouth-watering breakfast options in Iowa City, fueling up for a satisfying start to your day. Discover local breakfast spots that offer delicious and hearty meals, indulging in the flavors of the city.

From the Bluebird Diner’s famous pancakes to the Wooden Nickel’s classic breakfast platters, Iowa City has something to satisfy every craving.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to treat yourself to a memorable breakfast experience in this vibrant and food-loving city.

9. Try Stand Up Paddleboarding at Terry Trueblood

Stand Up Paddleboarding at Terry Trueblood

Experience the thrill and beauty of stand-up paddleboarding at Terry Trueblood. Dive into the serene waters of Terry Trueblood for a fun-filled day of paddleboarding adventure.

Embark on an exciting journey as you paddleboard and explore the natural wonders of this wooded area. With free admission, Terry Trueblood offers a perfect opportunity for nature lovers to connect with the Iowa River.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paddleboarder, this picturesque location is a must-visit in Iowa City.

10. Connect with Nature at Hickory Hill Park

Connect with Nature at Hickory Hill Park

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Hickory Hill Park, where you can explore scenic trails and reconnect with nature.

Discover the wonders of this wooded area and embrace the tranquility it offers. As you wander through the park, you’ll be surrounded by the charm of its natural surroundings.

Hickory Hill Park is a peaceful escape where nature lovers can enjoy the beauty of the Iowa River and take in the sights and sounds of the local wildlife.

11. Enjoy a Day of Picking at Wilson’s Orchard

Picking at Wilson's Orchard

Experience the thrill of fruit picking at Wilson’s Orchard, nestled in the beautiful surroundings of Iowa City. Delight in the joy of hand-picking fresh fruits, immersing yourself in nature’s bounty.

This fun-filled activity allows you to create memorable moments as you wander through the bountiful fields, indulging in the seasonal delight of picking your own fruits.

Wilson’s Orchard offers a delightful day of picking, where you can connect with nature, savor the sweetness of ripe fruits, and enjoy an unforgettable experience amidst the picturesque landscapes of Iowa City.

12. Plan a Weekend Getaway to Maquoketa Caves

Weekend Getaway to Maquoketa Caves

Escape to the captivating Maquoketa Caves for an unforgettable weekend adventure. Immerse yourself in the natural wonders of this wooded area, located just a short drive from Iowa City.

Discover hidden gems as you explore the breathtaking caves, each with its own unique charm. Whether you’re a nature lover or a history enthusiast, Maquoketa Caves offers something for everyone.

Plan your weekend escape and experience the thrill of discovering these incredible natural formations.

13. Visit the Historic Amana Colonies

Historic Amana Colonies

Step into the charm and history of the Amana Colonies, where you’ll discover a delightful blend of cultural treasures. Immerse yourself in this quaint community and explore its rich heritage.

Wander through the historical buildings and experience the unique ambiance of the Amana Colonies. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the visitors center and learn more about this fascinating UNESCO City of Literature.

With free admission to many attractions, you can indulge in window shopping, admire the local area, and enjoy the peaceful wooded areas.

14. Marvel at the World’s Largest Nickel

World's Largest Nickel Iowa City

Prepare to be amazed by the colossal size of Iowa City’s world-renowned nickel. This fascinating giant nickel, the largest in the world, is a must-see attraction.

Marvel at its impressive sight and experience the awe-inspiring wonder it offers. Located in Iowa City, this roadside attraction is a true gem for visitors.

Discover this monumental piece and witness firsthand the natural history and unique charm of this UNESCO City of Literature. A visit to the world’s largest nickel in Iowa City is an unforgettable experience.

Why Should Iowa City Be Your Next Travel Destination?

Uncover the allure of Iowa City on your next adventure. Dive into its vibrant culture and explore hidden gems. Experience the warmth and hospitality of this charming destination. Immerse yourself in the rich history and diverse experiences that await you in Iowa City.

15. Go Out for Breakfast

Go Out for Breakfast

Start your day off right by indulging in a delicious breakfast outing in Iowa City. Treat yourself to a delightful breakfast experience at one of the top eateries in town.

Discover the ultimate breakfast spots that offer mouth-watering meals for you to savor. Whether you’re a nature lover or a history buff, there’s a breakfast spot for everyone. Enjoy a satisfying meal and create lasting memories at one of Iowa City’s local favorites.

16. Hike Hickory Hill Park

Hike Hickory Hill Park

Embark on an invigorating hike through the scenic trails of Hickory Hill Park, a serene and picturesque destination for nature lovers. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of this wooded area and experience the beauty of its hiking trails.

Hickory Hill Park offers a refreshing outdoor adventure where you can connect with nature and enjoy the breathtaking surroundings. Discover the serenity of the park and indulge in a memorable hike amidst its natural wonders.

17. Take a Trip to Maquoketa Caves

Trip to Maquoketa Caves

Explore the striking limestone formations of Maquoketa Caves State Park. Venture into hidden passages and discover underground waterfalls within the caves.

Feel the excitement of spelunking and hiking along the park’s picturesque trails. Immerse yourself in the enchanting beauty and tranquility of Iowa’s natural landscapes.

Capture breathtaking views of wildlife and nature in this one-of-a-kind geological wonder. Don’t miss the chance to experience the wonders of Maquoketa Caves for yourself.

18. Visit the Amana Colonies

Amana Colonies

Visit the Amana Colonies and step back in time to experience the rich history of this close-knit community. Explore the unique architecture and craftsmanship of the historic buildings that adorn the charming streets.

Indulge your taste buds with delicious German-inspired cuisine at the local restaurants. Immerse yourself in the culture and traditions of the Amana Colonies as you shop for handmade goods, antiques, and crafts in the delightful shops. Discover the beauty and heritage of this historical treasure.

19. Cheer on a Hawkeye Football Game

Cheer on a Hawkeye Football Game

Join the spirited crowd at Kinnick Stadium and immerse yourself in the energetic atmosphere of a Hawkeye Football Game. Feel the excitement as you cheer on the University of Iowa’s football team in their quest for victory.

This unforgettable game day experience allows you to witness the skill and talent of the players while creating lasting memories. Be part of the Hawkeye legacy and embrace the camaraderie of passionate fans. Don’t miss out on this thrilling event that showcases the spirit and pride of Iowa City.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some of the top cultural attractions in Iowa City?

Some of the top cultural attractions in Iowa City include the Old Capitol Museum, where visitors can explore the state’s history. The Iowa City Public Library offers a vast collection of books, music, and films.

The Englert Theatre hosts various performing arts events, and the Iowa City Farmers Market showcases fresh produce, baked goods, crafts, and live music.

Are there any outdoor activities or parks worth visiting in Iowa City?

Iowa City offers a variety of outdoor activities and parks for nature lovers. Explore Hickory Hill Park, City Park, and Terry Trueblood Recreation Area for hiking, biking, kayaking, picnics, and more.

Don’t miss the chance to visit Finkbine Golf Course or the Devonian Fossil Gorge for other exciting experiences.

What are some popular restaurants or dining experiences in Iowa City?

Iowa City boasts a diverse food scene, offering a range of dining experiences from classic American to international cuisine. Some popular restaurants in the area include Pullman Bar & Diner, Hamburg Inn No. 2, and Big Grove Brewery.

For a unique experience, check out the Iowa City Farmer’s Market or grab a bite at one of the local food trucks. And don’t forget to indulge in some delicious Iowa corn!

Are there any annual events or festivals that take place in Iowa City?

Iowa City is buzzing with annual events and festivals throughout the year. From the lively Iowa City Jazz Festival in July to the vibrant Iowa Arts Festival in June, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Don’t miss the Iowa City Book Festival and other exciting events like the Iowa City Farmers Market, Soul Fest Celebration, and Iowa Dance Festival.


In conclusion, Iowa City offers a diverse range of experiences and attractions for visitors to enjoy. From exploring the beautiful University of Iowa campus to immersing yourself in the arts at the Englert Theatre, there is something for everyone.

Don’t forget to indulge in the local cuisine and take in the natural beauty of Hickory Hill Park and Maquoketa Caves. Whether you’re a history buff, a sports fan, or a lover of literature, Iowa City has it all.

So, plan your trip and make sure to check out these top 19 things to do in Iowa City for an unforgettable experience.


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