Located in eastern Iowa, Cedar Rapids is a great destination to visit year-round. If you’re looking for things to do in Cedar Rapids in February (and, in particular, romantic things to do in Cedar Rapids for Valentine’s Day), stay warm inside and do a day date to see works by renowned Iowan painter, Grant Woods at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art.
As for Christmas activities in Cedar Rapids, head downtown to see decorative windows and to visit the markets. This is conveniently the best place to go shopping in Cedar Rapids too and the epicenter of Cedar Rapids nightlife. A day trip to Cedar Rapids is also one of the best things to do in Iowa City, as it’s only a 30-minute drive away. For more inspiration, here are 14 top things to do in Cedar Rapids.
Brucemore is a historic estate and community cultural center containing a 19th-century Queen Anne mansion. Inside you’ll find rooms filled with artifacts that tell the stories of Brucemore’s three most important families: “the Sinclairs who built it, the Douglases who transformed it, and the Halls who gave it to the community.” Today, you can take an insightful guided tour of Brucemore or pop into the visitor center, located in the estate’s restored 20th-century carriage house.
2. National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library
The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library is a one-of-a-kind institution dedicated to inspiring people to connect with Czech and Slovak history and culture. A Smithsonian Affiliate, it has a series of permanent and temporary exhibits, which tell stories of freedom, family, immigration, identity, and community. The onsite Skala Bartizal Library is also full of historic resources. Visiting the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library is one of the most unique things to do in Cedar Rapids.
3. Cedar Rapids Museum of Art
Established in 1905, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art’s collection includes over 7200 pieces of art spanning 2000 years. It’s well-known for housing the world’s largest collection of Grant Wood art but has everything from contemporary Midwestern art to 21 Roman portrait busts. The museum also organizes docent-guided tours and an array of events, including lectures, members-only nights, and guided meditation. Step inside to see why it’s one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.
4. Indian Creek Nature Center
Indian Creek Nature Center is dedicated to promoting a sustainable future through environmental education and encouraging people to interact responsibly with nature. It has four miles of trails winding through wetlands, forests, tallgrass prairies, and oak savannas. Naturally, popular activities at Indian Creek Nature Center include hiking, bird watching, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in winter, and fishing. Indian Creek Nature Center also hosts fun events throughout the year, like family-friendly hikes and beekeeping for beginners.
5. Palisades-Kepler State Park
Located southeast of the city, the Cedar River winds its way through Palisades-Kepler State Park. Spread over 840 acres, the park is home to six miles of hiking trails, great fishing opportunities along the Cedar River, campgrounds and cabins, picnic facilities, an abundance of wildlife, and plenty of rocks to climb. Palisades-Kepler State Park also has quite the history, as million-year-old fossils have been found in river rocks and there’s evidence of Native American mounds.
6. Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery
Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery is an award-winning and family-owned business located in the picturesque Iowan countryside. The first distillery to open in the state since Prohibition, it produces six authentic whiskey varieties, including the classic Iowa Bourbon Whiskey. Then there’s the wide selection of wines you can try for yourself in the tasting room. With cafe-style dining available as well, sit on the patio and enjoy your wine with a slice of wood-fired pizza.
7. African American Museum Of Iowa
The African American Museum of Iowa aims to preserve and educate the public on Iowa’s African American heritage and culture. Housing both permanent and rotating exhibits, one of its most important permanent exhibits is Endless Possibilities, which traces Iowa’s African American history from its western Africa origins to the present day. The museum also hosts events like art workshops and music performances. Head here if you’re looking for indoor things to do in Cedar Rapids.
8. Bever Park
Bever Park is most well-known for its seasonal Old MacDonald’s Farm attraction. Featuring a petting zoo area, the farm is open from April to October and the animals you’d typically find there include chickens, pigs, cows, lambs, and rabbits. Bever Park also has tennis courts, a softball field, multiple playgrounds, walking trails, a seasonal swimming pool, and an ice-skating rink in winter. When visiting the city with kids, head to Bever Park for endless fun.
9. Cedar River Trail
The Cedar River Trail is a paved 12.6-mile trail that takes you on a journey through the city. As you bike or walk along the trail, take in sights like McLouds Run Park, Cedar Lake and Cedar River, and the vibrant downtown district. The Cedar River Trail is just one part of the 67-mile Cedar Valley Nature Trail, which connects Evansdale to Ely and runs through the wetlands, forest, and farmland of eastern Iowa.
10. Czech Village / New Bohemia District
The Czech Village and New Bohemia neighborhoods constitute the city’s downtown district. Head to the city’s heart and visit world-class museums, dine in award-winning restaurants, have a drink at some of its best bars, and do a spot of shopping. Some of the top sights to visit within the Czech Village and New Bohemia districts include NewBo City Market, the African American Museum of Iowa, The Cherry Building, and the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library.
11. NewBo City Market
Speaking of the New Bohemia District, the NewBo City Market is one of its premier tenants. One of the top things to do in Cedar Rapids is to visit the NewBo City Market, an indoor marketplace with nearly 30 permanent shops. Enjoy a treat from Shawnniecakes Bakery or Nelson’s Ice Cream; grab lunch from City Melts; and purchase a unique souvenir from Rare Bird Soap Shop. There’s an outlet for everyone at NewBo City Market.
12. Paramount Theater
Another place located in the city’s downtown district is the historic Paramount Theater. Established in 1928, the six-story brick building hosts a variety of educational and entertaining performances, including touring Broadway productions, comedy shows, family-friendly programs, and renowned music acts. Meanwhile, Orchestra Iowa has been its primary tenant for 40 years. Don’t miss seeing a show at Paramount Theater – it’s one of the best things to do in Cedar Rapids at night, after all.
13. Grant Wood Studio
As mentioned, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art houses the world’s largest collection of Grant Wood pieces. The American painter was known for his work depicting life in the rural midwest in the early 20th century. His painting, American Gothic, is particularly iconic, and it was painted in this very studio in 1930. Located at 810 2nd Avenue SE, the Grant Wood Studio is free to visit and open on weekends from April to December.
14. Veterans Memorial Stadium
Veterans Memorial Stadium is the city’s minor league baseball stadium and the home ground for the Cedar Rapid Kernels of the Midwest League. The team is affiliated with the Minnesota Twins. The stadium is often referred to as New Veterans Memorial Stadium, to distinguish it from its predecessor of the same name. Besides baseball, Veterans Memorial Stadium has also hosted renowned music artists over the years as well, such as Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson.