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17 Best Things To Do In Cedar Rapids

There’s lots to see in the city of five seasons. Whether you’re an art lover, an outdoor enthusiast, or an avid foodie, Cedar Rapids, Iowa has something for everyone. When you find yourself in eastern Iowa, you’re sure to find a vibrant art scene, rich culture, and more. 

The next time you’re planning a visit, you won’t want to miss these fun things to do in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Appreciate the arts

If you’re an art lover, a visit to the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art is a must. This museum in downtown Cedar Rapids has been collecting and supporting the arts since the 1890s. Today it’s a beautiful space for visitors to experience both permanent collections and traveling exhibitions.

The exterior of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art
Photo courtesy CR Artist

The museum also manages the Grant Wood Studio, where the iconic Regionalist artist once lived and worked. Visit the home and take a docent-led tour to see where Wood painted once of his most iconic works, “American Gothic.” 

Or, if the performing arts are what you enjoy, you won’t want to miss a show at the beautiful Paramount Theatre. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Paramount Theatre is one of less than 300 movie palaces remaining in the country.

This extravagant 1920s building has been fully restored and reopened in 2012. Today it’s home to traveling Broadway productions among other live performances. 

1. Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, 410 Third Ave. SE

2. Grant Wood Studio, 810 Second Ave. SE

3. Paramount Theatre, 123 Third Ave. SE

Embrace Czech culture

If you’re new to Cedar Rapids, you may not realize that the area has a rich Czech and Slovak culture. Embrace the history of the city with a visit to the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library, where you’ll learn about the history and impact of the area’s immigrants.

A mural in Czech Village in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Photo courtesy John Floyd

Then experience that history in action as you wander the Czech Village and New Bohemia. These two vibrant, historic neighborhoods are full of restaurants, small businesses, street art, festivals, and more. 

4. National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library, 1400 Inspiration Pl SW

5. Czech Village, 16th Avenue SW 

6. New Bohemia

Related post: The nearby Amana Colonies are a great place to explore German culture

Shop Local

It’s easy to support small businesses as you explore Cedar Rapids. Begin at the NewBo City Market, a yearound, indoor market that features a wide variety of vendors, including prepared food, candies, coffee, local soaps, and more.

The interior of Scribe Stationer in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Photo courtesy Scribe Stationer

Then head across the street to find your next read at Next Page Books. Or pick up the perfect new pen or greeting card next door at Scribe Stationer.

7. NewBo City Market, 1100 Third St. SE

8. Next Page Books, 1105 Third St. SE

9. Scribe Stationer, 1111 Third St. SE

Dive into Local History

Local history is everywhere in Cedar Rapids. Step back in time with a tour of the Brucemore, a 26-acre estate in the heart of the city that includes sprawling gardens and a Queen Anne-style mansion.

The exterior of the Brucemore estate in Cedar Rapids
Photo courtesy Iowa Tourism

Or experience the only statewide museum devoted to preserving African American history and culture at the African American Museum of Iowa.

10. Brucemore, 2160 Linden Drive SE

11. African American Museum of Iowa, ​​55 12th Ave. SE

Sip on Something Made in Cedar Rapids

Get a real taste of the city when you drink locally. Located a few miles outside of downtown, Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery is a local favorite that pairs good food with an iconic distillery and, more recently, a winery. Whether you’re a regular whiskey drinker or just like to imbibe on occasion, this picturesque spot is definitely worth a stop for a tour and a tasting.

The patio at Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery near Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Photo by Liz Zabel, courtesy Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery

And if breweries are more your speed, you’re in luck. Lion Bridge Brewing Co., Iowa Brewing Co., and Clock House Brewing are all located downtown and serve up locally brewed pints in their respective taprooms. 

12. Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery, 1441 Marak Road NW, Swisher

13. Lion Bridge Brewing Co., 59 16th Ave. SW

14. Iowa Brewing Co., 708 Third St. SE

15. Clock House Brewing, 600 First St. SE

Opt outside

Enjoy the outdoors as you explore Cedar Rapids with stops to some of the state’s most beautiful scenic areas. Just a short drive away, you’ll find Palisades-Kepler State Park. Located on the banks of the Cedar River, this wooded area has 5 miles of rugged trails for hiking, ample fishing spots, and cabins and campsites for spending the night.

People play on a sandbar at Palisades-Kepler State Park
Photo courtesy icarusjj

Or embrace the prairie with a visit to the Indian Creek Nature Center. The nature preserve is open year round and features more than 500 acres with well-groomed trails through prairies, woodlands and wetlands as well as rotating exhibits in the nature center itself. 

16. Palisades-Kepler State Park, 700 Kepler Drive, Mt. Vernon

17. Indian Creek Nature Center, 5300 Otis Road SE

About the Guest Blogger

Megan Bannister is a freelance writer and blogger at Olio in Iowa based in Des Moines, Iowa. When she’s not sampling and writing about food, Megan enjoys visiting unique destinations, roadside attractions, and “world’s largest” things across the Midwest and beyond. Her book, Iowa Supper Clubs, highlights classic eateries past and present from around the state.

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