On the edge of western Iowa, Council Bluffs is a popular destination for several reasons. Perhaps you travel for history, or outdoor adventures, or live shows and art. They’re all here in Council Bluffs. If you have only one day to visit, here’s an itinerary to make the most of it.
Start your day off with a delicious breakfast. If you’re visiting on weekend, brunch at Caddy’s Kitchen & Cocktails or 712 Eat + Drink are the go-to spots (brunch at 712 is Sunday-only). Caddy’s cocktails are Instagram worthy and practically a meal themselves.
If you plan to spend some time outdoors, aim for starting out mid-morning if you’re visiting in the summer because things heat up in the Midwest. Walkers enjoy the pleasant stroll over the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, connecting the Iowa side of the Missouri River to the Nebraska side. Be sure to take the iconic photo standing with one foot in each state.
For a bit more adrenaline pumping, take your hybrid or mountain bike for a ride along the Wabash Trace Nature Trail. It’s a converted rails-to-trails route and good for any ability of rider. It’s also home to the popular Taco Ride, attracting hundreds of cyclists every Thursday night to ride from Council Bluffs to the nearby town of Mineola for tacos and camaraderie.
Alternatively, you could head to Lake Manawa State Park for mountain biking, or if you have kids, Dream Playground to get a little of their energy out.
If it’s history or indoor activities you prefer, consider a tour of the Historic General Dodge House or exploring the Union Pacific Railroad Museum, both in downtown Council Bluffs. Both historical attractions have connections to the railroad, so if that’s of interest to you, add another stop to the RailsWest Railroad Museum.
When lunchtime rolls around (that is, if brunch didn’t completely fill you up), then head to the historic 100 Block in the city. If you had brunch at Caddy’s, then you already had a first glance at the charming area. Dine at the gastro pub Lincoln’s Pub or long-time favorite Barleys Bar & Grill.
Peek into some of the shops while you’re in the area. There’s Dusted Charm on the 100 Block, or head closer to Haymarket Square District for stores like The Chic Shed and Kanesville Kollectibles record store.
Or skip the shopping and have a little fun another way. Tap into your inner child for the afternoon. Play a round of miniature golf at the Pirate Putt, where one hole will require you to fire your golf ball with a spring-loaded cannon. Or, you can race your friends at the professional designed indoor go kart track, Joe’s Karting.
I hope you’re hungry, because you’re going to want to dig into the dinner at Boxer Barbecue. Meats are smoked on-site at the restaurant.
Boxer is a casual dining spot, so if you’re hoping for something a little more upscale, look to the 360 Steakhouse on the 12th floor of Harrah’s. The view is unbeatable.
For something in between Boxer and 360, I recommend Cellar 19 Wine & Deli. You may luck out and there could be live music while you’re there.
For the rest of you, you’ve got options. There are frequently exhibits and live theater, music and dance performances at the Hoff Family Arts & Culture Center.
Another favorite performance center of mine is the Arts Center, which brings in touring acts as well as student performances. And, if you’re looking for big name performances, check to see if any band is scheduled to perform at the outdoor venue, Stir Concert Cove, or indoors at the Mid-America Center.
Addresses to great things to do in Council Bluffs
Here’s where to find these restaurants, attractions, museums, and other venues around Council Bluffs:
- Caddy’s Kitchen & Cocktails, 103 W. Broadway
- 712 Eat + Drink, 1851 Madison Ave., suite 700
- Historic Gen. Dodge House, 605 S. Third St.
- Union Pacific Railroad Museum, 200 Pearl St.
- RailsWest Railroad Museum, 1512 S. Main St.
- Lincoln’s Pub, 157 W. Broadway
- Barleys Bar & Grill, 114 W. Broadway
- Dusted Charm, 120 W. Broadway
- The Chic Shed, 105 Pearl St.
- Kanesville Kollectibles, 530 S. Fourth St.
- Boxer Barbeque, 513 S. Main St.
- 360 Steakhouse inside Harrah’s, 1 Harrah’s Blvd.
- Cellar 19 Wine & Deli, 928 Valley View Drive, suite 19
- Pirate Putt, 1718 Madison Ave.
- Joe’s Karting, 2121 S. 32nd St.
- Ameristar Casino, 2200 River Road
- Horseshoe Casino, 2701 23rd Ave.
- Hoff Family Arts & Culture Center, 1001 S. Sixth St.
- Arts Center at Iowa Western Community College, 2700 College Road Arts Center
- Stir Concert Cove, 1 Harrah’s Blvd.
- Mid-America Center, 1 Arena Way