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8 Great Things To Do In The Winter in Waterloo

Waterparks, go-karts, and miniature golf are fun ways to spend the summer in Waterloo, Iowa. But, what makes the area a winter wonderland? Museums that rock, parks to cross country ski or enjoy a brisk walk, as well as one the state’s best craft breweries are enough to warm anyone’s heart.

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Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum

Where: 503 South St., Waterloo, Iowa

A black and white photo of the five Sullivan Brothers, whose story is told at the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum in Waterloo, Iowa
The five Sullivan Brothers” by Marion Doss is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

No parent wants to hear the news about losing a child during war. For Thomas and Alleta Sullivan, they lost five sons at one time, when the Sullivan Brothers were among the crew of the USS Juneau that was sank during World War II. Their story led to the military changing its policy, prohibiting siblings from serving aboard the same ship. The movie “Saving Private Ryan” was based on the family’s story.

The Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum offers a mix of exhibits and interactive displays to tell their story, as well as every war Iowans have served, including the recent Middle East conflicts. Exhibits are well-done and respectful.

John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum

Where: 500 Westfield Ave., Waterloo, Iowa

A green and yellow antique tractor inside the John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum
Photo courtesy Travel Iowa

No visit to Waterloo is complete without seeing the Waterloo Boy, once considered the best tractor in the world. The John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum chronicles the story of John Deere, from the single horse plow to the introduction and improvement of tractors and farm implements. Children of all ages (Mom and Dad, too) love trying to control a two-horse plow that Midwest farmers once used.

After touring the exhibit hall with tractors and combines from throughout the decades, check out the hands-on displays of the newest tractors, combines, and other John Deere vehicles.

George Wyth State Park

Where: 3659 Wyth Road, Waterloo, Iowa

Snow-covered ground and half-dozen water at George With State Park
State Park Cruise” by Armin M. Media is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Whether you’re a walker or hiker, George Wyth State Park is perfect for winter activities. Walk among the paved, 3-mile path or explore about 10 miles of unpaved trails.

The state park, conveniently located between Waterloo and nearby Cedar Falls, is a fun location for snowshoeing or cross country skiing. People have been known to go fat tire biking skiing the trails during the winter. No matter your sport of preference, George Wyth State Park is an excellent option for winter outdoor fun.

Grout Museum of History and Science

Where: 503 South St., Waterloo, Iowa

The exterior of Grout Museum of History and Science
The Grout Museum” by rallenhill is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

A river city since its inception, Grout Museum of History and Science shares the story of Iowa’s sixth-largest city. Despite a model of the Battle of Waterloo, the city didn’t take its name from the site of the battle that ended Napoleon Bonaparte’s reign over France. Much more mundane, a man wanted to bring a post office to the former Prairie Rapids Crossing and thumbed through a list of city names, and Waterloo stuck. A

mazing stories like that can be found throughout the museum, as well as exhibits highlighting frontier life and the development of technology and industry in the region. The museum tells the story of Waterloo in an informative and visual style.

The Grout Museum also hosts special exhibits, such as an Iowa Korean War Veterans display and the gowns of first ladies from Iowa.

Bluedorn Science Imaginarium

Where: 322 Washington St., Waterloo, Iowa

Children run from one display to another, eagerly playing and unknowingly exploring their way through science lessons with interactive exhibits at Bluedorn Science Imaginarium. With three floors of hands-on activities, such as a Robotix table, hot air balloon, and even shooting an air cannon.

Hartman Reserve Nature Center

Where: 657 Reserve Drive, Cedar Falls, Iowa

The 56-acre Hartman Reserve Nature Center is home to cross country skiing during the winter. With groomed trails at Irv Warren Golf Course and the South Riverside Bike Trail, cross country skiing is a popular activity in Waterloo. Bring your own skis or rent a pair at nearby outlets.

Visitors can also snowshoe the nature center’s trails. Animal viewing is a popular activity year-round, so bring your camera and binoculars. You may see deer in their natural habitat, as well as seasonal birds.

Norris Corson Family Planetarium

Where: 503 South St., Waterloo, Iowa

Explore the cosmos at the Norris Corson Family Planetarium. Open since 1967, the planetarium is one of only three across Iowa that offers public programming. A 2021 renovation brought new seating and views. Visitors are encouraged to prepurchase tickets via phone or at the museum store. It’s recommended to arrive about 15 minutes before the presentation.

Singlespeed Brewing

Where: 325 Commercial St. Waterloo, Iowa

Three beers in cups around a black, white and green sticker that says Singlespeed Brewing
Photo courtesy Travel Iowa

While the original Singlespeed Brewing is located in Cedar Falls, the nanobrewery opened in 2012 as a 3-BBL operation. Four years later,  the brewery owned a 20-barrel facility in a former Hostess Bread factory in Waterloo.

With a bicycle theme that welcomes bicyclists with their own parking area, the family-friendly taproom is an open design, reminiscent of German beer halls. Singlespeed serves about 20 styles of craft beer. With a menu featuring pub-style foods, including Amish pretzels, burgers, sandwiches, wings, and flatbreads, Singlespeed Brewing is a must when visiting the area.

Whether you’re a museum-type person or an outdoor enthusiast, Waterloo is a fun spot to visit year-round, but especially during winter, with its cross country skiing and other activities.

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