Located along the Cedar River, Cedar Rapids is the second largest city in Iowa and the county seat of Linn County. It is a major cultural and economic hub in the state known for its unique history, art scene, and outdoor recreation.
Home to a variety of museums, art galleries, and parks, as well as a vibrant nightlife scene, the city has something to offer for everyone, whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover or just looking for a good time.
You can immerse yourself in a Czech and Slovak experience, paddle down the Cedar River, take a tour of the historic Brucemore mansion or reconnect with nature and relax. And that’s just the beginning.
In short, you don’t have to worry about getting bored in Cedar Rapids.
Whether you’re planning a trip to Cedar Rapids or are still on the fence, below are the five top things to do in the city.
Reconnect with nature and relax at Indian Creek Nature Center
One of the best ways to experience Cedar Rapids is to get outside and explore the city’s many parks and nature trails. And there’s no better place to do that than at Indian Creek Nature Center.
Situated on more than 300 acres of land, the nature center is home to numerous ecosystems, including prairies, forests and wetlands. It’s the perfect place to take a hike, go bird watching or just sit back and relax in nature.
And if you’re interested in learning more about the area’s history and ecology, the nature center offers a variety of educational programs and events throughout the year.
If your vacation plan is to unwind, you can buy CBD oil in Cedar Rapids and then head to Indian Creek Nature Center to enjoy its calming effects in the great outdoors.
Explore the Czech and Slovak heritage of Cedar Rapids
Cedar Rapids is known for its large Czech and Slovak population, and you can explore this rich heritage throughout the city.
Start at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, which chronicles the Czech and Slovak history in America through exhibits, films and events.
Then, head to the New Bohemia & Czech Village district, where you can experience Czech culture firsthand. Walk the streets and browse the shops, stop for a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants or enjoy a pint of beer at a Czech-themed brewery.
And don’t forget to check out the district’s murals, which were painted by local artists to celebrate the city’s Czech heritage.
Take a tour of historic Brucemore
If you’re interested in learning more about Cedar Rapids’ history, one of the best places to start is Brucemore, a historical mansion of the city’s wealthy elite for 100 years.
Today the mansion is open to the public and offers tours of its many rooms and gardens. By getting to know Brucemore and the three families who lived there, you’ll gain a better understanding of the people who shaped Cedar Rapids into the city it is today.
However, Brucemore is now first and foremost a community cultural center, and it hosts many events throughout the year, including concerts, festivals, outdoor theatre, garden programs, family activities and more. So even if you’re not interested in history, there’s still something for you at Brucemore.
Paddle down the Cedar River
If you’re feeling a little adventurous, why not go for a paddle down the Cedar River?
It’s a fantastic opportunity to see the city (and beyond!) from a different perspective, and there are a variety of different ways to do it.
You can rent a kayak or canoe from one of the many outfitters in the city and go on your own self-guided tour or join a group tour. No matter what you choose, it’s sure to be a memorable experience.
And if you want to make a weekend of it, there are plenty of camping spots along the river where you can set up camp and enjoy the great outdoors.
Take in the art in the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art
With a permanent collection featuring works by American masters such as Mauricio Lasansky and Grant Wood, as well as rotating exhibitions, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art is a must-see for art lovers.
The museum originated in 1895 as an art club and has since grown to become one of the leading art museums in the Midwest. In addition to its impressive permanent collection, the museum hosts and organizes art-related events.
In the early 2000s, the museum was also given the original studio of Grant Wood, an Iowa native and one of the most famous American artists of the 20th century, best known for his painting “American Gothic.” The studio is now open to the public as well.
The Bottom Line
Cedar Rapids is a surprising gem in the Midwest, with a lot to offer visitors. It boasts a versatile history, a rich Czech and Slovak heritage, a thriving art scene, and plenty of outdoor recreation. So, whether you’re looking to explore the city’s history and heritage, reconnect with nature or just have a good time, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for in Cedar Rapids.
If you’re planning a trip to Cedar Rapids or can’t decide if it’s the right destination for you, make sure to add these five things to your to-do list. You won’t be disappointed.
Top bird watching photograph courtesy of Swarovski
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