If you’re looking for a perfect blend of small-town charm and big-city amenities, Muscatine, Iowa, is the place for you. This delightful riverfront town has a fascinating history, scenic natural beauty, delicious food, and unique attractions! So, whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, foodie, or simply seeking a fun weekend getaway, Muscatine has something for everyone! Below are the top things to do in Muscatine, Iowa.
Top things to do in Muscatine, Iowa
See the Mississippi River
How do you want to experience the mighty Mississippi River? Below are fun ideas on what to see and do along the river in Muscatine.
Drive the Great River Road.
One of the best ways to experience the mighty Mississippi River is to take a drive along the Great River Road. This 3000-mile scenic byway follows the Mississippi River through 10 states!
So, take a drive on this spectacular road that extends through Muscatine – offering amazing views and excellent stops. See the brochure for more on the Great River Road stops in Iowa.
Visit Riverside Park.
Riverside Park is an excellent spot for river views and tons of fun! The Mississippi Mist Fountain cools you off on hot summer days and lights up at night. While there, you can also stop at the playground, stroll (or bike) the paved path, have a picnic, play basketball, or launch your boat.
Bike or walk Running River Trail.
For a more active experience, bike or walk the Running River Trail. The city’s trail system extends along the riverfront and links to several city parks. Much of the trail on the riverfront is paved and lighted.
The city trail system has paved and unpaved sections – see the map for details.
Lock & Dam No. 16 Recreation Area is a great place to view Bald Eagles in winter, Pelicans in spring & fall, Great Blue Herons, ducks, and other waterfowl in the summer. And, of course, see the river traffic moving through. Find it on the Illinois side of the river across from Muscatine.
Tour the National Pearl Button Museum at the History & Industry Center
Did you know Muscatine was once the “Pearl Button Capital of the World”? Early in the 20th century, the area produced over 1.5 billion pearl buttons a year(!), made from mussel shells removed from rivers.
Stop by to learn more about the history of the pearl industry and see the museum’s extensive collections.
Explore Muscatine’s historic downtown.
After you tour the Pearl Button Museum, explore Muscatine’s historic downtown (on the National Register of Historic Places).
See historic homes with unique architecture, grab a bite to eat, and browse the shops and boutiques. Colorful murals, sculptures, and poetry etched in concrete add to the appeal.
Here are a few popular stops to consider in Downtown Muscatine:
- Contrary Brewing Company
- Missipi Brew
- Boonies on the Avenue
- Skinny’s Barbeque
- Muscatine Art Center
- National Pearl Button Museum
- The Merrill Hotel
See a map of downtown here.
Discovery Park (& Environmental Learning Center)
Discovery Park is a beautiful 100-acre city park and former farmstead on Muscatine’s northwest side. Trails, a fishing pond, a raptor enclosure, an arboretum, and the Environmental Learning Center make it ideal for all ages!
Here’s what you’ll find at Discovery Park:
- Trails: 2 miles of paved and 1½ miles of soft-surfaced trails
- Environmental Learning Center: interactive exhibits, aquariums, natural history exhibits, raptor enclosure
- Stocked fishing ponds, fishing docks
- Wildlife viewing area
- Muscatine Arboretum
- Picnic areas
- Restored prairie
And right across the street from Discovery Park is Fuller Park! There you’ll find a fantastic playground and disc golf course!
Muscatine Art Center
Work by famous artists, historical exhibits, a play space, and a Japanese garden are just a few reasons to see the Muscatine Art Center! The center hosts art classes, events, and changing exhibitions too.
Find the Art Center on the north side of Downtown Muscatine. See the museum website for more information.
Wildcat Den State Park (& Pine Creek Grist Mill)
This must-see Iowa State Park is chock full of beauty and history! It’s the most photographed state park because of its geological formations and sandstone bluffs.
Adventurous hikes, great picnic spots, and primitive camping are a few of the many ways to experience the park.
But there’s more! Any visit to Wildcat Den State Park should include the historic grist mill and a one-room schoolhouse. Take a tour or explore on your own. See more information here.
Muscatine’s outdoor farmers market is a fantastic place to find fresh produce (including Muscatine melons!), homemade goodies, entertainment, and more!
It’s held every Saturday morning, May through October, on E. 3rd & Cedar St. For up-to-date information, see their Facebook page.
And if you’re in town in December, catch their Christmas Market at the Muscatine Mall.
Where to stay in Muscatine
There’s so much to do in Muscatine; it makes sense you’ll want to stay awhile! From Bed and Breakfasts to excellent camping, there are several options for overnight stays.
Hotels in Muscatine
- The Merrill Hotel, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel (downtown)
- Strawberry Farm B&B
- Comfort Inn Muscatine near Highway 61
- Hampton Inn Muscatine
- Best Western Pearl City Inn
- AmericInn by Wyndham Muscatine
- Super 8 by Wyndham Muscatine
- Travelodge Inn & Suites by Wyndham Muscatine
Camping near Muscatine
- Saulsbury Campground
- Fairport State Recreation Area
- Shady Creek Recreation Area
- Clark’s Ferry Recreation Area
- Wildcat Den State Park
Things to do nearby
The Quad Cities are about 30 minutes northeast of Muscatine, with lots to see and do. There’s something for everyone, from museums and parks to casinos and shopping!
- The Iowa side (Davenport & Bettendorf) is home to the Putnam Museum and Science Center, Fejervary Park, Family Museum, Figge Art Museum, Family Museum, and Riverboat Twilight Cruises, to name a few.
- On the Illinois side (Rock Island & Moline), find the John Deere Pavilion, Rock Island Arsenal, Black Hawk State Historic Site, Celebration River Cruises, and more.
The Herbert Hoover National Historic Site is 30 minutes north of Muscatine. Learn the story of Herbert Hoover, from his childhood in Iowa to his presidency during the Great Depression. And tour the park’s historic buildings, like Hoover’s birthplace, a schoolhouse, and a blacksmith shop.