There’s no shortage of incredible things to do and see in Cedar Rapids! It’s a city full of art & culture, unique experiences, and fantastic outdoor adventures. And, as Iowa’s second-largest city, it’s a diverse and fun place to visit – or live!
So, whether you’re just visiting – or live there – read on! Below is our list of the best things to do in Cedar Rapids! It’s a must-see Iowa town for exploring nature, shopping, taking tours, and eating great food.
Best Things To Do in Cedar Rapids
Map of Things To Do in Cedar Rapids
Cedar Rapids Museums, Shops, and Theaters
The DISTRICT – Czech Village & New Bohemia
Two great neighborhoods converge to make up The District south of downtown. The District makes up 40 blocks(!) on both sides of the Cedar River and is a must-visit if you’re anywhere near Cedar Rapids!
From art and music to unique eateries and shops, it’s the perfect place for families – or date night! Attend events and concerts, take a class, buy one-of-a-kind items and, of course, eat delicious food! Also, grab a selfie near the colorful murals on buildings.
NewBo City Market
No visit to The District is complete without stopping at the NewBo City Market. It’s all about local and sustainable at the market! This fantastic non-profit provides space for local artists and businesses to get started.
NewBo City Market features an array of businesses, from cultural foods to art and clothing items. For current shopkeepers, see the Newbo website.
National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library
This excellent museum is a national Smithsonian affiliate for a good reason! Interactive exhibits engage visitors as they learn about Czech and Slovak culture and history. Permanent displays include an 1890s immigrant home and Faces of Freedom, the story of immigrants’ journey to America. See the museum website for more information.
African American Museum of Iowa
This is the only museum in the state dedicated to the preservation and education of African American heritage. Visitors learn about African American history in Iowa through exhibits and art, special programs, and research. See the museum website for more details.
Cedar Rapids Museum of Art
What began as an art club in 1895 became the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art in the 1960s! Today, the museum has an array of permanent art collections, like their Grant Wood collection, as well as changing exhibits. That’s not to mention the extraordinary events and classes they have available. See their website for more information.
Tour this National Trust Historic Site to experience the beauty and history of an 1886 Queen Anne/Victorian-style mansion. This 21-room estate sits on 26 acres, with early 20th-century-inspired landscaping and gardens. Guided and self-guided tours are available, and downloadable activity pages are on the museum website.
The Paramount Theater is the place for entertainment in Cedar Rapids! It’s on the National Register of Historic Places and among the last movie palaces from the 1920s and 30s. Though it’s undergone extensive renovations over the years, it’s maintained its extravagant and historic look and feel.
If you’re looking for an outdoor concert experience, there’s no better place than the McGraff Amphitheater. Located on the banks of the Cedar River near downtown Cedar Rapids, it’s the perfect location for an event! See upcoming events here.
Grant Wood Attractions
Grant Wood is an eastern Iowa native, most famous for his piece “American Gothic.” And, if you want to see his art and learn more about him, Cedar Rapids is the place! He lived most of his life there.
The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art is the perfect stop to see an extensive collection of art by Grant Wood. And be sure to stop by the Grant Wood Studio & Visitor Center. Wood’s studio features unique architecture and is where American Gothic was painted! Admission is free during limited weekend hours.
Also, see the stained glass window in the lobby of the Veteran’s Memorial Building. It’s Wood’s largest work of art, at 24 feet tall and 20 feet wide. The Memorial Window was completed in 1928 as a symbolic tribute to veterans. See it anytime the building is open to the public.
And, if you’re so inclined, drive by the Iowa Gothic Barn, east of Cedar Rapids on Hwy 30 (near Palisades Kepler State Park)! This privately commissioned barn art depicts Grant Wood’s American Gothic.
Cedar Rapids Parks & Nature Areas
Bever Park & Old MacDonald’s Farm
Bever Park is a historic Cedar Rapids park and zoo and home to Old MacDonald’s Farm. Visitors of all ages enjoy seeing (and petting!) farm animals, like pigs, goats, calves, and chickens, at Old MacDonald’s Farm. The petting zoo is open during the summer and managed by Cedar Rapids Parks & Rec.
Indian Creek Nature Center
The Indian Creek Nature Center has miles of trails, interactive exhibits, a bird sanctuary, an outdoor classroom, and (much) more! It’s at the confluence of Indian Creek and the Cedar River on the east side of Cedar Rapids. See our article on the nature center for more details!
Morgan Creek Park
Morgan Creek Park is a 350-acre gem within the Cedar Rapids city limits. This excellent county park has 4+ miles of trails, an arboretum and butterfly garden, a phenomenal playground, and even a campground! See the Linn County website for more.
Prairie Park Fishery
Prairie Park Fishery is a 66-acre lake on the east side of town. It’s an excellent spot to go fishing, paddling, birdwatching, hiking, or biking! Take your own watercraft, or rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard from SOKO Outfitters (also paddle at Cedar Lake or Thomas Park in Marion).
Sac & Fox Trail
This 7-mile multi-use limestone trail is along the Cedar River and Indian Creek on the east side of Cedar Rapids. So if you’re looking for a longer hike (or bike ride), check out this excellent route! Access it at Prairie Park Fishery or Indian Creek Nature Center. See the trail map here.
Wickiup Hill Learning Center
Head to the Wickiup Hill Learning Center to learn about diverse habitats through fun interactive exhibits! And, while you’re there, watch the birds, explore the trails, and stop at the natural playscape. Take a peek inside on the virtual tour of the learning center.
Palisades Kepler State Park
Palisades Kepler State Park is a scenic 840-acre Iowa State Park along the Cedar River just east of Cedar Rapids. It offers fantastic views and has four miles of rugged trails and a large sandy area along the river. Visitors enjoy fishing, camping, hiking, and climbing at this beautiful park!
Other Attractions in Cedar Rapids
- Ellis Golf Course
- Twin Pines Golf Course
- Airport National Golf Course
- Gardner Golf Course
- Hunters Ridge Golf Course
- Mini Pines Miniature Golf Course
- Waterfall National Mini Golf
- FX Mini-Golf, AIr FX Trampoline Park
- Jones Memorial Park
- Shaver Park
- Fay Clark Park
- Bertram Disc Golf Course
- Spare Time Entertainment
- Cedar Rapids Bowling Center
- May City Bowl
- Lancer Lanes
- Manhattan Robbins Lake Park
- Seminole Valley Park
- Ellis Park
- Mohawk City Park
- Cedar Lake
- Prairie Park Fishery
- Indian Creek Nature Center
- Waldo’s Rock Park
- Coralville Lake
- Lake Macbride
- Cherry Hill Aquatic Center
- Noelridge Aquatic Center
- Bender Pool
- Bever Pool
- Jones Pool
- Ellis Park Pool
- Marion Pool
- Pleasant Creek State Recreation Area
- Lake Macbride State Park Beach
- Sugar Bottom Beach (Coralville Lake)
- West Overlook Beach (Coralville Lake)
More to do around Cedar Rapids
The Fantastic Escape is ranked among the best escape rooms around. They’re known for detailed storylines, so each room is a fun, immersive experience!
Spare Time Entertainment is a fun spot for all ages. Bowling, an arcade, and laser tag are some popular activities, and you can grab a bite to eat afterward!
Speedeez Indoor Karting is an excellent indoor go-kart track with food and an arcade.
The Play Station is where kids (and adults) of all ages can go climb, slide, crawl, and play. It’s the perfect place to burn off some energy! The Play Maze, laser maze, climbing walls, and arcade provide hours of entertainment.
The Cedar Rapids Public Library isn’t just for kids – but it has a special place kids love! Besides books, it has a puppet theater, computer games, and other hands-on activities. Plus, kids love reading on the Living Learning Roof.
Air FX Trampoline Park has foam pits, climbing, and lots of air time on the trampolines. They also have a mini-golf course on site.
Top Places to Eat & Drink in Cedar Rapids
Cedar Rapids is known for its award-winning food & drink! Below are some of the most popular places to eat.
- Almost Famous Popcorn
- Black Sheep Social Club
- Cafe Saint Pio
- Cappie’s Pizzeria
- Cobble Hill Restaurant
- El Bajio Mexican Restaurant
- Emil’s Hideaway
- Irish Democrat
- Lion Bridge Brewery
- Los Compadres
- NewBo City Market
- Oyama Sushi & Steakhouse
- Pub 217
- Quarter Barrell Arcade & Brewery
- Starlite Room
- The Map Room
- Vivian’s Soul Food
- White Star Ale House
Where to Stay in Cedar Rapids
There are many hotel options in Cedar Rapids, and even more if you look in Iowa City. No doubt, you’ll find a hotel that fits your needs! Below are some of the top-rated hotels in Cedar Rapids.
- DoubleTree By Hilton Convention Complex
- The Hotel at Kirkwood Center
- TownePlace Suites by Marriott Cedar Rapids Marion
- Hilton Garden Inn Cedar Rapids
- Best Western Plus Longbranch Hotel & Convention Center
- Homewood Suites by Hilton Cedar Rapids North
- Cedar Rapids Marriott
- County Inn & Suites by Radisson Cedar Rapids Airport
- Hampton Inn & Suites Cedar Rapids North
- Tru by Hilton Cedar Rapids Westdale
Morgan Creek Park is on the west side of Cedar Rapids! It has 36 electric campsites with water hookups, available first-come, first-serve. A dump station and modern restrooms/showers are on site.
Wanatee Park is on the northeast side of Cedar Rapids in Marion. It has 69 campsites with electricity and water hookups. A dump station and modern restrooms-showers are on site. The A loop campsites are reservable here and include a few full hookup sites. The B loop campsites are first-come, first-serve.
Palisades Kepler State Park is just east of Cedar Rapids. Its beautiful campground (and cabins!) is surrounded by dense woods and sloping hills. 40+ electric and non-electric campsites and four cabins are reservable at ReserveAmerica.com.
Other campgrounds nearby:
- Coralville Lake campgrounds
- Pleasant Creek State Recreation Area
- Lake Macbride State Park
- Scales Pointe Camping
- Lazy Acres RV Park
Things To Do Nearby (so much to do nearby!)
The town of Marion is on the northeast side of Cedar Rapids and has lots of fun things to do! Its quintessential midwestern main street, Uptown Marion, is an excellent spot for unique shopping and eating experiences, plus many events!
Coralville Lake is a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts just a few miles south of Cedar Rapids. The 23-mile-long reservoir is a super popular boating destination. It also has three beaches, mountain bike trails, disc golf, trails, camping, and (much) more!
Lake Macbride State Park is Iowa’s largest state park and is only 17 miles from Cedar Rapids! Stop by to go swimming, boating, fishing, camping, and picnicking. Also, boat rentals are at the beach concession stand.
The Iowa Raptor Project, a program sponsored by the University of Iowa, is home to a dozen native birds of prey. Visitors can see the birds on display and learn about them year-round. See the project’s website for details.
Head east of Cedar Rapids to the town of Mt. Vernon. This little town is steeped in history and is home to Cornell College. There you can stroll the quaint shopping district and excellent small-town eateries.
Pinicon Ridge Park is a gorgeous 966-acre Linn County Park just north of Cedar Rapids. It’s right on the scenic Wapsipinicon River and has camping, trails, kayaking, fishing, and more! And it’s a perfect park for viewing fall colors.
The Amana Colonies are 30 minutes southwest of Cedar Rapids. Find one-of-a-kind shops and famous homemade food & drink with traditional German flair!
Kent Park is a 30-minute drive southwest of the park. This 1,052-acre county park has vast swaths of native prairie, plus a lake and woodlands. It’s ideal for exploring nature, with its 27-acre lake, three ponds, 9+ miles of trails, a beach, and a nice campground!
Take your off-road all-terrain vehicle or motorcycle to Lake View OHV Park. It’s on the northeast corner of Coralville Lake, at 3877 140th St NE, Solon, IA 52333. According to the Iowa DNR, the park has ”an “A” level motorcross practice track, a “B” level motorcross practice track, an off-road utility vehicle practice track, a pit bike track, and two kiddie tracks.”
The University of Iowa’s Museum of Natural History is in Iowa City and has free admission. Explore the Iowa Hall, check out the “Hall of Birds,” experience the Biosphere, and more!
Visit the Iowa Children’s Museum at Coral Ridge Mall, 30 minutes from the lake. Kids love the hands-on exhibits and programming at this fun, kid-centric museum.