20 Best Things to Do in Cedar Rapids, IA

Cedar Rapids, IA
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The second-largest city in Iowa, Cedar Rapids is one of America's most progressive and "happening" cities, with some of the lowest crime rates.

The city, which ranked eighth among the top cities to live the American Dream in the United States, sure sets some standards.

Cedar Rapids has a top-tier combination of nature, modernity, and heritage in the form of gorgeous rivers and nature sanctuaries and high-rise towers and mansions.

This city is also known for its distinct European impact and Slovakian artifacts like those in the Czech Village & New Bohemia District or the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library.

These stay as beautiful landmarks for tourism today.

The historic mansion and gardens of Brucemore, the Paramount Theatre, the top-tier Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, and the multiple nature centers and nature parks are among the city's top attractions.

In addition, heritage museums, the Cedar River, the bustling city market bustling, gorgeous libraries, and the edgy downtown will make you fall in love with this destination.

These are the best things to do in Cedar Rapids, Iowa:


Visit the Breathtaking National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

National czech and slovak museum in Cedar Rapids
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This museum was established in 2012 and hosted an exhibit called Alphonse Mucha: Inspirations of Art Nouveau, where more than 230 priceless artifacts came directly from Europe, namely Prague and London.

The other two parts of the museum concentrate on Czech and Slovak history and culture.

The grounds comprise a two-room home that served as a residence for Czech immigrants for five generations from the 1880s.

The grand building of National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library
ArtisticAbode, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There is a gift shop with a collection and service so fine that it was awarded as the top gift shop in the US.

Numerous exhibits are held throughout the year in different parts of the museum, ranging from Medieval European history to the American War and political history.

There is an ample amount of intriguing information on the Czechs and Slovaks.

There are also exhibits on both the World Wars.

This place can also be called a heaven of folklore, with tales, customs, traditions, and an endless collection of gorgeous costumes, including baby dolls dressed in Czech and Slovakian clothes.

All these dresses are handmade by the finest craftsmen and will surely steal your heart.

The migration history is beautifully and accurately portrayed through these models, costumes, stories, audio tours, informative areas, and memorabilia.


Witness the Historic Brucemore Estate

Huge garden at Brucemore Estate
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This estate and 26-acre park is a living landmark sketching the glorious history of Cedar Rapids.

This mansion has a whopping 21 rooms!

Cedar Rapids is known as the land of five seasons, and with each changing season, this mansion, along with its vast woods and garden, is given a whole new look.

The exteriors are a treat to witness, with a cottage-like 20th-century finish, red brick walls, and multiple cones and pockets.

The red brick exterior of Brucemore Estate
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The interiors are a whole new area to cover, and this place isn't simply a heritage site.

An array of fun and massive activities are held at Brucemore throughout the year, from general parties and concerts to events and exhibits.

The gardens are expansive and highly well-maintained, with lots of flowering and fruit-bearing trees and wooded trails to make your trip all the more enjoyable.


Stroll around NewBo City Market

To discover the soul of any land, one must experience a taste of living like a local.

The best way to do that is to travel through the city's markets and learn about its atmosphere.

NewBo City Market will provide you with an exciting experience at Cedar Rapids.

This indoor marketplace is a one-stop solution for your needs, whether you're after food, architecture, local products, or simply being amongst lively crowds.

A well-equipped and well-facilitated modern area with a varied range of stores, NewBo City Market is a community gathering place and a favorite among locals and tourists.

It boasts a wide range of restaurants, cafes, a common food court, gaming zones, and clothing stores.

There is live music for free on weekends.

NewBo will give you a comfortable space to dine, shop, and have a good time.


Look around the Czech Village & New Bohemia District

Bakery in Czech village
Rosemarie Mosteller / Shutterstock.com


Located on 10th Avenue, this area has shops and markets where you can buy an exotic mix of products at reasonable prices.

The Czech Village is a prime location for authentic Czech products, authentic Czech architecture, paintings, heritage buildings, and other markers.

Street view of Czech Village
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There is the White Elephant Building of 1889, numerous famous bakeries serving mouth-watering delicacies, age-old bars, Czech cottages, and many antique shops with pretty rare collections.

Here, you'll see streetside shops selling gorgeous jewelry that you will not usually see on American streets, plus colorful houses just waiting to be explored.


Feed Your Inner Artist at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art

Entrance of Cedar Rapids museum of art
ericjames, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


A museum of nearly every traveler's choice and boasting a range of awards, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art is one of the most prestigious institutions in Cedar Rapids and in all of Iowa.

Located on 3rd Avenue, this place has an array of art to offer to its visitors from very ancient periods to as early as the last decade.

The works featured here span periods as broad as 2,000 years.

There are paintings, sculptures, fossils from different parts of the world like Egypt, and remains of different civilizations.

Take a Break at Indian Creek Nature Center

If you get overwhelmed after spending an entire day sightseeing, you might want to take a relaxing break in the arms of nature.

This is when Indian Creek Nature Center comes to the rescue.

Situated along Otis Road, this nature park provides a heavenly ambiance as there is no sign of artificiality in its gardens.

The nature center boasts deep green woods with trailing paths, butterfly gardens, and meadows.

Activities you can enjoy here include beehive watching, birdwatching, fishing, touring the greenhouses, and spending the day at the playground for children.

You might also spot beautiful deer while taking a walk in the forest.


Sit and Enjoy the Views by the Cedar River

Calm water flowing in Cedar River with cityscape in the background
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The scenic Cedar River frontage is a pivotal landmark in Cedar Rapids.

Its vast surrounding area comprises a massive parking space, numerous eateries, and walking trails along the river.

Walking by the old bridge is also a way to enjoy the views of the area.

Bird's eye view of Cedar River
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You can go down and walk on the grassy shore, too.

If you are lucky, you might spot bald eagles or geese.

Scenic view of Cedar River
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Come by for a picnic with your family or simply sit quietly by the river, go for a swim, or go fishing.

Enjoy the beauty of this river on your own terms.

Pay a Visit to the Grant Wood Studio

The Grant Wood Studio is located on 2nd Avenue and marks a profound history of the American painter Grant Wood.

The cozy and humble studio looks sharp with its red brick structure, and as you enter, you'll find the exact ambiance of an artist's abode.

American Gothic, one of Wood's most famous portraits, was painted in this studio and presently remains here as his memorabilia.

Other works of the artist are found here, too.

Enjoy a Beautiful Evening at the Paramount Theatre

Front view of Paramount Theatre
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To enjoy the best of Cedar Rapids's old-time charm, visiting the Paramount Theatre is a must.

The true beauty of this theater becomes evident as you enter the place and find massive, larger-than-life pillars accompanied by long velvet curtains, classic and comforting gallery seats in a semi-circle, a vintage organ, and chandeliers.

Visit and enjoy high-standard orchestras and musicals with live instruments, dramas, plays from Greek tragedies, American comedies, and concerts.

The Paramount Theatre is ready to engage you in superior quality entertainment.

Relax at the Lovely Bever Park

Located by the Bever Park Trail, this lively park gives off the perfect countryside energy.

Bever Park is surrounded by lush green gardens and is perfect for visitors of all ages.

Take your friends and family here and sit by the benches, explore one of the walking trails, or enjoy a therapeutic tour amid the park's calming scenic beauty.

You can also bring your children here and accompany them to the petting zoo.

Your kids will surely have a wonderful time petting and feeding cows and goats and watching ducks swimming around.


Tour the Historic African American Museum of Iowa

African American museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids
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The African American Museum of Iowa is one of the most humbling and educational attractions in the state.

It covers Iowa's deep range of African American history and holds numerous items that show how the African Americans here lived and were treated.

Aerial view of the exhibits at African American Museum of Iowa
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There are cafeterias dating back to that age, as well as rooms marked as "whites only" and "colored," all of which bring flashbacks of the horrific racism that used to reign here.

This institute regularly holds exhibits, educational tours, and shows enlightening visitors about these facts from the past.


Be Dazzled by the Cedar Rapids Public Library

Art piece on the entrance of Cedar Rapids Public Library
Kiyah / Shutterstock.com


The award-winning Cedar Rapids Public Library was recreated after the major flood of Cedar Rapids.

Many reference and adult books were lost in the flood, but the children's and teenage sections still remain one of the finest.

Their coverage ranges from African American to European and American literature, books on applied science and biosciences, economy, commercial books, and more.

There is a green space on the roof, a nursing room, and other fun activities for everyone to enjoy.

The architecture will win your heart with its spacious, modernized 21st-century designs and facilities like automated book sorting.


Quench Your Thirst at the Perfect Clock House Brewing

Clock House Brewing is located on 1st Street and is the perfect place to sit down and enjoy excellent brews.

The building looks lovely, with a red brick structure.

The indoors are spacious, featuring a vast seating area that protrudes to an outside patio.

There is always music being played here, and the dishes served are classics.

For beer tasting and knowledge on brewing beer, the friendly owners also offer tours of the brewery.

The available drinks include craft beers, Belgian whiskeys, English rums, vodkas, and more.


Go on a Trip to Ushers Ferry Historic Village

If you have an afternoon or evening free, this is the best place to have a quick tour around.

Located in the beautiful Seminole Valley, this is technically a reception hall, but different activities take place here throughout the year.

Events, exhibitions, concerts, tours, and more are regularly held here.

Apart from this, the area is a natural beauty, and going for a walk to enjoy the softwoods with amber trees would not be a bad idea at all.

The house's architecture is also brilliant-looking and belongs to the 20th century.


Watch a Live Performance at the Mcgrath Amphitheatre

To make your visit to Cedar Rapids as joyous as possible, one must pay a visit to the McGrath Amphitheatre.

Concerts are held at the venue every other day, so you are sure to find your musical match here.

There is plenty of seating space, and it is open-air, which adds to the place's gorgeous nighttime lighting.

The food is fabulous, and drinks are available, too.

So, grab a bite and go for an evening show to see the entire city come alive in front of your eyes at a single location.

Learn More about Cedar Rapids at the Fascinating History Center

They say you can't get to know a place unless you know its history, and if that's something you believe, this should absolutely be one of the places you visit on your trip to Cedar Rapids.

The History Center, located on 2nd Avenue, is dedicated to providing unique resources for locals and visitors alike to share stories about the community and its history.

When you get there, you'll see the connections between the past and the future.

What was Cedar Rapids like back then, what is it like now, and what are the many possibilities for its future?

Walk the Gorgeous Cedar River Trail

Not everyone appreciates the act of simply being in nature, feeling the cool forest breeze against your skin, and hearing the gentle flutter of leaves all around you.

However, Cedar Rapids can give you a chance to understand what makes something like that so amazing without pushing you too far out of your comfort zone.

Follow the Cedar River Trail and witness the natural beauty of the area.

It's an urban river walk that follows a former rail bed and goes on for miles and miles.

So, try it out and see how long you can go; but don't go in a rush and take as much time as you need to appreciate the scenery around you.

Art enthusiasts are surely in for a treat when visiting Cedar Rapids, as it's home to numerous art galleries.

One of these is the Gilded Pearl Gallery, located on Third Avenue.

The gallery features different exhibitions throughout the year, showcasing the work of modern and contemporary artists.

Take a look around and see what you end up liking.

Whether you like abstract or more concrete pieces, this place will surely have something you'll find interesting.

Try Your Luck at Prairie Park Fishery

Have you ever tried fishing?

Well, whether you're a newbie who wants to try it out for the first time or a veteran looking to go back to a familiar pastime, Prairie Park Fishery will give you the opportunity to fish to your heart's content.

Before you get started, make sure you've obtained the appropriate permissions for fishing; once you have that, you'll be good to go.

The fishery has two main basins, so do your research to figure out which one will work better for what you want to do.

Some of the species you'll find there are walleyes, bluegills, and black crappies.

Show Your Support for Local Artists at CSPS

CSPS, which can be found on 3rd Street, started in the 1980s when an independent art company presented pieces and performances across the globe.

Eventually, they settled into the historic CSPS Hall in 1991, creating the art hub that exists today.

Now, when you're there, you'll be treated to a multicultural and multidisciplinary center.

The place showcases various artists and shows off their skills by creating exhibits or hosting their original performances.

Final Thoughts

With historical monuments and art galleries, river trails, and nature walks, Cedar Rapids is definitely a place that'll pique your interest no matter what kind of person you are.

It's hard not to marvel at how many things you can do in a place like this, and it could be called overwhelming if it wasn't so exciting.

Give it a try and see what part of the area you'll fall in love with, or maybe you'll find yourself falling in love with the entire place.

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