15 Best Things to Do in Dubuque Iowa

15 Best Things to Do in Dubuque Iowa

Dubuque was commonly known for having one of the leading mining industries in the States? But, were you aware of its impeccable beauty?

Yes, it is so gorgeous that many couples select this as their wedding destination! Want to learn more about the Mississippi River?

Want to hear more stories about the different endangered species? Dubuque is the place! Come on, let’s take a look at the top 15 things to do in Dubuque.

Explore the Mines of Spain Recreation Area

The Mines of Spain Recreation Area is the top attraction here in Dubuque.

You might see a lot of places and indeed there are some good looking tourists spots in the city, but this is the one that draws all the tourists from wide and far. Let us get a look at the top features, shall we?

It is a state park built on a land of a vast 1,439 acres. The landscapes are quite appealing. And, the flora and fauna of this park are beautiful too along with a group of wildlife that attracts all kinds of visitors and even locals.

The prairie land features some old oak trees. Some of them are even older than 250 years or so. This area was solely used for mining purposes in this city.

Logging was also an industry that was well developed at that time and contributed a lot to the economic aspect. There are a lot of hiking trails within the forested lands, so you can enjoy activities too!

Check out the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium

National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium
Dirk Hansen, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium focuses on the lifestyle of the people living in the Mississippi area.

Want to know more in detail about these great rivers of America? The museum has a lot of stories just for you!

On the other hand, an aquarium is a place that kids fall in love with. Everyone loves to see the different creatures that are present in the aquarium. There are many native species along with some others that have been flown in from different countries.

The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium are located on the same campus and you can check them out one after another.

Enjoy the thrills of the Fenelon Place elevator

Fenelon Place elevator
BePhumirat / Shutterstock.com

Want to see how the steepest railway in the world looks like? Dubuque has a surprise for you because the steepest one in the world is present right here.

There is no other railway as short and steep as the Fenelon Place elevator in the entire world! Come on, let us have a look!

Taking the tourists from the Fourth Street till the Fenelon Place- the railway is located at quite a high altitude.

Yes, it is almost placed at a height of 189 feet. And, when you are at that height- the views are spectacular. You can see almost the entire city and kit will blow your mind.

Appreciate the art at Dubuque Museum of Art

Dubuque Museum of Art
Dirk Hansen, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Would you like to go and appreciate some local art before we decide where we should take you after this? Okay, let’s head over to the most famous art museum in Dubuque- the Dubuque Museum of Art.

The museum proudly displays more than 2,200 works. Not only does it contain the works of some well-known talents- but you can also find a lot of talented works done by the natives that are being proudly presented here.

Grant Wood’s paintings and photographs of Edward S. Curtis play an important role in this museum. The primary motive of this museum is to show people the beauty of art. It also has a major focus on various educational projects.

Enjoy the views at Eagle Point Park

Eagle Point Park
Dirk Hansen, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Want to breathe in some gorgeous scenes of Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin altogether? Are you think that this is an impossible feat? Well, Dubuque has made it possible just for you.

Now, we shall be heading over to Eagle Point Park. The Eagle Point Park is a park that stands on the shores of the Mississippi River and offers some of the best picturesque views that you might have never seen in your life.

Being constructed in 1908, the park has a gorgeous landscape and design too. Alfred Caldwell who also served as the park’s superintendent was the one who came up with such a gorgeous design.

The park is the ideal place to go over on a sunny afternoon and enjoy some views!

Snap a few pictures at Julien Dubuque Monument

Julien Dubuque Monument
Eddie J. Rodriquez / Shutterstock.com

When you were in the Mines of Spain Recreation Area, you must have come by a huge tower. Yes, we will be standing there for a while now- telling you all about it, and urging you to take a few pictures.

The location is quite luxurious too since it just stands there tall- overlooking the great Mississippi River.

Named after Julien Dubuque, the Julien Dubuque Monument holds historic significance. Yes, Julien Dubuque was the miner who brought the revolution to the world of mining here in Dubuque.

Where the monument is now standing- his body also rests in the same spot! So, do explore around for a couple of minutes. And take a few snaps of this historic location.

Taste the spirits at Stone Cliff Winery

We thought you’d like it if we said that we now have a wine tasting in mind just for you. So, why not call this day and head back to your hotel. Oh, wait! Have some wine before you go!

The Stone Cliff Winery is one of the best ones you could visit in Dubuque. Even, the building in which it is now open- is quite a historically significant one
Star Brewery Building once happened to be the main brewery of Dubuque as it is located in the heart of the city, just beside the main port.

But, it was closed down, and what you now see happens to be the Stone Cliff Winery. But, don’t worry- it won’t disappoint you! The best feature is that they have their vineyard, and get the wines from there only!

Check out the historic Shot Tower

The Shot Tower
Nicola Patterson / Shutterstock.com

The Shot Tower is a must-visit when you are here in Dubuque. But, there are not many of them left, so cherish this own while you are here in the city. It also has its name among the National Historic Landmarks.

Do you know why these shot towers were made? It was made to create lead balls. Molten lead was dropped from a high altitude and there used to be water tubs down.

When the lead came in contact with the water from such a great height- balls were created. This particular shot tower used to produce a large number of balls every day. Go on, take a few pictures, explore, and make the best day!

Go skiing at Sundown Mountain

Are you visiting Dubuque during the winters? Afraid there will not be much to do? Well, think again for Dubuque is a place of all seasons.

There are some extremely good skiing trails here where the snow is thick and powdery. Let’s head over to Sundown Mountain then.

There are some great skiing trails here. And, even if you are an amateur- there is no need to worry for you can find experts who will be willing to teach you the basics of skiing.

You can even book a room in the lodge if you want to spend the night and indulge in some early morning skiing.

Check out the brilliant Art on the River

Public art at Mississippi Riverwalk in Dubuque
PiXel Perfect PiX / Shutterstock.com

The Mississippi Riverwalk is indeed a beautiful place. There are a lot of features along this walk that enhance the beauty. And, the best one has to be the Art on the River. Yes, it kind of like a temporary art exhibit that occurs every year.

The local talents all gather and give their best to decorate the riverwalk uniquely. There are even judges who judge the artworks and even a winner is selected. It is a fun event. So, if you are in town at that time- do watch the exhibit.

Explore the Crystal Lake Cave

There is an interesting story behind the discovery of Crystal Cave Lake. The story dates back to the time when Dubuque was leading in the mining industry.

And, several miners got a tip that there was lead nearby. They began digging for it, but what came up was none other than this huge cave system.

Did you know that the scientists found out that it took almost 2 million years for this cave system to come into being? It is almost one of God’s wonders. And, it was accessible to the common people from 1932 onwards.

There is even a stalactite inside that goes by the name of St. Peter's Dome. Other stalactites are known as Cliff Dwellers.

See the architecture of the Mathias Ham House

Mathias Ham House
Dirk Hansen, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Mathias Ham was a man of many trades. He indulged in farming, made bricks, and was even a lumberman at some point in his life. It is said that he even had something to do with the local politics and was deeply involved in the Underground Railway.

For all these reasons- you can just imagine that he was a man of great taste too when you take a look at his house.

The house is truly beautiful beyond words. There is even a replica of a mine shaft inside the house. And, some guides lead the tours and will tell you all about the history of the house.

Get to know more about the flora and fauna at Dubuque Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
PiXel Perfect PiX / Shutterstock.com

Want to check out a place so beautiful that it keeps on changing its appearance and each one is unique in its way? Well, the Dubuque Arboretum & Botanical Gardens welcomes you to its luxurious grounds.

The place is serene and gorgeous at the same time. Located inside Marshal Park, its beauty is indescribable.

There are gardens of different themes and colors. These colors keep on changing seasonally, so whenever you visit- this place will not remain the same as it was the last time you saw it.

The moment you step foot inside, you shall be greeted with the sweet fragrance of flowers that will blow your mind!

Go kayaking at Dubuque Water Trail

Kayaking in Dubuque
PiXel Perfect PiX / Shutterstock.com

The undisturbed trail of water in the Mississippi River and Catfish Creek that extends across for almost 11 miles is commonly known as the Dubuque Water Trail.

The Mississipi River holds a lot of historic significance. Most of the old developments occurred along the banks of the river, and you can still get to see those even today.

There are some nice ways to explore the waters along with the shorelines. Go boating or kayaking in the Dubuque Water Trail.

It is one of the most recreational activities to do here in Dubuque for you get to learn a lot about history and some tourist spots like A.Y. McDonald Park and Massey Marina Park too.

Pray at the St. Luke's United Methodist Church

St. Luke's United Methodist Church
Kevin Schuchmann, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Being enlisted on the National Register of Historic Places, St. Luke's United Methodist Church holds a special place in the hearts of both locals and tourists.

When you learn about the history of Dubuque- you will notice that the entire town is based on industries and businesses.

Yes, mining was the biggest industry till a certain period. In such a situation the presence of such a church might seem quite uncommon. But, St. Luke's United Methodist Church is a beautiful distraction of the town.

The architecture style is also different from the rest of the buildings that you see in town. And, another feature about this church is its unique and large pipe organ. When it was installed, it was the largest of its time.

We bid you goodbye for this trip. We shall be back again with another vacation planning for you. Bon Voyage!