Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Davenport, IA

  • Published 2022/11/26

Davenport is a vibrant city nestled along the Mississippi River in Iowa.

Located in Scott County, it is famously known for being a part of the Quad Cities, along with Rock Island, Moline, and East Moline.

The term “Quad Cities” is a misnomer since Bettendorf is also a part of this group, but “Quint Cities” did not take off when it was proposed to be adopted.

These cities are relatively similar in size and are waterfront communities.

With their location, these cities have a lot to offer, and Davenport is the most popular among the five when it comes to tourist destinations!

Being the biggest city among the Quad Cities, Davenport provides its visitors with many fun activities in its lively downtown location and scenic river views.

Whether you want to take numerous photos of picturesque sights or immerse yourself in the culture and history of the city, Davenport has something exciting to offer you, even if you don’t want to spend a dime!

Here are 15 free things to do in Davenport, Iowa:

Appreciate Beautiful Artworks at Figge Art Museum

Exterior of Figge Art Museum

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Make one of your nights in Davenport more memorable by checking out the captivating artworks at Figge Art Museum.

Located on West Second Street, Figge Art Museum is the area’s top facility for art education and exhibitions.

From artful ceramics and sculptures to vibrant paintings and sketches, this museum displays many different types of art that will inspire you.

Facade of Figge Art Museum

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Here, you’ll know more about the different art forms and cultures worldwide just by seeing the various works of art on display.

With a massive collection of artworks made by international and local artists, Figge Art Museum is the best place to go if you want to spend your time roaming around in awe while looking at incredibly stunning artworks.

Make sure to visit after 5 p.m. on Thursdays to take advantage of their free admission!

See Extraordinary Plants and Flowers at Vander Veer Botanical Park

A fountain at Vander Veer Botanical Park

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Feast your eyes on lush greenery and blooming flowers when you explore Vander Veer Botanical Park.

Nestled in Central Park Avenue, Vander Veer Botanical Park is a gorgeous oasis filled with beautiful floral displays and gardens.

Since it was established in 1885, many tourists and locals alike flock to this park to take a moment to relax with the stunning plants around.

Apart from the enchanting flowers and vibrant foliage, this park also features the Stone Fountain, a popular spot for taking pictures.

Rose garden at Vander Veer Botanical Park

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Explore this botanical park and check out all the plants, including unique ones planted there since the 1890s!

If you’re lucky, you might even catch some of the rotating botanical exhibitions and see extraordinary plants, like Spring Azaleas and tropical plants that grow during the summer.

Bring your loved ones and other nature enthusiasts and enjoy the beauty of nature!

A trail at Vander Veer Botanical Park

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Enjoy City Views from above at Davenport Skybridge

Walkway of Davenport Skybridge

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Get the best views of the city when you head to Davenport Skybridge!

Davenport Skybridge is a cable-stayed pedestrian bridge that begins at West River Drive.

Besides being a functional bridge, Davenport Skybridge is also a visually stunning form of architecture with vibrant lights.

When you visit this bridge at night, you’ll feel like you’re transported to a futuristic realm because of all the purple, green, and blue lighting throughout your path.

Exterior of Davenport Skybridge

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The best part about this bridge is the unparalleled sights it offers to visitors.

Standing 50 feet tall, Davenport Skybridge gives you the best view of the whole city.

Stroll through this bridge and appreciate the scenic cityscape.

You can also take pictures of the view or the lights throughout the bridge!

Visit the Architecturally Stunning Sacred Heart Cathedral

Exterior of the Sacred Heart Cathedral

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Marvel at the striking architecture of the Sacred Heart Cathedral when you visit Davenport!

Based on East 10th Street, the Sacred Heart Cathedral is a beautiful religious institution that serves the needs of the Catholic individuals in the community.

Whether you are a devout Catholic or not, this church is a must-see because of its stunning exterior.

Its beautiful Gothic Revival architectural style makes it stand out in the neighborhood and draws many visitors.

Interior of the Sacred Heart Cathedral

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Marvel at its magnificent facade, which features a towering steeple with a beautiful spire.

You are also free to explore inside, where you’ll be amazed by the stained-glass decor, including the incredibly beautiful one behind the altar.

Make sure to stop by this cathedral to see the beauty that this religious institution has to offer.

Stained glass window in the Sacred Heart Cathedral

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Watch Exceptional Craftsmen in Action at Isabel Bloom Studio

Get to know more about the heritage of an exceptional sculptor when you join the tours at Isabel Bloom Studio.

Nestled along Federal Street, this establishment sells unique handcrafted sculptures from designs crafted by the talented Isabel Bloom.

Isabel Bloom was a renowned sculptor known for her creative and one-of-a-kind sculptures depicting children and animals.

Although she passed away in 2001, her legacy still lives on through the many sculptures made from her designs.

If you want to discover more about Isabel Bloom, you can join the free guided tours in the shop’s studio.

See some of Isabel’s original artworks and watch expert sculptors create stunning works when you join the 45-minute tours.

You can also ask the guides questions and even offer suggestions regarding the designs of new sculptures.

Make sure to call beforehand to schedule your free tour before dropping by the Isabel Bloom Studio.

Take a Peaceful Stroll While Enjoying the Riverfront View at Centennial Park

Daytime view of Centennial Park

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If you’ve had a stressful day, take a moment and unwind at Centennial Park.

Centennial Park is an open outdoor space on South Marquette Street and is one of the many parks beside the Mississippi River.

This park spans 250 acres and features many amenities, including basketball courts, a playground, rugby fields, and a skateboard park.

There is also an off-leash area for dogs where pet owners can bond with their furry best friends.

Centennial Park is one of the best places in the city to stroll around because it also features a riverfront trail.

Stroll along the Mississippi River when you walk on this trail, and let the picturesque sight of the waters relax you.

When you get tired from roaming around, you can sit by the benches facing the river and continue to unwind while enjoying the beautiful views.

Go Off-Road Biking at Sunderbruch Park

Landscape of Sunderbruch Park

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Get your adrenaline pumping when you go off-road biking at Sunderbruch Park!

This park is located on Telegraph Road and is one of the best places in the city to explore nature, whether you are on a bike or just walking.

Sunderbruch Park spans 134 acres and features a variety of trails that are perfect for those who want an adventurous experience.

With its fun and unique biking areas, this park is considered the “crown jewel” for off-road biking in the city.

Paved tail of Sunderbruch Park

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Don’t worry if you’re a beginner off-road biker because there are easy trails around the park.

Professional bikers will also get their fill of excitement at the more challenging trails here.

Sunderbruch Park also features horse and nature hiking trails, which you can check out if you’re not a fan of riding bikes.

Bridge trail at Sunderbruch Park

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Pay Homage to the Heroes Who Gave Their Lives for the Country at the Soldier’s Monument

Daytime view of the Soldier's Monument

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Remember the brave soldiers who served the country when you stop by the Soldier’s Monument.

Located downtown on Main Street, the Soldier’s Monument is a towering structure in the middle of the street.

Standing at 50 feet, this monument represents the county’s gratitude to the men who served the cause of the Union during the Civil War and the heroes who fought for the nation.

The Soldier’s Monument was dedicated in 1881 and bears inscriptions that honor and thank soldiers.

Although it may be difficult to find parking within the area, this attraction is still worth stopping by, especially if you’re walking around the city.

Pay homage to the brave men who lost their lives for the nation, and get a glimpse of history through the plaques when you check out this monument!

Explore Historic Sites at the Village of East Davenport

The road of Village of East Davenport

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Head to the Village of East Davenport and take a step back in time as you roam around the area.

This village is located on 11th Street near the Mississippi River and is one of the most well-preserved areas in the city.

The architecture and overall look of all establishments and properties around the area will make you feel as if you have traveled back in time!

Explore all corners and spot historic sites, like the Claim House, the first property built on the West of the Mississippi River.

A shop at Village of East Davenport

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The Village of East Davenport has a lot of fun historical areas that you can explore and take pictures of.

This historic district is included in the National Registry of Historic Places.

Bring other history buffs you know and spend a day discovering fragments of the city’s history in this district!

Buildings along Village of East Davenport

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Take Photos Outside the Home of Chiropractic Pioneers at the Palmer Family Residence

Exterior of the Palmer Family Residence

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See the home of the professionals who developed the chiropractic practices by dropping by the Palmer Family Residence!

The Palmer Family Residence is a historic home on North Brady Street.

This residence was once the home of B.J. and Mabel Palmer, known to be chiropractic care pioneers.

The Palmer couple raised their son and lived here from 1912 until they passed away.

With its large size and spacious interiors, this home is essentially a mansion and stands out among the other buildings around it.

Stop by the home and appreciate the beauty of its architecture.

If you are willing to spend a bit of money, you can tour inside the home and see all of the family’s collectibles from their travels worldwide!

Discover the Ecosystems in the Midwest at Nahant Marsh Education Center

Learn about the ecosystems found in the Midwest and how to take care of wildlife while exploring Nahant Marsh Education Center.

Nahant Marsh Education Center is a Wapello Avenue facility dedicated to educating its visitors about environmental stewardship, conservation, and midwest ecosystems.

This center features a preserve that spans 305 acres, a part of the 513-acre wetlands adjacent to the Mississippi River.

Whether you like learning more about different ecosystems or hiking through stunning nature trails, this is the place to be!

Apart from learning from the center’s educational programs, you can explore the trails around the preserve.

After all, you’ll learn more about ecosystems in the Midwest by seeing it right before your eyes!

Explore the picturesque wetlands Nahant Marsh Education Center and see all the plants and creatures in the area.

Other Things to Do Nearby

You can maximize your trip to the city by checking out some of the must-visit destinations all around the Quad Cities.

Don’t worry about traveling too far away from Davenport because these next destinations are just a few minutes away!

Immerse Yourself in the Innovations of John Deere at the John Deere Pavilion

Exterior of the John Deere Pavilion

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Discover the legacy of John Deere at John Deere Pavilion in Moline, just an 11-minute drive from Davenport.

This massive space serves as an educational facility showcasing John Deere’s innovations.

John Deere was an esteemed blacksmith who was the first to develop a self-scouring plow made of steel in 1837.

He then founded a corporation that manufactures machinery for agricultural purposes, and the company bears his name to this day.

You can find interactive displays featuring vintage and modern equipment, including tractors, construction machinery, and more.

You’ll also learn how these types of machinery work and how they can optimize different agricultural operations.

Discover more about John Deere’s works when visiting this attraction!

Learn about the River’s History and Current State at the Mississippi River Visitor Center

Get more information about the river’s past and the activities you can do around the area at the Mississippi River Visitor Center.

If you want to make the most of your experience exploring the city, you should stop by this facility on Rodman Avenue in Rock Island, just nine minutes from Davenport.

Here, you can participate in all the programs, including watching videos about the river and discovering the recreational activities you can do in the area.

You can also check out interactive exhibits, which will give you more information about the river’s culture, history, and biology.

Roam around the center and check out all the photographs of the river and wildlife on display.

If you visit during the summer, you can also join the tours, which will take you around the lock and dam areas of the Mississippi River Visitor Center.

Examine Artifacts of Legendary Jurrasic Creatures at Augustana’s Fryxell Geology Museum

Come face to face with some of the most well-preserved fossils you can find within the area at Augustana’s Fryxell Geology Museum!

This museum in Rock Island, Illinois, is only about nine minutes from Davenport, making it a perfect place to stop if you want to learn more about geology and fossils found in the Midwest.

Here, you can look at the complete set of skeletons of a sea serpent called Platecarpus.

You can also find skulls of other massive creatures from the Jurrasic age, including Apatosaurus, Parasaurolophus, and the popular Tyrannosaurus rex.

Perhaps the main attraction here is the 22-foot-long complete skeleton of the massive Cryolophosaurus, which was found in Antarctica in 1991.

Explore Augustana’s Fryxell Geology Museum and discover more about the mighty creatures that once ruled the earth!

Get a Glimpse of History at the Deere-Wiman House

Visit the historic home of John Deere’s son at the Deere-Wiman House!

The Deere-Wiman House is a property you can visit in Moline, Illinois, just 11 minutes from Davenport.

This was once the home of the descendants of one of the pioneers in farm machinery, John Deere.

Today, this home offers tours to those who want to see how Victorian life was.

Organizations also use the home as a meeting and exhibition space for artworks.

Visit this home and see its vintage elevator, which is believed to date back to the 1890s.

You can also explore the other rooms and find other vintage furnishings and decor, like the Kimball organ in the home’s library.

Travel back in time as you check out everything this home offers during your tour!

Final Thoughts

Davenport, Iowa, is a city that offers many fun and interesting attractions for visitors to enjoy.

From free parks and historic sites to interesting museums, there is much to see in this beautiful city and its surrounding areas.

Whether you’re looking for a fun day trip or a longer vacation destination, be sure to add Davenport to your list.

Include these free things to do in Davenport, Iowa, in your itinerary to make the most of your trip!

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