A UNESCO City of Literature, Iowa City is home to the University of Iowa, historical buildings and a culture of creativity. From parks and public pianos to fossils, art spaces, German villages and a Presidential library, Iowa City is full of surprises.
Things to do in Iowa City
The downtown area is jam-packed with art venues hosting original works, such as handcrafted textiles at the Iowa Artisans Gallery. Stop by Akar Design for artistic ceramics, glass and pottery. The Art Mission on South Linn Street carries everything from pottery to antiques, Motawi tiles, Persian rugs and Laura Wilder artworks.
The gold-domed Old Capitol Building now holds a museum reflecting the state’s history, while the nearby University of Iowa Museum of Natural History showcases Native American artefacts, prehistoric tools, and taxidermy. To see a 1800s-era home with period decor and archaeological excavations, visit Plum Grove Historic House.
Don’t miss seeing the Devonian Fossil Gorge, an archaeological anomaly created millions of years ago when the area was part of the ocean floor. You can now see ancient fossils at 20 different discovery points. Another unique place to visit is the Amana Colonies, a collection of seven German villages hosting old-world shops and cafes.
More than 40 lively sidewalk cafes dot the downtown district, including Atlas World Grill on Iowa Street. For contemporary Italian cuisine, try Baroncini Ristorante Italiano on South Linn Street. You can appreciate both historical architecture and craft beer at Union Brewery in the Gilbert-Linn Street Historic District.
Getting around Iowa City
Iowa City caters to pedestrians and cyclers, but you can also use taxis and rideshare services. Rental cars are available in the city or at Cedar Rapids Airport, about a 20-minute drive away.