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Best things to do in Waterloo

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Where in the world: USA  /  Iowa  /  Waterloo

Top 15 things to do in Waterloo

1. Ulysses S. Grant Home, Galena

Ulysses S. Grant Home is maintained as a museum and memorial to this Civil War hero and 18th president of the United States. A small group of local citizens purchased the Italianate house, built for a former city clerk, and presented it to Grant in appreciation of his war efforts. In addition to the Grant home, the site includes several mid-19th century houses known as the Grant Home Historic Neighborhood. A guide in period costume will escort you around the house, imparting history about Grant's life during the Civil War, his candidacy for presidency, and his years as president. Many of the artifacts and furnishings on display are the Grant family's accurately restored possessions.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Ulysses S. Grant Home

2. Blaum Bros. Distilling Co., Galena

We handcraft our own whiskey, vodka, gin and seasonal spirits. We also offer daily tours and tastings of our brands. We take special pride in our craft and know that you will too.

Kindly only "Like" our page if you are 21 or over. We only serve patrons that are 21 or over with ID's. Please enjoy Blaum Bros. products responsibly!
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Blaum Bros. Distilling Co.

3. National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, Dubuque

The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium is a museum located in Dubuque, Iowa, USA. The museum is a property of the Dubuque County Historical Society, which also operates the Mathias Ham Historic Site. The museum has two buildings on its riverfront campus: the Mississippi River Center and the National River Center. The museum originally opened as the Fred W. Woodward Riverboat Museum on July 18, 1982 before being expanded and re-organized into its current form.

The museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, and is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
Learn more about National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium
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4. John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
Learn more about John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum

5. Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens

The Cedar Valley Arboretum and Botanic Gardens was founded in 1996 and is located directly East of Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, Iowa. The mission of the Arboretum is to enhance the quality of life for all individuals through horticulture. The vision of the Arboretum is to serve as a compelling public resource for the study of plants, a leader in environmental stewardship, a cultural center for the community, and a showcase of Iowa's rich heritage with the land. The Arboretum is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, independent organization and supported by its volunteer base and community support.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
Learn more about Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens

6. Phelps Youth Pavilion

Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Phelps Youth Pavilion

8. Waterloo Center for the Arts

The Waterloo Center for the Arts' purpose is to initiate and further awareness, appreciation, and support of the arts by a diverse audience. Located within the Art Center is the Phelps Youth Pavilion our Children's Museum.

Hours: Tues-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 1-5pm

Cost: Galleries are Free; Phelps Youth Pavilion: $5/person


Located on the banks of the scenic Cedar River in downtown Waterloo, the Art Center offers outstanding indoor and outdoor rental facilities.

Visitors enjoy changing exhibitions in addition to a significant permanent collection including Mexican Folk Art, Midwest Art, American Decorative Arts, International Folk Art and the world's largest public collection of Haitian Art. Galleries are free and open to the public.

Art classes and workshops for all ages and levels are offered throughout the year. Visit: http://www.waterloocenterforthearts.org/PDF/classes2017_summer_Web.pdf for our current class schedule.

Events, festivals and concerts take place indoors and outdoors throughout the year at the Art Center, RiverLoop Amphitheatre and Expo Plaza.

The Center houses a Gift Store, Cafe, Waterloo Community Playhouse/Black Hawk Children's Theatre and the Phelps Youth Pavilion. The Youth Pavilion is an interactive children's museum featuring over 40 hands-on exhibits for ages 12 and under to explore. Milk a life-size cow, drive a tractor through a Grant Wood painting, explore the music, language and culture of other countries, and more! Mark's Park splash pad and playground is located next to the Youth Pavilion and open seasonally.

Waterloo Center for the Arts is supported by:

City of Waterloo

Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa

Friends of the Art Center

Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

RJ McElroy Trust

Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau Hotel-Motel Tax Fund

Waterloo City Council Discretionary Hotel-Motel Tax Fund

Numerous private donors
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Waterloo Center for the Arts

9. George Wyth State Park

The George Wyth Memorial State Park is a state park of Iowa in the United States. The park was dedicated in 1940 as "Josh Higgins Parkway", named for a popular radio character of the day. In 1956, it was renamed George Wyth Memorial State Park after a well-known Cedar Falls businessman and conservationist.
The park is located near Waterloo and Cedar Falls. Its large expanse of woodland is abundant with many varieties of wildlife. Bird-watchers have observed more than 200 different species and white-tailed deer can be seen year-round. The park has been designated as a National Urban Wildlife Sanctuary.
The campground has 69 camping units with modern showers, rest rooms and a trailer dump station. Advance campsite reservations can be booked through the park reservation system. Half of the campsites are available for self-registration on a first-come, first-served basis, while the remainder require reservations.
George Wyth has 5.5mi of paved multi-purpose trails created for biking, in-line skating and walking. These trails are linked to a 80mi trail network within the cities of Waterloo and Cedar Falls. George Wyth also has 6mi of grass hiking trails. In winter, sports such as cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling are also popular.
The Lake-to-Lake State Park Bike Route is a 50mi route connecting Pine Lake and George Wyth Memorial State Parks. This route primarily utilizes county highways, and established bike routes and paths once inside Cedar Falls/Waterloo.
The park is unique in that it has several water areas: Brinker Lake, George Wyth Lake, Fisher Lake, Alice Wyth Lake and the Cedar River. Sailboating and windsurfing are also popular. George Wyth beach is a popular swimming spot in the community. The lakes and river provides anglers a variety of fish. Boat ramps are available on the river and lakes.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
Learn more about George Wyth State Park

10. Fenelon Place Elevator Co., Dubuque

Claiming to be the shortest and steepest scenic railway in the world Fenelon Place Elevator Co. climbs 57.6 m (189 ft) in elevation during its mere 90.2 m (296 ft) long ascent. At the top, you can spend time on two observation decks overlooking downtown Dubuque and the Mississippi River. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, the funicular is also known as the Fourth Street Elevator for its location at the end of Fourth Street. The lift was originally built for J.K. Graves, a politician and banker who lived at the top of the hill and wanted a faster way to reach the city. He opened it to the public in 1884.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Fenelon Place Elevator Co.

11. National Motorcycle Museum, Anamosa

Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about National Motorcycle Museum

13. Spas, Galena

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
Learn more about Spas

14. Cedar Valley Nature Trail

Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Cedar Valley Nature Trail

15. Room Escape Games, Cedar Falls

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
Learn more about Room Escape Games