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Your guide to Iowa City
All About Iowa City
A picturesque university town with a meandering river that cuts through the center of town, Iowa City is characterized by red-brick buildings, historic remnants of its past as the state capital, and a renowned love of literature.
Among its literary and cultural attractions are the magnificent three-story Prairie Lights Books & Cafe and the 1915 Englert Theatre, one of Iowa City’s last historic theatres, where you not only go to see a show but also to step back in time to the 1920s. There is even a diner here that dates back to 1935, and its walls are lined with newspaper clippings of all the dignitaries that have visited this bustling university town. Iowa City’s pedestrian-friendly downtown streets are lined with boutiques, mom-and-pop restaurants, and college bars. Just across the Iowa River, you’ll find the Old Capitol Building located on the beautiful University of Iowa campus.
There are plenty of options for outdoor activities around town, including kayaking or paddleboarding on Sand Lake or hiking in the 180-acre Hickory Hill Park, which you reach by crossing through a 19th-century cemetery. If you want to go a bit further afield, the Maquoketa Caves State Park, a 90-minute drive northwest, features the 1,000-foot-tall Dancehall Cave along with several other caverns open to the public.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Iowa City?
As a busy college town, Iowa City is full of activities all year round, making any season a great time for an Iowa City vacation rental. The summer days are hot and sunny, yet the humidity is far from oppressive, making the prospect of spending the day on the water at the Coralville Reservoir or exploring one of the nearby hiking trails especially appealing. The city also hosts its Jazz Fest and Taste of Iowa City festivals in the summer. During the fall, the city is buzzing with life as students begin their new academic year, and the beautiful University of Iowa campus is framed in fall foliage. Students rush home for the winter holidays, making this a quiet time to wander the city streets. When the snow falls, head to Sugar Bottom State Park, where you can go cross-country skiing.
What are the top things to do in Iowa City?
The Devonian Fossil Gorge
If you have ever wanted to see the 375 million-year-old fossilized remains of the ocean floor, this is the place to do it. The gorge, located just off the banks of the Iowa River of today, was found almost by accident after a devastating 1993 flood washed away the surrounding earth and limestone. Now, you can find a diverse array of fossils showcasing all the little critters that lived there even before the dinosaurs.
University of Iowa Campus
The picturesque campus of the University of Iowa, founded in 1847, stretches across more than 1,700 acres. Visitors are welcome to wander around the expansive grounds and along the adjacent Iowa River Trail. Within the campus, you will find the Iowa Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History, as well as the Old Capitol Building, which served as the home of Iowa’s first government in the mid-19th century. It is now a museum where you can tour an old Supreme Court chamber.
Located just a 15-minute drive from Iowa City, this enormous reservoir was originally built for flood control and is now a popular recreation spot. When the weather is nice, you can go swimming, fishing, or boating along this tranquil lake or head into the nearby parkland to go hiking or mountain biking.