15 Best Things To Do in Cedar Rapids, IA

Cedar Rapids, Iowa, often referred to as the City of Five Seasons, has a unique mix of cultural, historical, and natural attractions. The fifth season is a time to enjoy the other four, symbolized by the Tree of Five Seasons sculpture downtown.

Cedar Rapids is recognized for its arts scene, notably housing the world’s largest collection of Grant Wood paintings at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. The Paramount Theatre stages a variety of shows, and the NewBo City Market is a hub for local produce and crafts.

For history enthusiasts, the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library highlights the area’s Eastern European heritage. Outdoor activities abound with over 100 parks and trails, ideal for hiking, biking, and kayaking, particularly along the Cedar River and the Cedar Valley Nature Trail.

While it doesn’t host an Ivy League institution, the city’s higher education, including Coe College and Mount Mercy University, contribute to the local cultural and educational scene. Cedar Rapids is known for its community events, local cuisine, and breweries.

Here are the best things to do in Cedar Rapids, IA.

1. Cedar Rapids Museum of Art

Dedicate some time to wander through the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, an artistic hub nestled in the heart of the city. The museum is housed in a distinctive building, displaying a variety of galleries and exhibits that rotate throughout the year. Best of all, entrance is often free!

The museum boasts an impressive collection that spans several centuries, featuring everything from Roman artifacts to modern American art. Permanent collections highlight regional artists, including the world’s largest collection of works by Grant Wood, alongside various pieces that depict the rich history and cultural evolution of the Midwest.

2. Indian Creek Nature Center

Make your way to the Indian Creek Nature Center for a refreshing escape into nature’s beauty right in Cedar Rapids.

This center is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with miles of trails through prairies, wetlands, and forests. It’s a perfect spot for hiking, bird watching, or simply enjoying a quiet walk surrounded by the natural landscape.

The center is also dedicated to environmental education, providing a range of programs and activities for all ages to learn about local ecosystems and conservation efforts.

With its interactive exhibits and well-maintained paths, Indian Creek Nature Center is a place where both adults and kids can connect with nature and discover the wonders of the outdoors.

3. Brucemore Historic Site

Step into the history and elegance of Cedar Rapids at Brucemore Historic Site, a 26-acre estate that once was the heart of a wealthy family’s life.

As you wander through its rooms and gardens, you’ll get a sense of the past century’s lifestyle and the changes that have occurred over time.

The mansion, gardens, and other outbuildings provide a picturesque setting, ideal for understanding the local history and enjoying a leisurely stroll.

4. National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library is the nation’s primary center for preserving Czech and Slovak history and culture. It features interactive exhibitions, heritage programs, and events, plus a museum store.

Visitors can also enjoy tour programs and use rental space available for various functions. The museum and library serve as a dynamic cultural hub for learning and community engagement.

5. Paramount Theatre

Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids is a piece of the city’s heart and history. Opened for the public, this historic theater has been a staple in the community for years, known for its stunning performances and architectural beauty.

Despite its age, the theater has kept up with the times, featuring modern sound and lighting to enhance the experience of each show. From plays and concerts to other cultural events, the Paramount Theatre is a great evening out idea.

6. NewBo City Market

NewBo City Market is a market in the heart of the city, bringing together food, crafts, and entertainment. Local vendors sell a variety of items, including handmade crafts and fresh food.

You can eat there too, with plenty of choices for snacks or a meal. The market also hosts music, events, and workshops year-round, making it a regular spot for community gatherings and fun.

7. New Bohemia District

This neighborhood is filled with unique shops, restaurants, and galleries, all influenced by the Czech and Slovak heritage that is a foundational part of the area’s history. You’ll find everything from traditional Czech bakeries to contemporary art spaces.

The district also hosts various cultural festivals and events throughout the year, celebrating the community’s history and creativity. It’s a great place to experience a mix of old-world charm and modern creativity.

8. Cedar Rapids RoughRiders Hockey

If you’re a fan of fast-paced action and sports, going to a Cedar Rapids RoughRiders hockey game could be a thrilling experience for you! See players zooming across the ice, the crowd’s cheers, and the live match excitement as you join a community of fans for a complete sports encounter.

This team plays at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena, a venue known for its lively atmosphere.

9. Cedar Rapids Farmers’ Market

At the Cedar Rapids Farmers’ Market, 501 1st Street se becomes a lively gathering spot, echoing the quaint charm of downtown areas with its array of fresh produce and artisanal goods.

Begin with a freshly brewed coffee from a local café and meander through stalls filled with homemade crafts, local produce, and unique finds like hand-thrown pottery and specialty souvenirs.

As hunger sets in, the market presents a variety of dining options that reflect the area’s diverse culture, from sushi and pad Thai to classic burgers and creamy gelato. Settle into a cozy corner at a restaurant adorned with local memorabilia or one surrounded by historical photos that narrate the city’s past.

The Cedar Rapids Farmers’ Market is not just a place to shop; it’s a journey through the community’s culinary landscape and a chance to connect with local artisans, all set against the backdrop of 1st street’s inviting charm.

10. African American Museum of Iowa

This museum dedicates itself to preserving and celebrating African American heritage and culture with a wide array of exhibits and interactive displays.

The architecture of the museum alone is a draw, reflecting the strength and spirit of the stories it holds. Inside, collections explore the rich history, art, and experiences of African Americans, featuring both permanent and rotating exhibits to engage visitors of all ages.

11. The Fossil & Prairie Park Preserve

The Fossil & Prairie Park Preserve invites visitors to explore and collect fossils directly from a preserved prehistoric sea floor.

At this park, the hands-on experience of digging and keeping fossils is a highlight, complemented by walking trails that meander through native prairie landscapes.

If you enjoy nature or want a day outside, this park with its picnic areas and paths is a unique spot for learning and exploration.

12. Beer Scene

The Cedar Rapids beer scene features a mix of breweries and taprooms, each with its own selection of traditional lagers, ales, and innovative craft brews.

These local establishments host tours, tastings, and events, allowing visitors to learn about the brewing process and meet the creators.

The city is also a hub for beer festivals and community events, where people can enjoy a wide range of beers, live music, and local cuisine.

13. Bowling

Have fun bowling at one of Cedar Rapids’ three premier bowling centers, conveniently located throughout the city for easy access to family entertainment. Each center caters to a range of preferences, whether you’re looking to participate in a large-scale tournament or enjoy a casual outing with friends or family.

Cedar Rapids Bowling Center has open play, leagues, and tournaments, along with food and drinks for all types of gatherings.

May City Bowl, Inc. spices up nights with glow bowling and is a favorite for parties and leagues.

Lancer Lanes combines affordable bowling with extra amenities like a game room and snack bar, making it a popular family-friendly spot.

14. Outdoor Recreation

Cedar Rapids is a haven for day trips with its numerous parks and trails, including the Sac and Fox Trail.

The Sac and Fox Trail, Iowa’s oldest National Recreation Trail, spans 7.2 miles along the Cedar River and Indian Creek just outside Cedar Rapids. It’s primarily a crushed limestone path with mostly level terrain, ideal for cycling, horseback riding, and winter cross-country skiing.

The trail starts in the south, winding along the Cedar River, then north by Indian Creek, passing densely wooded areas and ending in a residential zone.

Alongside, the Indian Creek Nature Center has additional trails, exhibits, and activities. Multiple parking options are available along the trail, including spots at Cottage Grove Parkway SE, Rosedale Road SE, the nature center, and near the southern entrance.

At the Indian Creek Nature Center, immerse yourself in nature with four miles of trails and interactive experiences that educate visitors about local ecology and wildlife. This center is a year-round destination with its indoor and outdoor exhibits and events at the amphitheater.

Old MacDonald’s Farm in Bever Park is a delight from May to October, offering a glimpse of farm life with a variety of animals including chickens, lambs, and goats. It’s an educational and entertaining spot for families, providing programming and events.

For those who enjoy a scenic journey, the Cedar River Trail is a 12.6-mile path perfect for running, walking, bicycling, or rollerblading. It winds past Cedar Lake and along the Cedar River, showcasing the area’s seasonal vegetation, wildflowers, and wildlife, and runs right through downtown Cedar Rapids for easy access.

15. Go Golfing

In Cedar Rapids, golf enthusiasts have plenty of options with seven golf courses throughout the city, including the popular Twin Pines Golf Course, Ellis Golf Course, and Cedar Rapids Country Club.

Whether you’re looking for a public course to play a casual round, a municipal course for a more challenging game, or the exclusivity of a private club like Cedar Rapids Country Club, you can find it in Cedar Rapids.