1) Mines of Spain Recreation Area Hiking, biking and cross-country ski trails wind through fields and forests at this 1,437-acre state recreation area. Wildlife abounds, so don’t be surprised to see deer, squirrels and wild turkeys. A monument marking Julien Dubuque’s final resting place sits where Catfish Creek meets the Mississippi. The E.B. Lyons Interpretive Center serves as both a visitors center and park office. Follow the Horseshoe Bluff trail for breathtaking views of the river below. (563) 556-0620; minesofspain.org
Julien Dubuque Monument in Mines of Spain Recreation Area. Photo courtesy of Dubuque Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.
2) Sundown Mountain Resort Shush down the mountain on skis or snowboard at this family-owned resort, where Winter Wellness programs encourage guests to get—and stay—active. All ages and ability levels are welcome; the resort has lessons, 21 runs, four lifts and a total vertical drop of 475 feet. Can’t get enough? Stay on-site at either of two mountaintop lodges overlooking the action. (563) 556-6676; sundownmtn.com
3) Heritage Trail Native Americans occupied this territory for thousands of years before its rugged natural beauty and lead ore reserves attracted European settlers in the 1800s. These days, the Heritage Trail honors the area’s rich mining history with a 26-mile multiuse recreational path along an old railroad route. The gentle grade and plentiful overlooks make this trail a good option for joggers and bikers who are as interested in the view as they are in exercise. (563) 556-4372; inhf.org/trails/heritage-trail.cfm
Heritage Trail. Photo courtesy of Dubuque Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.
4) Sky Tours Zipline at YMCA Union Park Camp During these two-hour adventure tours, you’ll fly through the air 75 feet above the ground on nine zip lines with names like Rabbit Run, Ground Speed and The Duel. Keep your eyes peeled as you traverse Hawk’s Nest; you might glimpse some birds as you zip by. (563) 484-4248; skytourszipline.com
5) L. May Eatery Named for the owner’s grandma, this charming spot elevates comfort food to gourmet status with locally sourced, farm-fresh ingredients and seafood flown in fresh. The menu changes seasonally, reinterpreting familiar fare such as steak, fish, pasta, pizzas and soups in inventive ways. We love the pan-seared scallops, snappy salads with Parmesan garlic dressing and the homemade seven-grain bread served with flavored butter. (563) 556-0505; lmayeatery.com
6) Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa Four painstakingly manicured championship golf courses are the main attraction at this expansive resort in nearby Galena, Illinois (about 20 miles east of Dubuque), but there’s also a full slate of other activities to keep nonduffers busy. The Nordic Center stocks everything you need for ice skating, sledding, cross-country skiing and snowshoe hikes. In summer, you can hike, bike, fish, swim—or soar above the property in a hot-air balloon. A 6,000-square-foot spa spoils guests with massages, facials and water-based treatments. (815) 777-5000; eagleridge.com
7) Chestnut Mountain Resort Alpine Slide This resort south of Galena is remote, but the stunning Mississippi River views are a worthwhile reward once you find the place. Chestnut Mountain attracts outdoorsy types year-round. In the winter, skiers and snowboarders explore 19 slopes and 220 acres. In summer, hiking and biking trails, river cruises and the 2,000-foot Alpine slide see plenty of action. (800) 397-1320; chestnutmtn.com
8) Dubuque Water Trail Load up a canoe or kayak; this 11-mile designated waterway along the Mississippi River and Catfish Creek has five access points between A.Y. McDonald Park and Massey Marina Park. It’s your call whether to tackle the trail in segments or all at once. Heads up: You’ll need to arrange transportation between sites, and life jackets are required. (563) 589-4210; cityofdubuque.org
9) The Food Store With an inventory of organic products, this grocery has what you need to fuel up for a day in the outdoors. Hit the deli counter for hearty made-on-site lunches and dinners; Wednesday’s menu is always gluten-free and Fridays feature local grass-fed burgers with fresh-cut fries. Yum. (563) 557-1777; dbqfoodstore.com
10) Hotel Julien Dubuque Located in the Old Main District and dating back to 1839, this renovated boutique hotel is within an easy stroll of the Port of Dubuque and the Mississippi Riverwalk. Posh decor in the lobby and rooms recalls a bygone era with details such as tin ceilings, marble floors and historical photos. The Potosa Spa pampers guests with services inspired by the four elements of the Native American Medicine Wheel—earth, wind, water and fire. (563) 556-4200; hoteljuliendubuque.com
Hotel Julien Dubuque lobby. Photo courtesy of Hotel Julien Dubuque.