The two-block Ped Mall abuts the University of Iowa campus and holds many of the city’s best shops. Spend the morning at boutiques (Textiles Inc.), galleries (Iowa Artisans Gallery), and bookstores (Haunted Bookshop).
True to its Spanish influences, Devotay encourages sharing of its pintxos (tapas-style little bites).
Tour the Old Capitol Museum (Iowa’s original capitol) and the free Museum of Natural History next door in Macbride Hall.
Devour a cupcake or three at Molly’s Cupcakes, where floor-to-ceiling swings bring out the kid in you, and dine on steak or Creole shrimp at Atlas.
Check in at ultrahip and ecofriendly Hotel Vetro, with pillow-top mattresses (from $229), and catch a reading, songwriting or dancing performance at the 1912 Englert Theatre.
Fuel up on savory sausage and excellent hollandaise at Bluebird Diner, then head 12 miles east to West Branch to visit the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, the childhood home, library and burial site of the first U.S. president born west of the Mississippi.
Return to Coralville, just west of Iowa City, for tapas and wine at Mendoza Wine Bar.
Strap on skates at the indoor ice arena at Coral Ridge Mall.
Expansive views of the Iowa River accompany delicious prime rib at Iowa River Power Restaurant.
More information: (800) 283-6592; iowacitycoralville.org
The Amana Colonies await off Interstate-80, 32 miles northwest of Iowa City. The High Amana General Store sells old-fashioned toys and soaps, and tasty brews draw patrons to popular Millstream Brewing Company.
Cruise the pastoral scenes of the Iowa Valley Scenic Byway to Fireside Winery in Marengo for an end-of-the-road sip of Cordovan and some warm Brie dip.
More information: (800) 579-2294; amanacolonies.com