What to do
Bluedorn Science Imaginarium Build a robot. Make a hot-air balloon rise. Learn how cold it is on Pluto. There’s plenty of science to explore here. (319) 234-6357; groutmuseumdistrict.org
Galleria de Paco You won’t have to crane your neck as much as you would looking at the original, and Paco Rosic’s version of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel is worth checking out. (319) 833-7226; pacorosic.com
The Galleria de Paco in Waterloo, Iowa.
Rensselaer Russell House Museum Take a step back to the Victorian Era on a guided tour of this restored 1861 house. (319) 234-6357; groutmuseumdistrict.org
Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum See America's wars through the lens of five Iowa brothers who perished in World War II. (319) 234-6357; groutmuseumdistrict.org
The Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum in Waterloo, Iowa.
Waterloo Center for the Arts Go beyond Grant Wood’s art by exploring this compact museum’s collection of Haitian art, one the United State’s largest. The Phelps Youth Pavilion’s activities inspire creativity in kids. (319) 291-4490; waterloocenterforthearts.org
Where to eat
The Brown Bottle In the historical Russell Lamson Building since 1974, this eatery is known for its pasta and extensive wine list. (319) 232-3014; brownbottlewaterloo.com
CU Restaurant Dark wood, crystal and striking paintings set a high-class tone for well-done meals served by attentive waitstaff. (319) 274-8888; curestaurant.com
Laughing Tree Cafe Linger over locally sourced meals—many made-from-scratch—inside the Waterloo Center for the Arts. (319) 291-4490; waterloocenterforthearts.org/arthousecafe/
Newton’s Paradise Cafe This busy corner cafe serves comfort food in an 1870s building in the heart of the business district. (319) 234-0280; newtonscafe.com
Where to stay
Isle Casino and Hotel The large rooms are modern and comfortable, and it’s convenient to the Lost Island Waterpark and the Crossroads Center mall. (877) 475-3946; waterloo.isleofcapricasinos.com