The University of Iowa anchors the state’s original capital, where the old statehouse, a vaudeville-era theater and eclectic dining enliven a stay.

By The editors of MidwestLiving.com
Updated March 05, 2021
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Pandemic-related closures and restrictions may be in place. Please check destinations' websites before making travel plans.

Do

Coral Ridge Mall An indoor ice arena and children's museum amp up the fun. coralridgemall.com

The Englert Theatre The 1912 former vaudeville theater and opera house expects to offer shows like readings, musicals, plays, dance performances and concerts this year. englert.org

Hancher Auditorium A sleek, curving $176 million performing arts center replaced the University of Iowa's original auditorium, destroyed by flooding. Check the website for the latest information about events. hancher.uiowa.edu

Hancher Auditorium
Hancher Auditorium. Photo courtesy of Miriam Alarcon Avila

The Iowa City Pedestrian Mall Abutting the University of Iowa campus, the Ped Mall is home to restaurants, bars and shops. A facelift added new seating, plants, and lighting. downtowniowacity.com

Prairie Lights Books Three floors of books and the long-running Live from Prairie Lights reading series have endeared this indie store to both locals and travelers. Curbside pickup orders are available while the physical store is closed. prairielights.com

University of Iowa Museum of Natural History Two museums on campus merit a visit when they reopen. At the Old Capitol Museum, retrace the footsteps of the state's founding fathers in Iowa's original Capitol; check for events like lectures. At the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History, learn about Iowa's 500 million years of history, see 1,000 birds on display, and say hi to Rusty the giant sloth replica. mnh.uiowa.edu

Eat

Baroncini Soft music and cozy booths set the tone for an evening of contemporary Italian dishes, such as house-made agnolotti pasta stuffed with local beef and pork in a brown butter sauce. baroncinirestaurant.com

Big Grove Brewery The international street food should clue you in that this isn't a typical brewpub. Come for the diverse menu as well as live music, brewed-on-site beers, the game room and an expansive patio. biggrovebrewery.com

Hamburg Inn No. 2 A burger specialist comes in at 4 a.m. daily to make the patties for this downtown diner established in 1948. A second location in Coralville is planned. hamburginn.com

Iowa River Power Restaurant In a former power plant, enjoy expansive views of an Iowa River dam and prime rib au jus or ahi tuna with pineapple salsa. iowariverpower.net

Maggie's Farm Wood-fired Pizza A beloved local farmers market stand is now a brick-and-mortar hot spot for those craving Napoli classic creations. maggiesfarmpizza.com

Oasis Falafel It's the place to go for authentic, inexpensive Middle Eastern fare, such as a pita bursting with falafel, hummus and Mediterranean salad. oasisfalafel.com

Pullman Bar and Diner The modern diner serves food both familiar and unexpected—fried chicken and corned beef hash, yes, but also roasted marrow bones with bacon jam. pullmandiner.com

Rapid Creek Cidery In a barn overlooking Wilson's Orchard 15 minutes from downtown, this upscale restaurant serves cocktails made with Wilson's excellent hard cider, and dishes inspired by local products. rapidcreekcidery.com

Cider tasting
Rapid Creek Cidery

Stay

Graduate Iowa City A lobby filled with bookcases, reading nooks and (literally) writing on the walls reflect literary inspiration from the University of Iowa at this 231-room downtown hotel. graduatehotels.com

The Highlander Hotel A retro rehab brought new life (and in-room record players) to this 1967 building, once a popular supper club. highlanderhotel.us

For information: Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau thinkiowacity.com