This former manufacturing town (population: 66,600) is a destination for history buffs. But families with youngsters will find plenty to fill a weekend, too.

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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. groutmuseumdistrict.org

John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum Kids will love climbing up a tractor. Tours can be self-guided or led by staff. deere.com

Lost Island Water Park Kids will love riding a water coaster or plunging down Lost Soul Falls. thelostisland.com

Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Iowa
Lost Island Water Park
| Credit: Courtesy of Travel Iowa

Rensselaer Russell House Museum Take a step back to the Victorian Era on a guided tour of this restored 1861 house. groutmuseumdistrict.org

Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum See the stories of America's wars through the lens of Iowans, such as the five Sullivan brothers who died when their ship was torpedoed in World War II. groutmuseumdistrict.org

Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Iowa
Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum
| Credit: Courtesy of Travel 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. 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. brownbottlewaterloo.com

Newton's Paradise Cafe This busy corner cafe serves comfort food in an 1870s building in the heart of the business district. newtonscafe.com

Singlespeed Brewing Company Excellent beers and some of the area's best eats, such as Iowa flatbread with sweet corn, are produced in a former Wonder Bread factory. singlespeedbrewing.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. islewaterloo.com

For more information visit experiencewaterloo.com

Extend Your Stay: Cedar Falls

Sharing a metro with Waterloo, Cedar Falls—home of the University of Northern Iowa—offers shopping and dining on historic Main Street, as well as museums that tell the story of small-town life. Try a raspberry mojito along with Iowa chops at Montage or, at Whiskey Road, a brisket sandwich and (naturally) the whiskey selection. The round Ice House Museum on the Cedar River once stored ice cut from the river; learn about the history of ice harvesting. Step back in time as well at the 1909 Little Red Schoolhouse and the Victorian Home and Carriage House. Museum. The historic Black Hawk Hotel, with 43 rooms, is close to both the Cedar River and UNI.

Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Iowa
Downtown Cedar Falls
| Credit: Courtesy of Travel Iowa

For more information visit cedarfallstourism.org