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Things to do in Cedar Rapids

  • Cedar Rapids Museum of Art Cedar Rapids Museum of Art Cedar Rapids, Iowa
    The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art is located in downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa and began in 1905, housed in the old city library building, after it moved into a newer building in 1980. During 1989, the present home of the museum was constructed onto the old library is provides for much more exhibit space. It contains outstanding collections from numerous well known Iowa artists. The 63,000 square foot facility exhibits temporary collections of contemporary art and houses the world's biggest collection of works by Grant Wood and Marvin Cone, as well as art by Maurico Lasansky and the Riley collection of ancient Roman portrait busts. The Grant Wood collection contains his painting, "Woman with Plants" and "Young Corn", and during 2002, the museum acquired the structure that houses the original studio of Wood. It is found just three blocks from the museum, in a loft studio, known by the fictitious address of 5 Turner Alley that was designed and built by Grant. He lived there and worked in the studio from 1924 to 1935, and it was here that he painted American Gothic (1930), which is part of the collections at the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as many of his well known works. The studio is open for tours during the week. The Marvin Cone collection contains many of his most famous works of landscapes and abstracts, and Marvin was a close friend and collaborator of Grant Wood. There are many prominent works by Ann Royer, Maurico Lasansky and others as well. The downtown area of Cedar Rapids was hard hit by the 2008 flooding that was the worst in the city's history and the lower storage area and basements were drastically damaged to the point of threatening the display spaces themselves. Ironically, the museum had just put in a $200,000 art storage system in the basement six months before the floods arrived. Their collections were moved to higher floors so that none of their works of art were destroyed or even damaged.  Other notable collections include the works of Malvina Hoffman, the last student of Rodin, Bertha Jaques, James Swan, works on paper, Roman art and contemporary art. Their marvelous gift shop has many excellent books, in-store artists works, postcards and posters as well as many other exciting items that are perfect for that special person in your life that really enjoys the museum and its wonderful collections.

  • Indian Creek Nature Center
    The Indian Creek Nature Center is a private, nonprofit center that offers and encourages environmental education for people of all ages and sits on 210 marvelous acres containing 4 miles of trails that meander through beautiful prairies, riparian forests, woodlands and wetlands that have created an unusual and exciting outdoor classroom. The center's staff and volunteers are ready to help in any number of learning adventures and experiences. The interpretive center is located in a converted 1932 dairy barn with excellent exhibits, restrooms, gift shop, auditorium and offices. The grounds that surround the barn contain a butterfly garden, frog pond, bat houses, Vermont-style maple sugar house, sugarbush, herb garden, bee hives, prairie and bluebird trail; with picnic tables available for your usage and enjoyment. The Sigrund and Paul Lynch wetland site is the perfect place for students wishing to experience water studies and contains decks, collection sites and interpretation. This wetlands provides a wealthy variety of flora and fauna for hands-on observations and studies that are helped by the Nature Center naturalists; with the nearby prairie giving students and others the ideal chance to compare the two different habitats. The center has a great store of knowledge available to naturalists and students about the idea of orphaned wildlife, that aren't necessarily orphaned, since the mother is most likely hidden, well hidden nearby to protect their young. They talk about baby rabbits, baby deer or fawns, baby birds called fledglings, wild baby mammals, reptiles and other birds. They are always willing to take in injured animals, truly orphaned or displaced wildlife. With the continued expansion and development of towns, cities and other ventures encroaching on the wildlife critters in this country, more and more animals are becoming needful of outside intervention to protect them during the early stages of their life, or because of injuries, help to rehabilitate them back to good health. If you should ever come across an injured, displaced or strangely acting animal, please contact your local nature or animal control center to help them since they are trained professionals and won't harm the animals in any way. They will also be aware of any outside groups, homes or animal centers that will take in any kind of animal, regardless if it is hurt or not.

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  • BrucemoreBrucemore Cedar Rapids, Iowa
    Brucemore is a magnificent Queen Anne style mansion sitting on 26 beautiful acres with children's garden, orchard, formal gardens, woodlands, night garden and pond set right smack dab in the middle of the city of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, constructed in 1884 and 1886 by Caroline Sinclair, the widow of pioneer industrialist T. M. Sinclair. It has been the home of three wealthy families that used the estate for a center of the arts and culture. The name Brucemore, pertains to the Scottish moors of the second owner's ancestral home, and is the state's only National Trust Historic Site and is preserved by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in co-stewardship with Brucemore, Inc. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places under the heading of T. M. Sinclair Mansion, and has three stories, twenty-one rooms, five chimneys, steeply gabled roof and numerous turrets. The mansion is the real life stories of three rich families; composed of entrepreneurs, industrialists and philanthropists. The men had built up enormous fortunes, with Thomas Sinclair doing it in meatpacking, Howard Hall in manufacturing and George Bruce Douglas in starch processing. It is the women of these fortunate men that are the centerpiece of the story and the men behind them. Caroline Sinclair had the mansion constructed with her overseeing the entire works, Irene Douglas converting it into a country estate, and finally Margaret Hall donating it to the National Trust; and to honor these great fortunes, influence and legacies, Brucemore estate has become a community's home. Their individual stories are full of life and death, hardship and forbearance wit perseverance and determination mixed in and is really an excellent read, if you aren't able to visit the magnificent mansion. The Sinclairs lived there from 1871 to 1906, although it was Caroline Sinclair that built the gorgeous mansion when her husband, Thomas died in an accident in 1881 and left her with six children, the youngest only six months. The Douglases lived there from 1906 to 1937, since George was one of the partners in his father's business, Quaker Oats Company; but he before his wife, Ellen, in 1923, on the Titanic, but he did help create the magnificent country estate that it became before he died. And the Halls family took over in 1937 and stayed until 1981, who actually was the Douglas's daughter, Margaret, who married Howard Hall in 1924, a year after her father passed, and they would live in the garden house until Ellen Douglas passed on in 1937, and they took over the main mansion. A worthy note of interest to many of us that have been around for sometime will recognize one of the many animals that the Halls kept on the estate, three lions all named Leo, and one of those lions relative is Jackie, the same mighty roaring lion that is shown at the start of the MGM movies.

  •  The History Center
    The History Center is more formally known as the Carl & Mary Koehler History Center located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and started out as the Linn County Historical Museum Association in 1969. The history center has been a special place for the many volunteers that have been involved in the creation of the center, and by the early 1990s, the center had become the Linn County Historical Society, while the Carl & Mary Koehler History Center was located on Eighth Avenue in Cedar Rapids. As the center continued to grow, professional staff was brought in and the mission of the museum also grew, until, finally in 1997, a capital campaign was started to construct a new museum in the city. In 1999, the Carl & Mary Koehler History center opened its doors just in time to help the city celebrate is sesquicentennial. The center has welcomed some 28,000 visitors and helped 5,400 students learn more about their country and city's earliest history and the people that started their great city and county. The center has some wonderful and exciting exhibits, and is constantly encouraging and inviting the community to be a part of their journey, much like some of the centers in Europe that have all realized that to increase the scope of their functions and exhibits, it is better to have the help and backing of the community in which you are located. Although there are mainly wealthy or talented people that start and make up the exhibits located in centers, art institutions and museums throughout the world, it does them no good if the public doesn't come in to enjoy and visit their places, and to be the main helpers of these facilities; volunteers.

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Local Restaurants in Cedar Rapids
  • Daniel Arthur's
    Appetizers; D. A. 's bruschetta is toasted French loaf with roasted garlic & fresh mozzarella, served with bowl of fresh tomatoes, capers, kalamata olives & red onion; grilled brie is pistachio encrusted wheel of brie over spring mix, strawberry compote, balsamic reduction & served with crustinis; fried calamari is sliced calamari with light breading & fried with aioli; crab cakes is mix of crab meat, red pepper, onion & celery topped with crème friache & freshly sliced avocado; sushi grade dayboat scallops; oysters du jour; tiger shrimp sampler prepared 3 ways, cold boiled, coconut & jalapeno wrapped. Entrees served with small soup or salad du jour; chicken a la D. A. 's is 8oz. airline chicken breast encrusted with tapenade served over brown butter gnocchi, sundried tomato & spinach; Berkshire pork is all natural, bone-in pork chop served with apricot glaze, potato hash & creamed sweet corn; king prawns is slow poached colossal prawns in scampi sauce, served with fried polenta, broccolini & toasted baguette; Tasmanian salmon is seared & served over couscous with seasonal veggies & finished with cauliflower puree; filet mignon is 8oz. CAB grilled & served with Tuscan potatoes & asparagus, sauced with sweet onion puree; surf & turf is 8oz. cold water lobster tail & beef medallions with truffle duchess potatoes & asparagus; Iowan lamb rack is grass fed, peppercorn encrusted lamb served over roasted fingerling potatoes & sauté of spinach, garlic, shallots & bacon with lavender apple marmalade & blackberry demi-glace; deep blue catch is fresh & hand picked; prime rib eye is 16oz. hand cut rib eye with Maytag mashed potatoes, broccolini & brandy butter.

  • Vernon Inn
    Appetizers/soups; saganaki is flaming Greek cheese; tzatziki & pita is cucumber & garlic sauce with pita; avogolemono soup is Greek soup with chicken stock, rice & fresh lemon juice; Stavros Greek chowder is seafood chowder in bouillabaisse; Captain's dish is selection of Greek specialties; spanakopita is spinach & cheese baked in filo dough; Kalamata olives & feta is olives with fresh herbs & lemon juice & feta lightly topped with Greek vinaigrette; gyros meat is beef & lamb served with tzatziki; dolmathes is stuffed grape leaves; hummus is chick peas & tahini spread with pita. Greek specialties; grouper place is grouper fillet with spinach, tomato & onion, baked in lite bouillabaisse style sauce; chicken a la Greque is baked half chicken seasoned with lemon, wine & Greek seasonings; gyros meat platter is seasoned beef & lamb, served with tzatziki sauce; Aegean salmon is salmon baked with tomato, artichoke hearts, Greek olives & capers; shrimp Athenian is jumbo shrimp baked in lite seasoned & stewed fresh tomato sauce with onion, celery and dill, topped with feta cheese & freshly chopped parsley; Greek combo is pastitsio, mousaka, dolmathes, spanakopita, gyros, feta cheese and Greek olives; spanakopita is spinach & feta cheese baked in filo dough with rice pilaf; pastitsio is pasta, meat sauce, blend of cheeses, topped with bec-a-mel sauce & baked. Dinner Entrees; bistro steak is 8oz. beef loin, litely seasoned, char-grilled & served with tarragon garlic butter; chicken pesto is chicken breast with basil pesto sauce & olive oil, char-grilled; stuffed scrod is scrod stuffed with scallop & crab meat dressing, topped with cream dill sauce; roasted lamb leg is marinated with fresh herbs & garlic, slow roasted with brandy sauce of kalamata olives & capers.


Berkshire Pork Daniel Arthur's Cedar Rapids, Iowa


Iowan Lamb Rack Daniel Arthur's Cedar Rapids, Iowa



 Grouper Place Vernon Inn Cedar Rapids, Iowa


Bistro Steak Vernon Inn Cedar Rapids, Iowa



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 2121 Wright Bros. Blvd. W.

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  • National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library Cedar Rapids, Iowa
    The National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library is located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and is the most prominent facility in the nation that interprets the Czech and Slovak history and culture. The organization was started in 1974 and add to the Congressional record in 1992, made by Senator Chuck Grassley. The building was started in 1996 and the initial 60,000 square foot structure was dedicated by President Bill Clinton, Michal Kovac of the Slovak Republic and the Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic. During the initial period from 1974 to 1980, it wasn't much more than a collection of relics from the local Czech community, but then the museum hired some professional staff and it began to expand and grow. Before the infamous flood of 2008, their board of directors was in the process of getting the historic 16th Avenue bridge, now the Bridge of Lions, that connected the city to the Czech village, and renamed it the Vaclav Havel Bridge of Lions in honor of the first President of the new Czech Republic separated from the iron clutches of the communistic regime. The flood devastated the museum and library, so it and the gift shop have been set up in the building on 16th Avenue SW in Cedar Rapids until the new facility is opened in 2012.  The museum is still open to the public, only in another location, with all the artifacts and collections intact that were saved and offer some exciting and informative temporary exhibits that include the story of the rebuilding process, the Treasures from the National Collection and the story of the new Czech Republic and the history behind that new and adventurous period.

  • African American Historical Museum and Cultural Center
    The African American Historical Museum and Cultural Center started in 1994, when a little group of people from the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa started the project during their month long celebration of Black History Month. They hired their first full time employee in 1998, Joseph McGill, who was made the Executive Director, and it opened in temporary quarters in Westdale Mall in Cedar Rapids. In 2002, they started construction on their new facility, a 17,000 square foot state-of-the-art museum, with Thomas Moore becoming the interim Executive Director in May of 2003 and by November, he became the permanent director. Their grand opening was held in September, 2003, with a wonderful permanent exhibit called, "Doorways: A History of African Americans in Iowa". The display depicted the interesting overview of the history of African Americans in this country, but especially in the state of Iowa. They began an endowment fund in 2004, and that same year opened their newest permanent exhibit that included the Africa section. Visitors coming here would begin their journey in West Africa, and then go through a door called the "Door of No Return", to only get on a slave ship and experience the infamous middle passage from Africa to Iowa. In 2005, the 12th Avenue bridge was renamed the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bridge, with a beautiful artistic piece called, "Trumpet" being unveiled. Then in 2006, the museum started opening chapters in other towns and cities in the state and had 8 at first. In 2007, they received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services so they could hire and train two staff people to coordinate the infusion of the chapter program. Later on in the same year, they got another grant from IMLS to begin an oral history program called, "Adult Voices- Children's Eyes: Iowa African American Oral History Project". Then, in 2008, the great Cedar Rapids Flood came sweeping into the city and disrupting everything and everyone. With all the community helping, the church groups and other volunteers, the museum was able to reopen by 2009 in January.

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  • Ushers Ferry Historic VillageUshers Ferry Historic Village Cedar Rapids, Iowa
    Ushers Ferry Historic Village offers the residents of Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Eastern Iowa the finest venue for family friendly programs, events and activities that strengthen the community from a historical point of view of a small Iowa town during the turn of the 20th century. Sitting on 10 beautiful acres in the gorgeous Seminole Valley Park, there are 20 historical structures that showcase life in the small town between the years of 1890 and 1910. Some of the marvelous programs and activities that are available in the park include; tea parties like the delicate Victorian tea parties that were held in elegant parlors decades ago, Weird Wednesdays when really strange and weird films are shown to the delight the audiences that come here just for them, scouting programs for both boys and girls, day camps, dog's night out, Father's Day that has 10 interesting and unique things for children to do with their dads on this special day, storytelling while everyone sits around a great campfire, Thursday picnic and game day that involves the whole family for a time of fun and adventure.  Some of the historical buildings that have been relocated here include; Tinker's Shop, Opfer's Livery stable, an old fashioned sweet shop, the Village Church, Grange Hall, log home, Cherry Valley school and many others. Ushers Ferry was never a real town, but rather a real ferry crossing for the Cedar River that was too deep for the passage of any wagons, as were many of the rivers back then, and it wasn't until the late 19th century that any bridges were built to handle the crossings. 

  • Cedar River
    The Cedar River is located in Minnesota and Iowa that is named after the juniper or red cedar trees that have grown here for thousands of years, and the encompassing region is known as the Cedar River Valley or most often referred to as the Cedar Valley. The headwaters of the Cedar River can be found in Dodge County, Minnesota, made up of a west and middle fork that lie three miles to the northeast of Blooming Prairie, and another east fork that is a mile south of Hayfield. It flows into Mower County, Iowa and Floyd County, Iowa with the end point being found in Louisa County, Iowa at the town of Columbus Junction, where it joins the Iowa River that eventually flows into the Mississippi River. It is about 300 miles long, and Cedar County, Iowa was named after it. Some of the biggest cities located along its route include; Austin, Minnesota, Cedar Falls, Iowa, Waterloo, Iowa and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. During 1993, the river flooded many areas of downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and crested at 19.83 feet, and had been the worst flood in the history of the city before the infamous flood of 2008. That terrible flood caused the evacuation of 20,000 residents and flooded more than 1200 blocks.  It was shown on national television which did it some good, because thousands of volunteers from all across the United States came here to help the beleaguered citizens filling thousands and thousands of sand bags in hopes of containing the river before it crested and destroyed much more than it did. It was one of those rare and wonderful moments when the people of the United States rallied around their fellow Americans and offered whatever kinds of help they could. It is one of those monumental moments when the world could see what Americans can really do when they put their minds and bodies into helping each other.

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  • Czech VillageCzech Village Cedar Rapids, Iowa
    Since the beginning of the 20th century, Cedar Rapids, Iowa has become home to thousands of Czech, Slovak, Moravian immigrants and their descendants, and still has the Sykora Bakery and Polehna Meat Market that date back to the early 1920s, and the Czech Village is a restored part of what had been the main shopping district for those immigrants. The National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library is located here, that is internationally known for its marvelous permanent and temporary exhibits that highlight elaborate Czech and Slovak costumes and folk art, political history, military objects, fine art and maps. There is a wonderful restored 1880 Czech immigrant house that specializes in the products of Czechoslovakia, the tiny Czech cottage contains a number of outstanding items like dinnerware, Royal Dux figurines, Czech garnet jewelry, crystal, and glassware. The Cedar Rapids Czech Heritage Foundation is one of the numerous local organizations that promote and preserve the Czech heritage in the city and support and sponsor several programs and events that happen all through the year.  The preferred language of the village was Czech until WWII, and besides the bakery and meat market, the Saddle and Leather Shop was opened in the 1940s and is still open, as well as Zindrick's Czech Restaurant, the Czech Feather and Down Co. as well as many other antique shops and pubs.  In 1996, President Clinton, Czech President Havel and Slovak President Kovac came here for the dedication of the museum and library.

  • Granger House
    The Granger House Museum is the only restored middle-class family home in the region that represents the Victorian period, constructed in the 1840s and occupied by one family for almost a century, with a marvelous collection that contains many of the original furnishings, set in Marion, Iowa, a few miles from Cedar Rapids. The 1879 brick carriage house that sits next to the main house is a fantastic untouched treasure and the only one of its design and kind in the Midwest. It is listed on the National Register of Historical Places and is a outstanding example of middle-class living during the 19th century, with guided tours, demonstrations and more. The house is an excellent example of Italianate design and the oldest part of the home was just a simple brick house constructed on a prairie when function was more important than looks, and would continue to grow and expand as the ownership changed. Although the house is named for the Earl Granger family, that lived there for almost a hundred years, it isn't a memorial to that family since there were others, especially the initial builders.  The house contains many treasured mementos from the past that include photographs, diaries, documents and the original furnishings that still remain there after almost two centuries. Earl Granger, his wife and six children lived here, which explains why things like the chandelier and other furnishings in the dining room and other rooms look as if they had been left exactly the way they did for the family's existence here. There are many items that were here when the Grangers came here to live, and still are here, almost new, except for the fact that they are quite old. The tub is located in the kitchen, where the hot water would be heated for the family's baths, with the original multi-seater outhouse still just outside the door. Much of the family's business was handled in the carriage house that looks just like it did when it was constructed, with many antiquities still preserved in here as well.  The stalls are still here, with harnesses and other items that were used a century or more ago, and is a proud reminder for the city and the historical society that takes care of it.

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  • Iowa Masonic Library & MuseumIowa Masonic Library & MUseum Cedar Rapids, Iowa
    The Iowa Masonic Library and Museum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa is considered to be one of the most expansive and extensive collections of Masonic artifacts in the world, as well as the biggest with more than 100,000 books and manuscripts. The collection contains Masonic and conventional volumes and is available to anyone interested in perusing this marvelous center. The structure itself is made of Vermont marble on the exterior and grey marble from Carthage, Missouri on the interior walls, with bronze metal work in the doors, stair rails and windows. It is more than 245 feet long and 50 feet wide on the main building, with the library wing, located on the west side, 113 feet deep. One of the most conspicuous attributes in the library is the marvelous number of Masonic aprons that range from the simple white leather apron, to the very ancient Golden Fleece or Roman Eagle to the purple edged and ornamented dress of the Grand Master. There are numerous hand-embroidered and hand-painted silk aprons from the 1700s, with a large amount of decorated leather aprons. The museum contains an excellent exhibit of glassware and modern porcelain that have plates, pitchers, mugs and loving cups that were issued by the numerous Masonic groups as commemorative items. There is a magnificent number of Knight Templar swords, some, worn by past grand commanders of the Grand Commandery of Iowa. There are outstanding showcases of the evolution of written and printed words, some quite rare. One exciting exhibition contains ancient Babylonian clay bricks inscripted before they were fired and are the earliest here. Photographs located here depict the ancient Egyptian writings found on papyrus. The library houses the history of the lodge here, and those in other parts of the United States, so profuse that it would take anyone interested in reading them quite a long time. The intricacies and secrets of the masons is well known, and to visualize the extensive amount of literature, both informative and rules are shown making the library and museum one of the most interesting and exciting treasures of this ancient order. There are many educational volumes, the relationship of freemasonry to the public or society in general, biographies, ceremonies, encyclopedic dictionaries, the role of freemasonry and religion, general information, law, humor and so much that it would be necessary for the visitor to go to the Masonic library and museum to gain a much better understanding and appreciation for this ancient secret society.

  • Science Station and McLeod/Busse IMAX Dome Theatre
    The Cedar Rapids, Iowa Science Station is a technology and science center offering entertaining learning opportunities that have been created to inspire and stimulate the imagination of visitors coming here for the joy of it. It is nonprofit and is presently found in the Lindale Mall since their distinctive home in downtown Cedar Rapids was flooded in 2008. This locale contains two main spaces, the Main Level exhibit gallery and the lower level education center, as well as hands-on programming for various groups that include families, scouts, and others. The science station was and will be found in a historical brick building that was constructed in 1917 as a fire station, and used in that way until 1985. It was then that the Junior League of Cedar Rapids Inc. began a large fundraising event to gain funds for the conversion of the old fire house into a modern hands-on science center. After gaining the necessary money, it opened in 1986, still containing the firemen's pole on the main floor, and by 2000, had opened the Alliant Energy gallery. The building has 13,500 square feet of space the has the exhibit spaces and administrative offices, with the lower level used for the storage of exhibit items and fabrication. In 2001, the McLeod/Busse IMAX dome theater, screening its last film before the great flood on January 20, 2008, and houses the theater, which holds 170 seats, classroom, gift shop, meeting room for up to 125 people, restrooms and upgraded modern lobby. The temporary downtown location contains classic and restored displays, math mania room and interactive kiosk from NextEra Energy, and an early childhood center that contains the new dinosaur exploration station. This summer, a wonderful and interesting transformation will happen when the medical center is transformed into a vet medical center, where children can come in and treat their pets and learn more about their care.

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 2121 Arthur Collins Pkwy. SW

May 09, 2011