The memories of a lifetime don’t have to cost a fortune. Escape to one of these free and memorable Cedar Rapids attractions for a getaway your family will never forget.
1. Czech Village New Bohemia Main Street District
Check out the Czech Village where Cedar Rapids’ past and present come to life. A wide variety of retailers, restaurants and cultural museums give the area the flavor the Czech, Slovakian and Moravian immigrants who settled here in the late 1800s. The district includes several staples in the Cedar Rapids community like the National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library (students of any age get free admission), NewBo City Market and Lion Bridge Brewing, a Great American Beer Festival gold medalist.
2. Grant Wood Studio & Window
Grant Wood lived and worked in a converted carriage house where he created many of his famous works, including “American Gothic.” Today visitors can tour his studio that looks much like it did when Wood inhabited it. Among the most interesting features of the studio is a wall that Wood converted into secret shelf to hold his art tools.
Wood created more than just paintings. He also crafted the Grant Wood Window, a 16-foot-tall stained glass window that commemorates soldiers from America's first six wars. This project required years of planning and preparation and is now located in the Veteran's Memorial building in Cedar Rapids.
3. NewBo City Market
NewBo City Market anchors the New Bohemia district of Cedar Rapids and is home to approximately 30 unique local retailers and restaurants, many of which are aspiring start-ups and small businesses. NewBo was one of the first developments to emerge after floods devastated Cedar Rapids in 2008. It sparked the revival of the community’s popular Czech Village/New Bohemia District. Today this thriving indoor market is open Thursday through Sunday and showcases goods such as homemade soaps and pastas, gourmet cupcakes, pet supplies, fresh juices and smoothies, and much more.
Outside, a community garden is watered with a rain barrel, highlighting the market’s commitment to sustainability. Even the market’s restaurants have compostable silverware.
4. Indian Creek Nature Center
Located on the outskirts of Cedar Rapids, and along the winding Cedar River, the Indian Creek Nature Center is an expansive natural environment where families can hike, fish, cross-country ski, bird watch or participate in programming that uncovers the wonders of nature. In 2016 a stunning, new facility dubbed “Amazing Space” opened on the site of a former farmstead. Visitors of all ages can enjoy the facility’s Bird Room, investigate the interactive watershed table and learn about the solar panels that create power to operate the building, which is one of the most environmentally sustainable structures in the nation.
5. Wickiup Hill Learning Center
Wickiup Hill Learning Center, located just outside of Cedar Rapids, features hands-on exhibits for kids, programming, field trips and live animal displays. The outdoor area includes interpretive trails and Native American mounds. The newly-constructed Wandering Woods nature playscape is open year-round for exploration.