Iowa City was the first capital of the state of Iowa, before the capital was moved westward to Des Moines. Considered a college town, many jobs are associated with the university and its teaching hospital. Other large employers include educational service companies ACT and Pearson. It is widely recognized as one of the most educated cities in the United States.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Iowa City has a population of about 68,000 (2010). The university has an enrollment of approximately 30,000 students. As such, the university has a strong effect on the culture of Iowa City and affects the community in a variety of ways, including the hospital and various university teams and programs.
Also influential in the community is the university's Writer's Workshop, which caused Iowa City to be named the third UNESCO City of Literature, so far the only such city in North America.
Coralville is an adjacent community located to the west of Iowa City, and its largest suburb, with a population of over 18,000.
Iowa City can be reached by I-80 from Chicago to the east and Des Moines to the west. I-380, brings in traffic from the north near Waterloo. Especially in the fall and winter, expect traffic delays from university games as there are very few main roads or entrances/exits to I-80.
The nearest commercial airport, the Eastern Iowa Airport (IATA: CID), is in Cedar Rapids, about 20 miles to the north on I-380. A taxi to Iowa City may cost $40; a shuttle $25. Sometimes lower-cost flights are available into Moline (IATA: MLI) or Des Moines (IATA: DSM).
- Megabus, E Harrison St between Dubuque and Linn Sts (north side parking lot). Service to Iowa City from Chicago, Davenport, Des Moines, and Omaha. Fares from $1 and up.
- Greyhound and Burlington Trailways offer bus service to a variety of cities, mostly ones along Interstate 80.
Walking is the easiest way to get around downtown Iowa City; the university is right in the middle of downtown. For greater distances, there is an extensive bus system called Iowa City Transit ($0.75/ride). The university's Cambus system covers most of the campus buildings and is free and open to the public.
- Old Capitol Museum (Iowa Ave & Clinton St.), ☎ . Tu-F 10AM-3PM, Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 1PM-5PM. Tour Iowa's first capitol building in the center of the Pentacrest. Also visit the Discovery Center and the Humanities Gallery. Gift shop. free.
- University of Iowa Museum of Art, 150 N Riverside Dr, ☎ . Some European paintings, large collection of African art, changing exhibitions. Gift shop, coffee bar. Free.
- University of Iowa Museum of Natural History (inside MacBride Hall at the corner of Jefferson and Clinton Sts), ☎ . Tu-F 10AM-?, Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 1PM-5PM. Displays of Iowa's geology and ecology, as well as Native American culture. Features a reconstruction of a giant Ice Age sloth and a large collection of birds. Gift shop. Free.
- University of Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame, 2425 Prairie Meadow Dr (Mormon Trek to Prairie Meadow), toll-free: . M-F 11AM-6PM, Sa 10AM-6PM, Su noon-5PM. Displays about the history of the Hawkeye teams, including Nile Kinnick's Heisman Trophy. $4 adults, $3 students, seniors, free under 12.
- Antique Car Museum of Iowa, 860 Quarry Rd, Coralville (I-80, exit 242), ☎ . Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. Over 70 automobiles dating from 1899, a replica of an early Skelly gas station, and a model train display. Free.
- The Black Angel: A sometimes cited unusual attraction, the Black Angel is a statue in Oakland Cemetery (north Governor Street). Designed by famed sculptor Mario Korbel, the statue is 8.5 feet tall and depicts a dark angel of death guarding over a grave. The beautiful, yet eerie angel has been a source of local urban legend since its construction. Many legends say that if anyone kisses the statue, he or she will be struck dead unless they are a virgin. Despite this, the Angel and her folklore have been embraced. A miniature replica has even been erected on the Pedmall.
- Only minutes to the north, Lake MacBride and Coralville Lake offer beaches, camping, hiking, and boating.
- Twenty minutes west of Iowa City on Highway 6 lies F.W. Kent State Park, another popular camping destination with a small lake and beach.
- The Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington St, ☎ . A historic theatre, first opened in 1912, now operates as a stage for plays, comedy and music performances, and community events. Also home to a small gallery showcasing local artwork.
- Riverside Theatre, 213 N. Gilbert St, ☎ . Iowa City's resident professional theatre presents both classic and contemporary theatre. Most popular are Shakespeare plays, which are performed each summer at City Park's Shakespeare Theater.
- Bijou Theater, 125 N Madison St (1st floor, Iowa Memorial Union). Student-operated independent theatre in the Memorial Union is the only theatre in the area showing independent, art-house, and foreign films. $5.
- Gabe's Oasis (formerly The Picador), 330 E Washington St, ☎ . Iowa City's most popular music venue offers performances by local, regional, and national bands and musicians. Some all ages shows but mostly 19+.
- The Mill Restaurant, 120 E Burlington St, ☎ . Both a restaurant and a venue for live music, The Mill is home to performances by local and regional musicians. Every Monday is open mic night. Almost all shows 19+.
- Blue Moose Tap House (formerly The Q and The Industry), 211 Iowa Ave. Bar and live music venue, with local and national music acts. Most shows 19+.
Events and Festivals
- Iowa City Jazz Festival, downtown Iowa City. First weekend in July. Live jazz groups, both local and from around the world play on stages set up around downtown Iowa City. Free.
- Iowa Arts Festival, downtown Iowa City. First weekend in June. Popular three-day community celebration of local and regional artists, including open admission to downtown's art galleries, live music, local food vendors, and other activities. Free.
- Friday Night Concert Series, Pedestrian Mall, Dubuque & College. mid May-early Sep on F 6:30PM-9:30PM. Free.
- Saturday Night Free Movie Series, On the wall at the Pentacrest on the corner of Jefferson and Clinton Sts. mid May-early Sep on Sa 7:30PM-end. Free.
- Sand in the City, Iowa Ave. & Linn St.. Weekend in late August. A new sand sculpture competition in which teams work with professional sand sculptors and architects to create large sand sculptures. Live music and activities for children. Free.
- Mission Creek Festival, downtown Iowa City. Weekend in April. Nationally-known acts, indie bands, and local musicians perform at various venues downtown. Literary readings by authors at local bookstores and coffee shops. $115 for All Access pass, $60 for limited passes.
- Landlocked Film Festival, downtown Iowa City. last weekend in August. An independent film festival with film screenings, panels, and filmmaking workshops taking place at three downtown venues. free.
- Iowa Artisans Gallery Walks, downtown Iowa City. Three times yearly (March, May, and October), F 5-8. 20 downtown galleries showcase the works of local and regional artists. free.
- Iowa City Pride, City Park and downtown Iowa City. Day in June. Gay pride parade, run, and festival. Free.
- The University of Iowa, Iowa's first university, founded in 1847, UI is a large, public university that offers over 100 programs of study and has a student body of over 30,000 students.
- Kirkwood Community College, 1816 Lower Muscatine Rd, two-year community college with a small campus in Iowa City, and a main campus 20 miles north in Cedar Rapids.
- Coral Ridge Mall, 1451 Coral Ridge Ave. Coralville, +1 319 625-3112 or 800-283-6592
- Prairie Lights Book Store, 15 S Dubuque St, ☎ . This large bookstore downtown frequently appears on "Top 10 Bookstores in the U.S." lists. It features regular readings by nationally and internationally known authors.
- Pedestrian Mall, Dubuque St & College St. A pedestrian-only plaza that is home to many locally-owned restaurants and stores.
- Chez Grace (formerly Cafe Z), 89 2nd St. #3, Coralville, ☎ . T-Sa 5-9:30, Su 5-9. French cuisine.
- Confusions Cafe, 2431 Coral Ct #3, Coralville, ☎ . The place to go to get a taste of anything you've been craving.
- The Hamburg Inn No. 2, 214 N Linn St, ☎ . Open daily 6AM-11PM. Hamburgers, soups, a large selection of omelets and more. An Iowa City institution.
- Linn Street Cafe, 121 North Linn St, ☎ . lunch M-F 11-2, dinner M-Sa 5-?. Fine dining.
- Lou Henri, 630 Iowa Ave, ☎ . Open for breakfast and lunch, specializing in the former.
- Masala, 9 S Dubuque St, ☎ . Open daily 11:15AM-2:30PM, 5PM-9:30PM. East Indian food. This place is leagues above the other Indian restaurant in town.
- The Motley Cow Cafe, 160 N. Linn St, ☎ . M-Sa 5-10. Constantly changing menu featuring many dishes made with local meat and produce.
- Oasis, 206 N. Linn Street, ☎ . Open Daily 11am-9pm. Popular local mediterranean food. Serving falafel, hummus, babba ganoush, tabbouleh.
- Pagliai's Pizza, 302 E Bloomington St (various locations in the state), ☎ . M-Sa 4PM-midnight, Su 4PM-11PM. Pizza from family recipes. Thin-crust style.
- Short's Burgers & Shine, 18 South Clinton Street, ☎ . Open Daily 11am-1AM. Serving burgers, sandwiches, and only Iowa-made beers and ciders on tap.
- Whitey's Ice Cream, 112 E Washington St, and Coral Ridge Mall, ☎ . This regional chain has been making ice cream since 1933. Thick milk shakes.
- Z'Mariks Noodle Cafe, 19 S Dubuque St, ☎ . Asian, Greek and Italian noodle dishes.
- Devotay, 117 N. Linn St.. lunch M-Sa 11-2, dinner Su-Th 5-9, F-Sa 5-10. Tapas restaurant, also offers wine tastings.
- Panchero's, 32 S. Clinton St, 965 S. Riverside Dr, Iowa City, 901 25th Ave, Coralville. Local Mexican fast-food chain offering made-to-order burritos and quesadillas.
Because of the university, downtown is very busy on weekend nights. With thousands of college-aged people (and older folks staying around for home games) drinking within a few blocks of each other, use caution when walking to or visiting establishments. There is a bar for all types. State law requires alcohol purchases to be made before 2AM. After 10PM non-exempt drinking establishments only allow persons 21 years of age and older, unless accompanied by a parent, guardian, spouse or domestic partner.
Student crowd (21+)
- Brothers Bar and Grill, 125 S Dubuque St, ☎ . Due to the large cover for those yet to turn 21 years of age, it caters to an older crowd. There's a dance floor and it's pretty upbeat.
- Atlas World Grill, 127 Iowa Ave, ☎ . lunch 11-5, dinner 5-10. Classy place. Great wine and cuisine.
Student crowd (19+)
- Studio 13, 13 S Linn St. Iowa City's only gay bar and dance club. DJs most nights of the week, plus fun drag shows, karaoke, theme parties and contests. Mainly college-aged(19+).
- The Airliner, 22 S Clinton St, ☎ . A staple bar for decades. It's known for incredible pizza ($1.50/slice on Sundays) and cheap drinks. Visited by Tom Brokaw in May 2008 when his favorite booth as a student was dedicated to him with a plaque.
- I.C. Ugly's, 210 N Linn St. Good townie bar.
- Joe's Place, 115 Iowa Ave, ☎ . Located downtown and generally caters to an older crowd. Fairly laid-back atmosphere.
- Blue Moose Tap House (formerly The Q and The Industry), 211 Iowa Ave, ☎ . 4PM-2AM daily. Good place to play pool and get cheap beer. Draws a fairly diverse crowd and has great music with frequent shows upstairs.
- George's Buffet (everyone just calls it George's), 312 E Market St, ☎ . A dark dive bar, not a buffet. However, they do make the best burgers in Iowa City. Filled with locals and students from the Writers' Workshop. If you go in the afternoon, you'll probably spot more than one aspiring writer filling up a notebook.
- Dave's Fox Head Tavern (everyone just calls it The Fox Head), 402 E Market St, ☎ . One block away from George's. Often considered the "fiction bar," to George's supposed allegiance within the poetry division. Inreality, students from each of the disciplines frequent both locations. Divey, with a popular pool table, a jukebox, and a taxidermied fox behind the bar.
- Sports Column, 12 S. Dubuque St.. Variety of cheap drinks. Great place to watch football and basketball games. It gets pretty chaotic on the weekends.
- The Vine, 330 E Prentiss St, ☎ . Wings and beer, busier on game day.
- Hotel Vetro, 201 S Linn St, toll-free: . New, modern, hotel downtown on the Pedestrian Mall, in Iowa City's tallest building.
- Coralville Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, 300 E 9th St, Coralville (I-80, exit 242), ☎ . Large new hotel and conference center in Coralville, with river views.
- Sheraton Iowa City, 210 S Dubuque St, ☎ . Located on the campus of the University of Iowa, Sheraton Iowa City features wireless Internet, an indoor heated pool, a fitness center and is 100% smoke-free. All 234 guest rooms include the Sheraton Sweet Sleeper bedding, Starbucks coffee and 37-inch flat panel televisions.
- Iowa House Hotel (at the Iowa Memorial Union), 125 N Madison St, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. $85+.
- University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics Has Level 1 Trauma Center as well as urgent care at the Emergency Treatment Center. The Emergency entrance is located right off Grand Ave. +1 319 356-2233. Non Emergency and Urgent Care, contact the University of Iowa Family Care Center at +1 319 384-8442.
- Iowa City Press-Citizen is Iowa City's biggest daily newspaper.
- Daily Iowan U of I's daily newspaper.
- The seven historic villages of the Amana Colonies are 25 miles west on Highway 6.
- Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, 210 Parkside Dr., West Branch (I-80 east to exit 254, north on Parkside), ☎ . 9-5. Located 15 minutes east of Iowa City. Exhibits about the life of former President Herbert Hoover and temporary exhibits about American history and culture. Tours of Hoover's birthsite cottage, a blacksmith shop, a Quaker meeting house, and the Hoovers' gravesite. Gift shop. $6 ages 16-61, $3 ages 62+, free under 16.
|Routes through Iowa City|
|Des Moines ← Grinnell ← Jct N ←||W E||→ Davenport → Chicago|
|Waterloo ← Cedar Rapids ←||N S||→ END|
|Des Moines ← Amana Colonies ←||W E||→ Davenport → Joliet|
|Waterloo ← Cedar Rapids ←||N S||→ Mount Pleasant → Keokuk|
|Fairfield ← Kalona ←||S N||→ Mount Vernon → Anamosa|