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Cedar Falls is home to University of Northern Iowa, the third-largest public university in the state of Iowa. It is part of a larger metropolitan area that also includes the cities of Waterloo, Hudson, Evansdale, Elk Run Heights, and Raymond. The Cedar River bisects the community from west to east.


It is a city of 41,000 people (2019) in Northeast Iowa. The Waterloo–Cedar Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area was hone to 170,000 people in 2010.

The city gets its name from the Cedar River which flows on the city's eastern side. On the other side of the river is the more populous Waterloo; collectively these two are known as the "Cedar Valley".


Cedar Falls was founded in 1845 by William Sturgis. It was named Sturgis Falls, for the first family who settled the site and who continued to live in the city for years. The city was called Sturgis Falls until it was merged with Cedar City (another city on the other side of the Cedar River), creating Cedar Falls. The city's founders are honored each year with a week long community-wide celebration named in their honor – the Sturgis Falls Celebration.

Because of the availability of water power, Cedar Falls developed as a milling and industrial center prior to the Civil War. The establishment of the Civil War Soldiers' Orphans Home in Cedar Falls changed the direction in which the city developed when, following the war, it became the first building on the campus of the Iowa State Normal School (now the University of Northern Iowa).

Visitor's center[edit]

Cedar Falls Visitors and Tourism Bureau, 6510 Hudson Rd. (go N on Hwy 20, exit 224), +1 319 268-4266, toll-free: +1-800-845-1955, . M-F 8AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-4PM, Su noon-4PM.

Get in[edit]

Map of Cedar Falls

By plane[edit]

Waterloo Regional Airport (ALO IATA), 2790 Livingston Ln., Waterloo (from IA 58, take US 218 S exit, merge onto IA 57, IA 57 becomes US 218 S, exit Broadway, turn left onto Airport Blvd), +1 319 291-4483, fax: +1 319 291-4250, . Delta Air Lines has flights available.

By bus[edit]

By car[edit]

Traveling east/west on U.S. Highway 20 or north/south on U.S. 218 are the most common routes. Iowa Highways 57 and 58 also provide access.

Get around[edit]


  • Ice House Museum, 1st and Clay Streets, +1 319 273-5149. May-Oct: W 1-4PM, Sa 10AM-4PM, Su 1-4PM May. Built in 1921, this unique round structure was built for the flourishing Cedar Falls Ice and Fuel Company. It stored six to eight thousand tons of ice each year cut right from the frozen Cedar River. $5.
  • Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, 8201 Dakota St., +1 319 273-4849. Gallagher-Bluedorn hosts over 150 performances each year from major stars like Bill Cosby and Kathy Mattea to hit Broadway shows like "Cats" and "Mamma Mia".
  • Hearst Center for the Arts, 304 West Seerley Blvd., +1 319 273-8641. Tu Th 9AM-9PM, W F 9AM-5PM, Sa Su 1-4PM. The center's permanent collection was started by farmer poest James Hearst and has a variety of regional, national, and international exhibitions. Free.
  • Oster Regent Theatre, 103 Main Street, +1 319 277-5283. Built in 1910 and restored in 1994, this 500 seat theatre is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places. It houses a resident theatre company producing five plays and hosting several other presentations and events each year.


The university has all the things you'd expect a public university to have, including music events, theater, sports, and guest speakers. The campus is home to over 90 undergraduate majors, including Iowa's No. 1 teaching program, and 50 graduate programs. The major venues on campus are Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, UNI-Dome and McLeod Center.

  • Cedar Valley Trails. Over 106 miles of hard-surfaced trails configured in a series of loops offers users a variety of experiences through wooded areas and along our lakes and streams.
  • College Hill Arts Festival. mid June. This festival showcases 75 Midwest artists, presenting original works and offering demonstrations in various media.
  • Sturgis Falls Celebration. late-June. The original name for the city was Sturgis Falls, and for over 35 years, locals have been celebrating the city with a parade, carnival, talent shows and food.
  • 1 UNI-Dome, 2401 Hudson Rd, +1 319 273-3664. This 16,400-seat multi-purpose venue hosts an estimated 125 events each year including UNI Panther Football, indoor track and field meets, Iowa High School Football Playoffs, and other trade shows and concerts. UNI-Dome (Q7865270) on Wikidata UNI-Dome on Wikipedia


Cedar Falls is known for its selection of unique, locally owned gift shops. At the same time, it offers national retail chains including Von Maur, Aeropostale, Buckle, and Scheels.


The closest restaurants to campus are on The Hill on College St., northeast of campus. Popular standbys include Sub City (where they say the meat is piled high and they don't lie), Beck's, and the Other Place (O.P.) for pizza. Main Street downtown is a popular spot for a variety of restaurants, those of which are finer dining. Many restaurants, mostly chains, are located on University Ave.


College Hill[edit]

  • The Library, 2222 College St, +1 319 277-3962. Sit and relax with a patio out back and jukebox available for tunes.
  • Octopus, 2205 College St, +1 319-242-7789. Small bar with a great beer selection that features vinyl records.
  • Sharky's (The Tank), 2223 College St, +1 319 277-3019. Bar by day, dance club by night.
  • Suds, 2223 1/2 College St, +1 319 277-9961. Small bar with adjoining outside beer garden. Jukebox and pool tables.

Main Street[edit]



Area code is 319.


Most buildings on UNI's campus offer Wi-Fi. One of the most popular places is Maucker Union, which has food and drink vendors.

  • Panera Bread Bakery & Cafe, 6403 University Ave.
  • Starbucks Coffee Company, 6421 University Ave.

Go next[edit]

Routes through Cedar Falls
Fort Dodge ← Jct N I-35.svg S  W US 20.svg E  WaterlooDubuque
OwatonnaAustin  N US 218.svg S  WaterlooCedar Rapids

This city travel guide to Cedar Falls is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.