Dubuque, founded in 1833, is the oldest city in Iowa. A port on the upper Mississippi River, it is situated along scenic bluffs facing the river, and has its roots in a mining and trading settlement established in the area by Quebec-born entrepreneur Julien Dubuque in 1788. The city's population is 57,686 (2000 Census), and the estimated population of the Dubuque metropolitan area is 93,072.
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Dubuque grew rapidly during the 19th century, due to its lead-mining, lumber-milling, brewing, metal-working, and river-trade-related industries. It was Iowa's largest city for most of the 1800s, and as a result contains many historically significant structures, many of which have been carefully maintained or restored.
Much of the city's character was established by heavy German and Irish immigration from the 1840s to the 1890s, with the Germans tending to settle in the "North End" and the Irish in the "South End." Large Catholic parishes associated with each group were established, and large, impressive 19th-century church buildings remain to this day. The large Catholic presence caused Dubuque to be elevated to the status of a Catholic archdiocese in 1893, and it is still the smallest US city to hold this distinction.
Noteworthy church buildings include St. Raphael Cathedral, St. Mary (with its jewel-like Bavarian stained-glass windows), Sacred Heart, Holy Trinity, Holy Ghost, St. Columbkille, and the Basilica of St. Francis in nearby Dyersville. St. Luke's Methodist Church contains a significant collection of Tiffany-designed stained-glass windows in a striking Romanesque Revival structure.
Dubuque, as a small industrial center, saw its economy falter in the 1980s as industries downsized or relocated. The city has made a concerted effort to attract tourists, with the establishment of historic districts, museums, a greyhound racing park, a casino, a riverside hotel and conference center, and a Smithsonian-affiliated museum devoted to the history and biology of the Mississippi River. In 2009, IBM named Dubuque one of its "Smarter Cities", and planned to move 1,500 jobs into the restored Roshek building downtown.
- 1 Dubuque Regional Airport (DBQ IATA) (located 7 mi (11 km) south of downtown). Avelo Airlines started providing two flights each week to and from Orlando in January 2023. For all other days and destinations, fly through the Cedar Rapids airport or drive three hours' east to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. To get to downtown Dubuque from the airport, stay on U.S. Hwy 61 all the way in (a 15-min trip). There are 2 car rental agencies (Avis and National) with offices in the airport terminal.
Dubuque is connected to most of the surrounding cities by 4-lane highways.
- From the north (Twin Cities): Take US Hwy 52 (2-lane)
- From the northeast(Madison/Milwaukee): Take US Hwy 151 (4-lane)
- East (Rockford/Chicago): Take US Hwy 20 (mostly 4-lane, some 2-lane)
- South (Quad Cities): Take U.S. Highway 61 (4-lane)
- Southwest (Cedar Rapids): Take US Hwy 151 (4-lane)
- West (Waterloo): Take US Hwy 20 (4-lane)
Dubuque is 183 mi (295 km) west of Chicago via I-90 and US 20, 90 mi (145 km) southwest of Madison, Wisconsin, via US 151, 70 mi (113 km) north of the Quad Cities via US 61, and 189 mi (304 km) northeast of Des Moines via US 65, US 30, and US 151.
There is no passenger rail service to Dubuque. The proposed Chicago-Rockford-Dubuque passenger line has been put on hold by the Illinois state government.
Once in Dubuque, most people travel by car as public transport is limited. There are a handful of major car rental offices in the city.
The City of Dubuque also operates a public bus system called The Jule (formally known as KeyLine Transit). The Jule operates 16 bus routes and a trolley route (in the summer) downtown. The buses generally operate in a east-west orientation, with major transfer stations downtown (W 9th and Main Sts.), midtown (N Grandview and University Aves.), and on the west side (Kennedy Cir./John F. Kennedy Rd.). Most buses operate on 45 min-1-hour long loops.
Bus fares are 50¢-$1. Discount tickets are available for students, elderly, and the handicapped, available at +1 563 589-4196 or KeyLine office at 2401 Central Ave.
- #1 Green Cab +1 563-495-4444
When driving around downtown Dubuque, be on the lookout for one-way streets because they are somewhat poorly marked. Also, take caution as many turn lanes become confusing with lanes simply ending or becoming turn lanes without warning.
- Cable Car Square. At the base of the 4th Street Elevator. Contains many historic Victorian-era buildings housing coffee shops, restaurants, and specialty shops. Centered on 4th and Bluff Streets.
- Crystal Lake Cave. Limestone cavern discovered by early lead miners.
- 1 Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. 52-acre (21 ha) garden with emphasis on irises, dahlias, lilies, dwarf and unusual conifers; rose and herb gardens.
- 2 Dubuque Museum of Art, 701 Locust St. Four separate galleries featuring regional and national art.
- Fenelon Place (4th Street) Elevator. Historic cable-car ride from Dubuque's river level to top of bluff.
- 3 Field of Dreams. Movie site 19 mi (31 km) west, just northeast of Dyersville. The actual movie site remains basically the same as in Field of Dreams, but Major League Baseball has since built a separate ballpark about 500 feet (i50 m) away on an adjacent property, which it used for regular-season games in 2021 and 2022. Future MLB games at the adjacent site are on hold while a youth baseball facility is being built on that property.
- 4 Five Flags Center. Hosts the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra, the Dubuque Fighting Saints professional hockey, and various touring theater productions.
- 5 Grand Opera House, 135 W. 8th St, ☏ . Dubuque's oldest theater, built in 1890 and restored, hosts community theater productions including plays, musicals, and ballets. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, with a Richardson Romanesque architectural style. Coordinates with several downtown restaurants for dinner/theater specials.
- Grand River Center. Port of Dubuque. Convention center along the Mississippi containing 115,000 square feet of room for meetings, conventions, and other social functions. Connected by skywalk to the Grand Harbor Resort & Waterpark.
- Mathias Ham House Museum. Preserved Italianate mansion of early river baron, with period furnishings.
- 6 Mines of Spain State Recreation Area. Nature trails and an interpretive center.
- National Farm Toy Museum. 30,000 toy tractors and other farm toys, in Dyersville.
- 7 National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. Affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution and owned by the Dubuque County Historical Society, the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium features six aquariums and the history of the Mississippi River. It is the only museum along the entire length of the river solely devoted to its history.
- Park Farm Winery, ☏ . Bankston, IA; Built in 2001, the Park Farm Winery is 17 miles west of Dubuque in the rolling hills of northeast Iowa. It features a chateau and several award-winning wines.
- 8 Shot Tower. Port of Dubuque. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Shot Tower is one of the last standing such towers in the country. It stands 120 ft 5 in from base to peak, and is a recognized symbol of the city. It is undergoing renovations and is part of the city's master plan to revitalize the harbor area.
- American Lady Yacht Cruises. Yacht cruises on the Mississippi River, featuring happy hour and sunset dinner cruises. Also arrange wedding and event cruises.
- Chestnut Mountain Ski Resort, 8700 W Chestnut Rd, toll-free: . Galena, IL. South of Dubuque on bluffs overlooking the Mississippi. Nineteen runs and seven-acre terrain park. 450 foot vertical drop. Open during summer months with mountain biking, miniature golf, nature trails, and alpine slide.
- 1 Diamond Jo Casino. At the Port of Dubuque.
- Grand Harbor Resort and Waterpark. Iowa's first indoor waterpark resort contains 25,000 square feet of Mississippi-themed indoor water activities.
- Great River Wine Trail. A collection of nine vineyards in the Tri-State area (3 in Iowa, 3 in Illinois, and 3 in Wisconsin), promoted as a weekend destination for regional and international wine lovers. Each winery is located within 50 miles of the Mississippi, and tours are organized between the various locations. Individuals visiting and tasting at each winery turn in bottle stickers from each to receive a free t-shirt commemorating their accomplishment.
- Heritage Trail. Scenic 26-mi (42 km) bike/snowmobile trail from Dubuque to Dyersville, built on old Chicago Great Western railroad bed.
- Mississippi Riverwalk Port of Dubuque. A 1/2 mile long walkway along the Mississippi River, running from the Ice Harbor in the south to the Alliant Energy Amphitheater in the north, situated atop Dubuque's flood protection levee. Provides excellent views of both the Mississippi and downtown Dubuque. Includes a pavilion, benches, and numerous informational displays on the history of the Port of Dubuque.
- 2 Q Casino and Hotel (formerly Mystique Casino).
- Sundown Mountain, 17017 Asbury Rd, ☏ . Asbury, Ski resort just west of Dubuque, overlooking Driftless Area. Twenty-one trails, 2 terrain parks, and 475 feet of vertical drop. Live music on weekends at the North Lounge.
- Swiss Valley Nature Preserve & Center, 13606 Swiss Valley Rd, ☏ . Peosta, IA; Interpretive center, hiking trails, trout fishing, and 4 miles of cross country skiing spread out over its 476 acres.
- Birchwood Golf Course, 3976 Eagle Point Rd, ☏ . Kieler, WI; 9-hole course located on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi, 2 miles north of Dubuque.
- Bunker Hill Golf Course, 2200 Bunker Hill Rd, ☏ . 18 holes.
- Derby Grange Golf & Recreation, 13079 Derby Grange Rd, ☏ . 9-hole par-3 course, also includes mini-golf course.
- Dubuque Golf and Country Club, 1800 Randall Pl, ☏ . Private club.
- Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa, 444 Eagle Ridge Dr, ☏ . Galena, IL; Four award-winning courses on 68,000 acres.
- Lacoma Golf Club, 8080 Timmerman Dr, ☏ . East Dubuque, IL; 45 holes of golf, including the championship Blue Course.
- Meadows Golf Club, 15766 Clover Ln, ☏ . Asbury, IA; Voted best course in the Tri-State 2003-2008 and given a four-star rating by Golf Digest.
- Thunder Hills Country Club, 16682 Thunder Hills Dr, ☏ . Peosta, IA; Full-service country club.
- Timberline Golf Course, 19858 E. Pleasant Grove Rd, ☏ . Peosta, IA; 18 holes.
- Allison-Henderson Park Five acre park on N. Grandview Ave, includes lighted in-line hockey rink, playground equipment, BBQ grills and a recreation program center.
- AY McDonald Park At north end of Kerper Blvd on the Mississippi, includes fishing pier, boat ramp, walk/bike path, and a rentable council ring overlooking the river.
- Bergfield Recreation Area Just west of the city, includes fishing pond with two accessible fishing jetties and a 0.78 mile path around the pond.
- Eagle Point Park Named one of the most outstanding city parks in the Midwest, featuring 164 acres of blufftop views of Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Facilities include Riverfront Pavilion, Shiras Memorial Pavilion, Log Cabin Pavilion, six tennis courts, viewing towers, band shell, playground equipment, spray pool, and rock garden/fish pond. In 1930, a WPA grant was used for renovating the park, incorporating Frank Lloyd Wright prairie architecture into its buildings and gardens.
- Louis Murphy Park On the south end of Dubuque, with picnic shelters, three tennis courts, horseshoe courts, and playground equipment. Overlooks the southern end of the city and the Mississippi River from its bluff top location.
- McAleece Park Recreation Complex On Chaplain Schmitt Island, the complex features three lighted softball diamonds, John Petraikis Field (lighted regulation baseball diamond with seating for 1,700), two soccer fields, a skate park, and a concession stand.
- Miller Riverview Park 20-acre park on Chaplain Schmitt Island, next to Mystique Casino, with camping facilities, a walk/bike path, and great views of Mississippi River traffic.
- Pet Park A 2.5-acre park next to Bunker Hill Golf Course. Fenced in and separate areas for large and small dogs.
- Veterans Memorial Park A 73-acre park on the north side of the city with three softball diamonds, four tennis courts, disc golf course, and a large amount of heavily wooded area.
- Wahlert Park A 35-acre park on Pennsylvania Avenue that includes five tennis courts, two softball diamonds, volleyball courts, Flora Park swimming pool, horseshoe courts, and a concession stand.
Events & festivals
- Dubuque Renaissance Faire May. Held at Union Park YMCA Camp location on John F. Kennedy Blvd. Hosted by the Dubuque Museum of Art. Featuring jousting, renaissance market, jugglers, musicians, and food vendors.
- DubuqueFest Fine Arts Festival Annual all arts festival third full weekend every May in Washington Park and Town Clock Plaza. Dubuque's only fine arts festival. Juried fine art fair, interactive art for all ages, old house tour, live music on 3 stages, music. art. culture. Free. www.dubuquefest.org
- Eastern Iowa Wine Fest. Black Horse Inn, Sherrill, IA, a few miles north of Dubuque. 3rd annual event featuring wines from the Upper Mississippi region, tastings, food, amateur winemaker's competition, live music, and the "People's Choice Award" for best wine at the fest.
- Irish Hooley At Alliant Energy Amphitheater. Featuring live Irish music and dancers, genealogy and travel information, and food and merchandise vendors.
- RAGBRAI. RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bike Race Across Iowa) is one of the nation's longest-running cross-state bike rides.
- Riverfest in Washington Park. A weekend of free family entertainment, including flea market and craft fair, continuous live outdoor music, and children's events.
- Taste of Dubuque at the Port of Dubuque. 15th annual event with over two dozen food vendors featuring local cuisine, as well as live music and children's activities.
- Tri-States Chili Cook-off at Cable Car Square. A day filled with entertainment, food, and beverage vendors, including the ever-popular chili cook-off contest. All proceeds donated to area charity.
There are thousands of students who attend colleges in Dubuque. The largest are the city's 3 liberal arts colleges: Clarke College, Loras College, and the University of Dubuque. Collectively, the schools are known as the "Tri Colleges" and enjoy a friendly rivalry with one another. Other students attend the various religious institutions in the city, or Northeast Iowa Community College, which has a satellite location downtown.
- Clarke University 4-year Roman Catholic college
- Divine Word College Roman Catholic missionary college in Epworth
- Emmaus Bible College Evangelical seminary, college
- Loras College 4-year Roman Catholic college
- Northeast Iowa Community College 2-year community college
- University of Dubuque 4-year Presbyterian university
- Wartburg Theological Seminary Lutheran seminary
- Asbury Plaza Corner of Asbury Rd and Northwest Arterial. Outdoor shopping complex in the West End. Home to Kohl's, Sam's Club, Hy-Vee, and Star Cinemas.
- Kennedy Mall, 555 Kennedy Rd, ☏ . Iowa's first enclosed shopping mall. Home to Mindframe Theaters, Dubuque's independent cinema, as well as anchors Sears, Younkers, and JC Penney.
- Breitbach's Country Dining. A few miles northwest of Dubuque in Balltown. Iowa's oldest food and drinking establishment (opened in 1852), and has seen the likes of the outlaw Jesse James, Brooke Shields, and George Wendt walk through its doors.
- Pepper Sprout, 378 Main St, ☏ . In the historic Old Main district, and specializing in beef, lamb, veal, and poultry. Large wine selection and fantastic desserts.
Bars and pubs
- 1 7 Hills Brewing, 1085 Washington St, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Craft brewery and brewpub, a restaurant serving beer, burgers, sandwiches, and cocktails.
- The Lift, 180 Main St, ☏ . An Irish-themed bar. Formerly known as the Busted Lift and 180 Main. Live music and gorgeous bar. 20 beers on tap, including every major Irish import.
- Catfish Charlie's, 1630 E. 16th St, ☏ . Bill themselves as "Dubuque's #1 Hotspot", owing to their Bikini Deck overlooking the Mississippi and cheap happy hour specials. Regularly host bands on the deck during the summer months.
- Next Phase Bar - Kurt's Karaoke, 1700 Central Ave, ☏ . Upscale bar north of downtown. 36-foot main bar and dancefloor. Dress code enforced on weekends, with DJ Thursday, Friday, & Saturday nights. Regularly schedules organized bar crawls.
- Europa Haus Restaurant and Bier Stube, 1301 Rhomberg Ave, ☏ . In Dubuque's old German ward on the northside. A German-themed bar and restaurant with beers such as Spaten on tap.
- Mississippi Moon Bar, 301 Bell St, ☏ . Inside the Diamond Jo Casino complex. Hosts Dueling Pianos every Thursday, DJs on Fridays, and live bands every Saturday night. Occasionally hosts big-name performers such as Jordin Sparks.
- Potosi Brewing Company, 209 S. Main St, ☏ . Potosi, WI, Home to the National Brewery Museum and brewing several of their own beers, the restored Potosi Brewery is a restaurant and pub with original sandstone walls and Cypress wood tables made from old brewery beer vats. Beer garden located outside open during warmer months. On-site brewed beers include Good Old Potosi Beer (light ale), Pure Malt Cave Ale, Snake Hollow India Pale Ale, Holiday Lager Bock, American Porter, Potosi Czech Style Pilsner, and Scotch Ale.
- Riverboat Lounge, 200 Main St, toll-free: . Inside the restored Hotel Julien Dubuque.
- Stone Cliff Winery, 600 Star Brewery Drive, ☏ . Piano bar and outdoor patio. Sells wines crafted at the Stone Cliff vineyards near Dubuque. Also has a tasting room and gift shop on site.
- Jitterz Coffee & Cafe, 1073 Main Street, ☏ .
- Monks Kaffe Pub, 373 Bluff St, ☏ .
- Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Dubuque, IA, 1315 Associates Dr, ☏ , email@example.com.
- Days Inn Dubuque, 1111 Dodge St, ☏ .
- Grand Harbor Resort and Waterpark, 350 Bell St, ☏ .
- Hilton Garden Inn Dubuque Downtown, 1801 Greyhound Park Dr, ☏ .
- Holiday Inn Dubuque/Galena, 450 Main St, ☏ .
- Holiday Inn Express Dubuque, 2080 Holliday Dr, ☏ .
- Hotel Julien Dubuque, 200 Main St, ☏ .
- MainStay Suites, 1275 Associates Dr, ☏ . An extended stay hotel with fully equipped kitchens in every suite.
B & Bs
- Hancock House, ☏ . 1105 Grove Ter.
- Redstone Inn & Suites, 504 Bluff St, ☏ .
- Richards House, 1492 Locust St, ☏ .
Dubuque is a very safe city with a below-average crime rate. By and large, all areas of the city can be enjoyed day or night without fear of robbery or attack. Visitors are very common to the area, with the high number of tourist attractions and the presence of multiple colleges, and attacks on tourists are rare. The main tourist destinations and hotel locations are well-traveled and safe. However, as with any city of a certain size, there are some pockets of crime.
- For emergencies, call: 911
- For non-emergencies, call the Dubuque Police Department: +1 563 589-4410.
Dubuque is home to two major hospitals, and is the region's center for health care. Mercy Medical Center (250 Mercy Dr; +1 563 589-8000) is a 263-bed hospital just west of downtown. It also has received Magnet hospital designation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. It handles 55,000 patient visits annually. Finley Hospital (350 N. Grandview Ave; +1 563 582-1881) is the Tri-State's leader in cancer care.
Trips along the Great River Road afford an appreciation of the upper Mississippi River valley's natural splendor, as you travel through dairy and corn country, down into tree-lined valleys, along limestone bluffs, all the while getting glimpses of the majestic river. This is not prairie Iowa - there's a great deal of scenic variety and interest. The drive north of Dubuque to McGregor, via Sherrill, Balltown, and North Buena Vista, and the drive south through St. Catherine's, St. Donatus, Bellevue, and Sabula, are especially commendable.
Heading 19 mi (24 km) east on US Hwy 20 to Illinois takes the traveler to Galena, the "town that time forgot" and worth at least a day to soak up the atmosphere of a small town that attracts thousands of visitors each year. The historic former lead-mining and commercial center features numerous antique shops and restaurants, and the Ulysses S. Grant Home.
|Routes through Dubuque|
|Waterloo ← Independence ←||W E||→ Jct N → Galena → Rockford|
|Rochester ← Decorah ←||NW SE||→ Dixon → Joliet|
|La Crosse ← Soldiers Grove ← Jct W E ←||N S||→ DeWitt → Davenport|
|Cedar Rapids ← Anamosa ←||SW NE||→ Dodgeville → Madison|