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Iowa City

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Hip and urbane, Iowa City is a prominent college town primarily known as the home of the University of Iowa. Along with its adjacent suburb of Coralville, located just to the west, Iowa City sits at the center of a metro area home to well over 100,000 people in the I-380 Corridor region of Eastern Iowa.


Old Capitol Building

Iowa City was the first capital of the State of Iowa, established in 1839 by the then-Territory of Iowa, which at the time was rapidly expanding westward from the Mississippi River. Within twenty years the capital would again be moved westward, this time to the more centralized location of Des Moines, where it remains. But before the capital left, the University of Iowa was established and thus was the town's future course set.

Today Iowa City is widely recognized as one of the most educated cities in the United States, with day-to-day life revolving around the University of Iowa, which is frequently regarded as one of the best public universities in the nation. The university has a major effect on the culture and economy of Iowa City, with an enrollment of over 30,000 students. Many of the town's jobs are associated with the university and its teaching hospital, with other large employers including educational service companies ACT and Pearson.

Iowa City is also noted for the university's Writer's Workshop, a celebrated creative writing program that has produced many a noted author. The Writer's Workshop established a strong literary community in the area, which is reflected in the town's literary festivals and the famed Prairie Lights bookstore. All of this led to Iowa City being named the third UNESCO City of Literature, so far the only such city in North America.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

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 Cedar Rapids and Waterloo to the north. 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.

By plane[edit]

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).

By bus[edit]

Get around[edit]

Walking is the easiest way to get around Downtown Iowa City; the main campus of the university is right in the middle of Downtown and is very integrated with the town. West Campus, on the other side of the river, is more sprawling and hilly and is home to the hospital campus and most of the athletic stadiums and facilities. Bicycling is also a common way of getting around town; the university's biking page has a good list of resources for bicyclers.

For greater distances, there is an extensive bus system called Iowa City Transit; fare is $1. The university's Cambus system covers most campus buildings and is free and open to the public; the most useful routes for visitors are the Red and Blue, which loop between Downtown and West Campus clockwise and counterclockwise, respectively. Coralville Transit handles bus transit between Iowa City and Coralville; fare is $1.


The Black Angel
  • 1 Old Capitol Museum21 Old Capitol (Iowa Ave & Clinton St.),  +1 319 335-0548. Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Th 10AM-8PM, Su 1PM-5PM. Tour Iowa's first capitol building in the center of the Pentacrest. Inside you'll find three floors of exhibits linked by a beautiful spiral staircase within the building's rotunda. The original Senate and Legislature Chambers are open as well as a couple of galleries which host changing exhibitions. Gift shop. Free. Iowa Old Capitol Building on Wikipedia Q6064530 on Wikidata
  • 2 University of Iowa Museum of Art125 North Madison Street (inside the Visual Classroom on the 3rd floor of the Iowa Memorial Union),  +1 319 335-1727. Tu-F 10AM-5PM, Th 10AM-9PM, Sa-Su noon-5PM. This museum's collection includes some European paintings, a large collection of African and Mesoamerican art, and some modern art among other objects. The old museum location was flooded in 2008, so a changing selection of works from the collection is currently held inside a temporary space in the Iowa Memorial Union. Free. University of Iowa Museum of Art on Wikipedia Q7895562 on Wikidata
  • 3 University of Iowa Museum of Natural History11 Macbride Hall (inside MacBride Hall at the corner of Jefferson and Clinton Sts),  +1 319 335-0480. Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Th 10AM-8PM, Su 1PM-5PM. One of the oldest museums west of the Mississippi, this place has many well-crafted displays of taxidermy figures, prehistoric artifacts, and exhibits on Iowa's geology and ecology, as well as the state's Native American cultures. Among the highlights of the museum are a reconstruction of a giant Ice Age sloth, a complete whale skeleton, and an extensive Bird Hall with over a thousand birds on display, including a marvelous cyclorama (a 360-degree diorama) depicting bird life on a remote Pacific island. Gift shop. Free. University of Iowa Museum of Natural History on Wikipedia Q7895563 on Wikidata
  • 4 University of Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame2425 Prairie Meadow Dr (inside the Roy G. Karro Building, Mormon Trek Blvd and Prairie Meadow),  +1 319 384-1031, toll-free: +1-866-469-2326. M-Th 9AM-5PM, F 9AM-6PM, Sa 10AM-6PM, Su noon-5PM. Displays about the history of the Hawkeye teams, including Nile Kinnick's Heisman Trophy. Free. University of Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame on Wikipedia Q7895552 on Wikidata
  • 5 The Black AngelOakland Cemetery, 1000 Brown Street (off North Governor Street). An oft-noted local attraction, the Black Angel is a statue in Oakland Cemetery. 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. Oakland Cemetery (Iowa City, Iowa) on Wikipedia Q7073978 on Wikidata
  • Antique Car Museum of Iowa860 Quarry Rd, Coralville (I-80, exit 242),  +1 319 354-3310. 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. $5.



  • 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.


Englert Theatre
  • 1 Englert Theatre221 E. Washington St +1 319 688-2653. 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. Englert Theatre on Wikipedia Q5378100 on Wikidata
  • Riverside Theatre213 N. Gilbert St +1 319 338-7672. 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 Theater125 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 +1 319 354-4788. 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 Restaurant120 E Burlington St +1 319 351-9529. 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+.


The university's athletic teams, the Iowa Hawkeyes, are a major draw, particularly the football and basketball teams, though the wrestling and gymnastic teams have also enjoyed much success. The Hawkeyes play in the Big Ten Conference, which gets them a lot of exposure on the national level.

  • 2 Kinnick Stadium825 Stadium Dr (Hawkins Dr & Melrose Ave, on the West Campus),  +1 319 335-9327. Home to the Hawkeyes football team. Tickets $70-$85. Kinnick Stadium on Wikipedia Q3197181 on Wikidata
  • 3 Carver–Hawkeye Arena1 Elliot Dr (Elliot Dr & Newton Road, on the West Campus),  +1 319 335-9431. Home to the Hawkeyes basketball, gymnastics, volleyball, and wrestling teams. Wrestling tickets $10-$15; volleyball/gymnastic tickets $6. Carver–Hawkeye Arena on Wikipedia Q5047562 on Wikidata

Events and Festivals[edit]

  • Iowa City Jazz Festivaldowntown 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 Festivaldowntown 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.
  • Sand in the CityIowa 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 Festivaldowntown 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 Festivaldowntown 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 Walksdowntown 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 PrideCity Park and downtown Iowa City. Day in June. Gay pride parade, run, and festival. Free.


Prairie Lights
  • Coral Ridge Mall1451 Coral Ridge Ave, Coralville +1 319 625-3112, toll-free: +1-800-283-6592.
  • Pedestrian Mall (Ped Mall), Dubuque St & College St. A pedestrian-only plaza in the middle of Downtown that is home to many locally-owned restaurants and stores.
  • 1 Prairie Lights15 S Dubuque St +1 319 337-2681. M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su 10AM-6PM. This large bookstore downtown is frequently hailed as one of the finest bookstores in the nation and regularly features readings by nationally and internationally known authors. The store is spread over three floors, with a children's section in the bottom floor. The top floor holds a nice cafe with views over the street.


  • Bread Garden Market225 S Linn St (on the Ped Mall),  +1 319 354-4246. Daily 6:30AM-10PM. An organic grocery store with some good lunch options, including some excellent soups and breads as well as a salad and buffet bar. Tends to be on the pricey side, but is a good spot for a quick lunch or snack.
  • Confusions Cafe2431 Coral Ct #3, Coralville +1 319 545-7386. The place to go to get a taste of anything you've been craving.
  • Devotay117 N. Linn St.. lunch M-Sa 11-2, dinner Su-Th 5-9, F-Sa 5-10. Tapas restaurant, also offers wine tastings.
The Hamburg Inn No. 2
  • The Hamburg Inn No. 2214 N Linn St +1 319 337-5512. Daily 6:30AM-11PM. Hamburgers, soups, a large selection of omelets and more. An Iowa City institution, noted for often being a stop for politicians during campaign season.
  • Lou Henri630 Iowa Ave +1 319 351-3637. Open for breakfast and lunch, specializing in the former.
  • Masala9 S Dubuque St +1 319 338-6199. Open daily 11:15AM-2:30PM, 5PM-9:30PM. East Indian food. This place is leagues above the other Indian restaurant in town.
  • Oasis206 N. Linn Street +1 319 358-7342. Open Daily 11am-9pm. Popular local mediterranean food. Serving falafel, hummus, babba ganoush, tabbouleh.
  • Pagliai's Pizza302 E Bloomington St (various locations in the state) +1 319 351-5073. M-Sa 4PM-midnight, Su 4PM-11PM. Pizza from family recipes. Thin-crust style.
  • Short's Burgers & Shine18 South Clinton Street +1 319 337-4678. Su-Th 11AM-10PM, F-Sa 11AM-11PM. Serving marvelously thick burgers and sandwiches, with only Iowa-made beers and ciders on tap.
  • Whitey's Ice Cream112 E Washington St, and Coral Ridge Mall +1 319 354-1200. This regional chain has been making ice cream since 1933. Thick milk shakes.
  • Z'Mariks Noodle Cafe19 S Dubuque St +1 319 338-5500. Asian, Greek and Italian noodle dishes.


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+)[edit]

  • Brothers Bar and Grill125 S Dubuque St +1 319 338-6373. 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.

Student crowd (19+)[edit]

  • Studio 1313 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+).

Relaxed crowd[edit]

  • The Airliner22 S Clinton St +1 319 351-9259. 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's210 N Linn St. Good townie bar.
  • Joe's Place115 Iowa Ave +1 319 338-6717. 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 +1 319 358-9206. 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.

Writers' haunts[edit]

  • George's Buffet (everyone just calls it George's), 312 E Market St +1 319 351-9614. 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 +1 319 351-9824. 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 bars[edit]

  • Sports Column12 S. Dubuque St.. Variety of cheap drinks. Great place to watch football and basketball games. It gets pretty chaotic on the weekends.
  • The Vine330 E Prentiss St +1 319 354-8767. Wings and beer, busier on game day.




Go next[edit]

  • The seven historic villages of the Amana Colonies are 25 miles west on Highway 6.
  • Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum210 Parkside Dr., West Branch (I-80 east to exit 254, north on Parkside),  +1 319 643-5301. 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 MoinesGrinnell ← Jct US 151.svg N  W I-80.svg E  DavenportChicago
WaterlooCedar Rapids  N I-380.svg S  END
Des MoinesAmana Colonies  W US 6.svg E  DavenportJoliet
WaterlooCedar Rapids  N US 218.svg S  KeokukEND
Anamosa  N Iowa 1.svg S  KalonaFairfield

This city travel guide to Iowa City 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.