If you’re looking for an adventurous way to spend a weekend in Cedar Rapids, I have the perfect itinerary for you. Spend time in nature, explore the city, and enjoy local restaurants with this exciting Cedar Rapids weekend itinerary.
Best Things to Do in Cedar Rapids
1. Spend a Morning at Cedar Ridge Distillery
One of my favorite things to do in Cedar Rapids is to spend a Sunday Morning at Cedar Ridge Winery. Nothing beats a delicious brunch with beautiful views and amazing cocktails.
We highly recommend the Espresso yourself, made with Cedar Ridges’ very own Shorts Whiskey, cold brew, cinnamon, and whipped cream. If you’re not a whiskey lover, spice up your basic mimosa with Iowa white sparkling wine and your choice of orange, grapefruit, or pineapple juice.
Be sure to plan for a tour of Iowa’s first distillery since prohibition. Learn the entire process, from grain to grass, for no charge at the following times:
Saturdays at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.
Sundays at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Stop into the tasting room to sip on Iowa’s #1 selling 750 ml bourbon. If spirits aren’t your thing, taste 17 different house, estate, and premiere wines from Cedar Ridges’ very own vineyards.
Start your perfect Cedar Rapids Weekend Itinerary with brunch at Cedar Ridge!
2. National Czech and Slovak Museum
This Museum was at the top of our list as my Nana’s family tree traces back to the Czech Republic (when it was Czechoslovakia)! It was really fun to learn about their culture and history with that in mind.
The National Czech and Slovak Museum included a handful of really well done exhibits. Highlighting Czech and Slovak culture and history through engaging displays is just one of the neat experiences the museum offers.
A variety of events and educational opportunities await visitors at the National Czech and Slovak Museum. They host the annual traditional HODY festival, masterclasses, BrewNost (an international beer festival), the Old World Christmas Market, and more throughout the year. Check the events calendar to see what’s happening during your visit!
3. African American Museum of Iowa
Visit the only statewide museum to preserve and educate on African American history and culture.
Unfortunately, Spencer and I did not have the chance to visit the African American Museum of Iowa, but we’d like to point out a few neat bits of information. Like most museums, they offer a handful of permanent exhibits and feature new exhibits on a rotating schedule. Additionally, a few sections of the museum are featured on Google Maps and can be explored virtually.
The African American Museum of Iowa also hosts a number of events throughout the year including a Juneteenth celebration and #NotJustFebruary $1 days.
4. Cedar Rapids Museum of Art
Located in Downtoen Cedar Rapids, the Museum of Art provides a dynamic art experience to artists and admirers alike.
With a variety of permanent and rotating exhibits, there’s always something new to see and learn at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. You can see what’s rotating through and when it will be in town here.
The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art offers really amazing events throughout the year as well. Check the calender for fun experiences such as Adult Summer Camp Night, Family Fun Days, and Guided Meditation at the Grant Wood Studio.
BONUS: Take a trip to a hidden barn to see Grant Wood’s most famous piece painted on the side of a barn. The American Gothic Barn is a quirky, free little side trip for any and all art lovers!
5. NewBo City Market
Located in the New Bohemia District in downtown Cedar Rapids, NewBo City Market is a must-visit location on your Cedar Rapids travels.
NewBo City Market showcases unique local food and retail start-ups, farmers markets, and various community events. If the farm-to-table and locally sourced movement interests you, this is one of the best places to visit in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The zero-waste facility hosts educational events in the community garden, concerts on their front lawn park, and numerous camps and culinary classes. NewBo City Market is an accessible gathering space for locals and visitors alike!
Fit NewBo City Market into your Cedar Rapids Weekend Itinerary, you won’t be disappointed! Stop by for lunch or simply to browse the local start-ups between 10 AM and 6 PM on Saturday and 10 AM and 4 PM on Sunday.
6. Snack at Almost Famous Popcorn
This may seem like a silly suggestion, but I promise it’s worth the stop! Pop into Almost Famous Popcorn, right across from NewBo Market, to snag your favorite flavor popcorn and/or some delicious ice cream.
Gourmet flavors include sweet, savory, and spiked (yes, bourbon flavored) popcorn. There is a flavor for everyone at Almost Famous.
This sweet tooth could hardly help herself once she opened the bag of Crunchberry Day Popcorn! Named after the beloved cereal, made just 12 blocks away from the shop, the Crunchberry Day Popcorn smells divine and tastes even better.
7. Hike Palisades-Kepler State Park
Explore the banks of the Cedar River at palisades-Kepler State Park. Hike, fish, and stay in the 840-acre park located less than 20 minutes from the heart of Cedar Rapids.
Hike 5 miles of rugged trails, stopping to explore the rustic, stone overlooks along the way! We hiked the Cedar Cliff Trail which provided us with a bit of elevation gain, beautiful views of the river, and the ability to explore the historic stone CC gazebo.
If you’re more of a water-lover, launch your boat at Palisades-Kepler State Park to explore the river. Enjoy a different view of the bluffs and maybe even catch some channel catfish, bass, and walleye if you’re an angler.
You can stay overnight at the park at the campground or in one of four family cabins if that’s more your style. All cabins include or at the campground a shower, restroom, stove top, and refrigerator. You are responsible for providing your own bedding, towels, and cooking supplies.
The Campground contains electrical hookup, shower and restroom facilities, and a trailer dump. Last-minute planners are in luck as 11 of the 44 sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis! No booking ahead is required.
8. Visit Indian Creek Nature Center
This Amazing Space opened in 2016 as Iowa’s first commercial building to pursue Net Zero Energy certification. As one of the most environmentally sustainable buildings in the country, the building alone is a great reason to visit.
Learn about all the amazing ways this building integrates human and nature spaces. Here are some of the cool things we learned about Indian Creek Nature Center:
- The glass in the bird viewing room looks like a spiderweb on the outside to prevent birds from flying into it.
- Almost everything in the building was sourced from within 500 miles. Additionally, everything was built by local companies and volunteers!
- On-site solar panels produce more than 100 percent of the annual energy Amazing Space needs.
- Permeable pavers, wetlands, rain gardens and bioswales retain 100 percent of the rainwater on site, which prevents downstream flooding.
- Its Biophilic design (connecting people with nature) includes a live plant wall, live edge baseboard, and many windows.
Aside from the structure itself, Indian Creek Nature Center is home to over 5 miles of well groomed trails, interactive exhibits (our favorite was the demonstration hive), an outdoor classroom and playscape, and more. Check out their events calender for events such as Yoga in the Prairie, Family Nature Programs, and interesting workshops!
Luckily, Amazing Space’s trails are open 365 days a year froim dawn to dusk. The center is open 7 days a week from 10AM-4PM between March and October. From November through February, the center is open from 10AM-4PM Wednesday through Saturday.
9. Attend an Eastern Iowa Observatory Event
The Eastern Iowa Observatory and Learning Center, also known as PALS DOWS, hosts 12 public events a year. Events include a guest speaker followed by celestial viewings through the facility’s telescopes.
Many events are held in person as well as virtually through Zoom! This is a great opportunity for space lovers to learn from one another from wherever they may call home.
The observatory features a learning center and two additional buildings that house permanently mounted telescopes. During our visit, we were able to view a globular cluster and an emissions nebula through the 1970s-era Celestron classical cassegrain telescope with a 16-inch mirror. The Cedar Ameature Astronomers received this rare telescope as a generous donation by The University of Iowa.
The volunteers’ passion for astronomy is obvious in the pride they have for their facility and the excitement in their voices. Attending a free, public event should be on your Cedar Rapids To Do List! If you can’t make a free event, we suggest driving up to the observatory for a perfect view of the night sky. You may not have access to the facilities, but you can still reap the benefits of a dark sky.
10. Mountain Bike at Beverly Park
If you’re a mountain biker and traveling with your bike, you have to check out Beverly Park! This very well could be the highlight of your Cedar Rapids Weekend Itinerary.
We stumbled upon Beverly Park quite by accident and we are so glad we did. The park features a variety of single track trails, suitable for all riders.
We road, fast, flowy trails with creative features. There are multiple trail segments marked by skill level and almost all are multi-directional. It is blatantly obvious when they are not.
11. See A Show at the Paramount
Catch a show at Cedar Rapids’ 1920’s theater. Beautiful inside and out with a great line up of comedians, concerts, theater, and other live events.
Paramount Theater first opened in 1928. In 1975, the city of Cedar Rapids was gifted the Paramount and thus it underwent it’s first restoration. Thirty years later, it was renovated.
Unfortunately, the flood of 2008 brought a toxic mix of garbage and flood water into Cedar Rapids, including the Paramount Theater. The theater was restored by late fall of 2012 and you would never know it was ever damaged.
We were in town for the International Jugglers’ Association festival’s culminating event, the 75 annual Cascade of Stars. Watching these talented performers in such a breathtaking, historical theater was a true treat. We’re so glad we were able to see a show at the Paramount! It was one of the best things we did in Cedar Rapids.
12. Breweries Cedar Rapids
No city is complete without a great brewery! Luckily, Cedar Rapids has a handful of amazing Breweries for you to try while you’re visiting. There’s always room for a brewery stop on any weekend itinerary!
- Lion Bridge Brewing Company
If you’re looking for creative use of spices, herbs, and fruits, Lion Bridge Brewing needs to be on your list.
We shared two flights between the two of us to try and taste everything they had on draft at the time! Our favorite was the Crushberry Oops All Fruit. A Kettle Sour that smelled exactly like the cereal and has the perfectly sour fruity taste you’d expect if Crunch Berry cereal became a beer.
Lions Bridge is also home to tasty shareables and the perfect sandwiches to pair with your unique beer flavors! Stop by when you’re in Czech Village if you’re feeling brave enough to drink some new and innovative flavored brews.
- Iowa Brewing Company
This production brewery in downtown Cedar Rapids is known for their creative special releases!
Check their website to see what they’re brewing up next. Between the Jinkies IPA series, cookie flavored Porters, and their take on the local favorite cereal, you won’t be disappointed.
Iowa Brewing Company partners with local food trucks and musicians so locals and visitors can enjoy a snack between beers and live entertainment at their tap room.
- Clock House Brewing
This unique brewery is located in the resurrected 107 year old Clock House building. It shares a space with Black Sheep Social Club, although they are completely different businesses.
The Clock House offers flights, pints, and growlers of the their small batch dark beers, IPAs, lights, and guest ciders. You can check on what they’re brewing up next at the coming soon portion of their menu.
Clock House Brewing offers a limited appetizer menu that the Black Sheep Social Club’s kitchen will prepare. It’s a great place to grab a beverage and a snack before a tasty dinner at Back Sheep!
13. Cedar Rapids Kernels
Take me out to the ballgame! If you’re a sports fan, check out Cedar Rapids’ Minor League baseball team.
The High A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins play their games at Veterans Memorial Fields. For less than $20, you can watch some decent baseball and eat all the ballpark snacks you want!
Think of it as dinner and entertainment, a two for one on your Cedar Rapids Weekend Itinerary.
14. Dragons Lair
The Dragons Lair might not be every adults cup of tea, but for those who are young at heart, this should be on your list.
Indoor Laser tag and escape rooms are the perfect way to spend a rainy day. Dragon’s lair offers a variety of tactical, mission based 90 minute laser tag sessions.
Similarly, there are several different themed escape rooms to choose from including virtual reality escape rooms.
15. Mount Trashmore
Head over to Mount Trashmore to hike or bike the former landfill.
Use the walking path and/or the gravity fed mountain bike trail to explore this mountain built atop 6 tons of garbage. This former landfill is currently being transitioned into a recreation center.
The viewpoint provides amazing view of the city and a great workout! Check in at the recreation center where there important information about the space, restrooms, water, and bike tools. Then hike a mile on the Stumptown Trail or bike the 5/8 of a mile on the Overlook trail to the 984 foot summit.
It might not be a true mountain, but it sure does boast one of the best views of the city.
Ultimate Cedar Rapids Weekend Itinerary
Cedar Rapids would be a great weekend getaway for anyone looking to experience the beauty or somewhere new with a touch of mid-west city chic!
Where to Stay in Cedar Rapids
Adventurous folks might choose to spend their Cedar Rapids weekend camping at Palisades-Kepler State Park! Snag a cabin or one of 40+ campsites in the park for an inexpensive accommodation.
If you’re looking for a location that boasts all of the best amenities and close proximity to the city, The Hotel at Kirkwood Center has you covered. This AAA, four star Diamond Hotel is the only luxury teaching hotel of its kind in the nation. It is an amazing place to stay for a weekend in Cedar Rapids.
Day 1 Itinerary: Outdoor Fun in Cedar Rapids
- Spend the Morning hiking at Palisades-Kepler State Park
- Grab Lunch at Edith Lucille’s
- Head over to the Indian Creek Nature Center
- Grab a drink at Clockhouse Brewing followed by dinner at Black Sheep Social Club
- See if Eastern Iowa Observatory/PALS DOWS or The Paramount have an evening event!
Day 2 Itinerary: Explore Downtown Cedar Rapids
- Make a brunch reservation and schedule a distillery tour at Cedar Ridge
- Enjoy the scenery and get some exercise hiking Mount Trashmore
- Head into Czech Town to explore the Czech and Slovak Museum
(if this museum doesn’t interest you, look into the African American Museum Iowa and/or the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art)
- Grab Lunch at Lion Bridge Brewery or see what’s available at NewBo City Market
- Do some shopping in NewBo and Czech Town
- Check out Almost Famous Popcorn for a sweet treat
- Make reservations at the Class Act at Hotel Kirkwood
Places to Eat in Cedar Rapids
Here’s a short list of the best Cedar Rapids Iowa Restaurants:
- Black Sheep Social Club
- The Map Room
- Chedders Scratch Kitchen
- Class Act Restaurant
- Cobble Hill Restaurant
- Crab Attack Cajun Seafood Shack
- Edith Lucille’s Bait Shack and Wing Depot
- Emil’s Hideaway
- Hacienda Las Glorias
- LP – Street Food
- Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano
- Oyama Sushi
Is Cedar Rapids Worth Visiting
Bottom line, Cedar Rapids is absolutely worth visiting. It’s a clean, inclusive city full of incredibly kind people. We loved our stay and had the best Cedar Rapids weekend itinerary; it allowed us to see so much of the city and we hope it helps you experience Iowa’s second largest city as well.