10 Ways to Enjoy Your Iowa City Staycation

Are you sticking around the Iowa City area for Spring Break or your vacation this year? Wondering what you can do to make the time fun for both you and your kids? Here are 10 ways to make your staycation memorable for the whole family!

10 ways to enjoy ic staycation

1. Head to the mall. 

Ok, so maybe you’re thinking, “This is something we usually do–where’s the fun in that?”  Besides making the usual Target run, try doing something new.  Take the kids to check out the aerospace section or the art room at the Iowa Children’s Museum. Or head to a movie. Did you know that on Tuesdays both the Sycamore Mall and Coral Ridge Mall theaters charge just $5/person AND have concessions specials?  At that price you can ALL attend that movie you’ve been wanting to see!  Ever tried ice skating? Strap on the skates and take a whirl around the Coral Ridge Ice Arena during one of their public skate times.  Don’t forget to take socks! Or, if you’re a little too nervous to strap on the skates yourself, grab a snack from the food court and watch hockey practice from the sidelines.

staycation iowa city spring break things to do activities

2. Go downtown.

Downtown Iowa City has so much to offer families. You can go to the library and check out books, or simply hang out in the kids’ section if you have younger children.  The playground is a hit with children of all ages, and you can finish up by grabbing a meal or dessert from any number of downtown businesses.  While you’re there, be sure to check out the UI Museum of Natural History in Macbride Hall. (It’s free!) Finish up by playing a game of Frisbee on the Old Capitol lawn or playing a tune on one of the pianos in the ped mall.

3.  Jump around. 

Have your kids ever been to a trampoline park? Try Iowa City’s new location, Planet 3 Extreme Air. Cedar Rapids also has two! Air-FX and Sky Zone both offer options for family entertainment, as well as special jump times for kids under 6.

4.  Take a hike

Lake Macbride offers a ton of trails just waiting to be explored.  After you’re done, be sure to check out the Fossil Gorge or the Raptor Center.

5.  Check out the market. 

Have you ever been to NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids? NewBo Market offers a farmer’s market, vendors, children’s area, learning opportunities, events, and more! It offers something for the whole family! Plus it gives you a chance to support local growers, artisans, and business owners…what could be better?

6. Go for a swim

I don’t know about you, but whenever my family travels the hotel pool seems to be the highlight of the trip.  You can still have the fun of the pool even if you stick close to home.  Mercer Aquatic Center, the Robert A. Lee Rec Center, Coralville Rec Center, and North Liberty Aquatic Center all have indoor pools with areas appropriate for all ages, including little ones. Another great option is the University of Iowa Rec Services Leisure Pool.  It offers a lazy river and several fun water play activities as well.

iowa city staycation spring break activities things to do7. Watch a game.

Living in a college town definitely has its perks when it comes to athletics.  No matter what the time of year, there is likely some athletic event on the schedule.  When you think of college sports you usually think of football and basketball.  But the University of Iowa lists schedules of 22 different athletic teams, ranging from gymnastics and diving to field hockey and tennis, on their website.  You’re sure to find something your family would enjoy watching! Step out of the box and try something new–you may even pick up a new hobby along the way!

8. Take a tour. 

Did you know that West Branch is the birthplace of Herbert Hoover, the 31st president of the United States?  Make the short drive to the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch to learn more about Iowa’s only president and have some fun along the way! Don’t miss our Parent’s Guide for all the details!

9. Go for a drive. 

Located just 17 miles west of Iowa City, visiting the Amana Colonies makes a fun day trip! The Amanas are known for interesting museums (including the Mini-Americana Barn Museum, Iowa Baseball Museum, and the Amana Heritage Museum), attractions (like the Giant Rocker), restaurants, shops, and more! Touring the colonies also makes for a scenic drive!

10. Eat out. 

One of my favorite things about vacation is not having to cook!  Spice up your staycation by trying a new restaurant! Wondering where to go? Check out our list of Iowa City Moms Blog readers’ favorite restaurants from our Readers’ Choice Awards! Looking to save a little money? (Who isn’t?!)  Before you head out, be sure to read this list of restaurants where kids eat FREE or cheap in the Iowa City area!

iowa city staycation spring break activities things to do

Whatever you do, make the most of your staycation by spending time together making memories! Enjoy one another, because we all know the time goes so fast!

I hope this list makes your staycation a little more enjoyable! Do you have any other suggestions? Please share!


Kaitlyn Swaim
Kaitlyn is the owner of Cedar Rapids Moms Blog and is an Iowa girl who has been married to her husband, Joshua, since 2007! She’s a busy work-at-home mama to their 5 children: 3 girls and 2 boys! A true Hawkeye, she graduated from the University of Iowa with her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, something that comes in handy on a daily basis while trying to raise 5 kids! Her favorite things to do include spending time with her family, cheering on the Hawkeyes, reading a good book, shopping (of course!), and checking out all the activities the Corridor has to offer!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.