Mom “Dates” in the Corridor: Girls’ Night Ideas For All Budgets!

Getting together with a girlfriend or two is a treat! Do your planning conversations ever go like this?

“So, what should we do?”
“I don’t know. What were you thinking?”
“It doesn’t really matter to me. What do you want to do?”
“I don’t know. What’s going on around town?”

If this is your life, keep reading! There are a lot of places in the area to eat out, but sometimes I’m in the mood for something different or something that doesn’t cost much. Luckily we live in an area that has a lot of opportunities for both of these options!

Girlfriend Dates in the Iowa City Area


There are always free things going on around town, especially with the University here! Maybe one of these options would be good for your next girlfriend gathering.

Library programs

All of the local libraries consistently have good programming for adults! In the past couple years, I have learned to arm knit, decorated a coffee mug, and learned more about different types of yoga. Check out your library’s website, and their Facebook page, too. Sometimes short-notice events show up on social media first!
Iowa City Public Library and their Facebook page
Coralville Public Library and their Facebook page
North Liberty Library and their Facebook page

Free events at the University of Iowa

From vocal/instrumental music and dance to theater and art exhibits, the University always seems to have interesting things going on! In addition, there are often community events held on campus or in conjunction with the U.

Check out arts events at Iowa here or the full U of I events calendar here!

Low Cost

Dog Parks of Iowa City

Make walking the dog into a social outing! Grab a girlfriend who also has a pup, and meet at the Thornberry Dog Park or Rita’s Ranch. Your doggie gets some exercise, you get some gab–a win-win in my book! Day passes are just $5 per dog, or you can get an annual pass ($40 for IC residents, $45 for non-residents).

Walking at the North Liberty Rec Center

Did you know that you can get a card that allows you to walk on the track any time? If you’re a North Liberty resident, the card is free, and it’s only $5 for non-residents. Set up a time to meet a friend or two for a nice walk. You can visit and catch up, all while getting some exercise!

Johnson County Historical Society Museum

Do you know about our county’s past? The Johnson County Historical Society has interesting exhibits about Iowa City and the surrounding towns in Johnson County. I especially enjoy the maps and photos of days gone by. You’ll also want to check out the Coming Together to Create Communities exhibit and the amazing collage picture! Admission is just $5, so head to the Iowa River Landing area with a friend and check it out!


Moderate Cost

Film Scene

I don’t know about you, but a movie is always a nice escape! Film Scene is the newest theater in the area, showing first-run movies. But they don’t stop there. Film Scene also has panel discussions, filmmaker talks, and community events in conjunction with current movies. Oh, and you can also enjoy a beer or glass of wine during your show! Ticket prices vary from $5 to $10.50 depending on the day and time. What’s better than a movie with your besties?

U of I Athletic Events

Have you ever been to a gymnastics meet or a swimming and diving meet? How about a field hockey match? Get your friends together and go check out some great college athletes. Tickets are generally modestly priced (football notwithstanding!), and some events are even free!

Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum

If you’ve never been to the Hoover Presidential Museum, grab a girlfriend and go! They have a permanent exhibit all about President Hoover’s life in Iowa and then as President. The museum also hosts temporary and traveling exhibits. Two of my favorites have been an exhibit of dresses from all the first ladies through history and the annual Christmas tree exhibit with many trees all decorated in a theme. A couple years ago, the overall theme was games, and each tree had a theme – dolls, board games, things with wheels, teddy bears, etc. At $10 for adults, you and your girls should check it out! Use this Guide to the Herbert Hoover Museum to get all the details you need.


Higher Cost (but worth it!)

Brewery Tours

Iowa is getting more and more into craft brewing, and there are a couple tour companies that will take you to tour several at a time. Grab an Uber, get your girls, and have a fun night out sampling local brews!

Iowa Brew Tours – Tickets are $59
Hawkeye Brewery Tours – Tickets are $49

Cedar Ridge Winery

If beer isn’t your thing, how about wine? Cedar Ridge Winery is a gem in the corridor with fantastic wines (now available by the glass!) as well as cocktails made from their Distillery products. Head out on Wednesdays with the ladies for their Buy One, Get One ½ Off their wood fired pizzas with interesting and tasty toppings! Maybe you’d rather try the prime rib on Fridays. Or head to a gal pal brunch on Sundays.

Cedar Ridge does a fabulous brunch with an array of breakfast options (don’t miss the maple bourbon syrup on your pancakes!) as well as a carving station and many savory sides. Wash it all down with a bottomless mimosa or sangria, and you have all the makings of a great Sunday brunch. Brunch is $18.99 for adults and by reservation only, so make sure you call ahead!

Old Creamery Theatre

Just down the road in the Amanas is the gem of Old Creamery Theatre. Professional and traveling actors put on a wide range of productions each year, so get your ladies together, and see some theater! Adult tickets are $31.50. You could also make an evening of it and try some pizza at P.H.A.T Daddy’s before your show!

Brush and Barrel

Maybe you and your friends are more artsy. Try your hand at painting at Brush and Barrel. Even if you don’t consider yourself a painter, you will be walked through painting your own masterpiece, all while enjoying a nice glass of wine. Choose which painting you’d like to do, and make your reservation with the girls! Cost generally ranges from $15 to $35.

This is just a small sampling of things you can do for fun in the corridor with your girlfriends. Maybe this list will get you thinking of other creative options. If you have tried any of these and love them, please share below! Also, if you have other things you love to enjoy with your girlfriends, share those, too!


Sara C
Sara is a NW Iowa native who moved across the state to become a Hawkeye! After her time at the U of I, she left for optometry school and residency before coming home to Iowa to start her “adult” life in Coralville. She was in clinical practice for 5 years before trying her hand at the research side of eye care, working on clinical trials in the pharma/biotech industry. Sara is a wife, mom to a 5-year-old boy, and step-mom to four teenagers! Because her son was born at 25 weeks and had a lengthy NICU stay, Sara is passionate about all things related to prematurity, especially parent support in the NICU. She loves connecting with fellow NICU moms, both online and in person. Sara also enjoys spending time with friends and extended family, reading, scrapbooking, organizing, knitting, travel, keeping up with tech trends, finding new wines to enjoy, honing her photography skills, and serving on the Family Advisory Council for UI Children’s Hospital. She’s a consultant for Jamberry Nails, too, which lets her dabble in her creative side.


  1. The wooden sign workshops and sip-n-paint at Big Picture Gallery & Studio in North Liberty are GREAT! I’ve done both and had a great time.


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