Whether you are new in town or have been here for years but need some new ideas, we’d love to share a few of our favorite things to do and places to go in the Iowa City area with you. Keep the list handy and choose something from it the next time you’re looking for something fun to do as a family, for date night, or to enjoy some me-time!
- Iowa Children’s Museum: The perfect place for your kids to play any time of year.
- Toddler Play Areas: Try the play areas at Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville, The Marketplace in Iowa City, or the North Liberty Community Center.
- Tot Time: Your little one will love getting a whole gym full of toddler and preschool toys to play with at Mercer Park and the Coralville Rec Center.
- Family Free Friday at Coral Ridge Mall: On the last Friday of each month, the Children’s Museum, ice rink, and carousel all are free, and lots of food court restaurants offer free kids meals.
- Coral Ridge Ice: Take the family ice skating!
- Bargain Shopping: Try Stuff Etc., KidWorks, Once Upon A Child, Goodwill, or Salvation Army.
- FilmScene in downtown Iowa City for artsy flicks or free admission for kids movies in the Picture Show Series
- Marcus Sycamore Theatres with great stadium style seating
- Coral Ridge Cinemas with a convenient location at the Coral Ridge Mall
- Library Storytimes: Stop by the Iowa City, Coralville or North Liberty libraries and pick up some great books while you’re there.
- Old Capital Building: Explore Iowa City’s history
- Museum of Natural History: Get your kids excited about science!
- Indoor Pools: Take the family to the pools at Mercer Park or Robert A Lee Recreation Centers in Iowa City, the University of Iowa Recreation and Wellness Center (this one even has a lazy river!), the Coralville Recreation Center, or the North Liberty Recreation Center
- Planet 3: Jump for joy at Iowa City’s new trampoline park.
- Iowa City Moms Blog events: Meet other moms at our annual Bloom event, our Mom’s Night Out events, or our Mom Talks series, and bring the family along for special events like Pancakes and Pajamas (meet Mrs. Claus!), Egg Hunt, Trick or Treating, apple picking, and lots more.
- Iowa City Farmer’s Market: Wednesdays from 5-7 p.m. and Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. -12…get fresh produce, buy the kettlecorn, and enjoy some yummy food while you’re there. Check out this great guide to our local farmer’s markets.
- Summer of the Arts: Enjoy the Friday Night Concert Series, Jazz Fest, Arts Fest, free outdoor movies and more.
- Ped Mall: Check out the great shops and restaurants on the ped mall.
- Old Capitol Lawn: The perfect place for a picnic!
- Lake Macbride: Lake Macbride You can swim at the beach, rent kayaks and paddleboats, walk out to the “knob”, hike the trails, play disc golf, investigate the raptor center…the possibilities are endless!
- Kent Park in Oxford: They have an awesome lakeside beach, great playground, picnic shelters, and it’s not as busy as Lake Macbride.
- Pools and Splashpads: Check out this great guide!
- Parks: Visit all of our top favorite parks.
- Trails: Go for a walk around the loop at Terry Trueblood, Creekside Park, or Hickory Hill Park
- NewBo City Market
- U-Pick Farms: Get fresh apples, berries, pumpkins, and more at our favorite local farms.
- See an Iowa game: Check out this post about the best ways to enjoy a game you’re your family. Why wait for football season to visit the stadium? Head over to Kinnick and let the kids check out the statues and take a peek through the gates at the stadium…it’s a simple activity, but will seem like a big deal to them!
- Andale Andale
- Big Grove Brewery
- Bread Garden Market
- Casa Azul
- El Ranchero
- El Sol
- Her Soup Kitchen
- Java House
- La Regia
- Los Agaves
- Midtown Family Restaurant
- Thai Spice
- Billy’s High Hat Diner
- Bluebird Diner
- Dandy Lion
- Hamburg Inn
- Heyn’s Ice Cream
- Molly’s Cupcakes
Great Happy Hour
- Red’s Alehouse
- The Airliner
- Mellow Mushroom
- Pagliai’s Pizza
- Wig & Pen
Special Occasion Favorites
- Orchard Green
- Joseph’s Steak House
These are just a FEW of our favorite things to do, places to go, and places to eat around town! We’d love to hear some of your favorites…please share them with us in the comments!