3 Ideas for the Ultimate Date Night in Downtown Iowa City

Year after year Iowa City is ranked as one of the best places to live in the country, and its vibrant business district is always featured as a top trait. This is exactly why you should look no further than downtown Iowa City when trying to dream-up your next date night.

A public mural that says 'Practice Love' located in downtown Iowa City.

Enjoy the amenities of your own backyard. Check out these three date night themes.

For the Foodies

Iowa City is packed with dozens of delicious restaurants in a relatively small footprint. What better way to sample a few of them in one evening than to plan a progressive dinner around downtown? While you can easily create your own itinerary, here’s a list to get you thinking.


Start your evening out with one of the creative libations made by the bartenders at Clinton Street Social Club.


Head around the corner to St. Burch Tavern for your second drink and an appetizer. The happy hour specials are great here, and the light, fluffy cheese curds will leave you salivating.


Keep walking down Dubuque Street and visit Pullman Diner for dinner. This joint is themed to look like an old-fashioned train dining car, and serves up award-winning meals from greasy spoon favorites, like burgers and fries, to artistic entrees like polenta and steak.


Head across the street to Java House and split a piece of tiramisu over a decaf espresso. 

For the Readers 

Iowa City is a UNESCO City of Literature after all. Get swept up in the creativity around you and celebrate this LIT city.

Lit Walk:

Have you ever noticed the bronze plaques etched in the sidewalk along Iowa Avenue? It’s actually a literary walk, featuring nearly 50 famous writers with ties to Iowa. Start your date with a stroll and admire these works. Check out the map before you go.

Prairie Lights:

Stop into locally owned bookstore Prairie Lights to browse and shop, or–if you plan your date right–for a live reading from a visiting author or one of the students currently studying at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Duck upstairs to the café and swoon over an espresso drink and flaky pastry, or make a toast to your evening out with a glass of wine and small plate of shared hors d’oeuvers.


Walk over to the northside neighborhood and browse the Haunted Bookshop. Then stop at Dave’s Fox Head Tavern, an old watering hole in Iowa City and favorite among current, former, and esteemed workshop writers, like Kurt Vonnegut. Or grab one of the famous burgers at George’s Buffet, another local favorite among workshop folk. 

For the Doers

If you are more of a doer on your date nights, try one of these activities before or after grabbing a bite to eat.

A recent Top Golf date in downtown Iowa City. Top Golf:

Book a round of Top Golf at The Graduate Hotel with you and your spouse, or for a couples’ night out with friends. Enjoy a virtual game of golf, football, baseball, and more!

Get Crafty:

Get your hands dirty with your sweetie! Check out class offerings from Willow & Stock or Moss, or glaze some pottery at Fired up.

Live Shows:

See live entertainment at any downtown venue ranging from standup comedy and bands, to musical performances from University of Iowa School of Music students inside the breathtaking Voxman Music Building.


Catch a flick at Iowa City’s only non-profit, independent cinema, FilmScene. Be sure to check out its new screening space that opened September 20, 2019, inside The Chauncey. Don’t skip the concession stand! Enjoy Iowa tap beers, locally grown popcorn, and a variety of candies and snack mixes.

These are just a few ideas from one local, and only specific to downtown. There is plenty more to do in Iowa City, especially with Hawkeye athletics and Hancher Auditorium. Be sure to visit the Iowa City Downtown District website or many of the area event calendars for more must-do date night ideas in the downtown.

What do you like to do during your dates in downtown Iowa City?


Katie is a spouse, mother, and professional communicator. She became acquainted with Iowa City as a student at the University of Iowa, earning degrees in Journalism, Political Science, and most recently her MA in Strategic Communication. Katie and her husband met and fell in love in Iowa City, deciding to never leave. Their family can often be found eating their way through downtown, walking their dog in City Park, or cheering on their beloved Hawkeyes at live sporting events.


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