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Iowa City

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Iowa City is a city of just over 60,000 people in Eastern Iowa. It is primarily known as the home of the University of Iowa.


Iowa City was the first capital of the state of Iowa, before the capital was moved westward to Des Moines. Considered a college town, many jobs are associated with the university and its teaching hospital. Other large employers include educational service companies ACT and Pearson. It is widely recognized as one of the most educated cities in the United States.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Iowa City has a population of about 68,000 (2010). The university has an enrollment of approximately 30,000 students. As such, the university has a strong impact on the culture of Iowa City and impacts the community from a variety of sources, including the hospital and various university teams and programs.

Also influential in the community is the university's Writer's Workshop, which caused Iowa City to be named the third UNESCO City of Literature, so far the only such city in North America.

Coralville is an adjacent community located to the west of Iowa City, and its largest suburb, with a population of over 18,000.

Tourist information[edit]

  • Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau [31]

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

Iowa City can be reached by I-80 from Chicago to the east and Des Moines to the west. I-380, brings in traffic from the north near Cedar Rapids and Waterloo. Especially in the fall and winter, expect traffic delays from university games as there are very few main roads or entrances/exits to I-80.

By plane[edit]

The nearest commercial airport, the Eastern Iowa Airport (IATA: CID) [32], is in Cedar Rapids, about 20 miles to the north on I-380. A taxi to Iowa City may cost $40; a shuttle $25. Sometimes lower-cost flights are available into Moline (IATA: MLI) or Des Moines (IATA: DSM).

By bus[edit]

  • Burlington Trailways offers bus service to a variety of cities, mostly ones along Interstate 80.
  • Megabus picks up in Coralville and provides service to Omaha, Davenport, and Chicago.
  • 380 Express offers multiple rides daily between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, Iowa's second largest city 30 minutes north.

Get around[edit]

By bus[edit]

Walking is the easiest way to get around downtown Iowa City; the university is right in the middle of downtown. For greater distances, there is an extensive bus system ($1/ride). The university's CAMBUS system covers most of the campus buildings and is free and open to the public.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Old Capitol Museum, (Iowa Ave & Clinton St.), +1 319 335-0548. Tu-F 10AM-3PM, Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 1PM-5PM. Tour Iowa's first capitol building in the center of the Pentacrest. Also visit the Discovery Center and the Humanities Gallery. Gift shop. free.  edit
  • University of Iowa Museum of Art, 150 N Riverside Dr, +1 319 335-1727, [1]. Some European paintings, large collection of African art, changing exhibitions. Gift shop, coffee bar. Closed since the 2008 flood, and likely to be rebuilt in a different location; the museum has a temporary exhibition space in the Iowa Memorial Union. Free.  edit
  • University of Iowa Museum of Natural History, (inside MacBride Hall at the corner of Jefferson and Clinton Sts), +1 319-335-0480, [2]. Tu-F 10AM-?, Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 1PM-5PM. Displays of Iowa's geology and ecology, as well as Native American culture. Features a reconstruction of a giant Ice Age sloth and a large collection of birds. Gift shop. Free.  edit
  • University of Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame, 2425 Prairie Meadow Dr (Mormon Trek to Prairie Meadow), + 1 866 469-2326, [3]. M-F 11AM-6PM, Sa 10AM-6PM, Su noon-5PM. Displays about the history of the Hawkeye teams, including Nile Kinnick's Heisman Trophy. $4 adults, $3 students, seniors, free under 12.  edit
  • Antique Car Museum of Iowa, 860 Quarry Rd, Coralville (I-80, exit 242), +1 319 354-3310, [4]. Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. Over 70 automobiles dating from 1899, a replica of an early Skelly gas station, and a model train display. Free.  edit

Do[edit][add listing]


  • Only minutes to the north, Lake MacBride and Coralville Lake offer beaches, camping, hiking, and boating.
  • Twenty minutes west of Iowa City on Highway 6 lies F.W. Kent State Park, another popular camping destination with a small lake and beach.


  • The Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington St, +1 319 688-2653, [5]. A historic theatre, first opened in 1912, now operates as a stage for plays, comedy and music performances, and community events. Also home to a small gallery showcasing local artwork.  edit
  • Riverside Theatre, 213 N. Gilbert St, +1 319 338-7672, [6]. Iowa City's resident professional theatre presents both classic and contemporary theatre. Most popular are Shakespeare plays, which are performed each summer at City Park's Shakespeare Theater.  edit
  • Bijou Theater, 125 N Madison St (1st floor, Iowa Memorial Union), [7]. Student-operated independent theatre in the Memorial Union is the only theatre in the area showing independent, art-house, and foreign films. $5.  edit


  • Gabe's Oasis (formerly The Picador), 330 E Washington St, +1 319 354-4788, [8]. Iowa City's most popular music venue offers performances by local, regional, and national bands and musicians. Some all ages shows but mostly 19+.  edit
  • The Mill Restaurant, 120 E Burlington St, +1 319 351-9529, [9]. Both a restaurant and a venue for live music, The Mill is home to performances by local and regional musicians. Every Monday is open mic night. Almost all shows 19+.  edit
  • Blue Moose Tap House (formerly The Q and The Industry), 211 Iowa Ave. Bar and live music venue, with local and national music acts. Most shows 19+.  edit

Events and Festivals[edit]

  • Iowa City Jazz Festival, downtown Iowa City, [10]. First weekend in July. Live jazz groups, both local and from around the world play on stages set up around downtown Iowa City. Free.  edit
  • Iowa Arts Festival, downtown Iowa City, [11]. First weekend in June. Popular three-day community celebration of local and regional artists, including open admission to downtown's art galleries, live music, local food vendors, and other activities. Free.  edit
  • Friday Night Concert Series, Pedestrian Mall, Dubuque & College, [12]. mid May-early Sep on F 6:30PM-9:30PM. Free.  edit
  • Saturday Night Free Movie Series, On the wall at the Pentacrest on the corner of Jefferson and Clinton Sts, [13]. mid May-early Sep on Sa 7:30PM-end. Free.  edit
  • Sand in the City, Iowa Ave. & Linn St., [14]. Weekend in late August. A new sand sculpture competition in which teams work with professional sand sculptors and architects to create large sand sculptures. Live music and activities for children. Free.  edit
  • Mission Creek Festival, downtown Iowa City, [15]. Weekend in April. Nationally-known acts, indie bands, and local musicians perform at various venues downtown. Literary readings by authors at local bookstores and coffee shops. $115 for All Access pass, $60 for limited passes.  edit
  • Landlocked Film Festival, downtown Iowa City, [16]. last weekend in August. An independent film festival with film screenings, panels, and filmmaking workshops taking place at three downtown venues. free.  edit
  • Iowa Artisans Gallery Walks, downtown Iowa City, [17]. Three times yearly (March, May, and October), F 5-8. 20 downtown galleries showcase the works of local and regional artists. free.  edit
  • Iowa City Pride, City Park and downtown Iowa City, [18]. Day in June. Gay pride parade, run, and festival. Free.  edit


  • The University of Iowa, [33], Iowa's first university, founded in 1847, UI is a large, public university that offers over 100 programs of study and has a student body of over 30,000 students.
  • Kirkwood Community College, [34], 1816 Lower Muscatine Rd, two-year community college with a small campus in Iowa City, and a main campus 20 miles north in Cedar Rapids.

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Coral Ridge Mall 1451 Coral Ridge Ave, Coralville, +1 319 625-3112 or 800-283-6592
  • Prairie Lights Book Store, 15 S Dubuque St, +1 319 337-2681 [35]. This large bookstore downtown frequently appears on "Top 10 Bookstores in the U.S." lists. It features regular readings by nationally and internationally known authors.
  • Pedestrian Mall, Dubuque St & College St. A pedestrian-only plaza that is home to many locally-owned restaurants and stores.  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • Chez Grace (formerly Cafe Z), 89 2nd St. #3, Coralville, +1 319 338-1738, [19]. T-Sa 5-9:30, Su 5-9. French cuisine.  edit
  • The Hamburg Inn No. 2, 214 N Linn St, +1 319 337-5512, [20]. Open daily 6AM-11PM. Hamburgers, soups, a large selection of omelets and more. An Iowa City institution.  edit
  • Masala, 9 S Dubuque St, +1 319 338-6199. Open daily 11:15AM-2:30PM, 5PM-9:30PM. East Indian vegetarian food. This place is leagues above the other Indian restaurant in town, despite their fully vegetarian menu.  edit
  • Pagliai's Pizza, 302 E Bloomington St (various locations in the state), +1 319 351-5073. M-Sa 4PM-midnight, Su 4PM-11PM. Pizza from family recipes. Thin-crust style.  edit
  • Z'Mariks Noodle Cafe, 19 S Dubuque St, +1 319 338-5500. Asian, Greek and Italian noodle dishes.  edit
  • Panchero's, 32 S. Clinton St, 965 S. Riverside Dr, Iowa City, 901 25th Ave, Coralville, [21]. Local Mexican fast-food chain offering made-to-order burritos and quesadillas.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

Because of the university, downtown is very busy on weekend nights. With thousands of college-aged people (and older folks staying around for home games) drinking within a few blocks of each other, use caution when walking to or visiting establishments. There is a bar for all types. State law requires alcohol purchases to be made before 2AM.

Student crowd (21+)[edit]

  • Brothers Bar and Grill, 125 S Dubuque St, +1 319 338-6373. Due to the large cover for those yet to turn 21 years of age, it caters to an older crowd. There's a dance floor and it's pretty upbeat.  edit
  • Atlas World Grill, 127 Iowa Ave, +1 319 341-7700, [22]. lunch 11-5, dinner 5-10. Classy place. Great wine and cuisine.  edit

Student crowd (19+)[edit]

  • Studio 13, 13 S Linn St, [23]. Iowa City's only gay bar and dance club. DJs most nights of the week, plus fun drag shows, karaoke, theme parties and contests. Mainly college-aged(19+).  edit

Relaxed crowd[edit]

  • The Airliner, 22 S Clinton St, +1 319 351-9259. A staple bar for decades. It's known for incredible pizza ($1.50/slice on Sundays) and cheap drinks. Visited by Tom Brokaw in May 2008 when his favorite booth as a student was dedicated to him with a plaque.  edit
  • IC Uglies (Hanrahan's). Good townie bar.  edit
  • Joe's Place, 115 Iowa Ave, +1 319 338-6717. Located downtown and generally caters to an older crowd. Fairly laid-back atmosphere.  edit
  • Blue Moose Tap House (formerly The Q and The Industry), 211 Iowa Ave, +1 319 358-9206, [24]. 4PM-2AM daily. Good place to play pool and get cheap beer. Draws a fairly diverse crowd and has great music with frequent shows upstairs.  edit

Writers' haunts[edit]

  • George's Buffet (everyone just calls it George's), 312 E Market St, (319) 351-9614. A dark dive bar, not a buffet. However, they do make the best burgers in Iowa City. Filled with locals and students from the Writers' Workshop. If you go in the afternoon, you'll probably spot more than one aspiring writer filling up a notebook.  edit
  • Dave's Fox Head Tavern (everyone just calls it The Fox Head), 402 E Market St, (319)351-9824. One block away from George's. Often considered the "fiction bar," to George's supposed allegiance within the poetry division. Inreality, students from each of the disciplines frequent both locations. Divey, with a popular pool table, a jukebox, and a taxidermied fox behind the bar.  edit

Sports bars[edit]

  • Sports Column, 12 S. Dubuque St.. Variety of cheap drinks. Great place to watch football and basketball games. It gets pretty chaotic on the weekends.  edit
  • The Vine, 330 E Prentiss St, +1 319 354-8767. Wings and beer, busier on game day.  edit


  • Farras Night Club, 320 E Burlington St. Newer night spot featuring world music and specializes in Latin American music and dance.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Hotel Vetro, 201 S Linn St, +1 800 592-0355 (toll free: +1 800 592-0355), [25]. New, modern, hotel downtown on the Pedestrian Mall, in Iowa City's tallest building.  edit
  • Coralville Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, 300 East 9th St. Coralville, Iowa 52241, +1-319-688-4000, [26]. checkin: 16:00; checkout: 12:00. Located close to the University of Iowa, the hotel features innovative guest rooms equipped with free wireless Internet access, plasma TVs, Marriott Revive bedding and spacious workspaces. $159 USD and above.  edit
  • Graduate Iowa City, 210 S Dubuque St, +1 319 337-4058, [27]. Located on the campus of the University of Iowa, Graduate Iowa City features wireless Internet, an indoor heated pool, a fitness center and is 100% smoke-free. All 234 guest rooms include premium bedding, 37-inch flat panel televisions.  edit
  • Iowa House Hotel (at the Iowa Memorial Union), 125 N Madison St, +1 319 335-3513 (), [28]. $85+.  edit
  • Travelodge Iowa City, 2216 North Dodge Street, Close to University Hospital, Coralridge Mall, Tangers Outlet Center, Kalona Colony and Riverside Casino
  • Burford House Inn, 113 South Johnson , Iowa City, Iowa 52240 (East of Downtown Iowa City on College and Johnson Street), 1-319-430-1461, [29]. checkin: 4-10 p.m.; checkout: 11 a.m.. Converted 1903 Grand Victorian Mansion converted to lodging. 5 Guest Suites all with King Sized Beds, Private Bathrooms and mini-bars. Short walk to Downtown Iowa City and The University of Iowa Campus. $99.00-$149.00.  edit

Stay Healthy[edit]

  • University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics Has Level 1 Trauma Center as well as urgent care at the Emergency Treatment Center. The Emergency entrance is located right off Grand Ave. +1 319 356-2233. Non Emergency and Urgent Care, contact the University of Iowa Family Care Center at +1 319 384-8442.



  • Iowa City Press-Citizen [36] is Iowa City's biggest daily newspaper.
  • Daily Iowan [37] U of I's daily newspaper.

Get out[edit]

  • Cedar Rapids is Iowa's second largest city and home to the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Orchestra Iowa and a variety of cultural and entertainment options. 30 minutes north via I-380.
  • The seven historic villages of the Amana Colonies are 25 miles west on Highway 6.
  • Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, 210 Parkside Dr., West Branch (I-80 east to exit 254, north on Parkside), + 1 319 643-5301, [30]. 9-5. Located 15 minutes east of Iowa City. Exhibits about the life of former President Herbert Hoover and temporary exhibits about American history and culture. Tours of Hoover's birthsite cottage, a blacksmith shop, a Quaker meeting house, and the Hoovers' gravesite. Gift shop. $6 ages 16-61, $3 ages 62+, free under 16.  edit

Routes through Iowa City
Des MoinesGrinnell
Jct US-151.png N
 W noframe E  DavenportChicago
WaterlooCedar Rapids  N noframe S  END
Des MoinesAmana Colonies  W noframe E  DavenportJoliet

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