13 Things to Check Off Your Cedar Rapids, IA Bucket List

Key Takeaways:

– Cedar Rapids, Iowa is a charming city with a rich tapestry of experiences to explore
– The city offers something for everyone, from picturesque parks and historic landmarks to a thriving arts and restaurant scene
– Local bookstores, such as Next Page Books and Swamp Fox Bookstore, are must-visit destinations for book lovers
– NewBo City Market hosts a variety of community events and serves as a business incubator for entrepreneurs
– Cedar Rapids is home to a diverse array of craft breweries, each with its unique charm and flavor profile
– The city’s restaurant scene is constantly evolving and offers a diverse range of culinary experiences
– The National Czech and Slovak Museum & Library celebrates the vibrant heritage of Czech and Slovak communities
– Brucemore is a historic estate that preserves the elegance of a bygone era
– Palisades-Kepler State Park offers a serene natural retreat along the Cedar River
– The African American Museum of Iowa highlights the rich history and contributions of African Americans in the state
– Czech Village and New Bohemia form a lively cultural district blending historical charm with contemporary vibrancy
– Old MacDonald’s Farm provides a hands-on experience for visitors to interact with farm animals
– The McGrath Amphitheatre is an outdoor venue along the Cedar River that hosts live events and performances.


Welcome to Cedar Rapids, Iowa – a city brimming with charm, culture, and a rich tapestry of experiences waiting to be explored. Whether you’re in the market to buy a home in Cedar Rapids or rent an apartment in the city, this bucket list for newcomers is your guide to the must-see, must-do, and must-taste gems that define the heart and soul of this community. 

From picturesque parks and historic landmarks to a thriving arts and restaurant scene, this city has something for everyone. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or a foodie eager to savor local flavors, this Redfin article is chalk full of experiences that will make your time in this Midwestern gem truly unforgettable. Get ready to embrace the spirit of this welcoming city as you explore what this city has to offer and discover all that makes Cedar Rapids a great place to call home.

1. Browse local bookstores

Cedar Rapids boasts a variety of bookstores, such as Next Page Books and Half Price Books. A must-visit is Swamp Fox Bookstore, a women-owned indie bookstore. The knowledgeable staff takes joy in helping readers discover the perfect book for their taste. Whether you prefer browsing in-store during regular hours or exploring their selection online, there’s something for every book lover. If you’re undecided about your next read, you can request a personalized recommendation or consider joining their book subscription service

2. Find a community at NewBo City Market

From weekly evening trivia and bingo in the colder months to Rock the Block and Meet Me at the Market events in the warmer seasons, there’s something always going on year-round at NewBo City Market. Also, experience unique events throughout the year, like Market by Moonlight, where you can savor a dinner under the stars with farm-to-table delights crafted by our in-house culinary Shopkeepers. 

As a non-profit business incubator, NewBo City Market is dedicated to nurturing entrepreneurial ambitions for everyone in the community. If you have a business idea or specialty items to share, NewBo City Market is the place to kickstart your journey.

3. Go brewery hopping

Cedar Rapids is home to a diverse array of craft breweries, each with its unique charm and flavor profile. From the laid-back ambiance of local favorites like Lion Bridge Brewing Company to the innovative brews at Clock House Brewing, there’s a taproom experience for every palate. 

In addition, Big Grove Cedar Rapids is quickly becoming known for a vibrant social scene featuring unique lager-style craft beer and a fusion-style food menu. The expansive taproom, featuring mural art and thoughtful design, provides a welcoming atmosphere with soaring ceilings, overhang doors, and outdoor fire pits. The 15-barrel brewhouse is capable of old-world style “slow brewing” to enhance the delicate flavor of lagers. Beyond beer, the menu includes wine, cocktails, gluten-free Squeeze Hard Seltzer, and Climbing Kites THC CBD infused sparkling waters. 

Just 10 minutes west of Cedar Rapids in Atkins, IA, you will find 24 local Iowa craft beers on tap at Textile TapHaus. They also feature local wine, delicious cocktails, and premium whiskeys and bourbons. Try their massive soft pretzels topped with savory cheeses, meats, and spices – or flatbread pizzas.

If you’re interested in non-alcoholic beverages, Beer for Driving is a great resource to find some of the best non-alcoholic beer options in Cedar Rapids. Simply use their beer finder to locate options near you by entering in your zipcode. You can also use their beer finder to just locate more beverage options near you. 

Brewery hopping is a fun activity to add to your Cedar Rapids Bucket lIst

4. Check out the restaurant scene

Cedar Rapids’ dining is in a constant state of evolution, capturing the spotlight on a national scale. Boasting a diverse array of culinary offerings, the city caters to every taste bud, whether you’re seeking comfort foods, farm-to-table experiences, or upscale fine dining. 

Be sure to check out standout establishments like Map Room for a diverse beer selection and cozy ambiance. Irish Democrat offers hearty Irish pub fare in a welcoming setting, while Sacred Cow promises a quirky and delightful dining experience. El Bajio takes you south of the border with authentic Mexican flavors. Cobble Hill elevates the dining experience with a sophisticated menu and ambiance, perfect for those seeking an all-around bougie affair. Finally, Need Pizza is your go-to for delicious and diverse pizza options. Enjoy the diverse culinary delights that Cedar Rapids has to offer.

Local Tim Katzgrau of Beer for Driving suggests “For anyone looking to soak in the essence of Cedar Rapids, a visit to Local Pour is a must. Their menu takes a creative spin on American street foods, giving a fresh and exciting twist to the classics we all love. Sip on carefully curated beers, spirits, and tropical-inspired cocktails from their drink menu. The charm doesn’t fade in winter either, with cozy outdoor igloo seating making Local Pour a welcoming spot year-round.”

5. The National Czech and Slovak Museum & Library

The National Czech and Slovak Museum & Library stands as a cultural gem, celebrating the vibrant heritage of Czech and Slovak communities. Through engaging exhibits and interactive displays, the museum offers a captivating journey into the art, history, and traditions of these cultures. With its extensive library and dynamic programs, it serves as a focal point for preserving and sharing the rich legacies of Czech and Slovak heritage in the American story.

6. Brucemore

Brucemore, nestled in Cedar Rapids, is a historic estate that preserves the elegance of a bygone era. Once the home of the Sinclair family, this grand mansion and its grounds offer a glimpse into the city’s past. With its rich history, architectural beauty, and manicured gardens, Brucemore invites visitors to explore the opulence of the early 20th century. Guided tours, events, and educational programs showcase the estate’s cultural significance and legacy, making it a testament to Cedar Rapids’ enduring history.

7. Relax at the Palisades-Kepler State Park

Palisades-Kepler State Park, near Cedar Rapids, is a serene natural haven along the Cedar River. With limestone bluffs, wooded trails, and picturesque riverbanks, the park offers a scenic retreat. Popular activities include hiking on trails like Cedar Cliff, fishing, picnicking, and birdwatching. The historic stone lodge, crafted by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, adds a charming touch. A peaceful escape into nature, Palisades-Kepler State Park invites outdoor enthusiasts to immerse themselves in its captivating landscapes.

Wood trail at Palisades-Kepler State Park

8.  African American Museum of Iowa

The African American Museum of Iowa, located in Cedar Rapids, stands as a poignant tribute to the rich history, culture, and contributions of African Americans in the state and beyond. This museum offers a compelling narrative through exhibits that highlight significant milestones, struggles, and triumphs, fostering a deeper understanding of the African American experience. 

From engaging displays on local heroes to thought-provoking presentations on historical events, the museum serves as an educational resource that promotes awareness and appreciation. Through its commitment to preserving and sharing stories, the African American Museum of Iowa stands as a vital cultural institution, inviting visitors to explore and reflect on the enduring impact of African Americans on Iowa’s history and society.

9. Discover the charming Czech Village and New Bohemia

Czech Village and New Bohemia in Cedar Rapids form a lively cultural district blending historical charm with contemporary vibrancy. Czech Village, with its cobblestone streets and traditional architecture, exudes old-world allure, while New Bohemia offers an artsy atmosphere with trendy boutiques, art galleries, and a bustling farmers’ market. Together, these districts create a distinctive fusion of tradition and innovation, providing a dynamic and culturally rich experience in the heart of Cedar Rapids.

10. Interact with farm animals at Old Macdonald’s

Old MacDonald’s Farm is a beloved destination for families and animal enthusiasts alike. This charming farm offers hands-on experience, providing a delightful opportunity for visitors to interact with goats, sheep, chickens, and more. The picturesque setting allows for leisurely strolls through the barns and pastures, creating a wholesome and educational environment. With its petting zoo, seasonal events, and educational programs, Old MacDonald’s Farm ensures a memorable and engaging experience for all ages, making it a cherished attraction in the Cedar Rapids community.

Sheep at Old MacDonald's Farm

11. Watch a live event at the McGrath Amphitheatre

Nestled along the scenic Cedar River, this outdoor venue offers a picturesque setting for a diverse range of events, from live concerts and performances to cultural festivals and community celebrations. With its open-air design and state-of-the-art facilities, the McGrath Amphitheatre provides an immersive and enjoyable experience for attendees. The venue’s strategic location in the heart of downtown Cedar Rapids makes it a central and accessible space for residents and visitors alike, fostering a sense of community spirit and shared enjoyment of the arts in this vibrant Iowa city.

12. Hike or bike the Cedar River Trail

The Cedar River Trail offers a scenic and tranquil escape along the Cedar River. Ideal for outdoor activities like jogging, cycling, and leisurely walks, this well-maintained multi-use trail provides a rejuvenating experience amid lush greenery and picturesque river views. Perfect for nature lovers and city dwellers seeking recreation, the Cedar River Trail is a serene pathway that invites residents and visitors to connect with the outdoors in the heart of Cedar Rapids.

13. Cedar Rapids Museum of Art

The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art is a cultural hub in the heart of the city, renowned for its diverse collection, including works by Grant Wood. Home to the iconic “American Gothic,” the museum offers insight into Wood’s influence and showcases a rich array of American art. Through engaging exhibitions and educational programs, it stands as a dynamic center, inviting visitors to appreciate and explore the world of visual arts in Cedar Rapids.

Cedar Rapids, IA bucket list: Final Thoughts

Cedar Rapids, IA is home to an unforgettable array of experiences that every resident and visitor should add to their bucket list. This city’s charm and uniqueness will leave a lasting impression on you. Get ready to immerse yourself in the mile-high wonderland, where you’ll be sure to create cherished memories for a lifetime.

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Property Chomp’s Take:

McGrath Amphitheatre provides an unforgettable experience for attendees. Whether you’re a music lover, a theater enthusiast, or simply looking for a fun night out, the amphitheater offers a lineup of events that cater to all tastes. From nationally renowned artists to local talent, there’s always something exciting happening on stage.

12. Explore the art scene at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art
The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art is a cultural hub that showcases a diverse collection of artworks from both local and international artists. With over 7,200 pieces in its collection, the museum offers a comprehensive view of various art movements and styles. From contemporary pieces to classical works, visitors can immerse themselves in the world of art and gain a deeper appreciation for creativity and expression.

13. Take a stroll through the Indian Creek Nature Center
For nature enthusiasts, the Indian Creek Nature Center is a must-visit destination. With over 290 acres of prairies, woodlands, and wetlands, this nature center provides ample opportunities for outdoor exploration and wildlife observation. Whether you prefer hiking, birdwatching, or simply enjoying the tranquility of nature, the Indian Creek Nature Center offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life.

14. Attend a Cedar Rapids Kernels baseball game
Nothing says summer quite like a baseball game, and the Cedar Rapids Kernels provide the perfect opportunity to enjoy America’s favorite pastime. As a Class A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, the Kernels offer exciting games and a family-friendly atmosphere. Grab a hot dog, cheer on the team, and experience the thrill of a live baseball game at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

15. Visit the Ushers Ferry Historic Village
Step back in time and experience life in the 1890s at the Ushers Ferry Historic Village. This living history museum recreates a small town from the late 19th century, complete with historic buildings, costumed interpreters, and interactive exhibits. Visitors can learn about the daily lives of the people who lived during that era and gain a deeper understanding of Cedar Rapids’ history.

16. Enjoy a performance at the Paramount Theatre
The Paramount Theatre is a historic landmark in Cedar Rapids that hosts a wide range of performances, including Broadway shows, concerts, and community events. With its stunning architecture and elegant interiors, the theater provides a beautiful backdrop for unforgettable performances. Whether you’re a fan of musicals, plays, or live music, the Paramount Theatre offers a world-class entertainment experience.

17. Sample local flavors at the Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers’ Market
If you’re a foodie eager to taste the best of Cedar Rapids, the Downtown Farmers’ Market is the place to be. With over 200 vendors offering fresh produce, artisanal goods, and delicious treats, the market is a feast for the senses. Enjoy live music, browse unique crafts, and indulge in mouthwatering food from local chefs and food trucks. The market is a vibrant community gathering that showcases the best of what Cedar Rapids has to offer.

In conclusion, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is a city that offers a wide range of experiences for newcomers and residents alike. From exploring local bookstores and breweries to immersing yourself in the city’s arts and restaurant scene, there’s always something exciting to discover. Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or simply a sense of community, Cedar Rapids has it all. Embrace the charm and spirit of this welcoming city as you explore all that it has to offer and make it your home.

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