Iowa City Things to Do

  • Iowa City Mansion near College Green Park
    Iowa City Mansion near College Green...
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  • Old Downtown Iowa City, IA
    Old Downtown Iowa City, IA
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  • Johnson County Courthouse, Iowa City, IA
    Johnson County Courthouse, Iowa City, IA
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Most Recent Things to Do in Iowa City

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    Natural History Museum

    by leics Written Sep 13, 2012
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    One of the other buildings on the Pentacrest, MacBride Hall, houses the rather wonderful Natural History Museum.

    My camera battery decided to die just as I entered, so I'm afraid I cannot share with you the joys of the Mammal Hall, the Giant Sloth or the magnificent Hageboek Hall of Birds...but believe me when I say that spending an hour or so wandering around here is more than worthhile.

    And it's free!

    Opening hours are the same as those for the Old Capitol:

    Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday - 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    Thursday - 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
    Sunday - 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

    Closed public holidays.

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    Visit the Old Capitol

    by leics Written Sep 13, 2012
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    I cannot say I am hugely knowledgeable about US history, but I did enjoy my wander around Iowa City's pride & joy...the Old Capitol building on the Pentacrest.

    The building originally dates from 1839, when it was *the* state capitol. It only became the 'old' capitol when the state capitol moved to Des Moines, in 1849.

    The Old Capitol then functioned as Iowa City's university, almost the whole of it from around 1857-1863 and later as a library, armoury, classrooms and so on. The four, slightly later, university buildings which surround it form the X-shaped 'Pentacrest'.

    In 1970, the decision was made to restore the Old Capitol to its former appearance as state capitol and the university element moved out. The building was declared a Nationa Historic Landmark in 1976.

    A fire in 2001 destroyed the dome and its bell, and water damage was considerrable. Restorations have been carried out, however, and the building is a most interesting place to visit (for free).

    There is a most lovely wooden staircase in the large entrance hall. Two upstairs rooms have been restored to how they would have appeared when the building was in use as the state capitol, as well as the Governor's office and other state offices.

    On the lower ground floor there is an interesting video display which tells the history of IC and the building: I learned a lot from that.

    Open:
    Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday - 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    Thursday - 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
    Sunday - 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

    Closed public holidays.

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    Enjoy the sculptures...

    by leics Written Sep 6, 2012
    Irwin B. Weber
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    I did enjoy wandering downtown Iowa City. It was friendly, it felt safe, there wan't much traffic...and there were lots of interesting bits and pieces to see.

    There are sculptures dotted about all over the place. I especially liked the cheery, waving Irwin B. Weber ('Historian, Humanitarian, All-American swimmer, Businessman, Gentleman') at the intersection of Iowa avenue and Dubuque Street, and the rather touching 'The Ties that Bind' in the 'Ped Mall'.

    'Jazz' is also in the Ped Mall, as is the lovely 'Weatherdance', a fountain sculpture which is clearly a huge favourite with local children.

    The huge, carved granite boulder is on the Pentacrest, just behind Macbride Hall, and the pile of books is a street marker for Northside Marketplace.

    There are lots of other sculptures which I missed seeing. The website gives locations.

    Enjoy finding them!

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    Read the quotes...

    by leics Written Sep 6, 2012
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    In 2008, Iowa City was designated b UNESCO as its third 'City of Literature'. That's quite a coup for such a small town.

    And you can enjoy getting a glimpse of that literary heritage by following the 'Iowa Avenue Literary Walk', a series of 49 bronze panels set into the pavement (sidewalk) with artwork and quotes from authors who have, or have had, links with IC. It was laid out in 1999.

    Although I personally knew very few of the authors or their works, the panels themselves are rather lovely works of art. It's worth seeking them out for that reason alone.

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    Look up to find the old bits....

    by leics Written Sep 5, 2012
    St Mary's
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    IC was 'born' in 1839, and you can still see evidence of its past architecture if you look carefully...and up.

    Obviously the first buildings are not longer there: they were of wood. But brick soon superceded them, and you can find buildings which date back to the mid-1800s; not old at all in UK terms, of course, but quite old for the US.

    The cornerstone for the Old Capitol (which was actually *the* state Capitol at the time) was laid in 1840.

    The Park House hotel (not a hotel, and not a building I saw this time) dates from 1852.

    'Old Brick' (originally First Presbyterian church) dates from 1856

    St Mary's church dates from 1867 (although there was an earlier church on site).

    And, if you look up, you'll see plenty of evidence of old IC as you wander downtown (see photos).

    I wish I'd found the information on the link I've given before I visited: there are even more historically interesting buildings than I had thought!

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    Go to a bookshop and relish browsing...

    by leics Written Sep 4, 2012
    Inside The Haunted Bookshop
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    I couldn't really do this as much as I wanted: I had a weight limit to consider (and I had to think about whether I could actually lift my case!).

    But if you are larger than me, or travelling within the US, then there are two wonderful bookshops in Iowa City, absolute bliss for the book-browser. Both are friendly (is anywhere in Iowa City *not* friendly?), stuffed full of books, both with nooks and crannies and chairs where you can lose yourself in another world...

    'Prairie Lights' in the centre of downtown at 15 South Dubuque Street, established in 1978 and now (having moved premises) three and a half floors of new books:

    http://www.prairielights.com/

    Prairie Lights specialises in new fiction.

    And 'The Haunted Bookshop' , which has more than 400000 rare, out-of-print and secondhand books. some people could browse here all day and have to be kicked out at closing time! It specialises in poetry, literature, first and signed editions and Iowa-related books but also has vast quantities of other genres. A really wonderful place.

    http://www.thehauntedbookshop.com/shop/haunted/index.html?id=UeyEMtgn

    You'll find it at 203 North Linn Street, a few clocks from the centre of downtown, at its junction with East Market Street.

    If you intend to visit Iowa City, I suggest you leave space in your suitcase for the books you will almost certainly buy at one or both of these places..they are superb! :-)

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    Visit the farmers' market....

    by leics Written Sep 4, 2012
    Heirloom potatoes....
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    ...which happens twice a week and, if my visit is anything to go by, is absolutely magnificent.

    This is a huuuge market, with fruits and vegetables, (including heirloom varieties), cheeses, honey, home-made produce... bread, cakes, cookies preserves... home-made almost-anything-which is not food... ornaments, trinkets, cards, garden bits & pieces...

    Want honey from an Amish apiarist? No problem. Fancy some blue-skinned potatoes? Ditto. What about a giant watermelon, or some fresh-picked wild mushrooms..or some tie-dyed clothes?

    Feel like a snack? How about a smoked Gouda baconburger with organic greens and tomato, or smoked brisket and farm egg hash? Fresh strawberry lemonade? No problem....

    Wonderful place absolutely, and still busy with buyers even though I visited only 10 minutes before it closed (I'd been otherwise engaged in events related to why I was actually in Iowa City).

    I trust the good citizens of IC know what a boon and a blessing their farmers' market is. I think they must do: it is the best and largest I have yet come across.

    The market operates from May until October, from 5pm-7pm on Wednesdays and from 7.30am to 12 noon on Saturdays.

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    Enjoy the signs....

    by leics Written Sep 4, 2012
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    Well, I enjoyed them anyway.

    I saw several which amused me, and which I very much think epitomise the character of IC: intelligent, courteous, friendly and with an almost-British sense of humour (deliberate understatement, irony).

    I loved it and I'll be looking out for more next time I visit!

    :-)

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    College of Dentistry

    by atufft Updated May 5, 2011

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    University of Iowa College of Dentistry
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    Edit in progress...photo error. Photo shown is Hawkeye Arena ;-)

    The University of Iowa College of Dentistry Building architecture has a roof that appears to resemble an inverted molar, reinforced by orthodontic wires. My images don't do justice to this huge and interesting building.

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    University of Iowa, College of Education

    by atufft Written Mar 20, 2011
    University of Iowa, College of Education

    Down the hill from the Capitol Mall, but still a block or two away from the river, is the College of Education building. University of Iowa has traditionally been a giant in grade school pedagogy, producing many textbooks and tons of basic educational research.

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    More Views of the Iowa River

    by atufft Written Mar 20, 2011
    Iowa River at Iowa City, IA
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    The Iowa River obviously has a major impact on the appearance of the town, providing four seasons of change and considerable recreation. A major feature of the river landscape within town, not shown here, is an old smoke stack electrical power plant that services at least part of the University. It appears to harness part of the river, as it's located on a small fall.

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    College of Medicine at the University of Iowa

    by atufft Updated Mar 20, 2011
    University of Iowa College of Medicine Buildings
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    I can't provide the details of the organization of the University of Iowa medicine programs, I can vouch for it being considerable in scale and endowment. Most of the instructional and research buildings are located high above the Iowa River, opposite the Old Capitol Building. Further uphill is a complex of hospitals, a Veterans Hospital and a Children's Hospital.

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    Old Capitol Building

    by atufft Updated Mar 20, 2011
    Old Iowa State Capitol, Iowa City, IA
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    The old capitol building is located on a knoll well above the Iowa River, and is now flanked by university buildings, mostly part of the sciences college. I arrived on a Monday, when it is closed, but otherwise the museum there is open to all free of charge. See the link below for more details.

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    Johnson County Courthouse, IA

    by atufft Written Mar 20, 2011
    Johnson County Courthouse, Iowa City, IA
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    A bit off the beaten path, at the corner of Clinton and Court Streets, across from the bland and ugly Federal Building, is the outstanding Johnson County Courthouse Building, a must see for architecture hounds visiting Iowa City. This imposing Romanesque style building was completed in 1901. See link for more details.

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    Commercial Architecture in Downtown Iowa City

    by atufft Written Mar 20, 2011
    Early Commercial Building in Iowa City, IA
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    The heyday of Iowa City was during the late 19th century, and early 20th, when some substantial commercial buildings were constructed downtown. Today, some of these have a difficult time staying occupied, due to the economic downturn, but others have been restored and turned in to restaurants, bars, and nightclubs that service the college students. Some recent modifications show Iowa City's energetic willingness to thrive architecturally, rather than starve on a budget.

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Iowa City Things to Do

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