If you consider yourself a Cedar Rapids newbie (or just visiting for the weekend!), we have the must-do list for you to complete.
Here’s a great list of must-do activities in Cedar Rapids to experience during your first year in Cedar Rapids (or even if you’re a longtime resident!). Trust us, by the end, you will have made some pretty unforgettable memories and learned a ton about your new home.
1. Enjoy Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market
From mid-June through September, Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market becomes the place to go for fresh produce, baked goods, meats, dairy products, wines and artisan gifts. The market runs from 7:30 a.m.- noon on the first and third Saturdays during these four months, and about 100 vendors are featured.
2. Spend the Evening at Market After Dark
You’ve experienced a regular farmers market, but now you get to see what one is like at night. Market After Dark arrives in downtown Cedar Rapids in late September each year on a Saturday night. The event, which is billed as a “unique nighttime farmers market” has a few extra activities up its sleeve. Attendees can chow down on some grub provided by food vendors, listen to bands performing, and drink beer and wine – participants 21 and older can wander the market area with open containers.
3. Savor the Cedar Rapids Restaurant Week
Savor the flavor of independent eateries throughout Cedar Rapids every February when the annual Cedar Rapids Restaurant Week showcases the city’s unique cuisine offerings. A number of different restaurants schedule special promotions and activities this week.
4. Visit the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art
The downtown business and commercial district is home to Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, a 63,000-square-foot building filled with displays of several rotating exhibitions of contemporary art. The museum was established in 1905 and moved into its current downtown home in 1989. Highlights of the museum include works from prominent Iowa artists such as Marvin Cone, Bertha Jaques and Grant Wood, who painted the famous “American Gothic.” The museum has a Grant Wood Studio open to the public for guided tours Saturdays and Sundays.
5. Attend an Event at the PowerHouse
Alliant Energy PowerHouse in downtown Cedar Rapids is the premier multiuse arena for the Eastern Iowa region. Depending on your taste, you might head here for a trade show, sporting event, rodeo, convention or concert. Bands that performed at the PowerHouse in 2021 included Blue Oyster Cult, ZZ Top and Mannheim Steamroller Christmas.
6. Explore the Region’s Vibrant Immigrant History
Established in 1974, the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library moved to its present site in 1983. More than 50,000 people visit the museum each year to view three art galleries and attend cultural events in a 51-seat theater as well as an outdoor amphitheater. Also on-site is an expanded research library detailing local Czech and Slovak history. A beautiful terrace provides a great view of the Cedar River and the Cedar Rapids skyline. While in the neighborhood, be sure to stroll through the Historic Czech Village, where thousands of Bohemian, Moravian and Slovak immigrants began arriving in Cedar Rapids during the 1850s. Today, the village is a restored section of what was the shopping district for many of those immigrants. Located in the southwest sector of Cedar Rapids, Czech Village now features a variety of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues.
7. Experience Hawkeye Downs Speedway
Before it became Hawkeye Downs Speedway, this local favorite began in 1925 as a dirt track called Frontier Park. The speedway was paved with asphalt in 1989, and today, it provides weekly Friday night stock car racing during warm-weather months. Local estimate figures show that Hawkeye Downs Speedway contributes $7 million to $10 million annually to the Cedar Rapids-area economy.
8. Step Back into 1890s Iowa
Situated on a 10-acre site in beautiful Seminole Valley, the Ushers Ferry Historic Village features nine historic buildings depicting life in small Iowa towns between 1890 and 1910. Ushers Ferry schedules several activities, events and programs that are family friendly, and public tours of the village take place from June through October.