Find your perfect neighborhood in this thriving community.
Located in Northeast Iowa, the Cedar Valley is a region of around 250,000 residents. In addition to its three main cities of Cedar Falls, Waterloo and Waverly, the region includes several charming communities that offer a standout quality of life.
1. Cedar Falls
Home to the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls spans the Cedar River and also has prairie, wetland and natural forest areas inside its city limits. The population is 40,750. The city is known for its ultra-fast internet speed, provided by Cedar Falls Utilities. Tech is a growing industry sector, with designers and creators of gaming apps, including SciPlay and Jam City, being drawn to this corner of the state.
2. Grundy Center
The county seat of Grundy County is Grundy Center, with a growing population of 2,671. The community has recently experienced a rebirth of the historic downtown district. Recognized as a Main Street Community, the downtown is a destination for shopping, dining or a drink with several new boutiques, shops and restaurants. In addition, a large-scale nonprofit childcare campus is under development utilizing a historic school building and a new extensive housing development to meet future housing needs. Grundy County Memorial Hospital also broke ground in 2022 on a new $30 million expansion.
3. Shell Rock
You will find abundant opportunities to connect with nature or a new career in and around Shell Rock, a growing community of 1,646 people. The trailhead for the Rolling Prairie Bike Trail can be found on the north edge of town. This 21-mile paved trail proceeds west to Clarksville, Allison and Bristow. Camping and river activities are also abundant. A couple of miles west of Shell Rock, you will find the growing Butler Logistics Park, home to several employers.
Jesup is a thriving community made up of 2,508 residents. This bedroom community is located in both Buchanan and Black Hawk counties, and it continues to grow with several new subdivisions. In addition, it is home to CoWork591, a coworking space that houses Jesup Community School District’s Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) program. Outdoor opportunities include a nine-hole golf course, six-field soccer complex and baseball/softball complex, just to name a few.
5. New Hampton
At the junction of U.S. Highways 18 and 63, New Hampton was founded in 1855 and has a population of 3,494. When you look around New Hampton, you will see the wonderful things it offers — excellent schools, low cost of living, reliable utilities, vibrant business community, various parks & recreation programs and excellent health care. In addition, new Hampton hosts the annual Heartland Days festival, held each year on the second weekend of June.
A border-to-border suburb of Waterloo, Evansdale was incorporated as a city in 1947 and celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2022. The population of the Black Hawk County community is 4,760. Poyner Elementary and Bunger Middle schools, part of Waterloo Community School District, are in Evansdale. The motto of Evansdale is “A City of Good Neighbors.” A 64-acre purchase by the local government will lead to the Eagles Landing development, which is aimed at attracting more commercial business.
The county seat of Buchanan County is Independence, with a population of 6,085. Rich in history, downtown Independence is a regional destination, stocked full of specialty shops like The Brick Kitchen, Elm Tree and S & K Collectibles. Other attractions include Heartland Acres Museum and Wapsipinicon Mill, and the local farmers’ market on Saturday mornings. For night-time fun, visit Independence Motor Speedway, which has hosted stock car racing every weekend for more than 30 years.
Originally named Prairie Rapids Crossing, Waterloo is situated alongside the Cedar River and has a population of 67,671. Hawkeye Community College is in Waterloo. The community has a proud heritage of manufacturing in the region and is also home to back-end fintech. The new $100 million Lost Island Themepark recently opened its doors to residents and visitors. Waterloo Regional Airport provides daily commercial and private charter flights, with easy access to Interstate 380 and U.S. Highway 20.
With a population of 2,546, Hudson is a growing housing community with population experiencing 23.3% growth since 2000. A community spirit exists in Hudson, as evidenced by its 40-member volunteer fire and ambulance crews. The city connects to the Cedar Valley bike trails and Black Hawk Creek Waterway Trail for kayaks. Also available to residents is a golf course and ball diamonds. The annual Hudson Days festival takes place in mid-July.
With its nickname “The Mile Wide City,” Denver offers small-town charm and easy access to larger city attractions. The population is 1,919, the median household income is $78,571, and the average home value is $253,025 (Zillow, August 2022). Denver Community School District has a strong reputation for academics and sports, with its Cyclones sports teams capturing nine Iowa state titles over the years.
Waverly, population 10,394, is the county seat of Bremer County and home of Warburg College. Located on the banks of the Cedar River, Waverly’s recreational amenities include 12 miles of recreational trails, 20+ parks, two 18-hole golf courses, indoor and outdoor pools, youth athletic facilities and more. In addition, this safe and welcoming community also offers numerous retail, restaurant and entertainment options, plus a downtown area designated as a Main Street Iowa District.
Home to a golf course and various sports fields, Reinbeck is primarily a farming community with a population of 1,690 and its own fiber optics network for residents. Recreation spots include Elmwood Park, Strohbehn Park and an aquatic center. Also popular with residents are a bike trail and a hunting range. The city also houses Reinbeck Public Library, a Carnegie library built in 1917.
The population of Dike is 1,192. This Grundy County bedroom community offers a small-town atmosphere while enjoying the convenience of the Waterloo/Cedar Falls metro area. The four-lane U.S. Highway 20 serves the community. Recreation amenities include Fox Ridge Country Club, Kruger- Hemmen Sports Complex and Grundy County Lake, with trails for walking, running and biking. In addition, you will find new housing developments, a charming downtown and the growing Dike-New Hartford school district.
If you’d like to learn more about the Cedar Valley area, check out the latest edition of Livability: Cedar Valley, Iowa.