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15 Best Things To Do In Cedar Falls, Iowa

What are some of the best things to do in Cedar Falls, Iowa?

After all, when we think about the city of Cedar Falls in Iowa, what typically comes to mind?

Well for starters, the city of Cedar Falls is situated inside of Black Hawk County in Iowa. It was founded back in 1845 by William Sturgis, and was originally named “Sturgis Falls”. It wasn’t until many years later when the city merged with Cedar City, creating a new city called “Cedar Falls”.

The city of Cedar Falls, Iowa is actually a pretty decently-sized city, as the entire area of the city is estimated to be around 29.79 square miles. And because of its size, there are quite a few people who call this place their home. According to the 2019 Census, the population was estimated to be around 40,536.

And it is a city that is particularly known for being home to the University of Northern Iowa, which is one of Iowa’s three state universities.

Aside from that, the city of Cedar Falls, Iowa is also a dream come true for many travelers who are wanting to come here and visit.

Known as being one of America’s “100 Best Small Art Towns”, Cedar Falls boasts many interesting things that people will love to see and explore. From a charming downtown district to the abundance of art in the area and also the nature that surrounds this place, there is simply so much to see.

In fact, some of the highlights of this city includes places like the McLeod Center, Hartman Reserve Nature Center, Ice House Museum, Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, Hearst Center for the Arts, and so much more.

Plus, with an abundance of delicious restaurants, cute cafes, charming galleries, historic sites and awesome attractions, visitors will have the time of their lives exploring everything that this city has to offer.

Which is why, if you’re wondering exactly what there is to see or do here in the city of Cedar Falls, Iowa, then you are in luck.

In this post, we’ll be detailing all the best things to do in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

So if you’re ready, lets get started!

Things To Do in Cedar Falls, Iowa

In no particular order, here are the best things to do in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

1. Big Woods Lake Campground

Big Woods Lake Campground

One of the best places to visit here in the city of Cedar Falls, Iowa where visitors can go and have a ton of fun while being surrounded by nature is definitely at the “Big Woods Lake Campground”.

The Big Woods Lake Campground is a place that is owned by the city of Cedar Falls and also managed by the Black Hawk County Conservation. It is a popular area to visit as it consists of so many things of which people can see or do.

For instance, the primary attraction of this area is definitely the lake, which is around 86 acres wide and 32 feet deep at its deepest point. Because of how big this lake is, boating is one of the most popular things to do here as there are boat ramps for people to use.

Not only that, but the lake itself is stocked with a ton of different fish, which means that fishing is also a popular activity that many people come here to do. In fact, some of the fishes you can catch here includes fishes like largemouth bass, panfish, walleye and northern pike. 

Aside from the lake, the area surrounding it is also a perfect spot to do some other activities as well. For instance, there are many trails around which makes biking or hiking a popular thing to do. There’s also many wildlife living around here so many people often come here to scout them.

As for the campgrounds, this place offers 55 full hookup campsites as well as a non-modern camping area. All of the campsites here includes the use of a fire ring and picnic table as well as wireless internet.

Overall, the Big Woods Lake Campgrounds is filled with so many things for people to see or do. It’s no wonder it is often recommended by everyone as being one of the best places to visit here in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

2. Cedar Falls Main Street

Cedar Falls Main Street

If it’s going to be your first time visiting the city of Cedar Falls, Iowa, then one of the best places you have to visit is definitely the “Cedar Falls Main Street”.

Cedar Falls Main Street is basically the life of the city. It is here where visitors can find all sorts of fun entertainment and dining options for them to enjoy. Plus, no matter what time of day you decide to visit, there will always be something open for you to see and explore.

For instance, here in Main Street, there are over 30 plus unique shops and boutiques, as well as over 20 plus bars, cafes, and restaurants for you to visit.

Just by roaming around this area, visitors will find things like antique shops, spas and salons, theaters, jewelry stores, breweries and more. Or if you want, this place also has some great dining options like a restaurant called “Montage”, which features delicious steak and pastas with an assortment of wines.

Not only that, but roaming around Main Street is also one of the best ways to learn about the culture of the city. After all, there is nothing better than enjoying the sights of locals roaming around and interacting with one another. Who knows, you might even make a new friend here!

So if you are ever wanting to brighten up your day and do something fun and exciting, why not pay a visit to Main Street? It’ll be an experience you’ll never forget! Definitely one of the best things to do in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

3. Hartman Reserve Nature Center

Hartman Reserve Nature Center

One of the best places to visit if you want to surround yourself with nature here in the city of Cedar Falls, Iowa is definitely at the “Hartman Reserve Nature Center”.

The Hartman Reserve Nature Center is a huge 308.9 acre nature reserve that is located here in the city of Cedar Falls. This reserve is known to be the largest undisturbed wooded area in Black Hawk County and is also home to three distinct habitats, including wetland, forest and prairie.

What makes this reserve special is that it is dedicated to teaching the youth about nature through hands on experiences and preservation. Because of this, all throughout the year this place will be host to a wide range of classes and events for people to participate in.

Not only that, but this reserve is also one of the most popular places to visit for those wanting to do some exploring and hiking. There are quite a few trails here in this area which makes for a great place to explore and see all kinds of amazing plants and trees that live here in this area.

Aside from that, because this area is so big, it is home to a variety of different animals. Some of which includes white-tailed deer, river otters, turkeys, red shouldered hawks, foxes, vultures and more. Which is why wildlife viewing is also a frequent activity that many people come here to do.

The Hartman Reserve Nature Center is one of the best places to visit in Cedar Falls, Iowa. With so many things to see and explore, visitors will have the time of their lives exploring every inch of this reserve.

4. Whiskey Road Tavern & Grill

Whiskey Road Tavern & Grill

One of the best restaurants you can ever visit while here in the city of Cedar Falls, Iowa is definitely at a place called “Whiskey Road Tavern & Grill”.

The Whiskey Road Tavern & Grill is a popular restaurant that is locally owned here in the downtown area of Cedar Falls. Many locals and tourists love to come here to eat and have fun because they are open seven days a week and doesn’t close until late at night.

In fact, according to Yelp, they are also one of the highest rated restaurants as well as being one of the most reviewed restaurants in the entire area of Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Visitors who come to this restaurant will find that they serve all kinds of delicious and interesting foods for people to choose from. Some of the highlights include foods such as Chips and Dip, Bacon Brussels, Fried Pickles, Honey Garlic Noodle Bowl, Chicken Fajita Pasta, and much more.

Aside from the food, the Whiskey Road Tavern & Grill is also a place that is especially known for their whiskeys. Here visitors can find all kinds of whiskeys like Bourbon, Tennessee, Blended Scotch, American Rye, Canadian Rye, Irish, Midwest, and so much more.

And best of all is that the environment around here is so warm and welcoming. It’s a fantastic place to visit especially if you are new to the city as you can chit chat with strangers and get to know more of the culture around here.

So whether you are hungry or just want to get some drinks, the Whiskey Road Tavern & Grill is one of the best restaurants you can ever visit here in the city of Cedar Falls, Iowa. Who knows, while you are here, you might even make a few friends!

5. UNI-Dome / McLeod Center

UNI-Dome / McLeod Center

If you’re interested in watching some sports being played out or even attending some events here in the city of Cedar Falls, Iowa, then one place you should absolutely visit is one known as the “UNI-Dome / McLeod Center”.

The UNI-Dome / McLeod Center is a massive 7,018 seat multi-purpose arena that is located on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa.

In fact, the University of Northern Iowa actually built the McLeod Center as a replacement for the UNI Dome, which was previously the home of the university’s wrestling, volleyball, and basketball programs.

However, even with the McLeod Center being built, the UNI Dome is still home to its storied football program. Meanwhile, the McLeod Center which opened in 2006, is a place that allows for various types of events to happen.

For instance, in addition to the sporting events, the McLeod Center is also able to bring in many entertainment events as well. There have been many concerts that were held here which included artists like Miranda Lambert, Meat Loaf, Bob Dylan, and more.

Heck, even the Dalai Lama has been to this arena as well.

With all of that being said, if you are wanting to enjoy some sports or maybe some entertaining events here in the city of Cedar Falls, Iowa, then the UNI-Dome / McLeod Center is definitely one of the best places you can ever visit.

6. Ice House Museum

Ice House Museum

One of the most interesting and unique attractions that you can ever visit while visiting the city of Cedar Falls, Iowa is definitely the Ice House Museum.

The Ice house Museum is a unique museum where it is the only museum of its kind here in the United States which actually shares the ice harvesting story inside of an original ice house. Because of this, locals and tourists from all around love to come here and see all kinds of interesting things.

Created back in 1921, this building served as an ice house from 1922 until Smith (owner of Cedar Falls Ice and Fuel Company) lost his business in 1934. Since then, it has been transformed into a livestock barn and eventually an ice skating ring.

Today however, this ice house has been transformed once again into a living museum. Inside this museum contains many interactive displays that are designed to help tell the story of ice harvesting. Not only that, it also shows how the Cedar River has shaped daily life, culture, and business.

Aside from that, there are also many tools that are on display which were formerly used to cut the ice from the nearby river. There are also many videos and hands-on activities which visitors can participate in and learn more about how ice harvesting works.

Overall, it’s truly one of the most unique and interesting museums you can ever visit. So if you have the time to spare, then a trip to the Ice House Museum might just be something that you will be looking forwards to.

7. Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center

Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center

If you’re a fan of the performing arts, then one of the best places you can ever visit here in the city of Cedar Falls, Iowa is definitely the “Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center”.

The Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center is a center that is situated inside of the University of Northern Iowa Campus here in the city of Cedar Falls. It is one of the most popular places to visit as they put on various types of performances all throughout the year.

For instance, the center is made up of three different performance halls, and offers seating for as many as 1,680 guests inside of the Great Hall. Because of this, there will usually always be a huge turnout for the performances here at this center.

In fact, each and every year, there will be more than three hundred performances which are held here in the performing arts center. These performances will include a variety of international and national touring shows and performers, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony, and also the NI School of Music student productions.

Not only that, but depending on the time of year and also the event, this center will also bring in a wide range of internationally acclaimed programs and artists, with events ranging from comedy to classical or even Broadway too.

So if you ever want to take your family out or just want to treat yourself to some really amazing performances, then this is one place you should absolutely visit.

8. Sakura

Sakura

If you love Asian food, especially Japanese foods, then you won’t have to travel far while visiting the city of Cedar Falls, Iowa.

After all, here in this city, visitors can find one of the best Japanese restaurants to visit. Known as “Sakura“, they are a popular Japanese restaurant that specializes in serving a variety of delicious Japanese foods for people to enjoy.

In fact, according to Yelp, they are one of the highest rated restaurants as well as being one of the most reviewed restaurants in the entire area of Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Visitors who come to this restaurant will find no shortages of delicious foods to choose from. For instance, if you want sushi, you can find things such as Tilapia Nigiri, Kani Roll, California Rolls, Philly Rolls, Tiger Eyes, Alaskan Hand Roll, and so much more.

Or if you want regular Japanese food that isn’t sushi, you can also find things like Agedashi Tofu, Chicken Tempura, Baked Mussel, Hibachi Salmon, Gyoza, Egg Rolls, and so much more.

Aside from the Japanese food, Sakura also specializes in serving a variety of different alcoholic drinks as well. Here visitors can find things like Beer, Japanese Wines and Champagne, and also specialty drinks too. All of which pairs perfectly well with any and all foods that you order.

Overall, Sakura is one of the best restaurants you can ever visit here in the city of Cedar Falls, Iowa. So if you ever want to eat some delicious foods, especially Japanese foods, then you absolutely must come here to visit Sakura. You will definitely not be disappointed.

9. Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo

Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo

Want to try your luck at winning some money?

If so, then one of the most exciting and entertaining places you can ever visit where you can do such a thing is definitely at a casino. And there is no better casino to visit then the “Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo”.

As the name suggests, the casino is actually located in the area of Waterloo, which is only minutes away from Cedar Falls Iowa.

The Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo is one of the most popular places to visit as many locals and tourists from all around love to come here and visit while trying to see if they can earn some major money.

Here visitors will find that the casino is filled with some of the most amazing casino games they can ever play. For instance, there are over 25 table games, 878 slot machines, sports betting services, and a number of other things as well for people to enjoy.

Aside from gaming, this casino is also filled with quite a few dining options as well. For instance, one of the most popular restaurants is known as the “Brew Brothers”, which is a great place to visit where you can get some amazing foods and also some delicious beer.

And depending on when visitors come to visit this casino, there will quite often be some events and entertainment being hosted here on-site for people to enjoy.

At the end of the day, if you are looking for a place to relax while having some fun, then you might want to consider visiting the Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo. Who knows, you might just be able to win some money!

10. Lost Island Water Park

Lost Island Water Park

If you’re trying to beat the heat while visiting the city of Cedar Falls, Iowa, then one of the best places you can ever visit is a place known as “Lost Island Water Park”.

Lost Island Water Park is an amusement park that is situated in Waterloo, Iowa, which is only minutes away from Cedar Falls, Iowa. Because of this, many locals and tourists love to visit this spot during the hot summer season and splash around in the cool waters.

Visitors who come to this water park will find that it has so many amazing things for people to see or do. For instance, here visitors can find fun attractions like the “Wailua Kupua, Ta Katipo, Molokini Crater, Tsunami Bay, Starfish Cove, Kiwi Koaster”, and so much more.

Plus, all around the park there will be several cabanas which people can use to relax and hide away from the sun. Aside from that, there are also many different vendors here who sell some food. From things like Pizza to Fruits or even Candy and more can be found here as well.

And depending on when visitors come throughout the year, this water park will be host to a wide range of events and activities for people to enjoy.

So if you’re ever wanting to get away from the sun and also do something fun and exciting, then a trip down to the Lost Island Water Park might just be exactly what you are looking for. Definitely one of the best things to do around Cedar Falls, Iowa.

11. Hearst Center For The Arts

Hearst Center For The Arts

If you love viewing art, then one of the best places you can ever visit here in the city of Cedar Falls, Iowa is definitely at a location known as “Hearst Center For The Arts”.

The Hearst Center For The Arts is a fascinating place which features hundreds of beautiful pieces of artwork that were done by regional and local artists. It’s one of the most popular places to visit as many people love to come here to admire the arts or even get inspiration for their own works.

And if visitors come during the Spring season, this art center will also feature artworks done by local high school and elementary school students as well. It makes for a great experience as visitors will be able to see just how talented these young creative artists really are.

Aside from all of that, the Hearst Center For The Arts also has a sculpture garden outside which visitors can stroll around through as well.

Also, depending on when visitors come during the year, this center will also be host to a wide range of seasonal events for people to enjoy. For instance, one popular event is called “Messy Morning”, which allows children to take part in various creative art activities.

Best of all is that admission to this arts center is absolutely free. So if you have the time to spare, why not pay a visit to this amazing place as you’ll never know what kinds of amazing things you’ll be able to see.

Definitely one of the best things to do in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

12. Montage

Montage

One of the most popular and iconic restaurants you can ever visit here in the city of Cedar Falls, Iowa is definitely at a place called “Montage”.

Montage is a popular upscale and fine dining restaurant that is situated inside of the historic downtown area of Cedar Falls. It was established back in 1999, and has quickly grown to becoming one of the best restaurants for people to come eat at.

In fact, according to Yelp, they are one of the highest rated restaurants as well as being one of the most reviewed restaurants in the entire region of Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Because of this, visitors who come to this restaurant will find so many amazing food options for them to choose from. Some of which includes foods like Bacon Wrapped Scallops, Crab Cakes, Asian Slaw Salad, Thai Chicken Pasta, New York Strip, Beef Kabobs, and so much more.

Aside from that, because they are also a high end upscale restaurant, visitors can definitely expect to find some really delicious wines to drink as well. From things like Red or White wines to even Sparkling and more can all be found here.

Best of all is that the staff who works here are all amazingly nice and helpful. They will truly go above and beyond to make sure your dining experience is as good as possible. The only thing to note is that this restaurant might not be the cheapest around, but it is definitely worth it.

So if you ever want to enjoy a really nice meal in an upscale environment, then the Montage is the perfect restaurant for you. Definitely one of the best restaurants in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

13. Escapology Escape Rooms

Escapology Escape Rooms

Have you ever been to an escape room before?

If you haven’t, then you’ll definitely want to visit one here in the city of Cedar Falls, Iowa.

For those who don’t know, an escape room is basically a themed room that locks people inside and makes them solve puzzles and clues together in order for them to escape from the room. It’s one of the best bonding experiences anyone can ever do.

And the best escape room to visit here in the city of Cedar Falls, Iowa is definitely a place called “Escapology Escape Rooms”.

Escapology Escape Rooms is a wonderful place that has many different themed rooms for people to enjoy. For instance, here visitors can find rooms like the “7 Deadly Sins”, which they need to free themselves for a deadly curse, or even “Antidote”, where you’ll need to save the world.

Visitors who come to try this out will find it extremely challenging but also quite fun to do. After all, you’ll be locked inside a room and you’ll have to use your brains and problem solving skills to find your escape. This will also test how well you work in a group as everyone will need to be involved.

And even if you aren’t able to visit this spot directly, they even provide remote escape room games which visitors can play at the comfort of their own home. How neat is that?

So if you ever want to try a fun yet challenging experience while being with your friends or family here in the city of Cedar Falls, Iowa, then you might just want to visit this amazing escape room. Who knows, you might come out victorious!

14. Hurling Hatchet Urban Axe Throwing

Hurling Hatchet Urban Axe Throwing

One of the latest trends that’s growing in popularity here in the United States and as well as the world is something called “Axe Throwing”.

It’s one of the most fun and exciting things anybody is able to do. After all, who doesn’t want to throw an axe at a target for fun?

And here in the city of Cedar Falls, Iowa, the premiere axe throwing location is at a place called “Hurling Hatchet Urban Axe Throwing”.

Hurling Hatchet Urban Axe Throwing is a friendly place to visit that has many lanes available for people to use. Although reservation is typically normal, walk-ins are available as well. Once here, visitors will be able to join and start throwing axes right away!

And don’t worry if you are new!

Here at this axe throwing location, there are skilled axe coaches who will be on hand and guide you through ever step. They even brief you on some instructions and will even be able to teach you some throwing skills as well as give you some game ideas too.

And if you’re interested, they even have leagues where visitors can join and compete against some of the best in the area. It’s a fun and friendly event where everyone will be able to have fun while also increasing their skills and knowledge about this new sport.

Overall, it’s a really fun and exciting way to relieve some stress while also having some fun. So if you have the time to spare, see if you can come down here and throw some axes. I guarantee it’ll be an experience you’ll never forget!

15. John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum

John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum

Few have never heard about the name of “John Deere” before in their lives.

After all, John Deere is an American company that grew to become one of the global leaders in agricultural equipment. Many of the top companies all around the world and even smaller companies too have often used their equipment.

Because of this, there is even a museum built in dedication of them showcasing exactly how they came to be here in the area near Cedar Falls, Iowa. The museum which is known as the John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum, is located in Waterloo, which is only minutes away from Cedar Falls.

Visitors who come to this museum will find that it is filled with all kinds of amazing things to see or do. For instance, here inside this museum there are various exhibits for people to explore. Many of which are interactive, which allows visitors to get a hands-on experience with many things here.

Plus, alongside the exhibits, there are also various artifacts and machines being put on display for people to see. Many of these machines and items can be traced back in history with John Deere, like a simple historic steel plow to even modern day working machines can all be found here.

Not only that, but admission to this museum is completely free for the public to enjoy. Which means you won’t have to spend a dime, and will be able to see and learn all kinds of informative and interesting things that deal with the company John Deere.

So if you ever want to learn something new or just want to check out one of the biggest names in the United States, then a trip down to the John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum is definitely something everyone will love to do.

FAQS About Cedar Falls, Iowa

What is Cedar Falls Iowa known for?

Cedar Falls, Iowa is known for being the home to the University of Northern Iowa, which is one of Iowa’s three state universities.

How far is Cedar Falls from Cedar Rapids?

The distance between Cedar Falls, Iowa and Cedar Rapids is about 55 miles or about 62.1 miles if driving by car.

What university is in Cedar Falls Iowa?

The University of Northern Iowa is located inside of Cedar Falls, Iowa. There is also the Kaplan University- Cedar Falls Campus, the La’ James International College, and also the Salon Professional Academy.

How far is Waterloo from Cedar Falls?

The distance between Cedar Falls, Iowa and Waterloo is about 5.98 miles in the southeast direction or about 8 miles if driving by car.

Visit Cedar Falls, Iowa

Overall, the city of Cedar Falls, Iowa is one of the best places you can ever visit. With so many things to see or do here, visitors will have the time of their lives exploring everything that this city has to offer.

So hopefully this post about the “15 Best Things To Do In Cedar Falls, Iowa” was able to help you out in some sort of way. This way if you ever find yourself visiting the city of Cedar Falls in Iowa, you will know exactly what things you are able to do for some fun.

Also, if you’re going to be traveling around to the state of Iowa anytime soon, you might be interested in some of my other Iowa related posts:

Or you can check out all my blog posts by clicking this link.

Have fun traveling and let me know how it goes~

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