The Quad Cities are a grouping of cities in the heartland of America that have a great deal to offer. Scenery, culture, and access to many museums and unique experiences that you cannot get anywhere else. The heart of the QCA revolves around the all-American, midwestern charm that encompasses the area. This road trip centers out of Davenport, Iowa, but explores all of the Quad Cities, and branches out to the near-by areas of Dubuque and Iowa City.
The largest of the Quad Cities is Davenport, Iowa. Situated on the Mississippi River, directly across from Moline, Illinois, Davenport is a fairly unassuming city that has a lot to offer.
4215 Elmore Ave, Davenport, IA, US
For this trip, you will explore several cities in the region while basing out of Davenport. I've recommended the newly built Holiday Inn on Elmore Avenue. Close to shopping and restaurants, this is a comfortable, centrally located hotel.
13010 Niabi Zoo Rd, Coal Valley, IL, US
On our first day in the Quad Cities, we are exploring some of the more popular destinations within the cities - starting with Niabi Zoo. Niabi Zoo is a nicely done zoo that will take you 2-3 hours to view completely. The zoo is constantly evolving and improving, and includes brand new exhibits almost every year, so there is always something new to see.
320 W 1st Ave, Coal Valley, IL, US
After visiting the zoo, it's time to grab a quick bite to eat. Happy Joe's pizza is a Quad Cities classic. Creator of the Taco Pizza, Happy Joe's is headquartered in Bettendorf, Iowa. Definitely give the Taco Joe a try, and make sure to use plenty of their signature hot sauce!
1717 W. 12th St., Davenport, IA, US
After lunch, we are headed over to the Putnam Museum and IMAX theater in Davenport, Iowa. The Putnam is home to many different displays, including an ever-changing temporary exhibit. If you don't have a lot of time, I'd recommend checking out the exhibits on river life and the Native Americans that lived in this area to give you a better appreciation for the Quad Cities area.
314 Main Street, Davenport, IA, US
For dinner, let's have a picnic! There are a lot of great places to pick up sandwiches, but I really love Oh So Sweet in downtown Davenport. Get a boxed meal to go!
315 S Marquette St, Davenport, IA, US
Take your pick of many of the beautiful parks and picnic areas along the Mississippi River to enjoy your meal. From Centennial Park in Davenport up to Leach Park in Bettendorf, the Iowa side of the river offers beautiful views, peaceful surroundings, and plenty of things to see. Take a walk along the River Walk. Make sure to take your camera along for some beautiful pictures of the sunset along the Mighty Mississippi.
350 E 3rd St, Dubuque, IA, US
Day 2: Today we are going to head north from the Quad Cities to see the city of Dubuque. One of the highlights of this trip will be the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. Here, you'll learn about the river that gives life to this area and the creatures that call the river home. You'll even have a chance to explore a real tow boat!
512 Fenelon Pl, Dubuque, IA, US
After a day at the River and Aquarium, head over to the Fenelon Place Elevator for some great views of Dubuque.
Mines Of Spain Rd, Dubuque, IA, US
Before heading back to the Quad Cities for the evening, check out the Mines of Spain Recreation Area. Home of some of the most stunning views of the cliffs surrounding the Mississippi River in this area of the state.
2297 Falcon Ave, Bettendorf, IA, US
Back in the Quad Cities, it's time to hit up another Quad Cities classic for dinner. Ross' Restaurant in Bettendorf is the home of the Magic Mountain. Featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, this is definitely a must-eat when in the area!
21 N Clinton St, Iowa City, IA, US
Day 3: Today we will head west to the Iowa City area. On the campus of the University of Iowa, you will find the original capitol building for the state of Iowa, before the capitol was moved to Des Moines. The Old Capitol is now a museum, including historical artifacts, as well as a Museum of Natural History. This museum will give you a great understanding of the history of the state, as well as increasing the knowledge of the area's nature that you've gathered so far in your trip.
214 N Linn St, Iowa City, IA, US
For lunch, you MUST stop in at the Hamburg Inn No. 2 downtown Iowa City. A long-time favorite of university students, the burgers here can't be beat.
Coralville Lake, 2850 Prairie Du Chien Rd NE, Iowa City, IA, US
Heading back out of Iowa City, take a stop at the Devonian Fossil Gorge. When the Floods of 1993 receded, fossils of creatures not known to have lived in this area were found in places eroded by the flood waters. This is a great place to stretch your legs and explore.
7250 Northwest Blvd, Davenport, IA, US
After gaining a little more appreciation for the state of Iowa, head back to the Quad Cities and a restaurant devoted to those who originally made this state great - farmers! Bring your appetite as portions here are hearty to say the least! After dinner, make sure to catch a wagon and tractor ride that leaves from right out in front of the restaurant.
1400 River Dr., Moline, IL, US
Day 4: On your last full day in the Quad Cities, we are going to pay tribute to the largest employer in the area - John Deere. Moline is home to the agricultural giant, and you can visit both the World Headquarters and the John Deere Pavilion to see displays of modern equipment as well as historical pieces. I recommend stopping in at the pavilion and checking out all of the information they have to offer. Bring your camera for pictures of your kids sitting in the giant wheel of a tractor or in the huge bucket of construction equipment.
1510 River Dr, Moline, IL, US
Next to the John Deere Pavilion in downtown Moline is the River House Bar & Grille, a great place to stop for lunch. The fried pickle appetizer here is great! I recommend the Cobb Salad - get it Scott's way for a little added kick!
2501 River Drive, Moline, IL, US
For the afternoon, you'll definitely want to get tickets for a narrated sight-seeing tour on the Celebration Belle Riverboat. Tours last 1 1/2 hours and take you from the dock in Moline, under the I-74 bridge, close to Lock & Dam 15, and back. Your captain will give you narration and stories about the river as you sit back, relax, and take in the views.
Finally, end your trip with an evening at the ballpark. The hometown favorite Quad Cities River Bandits play at Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport, awarded the title of most beautiful minor league ballpark in the US. Enjoy the game, take a ride on the ferris wheel, and be sure to take a walk around the boardwalk to get great pictures of the river and Centennial bridge.
You will have a great time in the Quad Cities! This is a beautiful area, with lots of history, culture, and family fun. Give it a try!