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Dig Deeper in Waterloo

Explore our vibrant downtown district featuring award-winning museums, locally-owned restaurants, and an impressive riverside amphitheatre. Tour the John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum, visit the Isle Casino, and enjoy the Cedar Valley Trails via bicycle or kayak. Catch exciting sports teams and immerse yourself in arts and culture. And did we mention we're home to Lost Island Water Park? It's Iowa's largest! Plus, dig a little deeper and check out our family-friendly festivals and events.

Watch episodes below from our travel series - "Travel Waterloo".
Follow the hashtag #IDigWaterloo for photos, videos, and travel inspiration.

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Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau Blog

I’ll be honest. I love ice cream. I especially love 4 Queens ice cream. So this episode was particularly fun to film. It also made some friends very jealous.

4 Queens Dairy Cream is locally owned, with three stores in the Waterloo area (Waterloo, Cedar Falls and Evansdale). It has what could be described as a cult-like following, with customers who are incredibly loyal and who base seasons of the year on when the stores are open. Each spring when 4 Queens reopens for the season, it is as close to a local holiday as you can get.

We asked why people are such loyal and passionate customers, and a lot of the reason is the fact that the businesses are local. It is based here and people want to support their neighbors. They also have a tremendously successful business, which means that the product is always very fresh. The ingredients for Snowstorms (ice cream mixed in with candy or toppings) are prepped fresh on site and used very quickly. With as many as 400 guests on a busy day, the ice cream is always fresh, as well. Edin made an interesting comment, too. He said that 4 Queens only serves ice cream and cold food like smoothies and slushes. That allows them to focus entirely on the quality of the ice cream product.

4 Queens Menu

I spent a little time behind the counter at a time that wasn’t terribly busy. The teamwork and choreography with several employees working on orders is something incredible to witness. The system they have in place at 4 Queens make it almost ballet-like as you watch the treats being prepared.

4 Queens Working

If you talk to “regulars” at 4 Queens, you’ll get a variety of answers when you ask what the favorite menu item is. I’m a Snowstorm guy, but broke from my regular order and had the Rice Krispie. It was awesome! Of course you’ll have the cereal, but you also get marshmallow, peanut butter and chocolate mixed in. It is a great treat! We also heard that the Caramel Apple Sundae is highly underrated.

4 Queens Ice Cream

One last nugget for you: There’s a “Surprise” Snowstorm flavor listed. If you order it, the staff doesn’t just stand and “surprise” you. I was actually kind of hoping that was the case. The Surprise is a mix of some awesome candy flavors, so you’re surprised with each bite because each is different.

Make sure you stop by 4 Queens for an ice cream treat or two before they close later this fall!

Follow the hashtag #IDigWaterloo for photos, videos, and travel inspiration.


- Aaron Buzza, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau

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Wow. Wow. And WOW! From the last time I had been in the Wonder Bread building to the visit and tour we had with owner Dave Morgan, there has been some awesome progress made in the development of SingleSpeed Brewing’s new site in downtown Waterloo. With the approval of historic tax credits from the State Historic Preservation Office, the construction phase commenced quickly. 

Because of the historic preservation, the building is being restored to what it looked like in the 1950s, so you’ll see large windows on the front and back of the building. The main entry will be at the corner of Commercial and 3rd Street, and you can see a rendering of that entry below.

SingleSpeed Exterior 2

Through the historic preservation process, and the LEED certification process, there has been quite a bit of reuse. Dave showed us some of the original flooring that will be used to create tables. They are using some of the original conveyer belt to make bicycle parking. As much of the original building as possible is being kept as it was when bread was being baked in it.

SingleSpeed Brew Tanks

The crew that was with us when we filmed this episode nearly doubled from other episodes, as there’s quite a bit of curiosity surrounding what’s happening inside the walls of this building. For our group, the most exciting things were the following:

  • The new windows, which will really change the completion of the building and that entire block.
  • The “proofing lounge” which is a nod to the old proofing room. Proofing is the final rise of shaped bread dough before baking, and as you would expect, there was a HUGE space that was used when bread was being baked there.
  • The brewing capacity is greatly increased with the move to the new space.
  • The beer garden, which is on the side of the building closest to Young Arena, is a covered outdoor space that will feature a stage, its own bar and food service.
  • As shown in the episode and photo above, there is a large space set aside to brew some wild ales and sour beers. There is only one place crafting these beers here in Iowa (one oak barrel at a time) and SingleSpeed will have the opportunity to brew six or eight at a time.

SingleSpeed Interior 2

We couldn't be more excited to show you the progress on this great new addition to downtown Waterloo. You can certainly follow along with us and also see SingleSpeed in person. They’ll be featured on Main Street Waterloo’s Tour de ‘Loo, which is planned for Thursday, October 6. More information about that will be coming soon!

Follow the hashtag #IDigWaterloo for photos, videos, and travel inspiration.


- Aaron Buzza, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau
Photo Credit: SingleSpeed Brewing.

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For those who attended Iowa Irish Fest last weekend, I’m sure you’ll join me in cheering the organizers, performers, competitors, vendors, and volunteers in their efforts. The event was AWESOME! 

Irish Dancers

While we typically have promoted events prior to them occurring (see my super strong bagpipe game from last year, we know that it's difficult to see everything that an event like Irish Fest can offer. Because of that, we wanted to show off what the festival offers, whether you were there last weekend or need reason to put it on your calendar for next year.

This year was the 10th Anniversary of Iowa Irish Fest, and it was amazing! The entertainment certainly did not disappoint. Gaelic Storm, Red Hot Chili Pipers, Screaming Orphans, Killdares and Elders, among others were incredible. The energy from the stage each evening kept the crowd moving. 

Irish Pope

I had the opportunity to help at the Fest again this year as a judge for the Irish Stew & Soda Bread Competition. The competitions are part of the cultural activities that featured displays about Irish culture and history, language classes and music. You’ve seen that I’m a fan of food, so getting to eat and judge the food is like a personal Christmas for me. I also volunteered at the Whisky (or Whiskey) Tasting Event. The tasting offers attendees the opportunity to try new and different types of whiskies, while getting information and guidance about what they’re sipping.

The Fest included two different athletic events – rugby and Highland Games. They’re incredibly fun to watch, but you’re certainly not going to see me in front of the camera next year trying to throw a caber or run up and down the pitch.

Lincoln Park

Iowa Irish Fest provides an amazing atmosphere and vibe. Whether you’re Irish or Irish for the weekend, you’ll be treated to great energy, a tremendous amount of fun, and delicious food and beverage. Iowa Irish Fest 2017 is August 4-6. Put it on your calendar, reserve your hotel room and you won’t be disappointed.

Follow the hashtag #IDigWaterloo for photos, videos, and travel inspiration.


- Aaron Buzza, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau

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Our exploration of Waterloo was extra special this week with travel blogger JayJay Goodvin, aka The Iowa Gallivant, joining us. JayJay and his family have visited Waterloo a couple of times throughout the past year and they loved three restaurants that we were looking forward to showing viewers. Plus, it was pretty cool having a former chef guiding us through our food choices.

Honey Garden

Our first stop, The Honey Garden. This restaurant showcases Indian, Greek and American foods, and does so really well. They've also fused Indian and Greek traditions and flavors in an incredible way. You MUST order the flaming cheese!  

The Balkan Cafe was next on our gastro tour. After hearing about JayJay's previous visit to the Balkan Cafe, I had to order the Cevapi, a traditional Bosnian sandwich. The bread is homemade and it may be the best sandwich base I've had. How good is this sandwich? A trucker stopped by just as we arrived and picked up 10 to go. The staff told us that is his usual order when he passes through town. High praise!

Balkan Cafe

We had the sandwiches and were treated to the meat and cheese "pies" which is pastry dough wrapped around meat or cheese and served on gigantic plates. Then we were offered dessert...two traditional Bosnian sweets that were unbelievable. If you like baklava, stop in and pick some up as it is incredible!

Read more about the Balkan Cafe's Cevapi sandwich...

Gyro Hut

Our final stop was Gyro Hut. We were stuffed by this point, but there's always room for an amazing sandwich or gyro. If you want to spend a little time exploring the menu, go at a time that isn't traditional meal time. They are a hopping place! I ordered a Philly cheese steak and it rivals one I had earlier this summer in Philly. The gyro JayJay had could feed a family...or one really hungry man like myself. Lots of fresh veggies in addition to the meat.  We would have given it two thumbs up, but our hands were full of food. 

Read more about JayJay's visit to the Gyro Hut and Honey Garden...

A BIG thank you to the Iowa Gallivant and his children Gigi, Leah and Charlie (with whom I had some great fantasy football conversation) for joining us this week and showing us what they dig about Waterloo! Come back and visit us any time!

Follow the hashtag #IDigWaterloo for photos, videos, and travel inspiration.


- Aaron Buzza, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau

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If you've seen our online travel series "Travel Waterloo", you know there's a lot to dig about Waterloo! Just in case you haven't seen it, now's the perfect time to check it out. We've shown you some of Waterloo's best places to eat, shop and play…and now we want to see YOU visiting those places too.

Bobblehead Contest Banner

Entering the #IDigWaterloo Bobblehead Contest is free, fun and a great way to experience Waterloo!

Here's how to enter:

  1. VISIT some of the places recently featured on Travel Waterloo and find the #IDigWaterloo Bobbleheads there.
  2. TAKE A PIC of or with the #IDigWaterloo Bobblehead and post it to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
  3. TAG IT with the hashtag #IDigWaterloo.
  4. TADA! You're entered to win prizes from some of the places featured on Travel Waterloo.

Bobblehead ContestShow us how much you dig Waterloo and enter the #IDigWaterloo Bobblehead Contest, going on now thru September 30, 2016.

Plus, be sure to follow Travel Waterloo on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to find out where the #IDigWaterloo Bobbleheads are located.*

And because this is a contest, you'll want to read the #IDigWaterloo Bobblehead Contest rules before entering.

Questions? Contact the Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau at info@travelwaterloo.com or (800) 728-8431.

Have fun and good luck!

*Note: #IDigWaterloo Bobbleheads will be at 12 different locations at one time. These locations will change throughout the duration of the contest.

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