• Cedar Valley Coffee Shops

    Cedar Valley Coffee Shops

    Dig a coffee shop that fits your style

  • Waterloo Black Hawks Hockey

    Waterloo Black Hawks Hockey

    Dig home games in Party Town

  • Winter Wonderland

    Winter Wonderland

    Dig a winter wonderland

  • Tea Parties

    Tea Parties

    Dig tea parties at the Snowden House

  • John Deere Museum

    John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum

    Dig tractor and engine history

  • Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum

    Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum

    Dig inspiring stories of sacrifice

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.

Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau Blog

Sidecar Coffee opened its second Waterloo location earlier this month, when it moved into the historic Wonder Bread building downtown. Not only did Sidecar open a coffee shop, the Sidecar Coffee Roasters operation also moved there too. As demand has grown over the past five years, from Jed’s basement to downtown Waterloo, the opportunity to supply more coffee to fans and friends worldwide has also grown significantly.

Blog Sidecar Coffee Shop Episode 30

While you can grab freshly roasted beans to take home and enjoy, or to send to friends around the world, there’s nothing better than having a fresh cup of coffee brewed with extremely fresh beans. Sidecar’s newest location offers just that opportunity. Not only do you get to drink a great cup of coffee, you can see where your coffee comes from, all the way from green coffee beans to your cup.

Blog Sidecar Coffee Barista Aaron Episode 30

Hearing about the roasting process is fascinating, and we’d encourage you to go in and watch as beans are roasted. Even more interesting is seeing the green coffee beans in gigantic bags that have made their way to Waterloo from around the world. Coffee comes from all areas of the world, along the Equator. The beans are organic and the way Sidecar sources and purchases coffee, the farmers are paid more and better than they often are with “fair trade” coffees.

Blog Sidecar Coffee Menu Episode 30

What to drink, you ask? Honestly, you can’t go wrong with brewed coffee. You’re going to get fresh and local coffee and it tastes fantastic. If you want to try something else, Andy highly recommended the cappuccino. Sidecar steams the milk a little differently than other coffee shops, making for a really awesome flavor and texture. Sidecar has perfected some “experimental” flavors, too. The Van Fleet (named after local businessman and friend Andy Van Fleet) is an orange infused latte. They offer a lavender mocha that is truly spectacular as well. And the seasonal drinks are all absolutely outstanding. The cool thing about Sidecar is that they’ve taken great care to use natural and local ingredients, like milk from Hansen's Dairy in nearby Hudson. They make their own vanilla syrup, for instance, and the vanilla latte is the best you’ll ever have.

Whether you’re on your way to the office, need to schedule a meeting, or swing in for a Saturday morning treat, Sidecar is a great coffee shop in a really unique atmosphere that you absolutely must try.

Sidecar Coffee | Waterloo - Wonder Bread
325 Commercial St (entrance on W 3rd St)
Hours: Mon-Fri 6:30am-5:30pm; Sat 8am-3pm

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


- Aaron Buzza, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau

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Going out for coffee can be many things…a time to relax, a time to be productive outside the office, a time to meet friends, a time to make memories with kids/grandkids, or maybe a combination of several of the above. Whatever your reason is, the Cedar Valley has a variety of local coffee shops to choose from. 

Coffee Blog_Sidecar

The Getaway

Sometimes you find you need a place to get away from it all. Whether it’s cramming for that exam, checking emails, or preparing for a meeting, Sidecar Coffee has locations that can fit the bill. Their location on College Hill in Cedar Falls is close to the UNI campus and a quiet spot to study or to meet a friend. If you’re looking for an office away from the office, check out their two Waterloo locations, one on Ridgeway Avenue and their newest location in the historic Wonder Bread building in downtown Waterloo. They offer local, handcrafted coffee and housemade treats too.

Coffee Blog_Cottonwood

Coffee Break

Let’s face it sometimes you don’t want a cup of coffee, you need that cup of coffee to get you going in the morning, for reinforcement before your big meeting, or for that afternoon pick-me-up. A stop at your local coffee shop is the perfect place to clear your head, enjoy a warm beverage, a tempting treat, and free Wi-Fi. With their motto ‘Don’t work, be happy!’ Cottonwood Canyon will leave you feeling just that. Located in both downtown Waterloo and Cedar Falls, it is a unique and colorful shop where every drink is made to order including their drip-brewed coffee. They feature freshly roasted coffee, home-baked pastries, lunch-sized sandwiches, salads, wraps and rice bowls.

Coffee Blog_Cabin Coffee

Where Good Friends Meet

Life is busy with work, kids, social obligations…you name it, so sometimes you need a place where you can spend some quality time with your friends (or family). Cabin Coffee on Kimball Avenue in Waterloo offers warm smiles, fresh aromas, and a cozy atmosphere to sit down and stay awhile. You can enjoy your favorite drink or a delicious breakfast or lunch. They consider themselves an upscale coffee house designed to serve coffee lovers and non-coffee lovers alike. They also have a kid’s corner to keep your little ones occupied while you chat. 

Coffee Blog_Cup of Joe

Date Night

Whether it is a date with your special someone, or a date with family or friends, Cup of Joe, in downtown Cedar Falls could be your ideal destination for catching up. This one-of-a-kind espresso bar has a 1950’s flair and features fair-trade and organic coffee, local pastries, and weekly live music events. They also have a great selection of board games for everyone’s enjoyment. If you don’t find one of their delicious, locally-made treats tempting, you can venture down the street and give the chocolates or gelato at Chocolatier Stam, popcorn at Here’s What’s Poppin, or cupcakes and cookies at Scratch Cupcakery a try.

Not a Coffee Fan?

Is tea more your style? Then look no further than one of our two, local tea shops. 

Laughing Tree Café, located inside the Waterloo Center for the Arts in Waterloo, specializes in hand blended loose leaf tea. They serve a lunch of soup, sandwiches and salads Tuesday through Friday. They can also cater your next meeting or event.  

The Tea Cellar is located below Basket of Daisies in downtown Cedar Falls. They offer loose leaf tea as well as tea accessories. Their cozy café is the perfect spot to relax and enjoy one of their many delicious treats.  


- Annette Freeseman, Waterloo Convention and Visitors Bureau
Photo Credit: 
Cup of Joe photo courtesy of Cedar Falls Tourism & Visitors Bureau.

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When we started the Travel Waterloo series, there were several businesses we knew we wanted to feature. Scratch Cupcakery was definitely on that list. Over the past seven years, Scratch has grown from a teeny-tiny storefront into a huge business that employs 150 people, bakes as many as 10,000 cupcakes in a day per location, and sends cupcakes around the world. Knowing that their footprint has grown through the addition of stores, Scratch Curbside, and through shipping/delivery, we wanted to see and hear how they make people smile, one cupcake at a time.

Blog Scratch Cupcakes Episode 29

We spent more time filming this episode as any we’ve done this year, and that’s largely because of all of the awesome information Natalie and her staff provided and because there was so much to learn and take in. Some of the most fascinating details we learned are the following:

  • There are “tasting days” each month where Natalie and several managers try new cupcakes that have been developed. That development process is largely a group effort, with someone bringing an idea and everyone helping work on the finer points.
  • In the episode, Natalie told me that Turkey & Stuffing was the one cupcake they tried that would never make its way to the front of the house. More often, the new flavors are more easily refined and do end up making the menu.
  • Scratch has 250+ cupcake flavors to pick from. There are several that are consistently available, and Natalie works to bring other flavors back from time to time as “Baker's Choice” cupcakes that appear for a month.

Blog Aaron Decorating Cupcakes Episode 29

  • Wedding Day is their most popular cupcake.
  • In 2017, for the first time, each location will have a different flavor menu (download them here). Previously, at all four locations (Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Coralville, West Des Moines), Saturday cupcakes were Saturday cupcakes company-wide. Now you could find a Blueberry Pie or Maple Donut cupcake in Waterloo on Saturday and get a Blueberry Cheesecake or Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pancake cupcake in West Des Moines.
  • Baking as many as 10,000 cupcakes (or more some days) is a challenge. The kitchen managers at Scratch need to start prepping for those cupcakes days in advance. They need to ensure that they have the right amount of buttercream frosting in the right flavors for the cupcakes that will be made. There are some toppings that need more preparation time, as well. So a German Chocolate cupcake that appears on Friday may take preparation that begins on Tuesday or Wednesday to get the topping made and done right.

Blog Natalie & Aaron Episode 29

Probably the best thing we saw during our visit to Scratch was that EVERYONE had a smile on their face. I think we’d all have to assume that baking cupcakes would be a very happy job, but the staff proved it. The employees love what they do and they’re a huge family making treats to help their customers (their larger family) celebrate. There’s great pride and great comradery, and there are employees who have been with Scratch since they opened. The one who unlocked the door for us was one of the longest tenured employees other than Natalie and she was leaving within a few weeks after we filmed the episode. Both she and Natalie choked up as they talked about that. It was a really cool thing to see that behind the scenes, the friendly faces you see when you go in to buy a cupcake (or a dozen) are friendly and joyful. Natalie has created a culture more than she’s created a business, and that was an awesome thing to experience.

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


- Aaron Buzza, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau 

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Spicoli’s Rockade has been transformed into a bar and performance venue, and now adult arcade that features classic and new pinball and arcade games. The sights and sounds inside Spicoli’s will definitely take you back to your childhood.   

Carah Evans is (pardon the reference to The Who’s Tommy) a pinball wizard. She’s been playing pinball since she was a kid and she’s only fallen deeper in love with the game. She and her husband Troy collect and restore pinball machines and partnered recently with Spicoli’s to create the Rockade.

Blog Carah & Aaron Episode 28

Playing pinball with Carah is different than playing at any other arcade with any other person.  The competition is FIERCE and no matter how good you think you are, you’ll lose. She’s a former state pinball champion and because the machines at Spicoli’s are hers, she knows all of the nuances of the games. 

But that doesn’t mean you can’t go play and start to understand the machines yourself. There’s a pinball selfie league at the Rockade. You’ll see “regulars” there throughout the week. And you can also go face off against Carah many nights as well.

Blog Pinball Machines Episode 28

In addition to more than a dozen classic (Taxi, Elvira) and new (Walking Dead, Metallica) pinball machines, there are dozens of arcade games available. You’re able to play everything from NBA Jam to Tetris to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The machines at the Rockage are in exceptional condition thanks to the great work by Troy, and there are enough options that all of your friends will find their childhood favorites…or maybe find a new favorite.

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


- Aaron Buzza, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau

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Tea Blog 2

Looking for something fun and maybe a little different to do with friends or family? Consider attending one of the Teas offered by the Grout Museum District. There are several to choose from, each with a different theme. And if you like to dress up, this is for you since guests are encouraged to dress for the appropriate theme. At each event, there will be fun activities for kids and adults to enjoy. You will also participate in a low tea complete with yummy treats.

Tea Blog 1

Royal Tea | January 14
Discover what it takes to be a prince, princess or knight. Learn about the Knight’s Code and princess etiquette. Create your own coat of arms, partake in a quest, enjoy treats and a low tea fit for royalty.

Valentine Tea | February 11
Guest will learn about the history of Valentine’s Day, create a Danish Heart Basket and valentines, all while enjoying a low tea.

Beauty and the Beast Tea | March 4
Be Our Guest! Make the Beast’s rose, decorate your own magic mirror, meet Lumiere, help create his fellow castle servants and enjoy a classic low tea.

Dr. Seuss Tea | April 8
Help protect the Truffula trees with the Lorax, learn about some amazing animals with Red Fish and Blue Fish and create your own hat just like everyone’s favorite cat. Enjoy all this while sipping on tea and munching on Seuss themed treats.

Tea Blog 3

Mother’s Tea | May 13
Make Mom feel special by taking her to tea! Discover how a proper Victorian lady would dress, look at real Victorian outfits, and partake in a classic British low tea.

Pirate’s Tea | June 3
Don your favorite pirate garb while you create your own treasure map, hunt for buried treasure, learn about some of history’s most famous pirates, and enjoy a pirate themed tea.

All teas are held at the Snowden House, located at 306 Washington St in Waterloo. Cost is $8 for members, $10 for non-members. You must also preregister for these events online at gmdistrict.org or by calling (319) 234-6357.


- Annette Freeseman, Waterloo Convention and Visitors Bureau
Photo Credit: Grout Museum District.

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