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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.

Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau Blog

Santa Blog Post_College Square Mall

Ho, ho, ho! The holidays have arrived in the Cedar Valley, and so has Santa. It's time to grab the kiddos (or pets even) and plan a visit to see Jolly Old St. Nick before Christmas.

College Square Mall
Dec 1-10 | Sun Noon-6pm, Mon-Thurs 4-8pm, Fri Noon-8pm, Sat 10am-7pm
Dec 11-24 | Sun Noon-6pm, Mon-Sat 10am-8pm, Christmas Eve 9am-4pm
1 College Square Mall, Cedar Falls
Stop by College Square Mall and share your Christmas wish list with Santa. Or, bring your furry friends for one of their Pet Nights (Tuesdays only).*

*No reservations required, but animals must be in a carrier or on a leash.

Crossroads Mall
Dec 1-24 | Mon-Sat 10am-7pm, Sun Noon-6pm
2060 Crossroads Blvd, Waterloo
Visit Santa's winter wonderland this holiday season at Crossroads Mall. And, don't forget pets can snap a pic with Old Saint Nick too on Tuesdays from 4-7pm.*

*No dangerous animals and all animals must be in a carrier or on a leash.

Santa Blog Post_Crossroads Mall

Downtown Cedar Falls
Dec 1-22 | Dec 1, 8, 15, 22 6-8pm; Dec 3, 10, 17 11am-2pm
4th & Main Sts, Cedar Falls
Just in case you missed Santa's surprise arrival (on a rocket ship) during the Holiday Hoopla kick-off celebration, you can also see him on select Thursdays and Saturdays at his workshop in downtown Cedar Falls. Plus, remember to bring your letter for Santa and drop it in his mailbox.

Downtown Waverly
Dec 3-22 | Dec 3 2-6pm, Dec 8 6-8pm, Dec 10 & 17 2-4pm, Dec 15 & 22 5-8pm
Kohlmann Park, Waverly
Help welcome Santa to Waverly on Saturday, December 3. Bring your wish list and a camera to capture priceless memories with the Jolly Ol’ Fella himself. Also, stop by the North Pole Party (1-3pm) prior to Santa’s arrival and write letters, listen to holiday music and mix-up your own special blend of reindeer food for Christmas Eve. And, be sure to visit Santa on Saturday, December 17 as he’ll have all of his reindeer with him too.

Santa Blog Post_Downtown Cedar Falls

Other events to visit Santa and friends:

For a full listing of events taking place in the Cedar Valley, check out our events calendar. Plus, share your holiday photos with us or tag them with the hashtag #IDigWaterloo. You can find Travel Waterloo on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


- Beth Keeney, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau

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Holiday Concerts & Shows Blog Post

The holidays are full of traditions. Here in the Cedar Valley, we carry on the rich tradition of bringing you some of the best holiday entertainment throughout the state and beyond. As you celebrate the holidays with family and friends, we hope you have the opportunity to enjoy one (or more) of these wonderful concerts or shows. 

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical
Nov 16-17 | 6:30pm
GBPAC*, Cedar Falls
Cost: $25 & up

Spotlight Series Concert: UNI Choirs Holiday Concert
Dec 6 | 7:30pm
GBPAC*, Cedar Falls
Cost:  Adults: $13.75, Seniors $12.75, Youth $11.75

wcfsymphony Presents: Glorious Brass
Nov 19 | 7:30pm
Nazareth Lutheran Church, Cedar Falls
Cost: Adults $29.75, College Students $12.75, Youth $7.75

A Christmas Story, The Musical
Dec 9-11, 15-18 | 7pm, Sun 2pm
Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo
Cost: Adults $22, Students $12

Cedar Valley Christmas
Nov 28 | 7:30pm
GBPAC*, Cedar Falls
Cost: $5

wcfsymphony Presents: A New Nutcracker
Dec 10 | 4pm
GBPAC*, Cedar Falls
Cost: Adults $24.75-$43.75, College Students $15.75, Youth $10.75

UNI Varsity Men’s Glee Club Christmas Variety Show
Dec 2-3 | Fri 7:30pm, Sat 2:30pm & 7:30pm
GBPAC*, Cedar Falls
Cost:  $16.75

Sandi Patty
Dec 11 | 3pm
GBPAC*, Cedar Falls
Cost: $24 & up

The Chimes: Christmas Dessert Theatre
Dec 2-4, 8-11, 16-18 | 7pm; Sun 2:30pm
Lampost Theatre, Cedar Falls
Cost: $18

UNI New Horizons Band Concert
Dec 12 | 7:30pm
GBPAC*, Cedar Falls
Cost:  Free

I Love a Piano: Holiday Tribute to Irving Berlin
Dec 2-4, 9-11 | 7:30pm, Sun 2pm
Oster Regent Theatre, Cedar Falls
Cost: Adults $20-$25, Students $10

Kenny G Live in Concert
Dec 16 | 7pm
GBPAC*, Cedar Falls
Cost: $29 & up

Christmas with Wartburg
Dec 3-4 | Sat 3pm & 7:30pm; Sun 3pm
Wartburg College, Waverly
Cost: $18

A Brazilian 2Wins Christmas
Dec 16-18 | 7pm, Sun 2pm
Oster Regent Theatre, Cedar Falls
Cost: TBA

Holiday Concert: Bel Canto Cedar Valley
Dec 4 | 2pm
Hearst Center for the Arts, Cedar Falls
Cost: Free

Jim McDonough’s Holiday Grande 2016
Dec 18 | 2:30pm
GBPAC*, Cedar Falls
Cost: $29 & up

Canadian Brass
Dec 4 | 4pm
GBPAC*, Cedar Falls
Cost: $19 & up

*Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center

For a full listing of events taking place in the Cedar Valley, check out our events calendar. Plus, share your holiday photos with us or tag them with the hashtag #IDigWaterloo. You can find Travel Waterloo on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


- Beth Keeney, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau

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It's hard to believe the holiday season will soon be here, especially with the beautiful fall weather we've been enjoying lately. But, now's the time to start thinking about Santa's arrival and all the fun this holiday season brings. So we've rounded up some great activities that are (sorry Moms & Dads) just for kids...Happy Holidays!

1. Festival of Trees
Nov 16-20 | Wed Noon-8pm, Thurs 11am-8pm, Fri & Sat 9am-8pm, Sun 11am-4pm (Gallery)
Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, Cedar Falls
Cost: Free (Gallery)
Come view the beautifully decorated trees, wreaths, place settings and nativity scenes on display. Other kid-friendly activities include Santa’s Workshop on November 19 (free) and Teddy Bear Tea on November 20 (Adults $15, Kids 8 & under $10).

2. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical
Nov 16-17 | 6:30pm
Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, Cedar Falls
Cost: $25 & up
The beloved TV classic soars off the screen and onto the stage this holiday season. Come see all of your favorite characters from the special including Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and, of course, Rudolph.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

3. Holiday Hoopla
Nov 25-Dec 22 | Times vary
Downtown, Cedar Falls
Cost: Free
Celebrate the holiday season with a month-long festival – Holiday Hoopla. The festivities kick off Black Friday and continue until Christmas. Other Hoopla activities include Santa’s Workshop, live nativity and trolley rides, a holiday movie and more.

4. Winter Wonder’Loo
Nov 26 | 4-7pm
Downtown, Waterloo
Cost: Free
Start your holiday season with Winter Wonder’Loo. There will be Christmas caroling, crafts, holiday treats, and the North Pole shopping area will be open once again. Be sure to stop and visit Santa himself, plus enjoy a special tree-lighting ceremony and Christmas concert too.

Holiday Hoopla

5. Breakfast with Santa & Friends – 3 Fun Events to Choose From!

Flippin’-for-Wishes Pancake Breakfast
Dec 3 | 7:30-10:30am
HuHot Mongolian Grill, Cedar Falls
Cost: $5 in advance, $7 at the door, Kids 3 & under free
Join the Northern Iowa Wishmakers for pancakes and sausage made right on the big grill. All proceeds benefit Make-A-Wish Iowa and help grant a child’s wish.

Breakfast at the North Pole
Dec 3 | 8-11am
Cedar Falls Community Center, Cedar Falls
Cost: $6
Pancakes will be flying high and Santa and all of his favorite holiday friends will be there to join in on the fun. Sausage, coffee, beverages, and of course stacks of pancakes with plenty of syrup.

Breakfast with Jack Frost & Santa Too
Dec 3 | 8:30-10am
Phelps Youth Pavilion, Waterloo
Cost: Members $8, Non-Members $10 (includes same-day admission to PYP)
Participate in holiday art activities, meet Jack Frost, and enjoy a yummy ice-cream breakfast with maple syrup, sausages and bananas. Santa will be there as well to hear wish lists and take photos.

6. John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum Holiday Celebration
Dec 3 | 10am-6pm
John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum, Waterloo
Cost: Adults $8; Seniors, John Deere employees & retirees, active duty military $4; Kids 12 & under free with adult
Get your picture taken on Santa’s lap, activity books for the first 200 children, scavenger hunt, music and more.

Holiday Celebration

7. Christmas Greetings on Main
Dec 8 | 6-8pm
Downtown, Waverly
Cost: Free
Get in the holiday spirit with live window scenes, horse-drawn carriage rides, an ice carver, and hot spots featuring Nestle hot chocolate and other special treats.

8. A Christmas Story, The Musical
Dec 9-11, 15-18 | 7pm, Sun 2pm
Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo
Cost: Adults $22, Students $12
Bring the whole family to enjoy this very special Christmas celebration that everyone knows and loves. Set in the 1950s, follow 9-year-old Ralphie Parker and his quest for the Holy Grail of Christmas gifts – an official Red Ryder air rifle.

Winter Wonderland

9. Winter Wonderland at Hick’s Place
Dec 10-11 | 12:30-4pm (Santa arrives at 1pm)
Hick’s Place, Cedar Falls
Cost: $20/car
Come see Santa arrive on his sleigh, plus hayrides, crafts, treats, winter activities and more. A portion of the proceeds go towards the Hick’s Place Military Family Appreciation Day.

10. Kids Klub: Santa & Reindeer
Dec 13 | 4-8pm
Scheels, Cedar Falls
Cost: Free
Meet Santa, Mrs. Claus and their live reindeer before they are called back to the North Pole for Christmas. Pictures are welcomed and encouraged at this fun event for kids of all ages. 

For a full listing of events taking place in the Cedar Valley, check out our events calendar. Plus, share your holiday photos with us or tag them with the hashtag #IDigWaterloo. You can find Travel Waterloo on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


- Beth Keeney, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau
Photo Credit: Cedar Falls Community Main Street, Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, Hick's Place, John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum.

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One of my unique talents is being able to figure out bowling scores by hand. That talent is completely unnecessary at virtually every bowling center you’re going to go to now. But where most places just have an automated scoring system, Maple Lanes in Waterloo offers some great entertainment that adds to the bowling experience…and keeps me from feeling like my talents are completely outdated.

Blog Maple Lanes Interior Episode 25

The system that Maple Lanes has installed offers more traditional scoring, so when they’re hosting leagues and tournaments (which they do throughout the year), the competition is the most important part. But when you’re there with your kids or with a group of friends, your picture is up on the monitors above your lanes. There are animations, like what you saw at the end of the episode, where competitors are skydiving or arm wrestling. That enhancement makes the experience a lot of fun for all ages. Kids can even build their own monster, an example of which you see in the episode, and the customization is based on the number of pins they knock down.  The chance of two people building the same character is more than one in a million, Rich told us.

Blog Maple Lanes Kingpin Bar & Grill Episode 25

Over the past couple of years, Rich and his partners have invested in the interior atmosphere. They’ve kept some of the “old school” feel while updating the technology and really upgrading the food and beverage experience for guests. Kingpin Bar & Grill offers awesome food and drinks for bowlers, but they also have become a destination for sports fans who want to watch football or baseball games. The atmosphere is extremely comfortable, and the staff is very friendly. Kingpin features karaoke as well, and all skill levels are welcome for that.

Last spring, the front of the bowling center was damaged by a wind storm. That’s going to allow Maple Lanes to get a facelift and over the next few months, you’ll see some really exciting developments. The old signage will stay, and Rich told us they’re going to move forward while also embracing the historic nature of the center.

Blog Maple Lanes Exterior Episode 25

I enjoy bowling and wasn’t a stranger at Maple Lanes. The best part of filming this episode for me, though, was getting to see the pit. I’d never been to the back of the house at a bowling center, and seeing (and hearing) it was a really cool experience. The technology and machinery that operates consistently, day in and day out, is impressive. It would have been fascinating for a lot of people to see time-lapse video of what happens in the pit, with pins being moved and set, bowling balls returned, and belts and conveyers moving things around. No matter where it is, if you get a chance to get into the pit at a bowling center, you should.

I didn’t get to 300 this time, but I think I found a couple of good teachers in this episode.

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


- Aaron Buzza, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau

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I’m very glad I wasn’t the one editing this week’s episode of Travel Waterloo. The conversation we had had with Sean was extensive, interesting and very inspiring, and condensing that into a little more than two minutes was a tall task. 

Lark Brewing is Waterloo’s newest craft brewery, located below Beck’s Taproom & Grill on University Avenue. Sean and his team are creating some excellent beers while also building the area’s craft brewing future. Sean began brewing beer at home and he’s continued to perfect his craft (pun intended) ever since. He has been working toward opening his own brewery for three-plus years, and the opportunity presented to him with the space at Beck’s was perfect.

Blog Lark Brewing Beer Tanks Episode 24

Lark doesn’t have a “flagship” beer as of yet. There are dozens of recipes to try and the team wants to see what we, the consumers, like best. There were a couple of beers aging while we filmed the episode, and we had a chance to try them. Based on what we had, which was beer maybe halfway ready, we’re all in for a real treat when the beer goes into kegs and is ready for our glasses.

A good portion of our conversation focused on the development of new craft brewers and breweries. Sean is working with local home brewers to help them take recipes that work in their kitchens and scale them up to larger production. His hope is this plan will help foster growth of craft brewing in our community, so where there are two (soon to be three) craft breweries in Waterloo, there may be 5, 10 or more. The goal is to make Waterloo and Iowa the next craft brewing mecca.

Blog Lark Brewing Sean & Aaron Episode 24

So maybe you’re not a huge beer fan. Or maybe you want to check it out but have friends, family or a significant other who isn’t a big beer fan. What do you do? You go to Lark Brewing. The beer is excellent, and the selection of craft cocktails and craft sodas is outstanding! Lark makes soda themselves and uses that in one of their specialty cocktails. They also have one of the most unique lineups of spirits behind the bar, making the cocktails a really distinctive experience. 

One of the most unique aspects of Lark Brewing is the crowler. A crowler is a 32-ounce can filled to order with the beer of your choice. There’s a special machine that seals the can, allowing you to take the beer to go, and preserving that beer for longer than what's possible in a growler (64 ounce bottle). The beer is great and you can introduce others to that beer more easily too.

Blog Lark Brewing Beer Flight Episode 24

I know you’re waiting for my recommendation…and that recommendation is this: Try a flight first. Get a sample of all of the brews and then have a Lil Bear, the Imperial IPA made with local honey. If I had to have just one, it would be a Lil Bear. It is awesome. And not to be superstitious, but I happened to have a Lil Bear last Saturday when I was watching the Cubs win the NLCS. What’s a Cub? A lil bear…

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


- Aaron Buzza, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau

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