• Travel Waterloo

    Travel Waterloo

    Dig travel ideas and inspiration

  • Lost Island Zipline

    Flying Gecko Zipline

    Dig high-flying adventure

  • Waterloo Bucks Baseball

    Waterloo Bucks Baseball

    Dig exciting baseball action

  • RiverLoop Amphitheatre

    RiverLoop Rhythms

    Dig live music along the riverfront

Dig Deeper in Waterloo

Explore our vibrant downtown district featuring award-winning museums, locally-owned restaurants, and an impressive riverside amphitheatre. Tour the new 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, did a little deeper and check out our family-friendly festivals and events.

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

Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau Blog

WATCH: Travel Waterloo Episode 2

We dig Lost Island Waterpark as well as the attractions located just outside the waterpark! In this week's episode, we explored the Flying Gecko Zipline, Go-Karts and the Adventure Golf with some of our friends.

Go-KartsThe Monaleo Speedway is one of the longest go-kart tracks in the Midwest, and the twists and turns of the course make for an awesome ride. The go-karts top out at 18 miles per hour, which makes racing around the track extremely exciting. Lost Island does have go-karts that allow for passengers, which is great if you have younger kids or for special opportunities to welcome guests, like Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) Director Debi Durham last summer.

Monaleo Adventure Golf features two, 18-hole courses that weave through native vegetation. One course offers some challenging changes in elevation, while the other tests your skill with numerous water hazards.

Both mini-golf and go-karts are great ways to wrap up your day at Lost Island. Not only are they open later, but they're both less crowded later in the afternoon and early evening.

ZiplineI was scared. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t as we climbed up the 60 foot tower to try the Flying Gecko Zipline. I don’t love heights, and I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I got more than I bargained for, in a very positive way. Whether you’re afraid of heights or love the thrill of speed and heights, I can tell you I’d recommend giving the zipline a go. The 660-foot ride offers you a great view of the park, and the return trip gets you going between 30 and 35 miles per hour!

Lost Island Waterpark opens for the season on Friday, June 5, and we’ll be taking an in-depth look at the water slides, attractions and other features when we return later in June.

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

- Aaron Buzza, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau

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WATCH: Travel Waterloo Episode 1

This week’s episode of Travel Waterloo, the series premiere, showcased several things people dig about Waterloo. With the summer travel season nearly upon us, we wanted to focus on some of the exciting activities that come with the beginning of summer.

Dig the Great Outdoors at George Wyth State ParkAdventure Run
George Wyth State Park offers a variety of amenities including four lakes, boating, a looped water trail, a beach, recreational trails, picnic areas, bird watching, camping, shelter rental, and many great events. The 1200-acre park is located right in Waterloo and provides an immersion into nature without leaving town.

The Cedar Valley Association of Soft Trails (CVAST) has developed a network of soft trails throughout George Wyth State Park. The trails are great for running, biking, walking, and seeing a completely different side of the park than visitors do from the roads, trails or waterways. CVAST also hosts a number of events throughout the year.

Dig America’s Pastime at Riverfront StadiumWaterloo Bucks
The Waterloo Bucks’ season begins on the road, but you’ll be able to dig home baseball games beginning May 28 when Mankato visits Waterloo.

General Manager Dan Corbin’s top three game day tips are the following:

  1. Sit in the first two rows, directly behind home plate.
  2. Eat a foot-long hotdog.
  3. Try the foods in the helmet, especially the nachos.

We will feature more about the Waterloo Bucks later this season, including a behind-the-scenes look at the game day preparation and experience. For a schedule, information about tickets and the team, visit waterloobucks.com.

Dig Live Music in Downtown Waterloo
Waterloo is home to a vibrant, live music scene throughout the summer. Waterloo Center for the Arts' Carrie Gleason mentioned both RiverLoop Rhythms and Friday’Loo concerts, which complement one another and provide free music nearly every Friday night in the summer.

RiverLoop Rhythms Schedule:

  • June 19 – Bob Dorr & The Blue Band
  • July 3 – Diplomats of Solid Sound
  • July 24 – Brazilian2Wins
  • August 14 – Galactic Cowboy Orchestra
  • August 28 – Rising Lion
  • September 11 – Savage Aural Hotbed

Friday’Loo Schedule:

  • May 22 – Marshall Jay Band
  • May 29 – Sushi Roll Band
  • June 5 – Sideshow Bob
  • June 26 – The Bamboozlers
  • July 10 – The Wicked Andersons
  • August 7 – Crankshaft & The Gear Grinders
  • August 21 – The 3rd Street Band
  • September 4 – Crazy Delicious

Lost IslandDig Adventures, Water Slides, and Fun in the Sun at Lost Island
You can enjoy 36 holes of miniature golf and speed around Iowa’s longest go-kart track now. And get ready for the zipline and water slides when they open June 5. We’ll feature more about the park, including some tips about making your experience even better, in Episode 2 airing next week. In the meantime, more information is available at thelostisland.com.

Factory City GastropubDig In at Factory City Gastropub
Food is good. Great food is even better. Chef Matt Hoecker has created a menu at Factory City Gastropub that features locally-sourced and homemade foods that are combined to provide a slightly new twist on classic fare. The drink menu features local beers and unique cocktails. And all are served in a laid-back atmosphere.

My recommendation is to try anything that features the homemade (yes, homemade) bacon. The Saturday Morning Cartoon is a Factory City spin of a classic White Russian and is extremely tasty. And you must save room for dessert. The Pecan Pie Spring Rolls are on my all-time top five dessert list now.

You can find more information on the Factory City Gastropub Facebook page, and we will feature an in-depth conversation with Chef Matt Hoecker and Manager Kegan Bakken later this season.

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

- Aaron Buzza, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau

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Come Travel Waterloo With Us!

WATCH: Travel Waterloo Promo

There's a lot to "dig" about Waterloo and the Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau wants to show you in an exciting new travel series launching this month.

"Travel Waterloo" is an online travel show that invites and inspires visitors to experience all that Waterloo has to offer. Throughout the series, viewers will visit Waterloo's many well-known attractions, events, restaurants, and accommodations, along with some of our locals' favorite hot spots.

Ever wonder how bagpipers "improvise" a performance during Iowa Irish Fest? Where the marionettes at Rudy's Tacos came from? How many species of birds call George Wyth State Park home? Or how fast you travel on the zip line at the Lost Island? Well, you're about to find out - plus more!

We'll share stories that make our city unique and hear what people really "dig" about Waterloo. We have started a list of things we "dig" about Waterloo, but would love to hear from you! What do you "dig" about Waterloo? What are the stories that make Waterloo unique? What would you like to know more about? Please let us know by emailing beth@travelwaterloo.com, and be sure to watch for new episodes every Thursday on TravelWaterloo.com, Facebook or YouTube.

Join us as we embark on an exciting new project that showcases Waterloo in a fresh and unexpected way. Dig Deeper in Waterloo!

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

- Beth Keeney, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau

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Visit Factory City Gastropub...Your Taste Buds Will Thank You

Factory City Gastropub, located inside the Ramada Hotel in downtown Waterloo, is now open and ready to thrill your taste buds.

Factory City Gastropub LogoFirst and foremost, you might be wondering about the term “gastropub.” What is a gastropub? The term was coined in 1991 in England after The Eagle pub in London was transitioned from a traditional pub, serving only drinks or cold dishes, to a pub that served high-end food. A gastropub is simply that: a pub that specializes in serving high-quality food. “Factory City” comes from the nickname Waterloo used to have as a major manufacturing city in the Midwest.

Chef Matt Hoecker and his staff have a passion for food and hospitality. In a visit we had recently, he said he wants Factory City to be a place where people can gather, have some drinks, and enjoy some great food together.

As much as possible, the food is either locally-sourced, homemade, or both. Chef Matt’s eyes gleamed when he talked about their four sourdough starters (the whole wheat starter is named Chewbacca, by the way) and the mushrooms they’ll be getting from a farm in Vinton, just 40 minutes south of Waterloo. A staff member of the Ramada was gushing about the hand-made marshmallows that Pastry Chef Steph Paul made that morning.

During our visit, we had the opportunity to taste several of the items that will be regular features on the menu. To say each item we tasted was better than the last would be a lie because each one was as incredible as the previous one.

We started with two items from the “To Share” section of the menu. Chef Matt’s twist on the classic pub offering, Scotch Egg, was a boiled egg wrapped in sage sausage and deep fried. It is served chilled with a spicy aioli and mustard. I actually cleaned the plate to ensure I was able to get all of the aioli and mustard. The crab cakes were equally as amazing. The last time I had crab cakes was during a visit to Washington D.C., so I figured there was no way an Iowa-made crab cake could compare. I was wrong. These were the best I’ve ever had. There are three on the plate and they’re made with jumbo lump crab, pickled shallots, and served with a tamarind aioli. The flavor was outstanding and it was obvious there were no “fillers” like you might find in crab cakes at other restaurants.

Factory City Gastropub 1The next item we were served was the BLT. The staff isn’t cutting corners in their food preparation. The breads are all homemade and the meats are cut, aged and smoked in-house. The bacon on this BLT was as good as you’ll find anywhere. Chef Matt was very excited about getting locally-grown heirloom tomatoes in the next few months for this sandwich too. He also explained that they’ll be making their fries from scratch as well. The bread, which Chef Steph makes, was also outstanding.

Factory City Gastropub 2Our journey continued with the Porcini Rubbed Hanger Steak and the Scallops and Pork Belly. These are the most expensive items on the menu, but they’re both worth every penny of the $26 price. The hanger steak is classically known as the “butcher’s steak” because butchers often kept it themselves rather than offering it for sale. It is the most tender cut of steak and at Factory City it is prepared with the sous-vide method. The staff seals the steak in an airtight bag and places it in a water bath to cook it. The results are a more accurately-regulated temperature throughout and a very tender steak. It is served with miso-honey roasted carrots (also cooked using the sous-vide method) and turnip puree. The Pork Belly and Scallops are served with black bean risotto and a chimichurri citrus reduction. The meats are melt-in-your-mouth tender and the risotto has both incredible flavor and is cooked perfectly.

Factory City Gastropub 3The turnip puree and the pork belly are great examples of the “twist” on classic fare that Factory City is offering. You can get a great steak and be a little adventurous with something like turnip puree. The pork belly is an extremely flavorful, boneless cut of pork. It is a very popular cut of pork in Chinese, Korean and Philippine cuisine. The adventure is in the name or in the concept, but you’re getting the best pork you’ll have anywhere, or a side dish that is much like mashed potatoes.

For dessert, we were served a Pecan Pie Egg Roll. It tasted amazing and came with Rum and Coke syrup for dipping. One person in our party liked the flavor of the syrup so much she considered just drinking it directly from the serving dish. Other guests have raved about the desserts, and I can say that the carrot cake I had on a subsequent visit was the best I’ve ever had.

The beer selection is outstanding. Factory City manager Kegan Bakken is hoping to have all Iowa beers on tap in the near future, but the offerings now pair very well with the food Chef Matt and his staff are preparing.

The menu will evolve and rotate as produce is in season and as new ingredients are available. There will be specials on a regular basis, as well. Factory City will begin with breakfast and dinner hours, with the lunch hours to follow in the very near future.

After the initial visit, four of us walked away satisfied but eager to head back to try other offerings. Some friends had a similar visit the week before ours, each ordering something different and passing plates around the table. I’d highly recommend this approach for your first visit or two. As noted, the menu offers some classic fare, but with some really interesting twists. I think each of us will find our “go to”, but based on the five items we were served, it may take multiple visits to actually narrow that down. Visit early, visit often. You’ll be glad you did.

Hours: Open daily for breakfast and dinner. Breakfast: Mon-Fri 6:30-10:30am; Sat-Sun 7-11am. Dinner: Mon-Thurs 5-10pm; Fri-Sat 5-11pm; Sun 5-9pm.

- Aaron Buzza, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau

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Dig John Deere Tractors & Engines in Waterloo

Visitors of all ages will enjoy Waterloo’s newest family-friendly attraction – the John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum.

Located on the original site of the Waterloo Tractor Works, the museum features 19 tractors of different eras, 7 engines, and approximately 25 interactive exhibits that highlight the history of tractor and engine design and manufacturing at John Deere, specifically in the Cedar Valley region.

The John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum, which opened this past December, tells an important historical story, one of agriculture before and after machines. As you tour the museum, you will learn about the evolution of tractors and engines, the company’s arrival and growth in Waterloo, and how these products come together to help people do their work today.

You may be asking yourself, “Why Waterloo?” In 1918, John Deere purchased the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company, the maker of “The Waterloo Boy” two-cylinder tractors. This purchase not only brought the company to Waterloo, but it furthered the development of the tractor as we know it today. In fact, visitors at the museum will step foot on the very grounds where these green and yellow machines were first built.

Throughout the museum, you will find an impressive array of John Deere tractors and memorabilia, including a vintage Waterloo Boy tractor. Many of the items on display are donated or on loan from collectors as well as John Deere employees and retirees. In addition to the exhibits and galleries, the museum also includes a theater and gift shop full of John Deere clothing, toys and collectible items.

Plan your visit today!

Hours: Tues-Sat, 10am-6pm. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Admission: $8 Adult (ages 13-61); $4 Seniors, John Deere employees and retirees, and active duty military; Children 12 and under are free (accompanied by an adult). Guided tours are available at 10:30am and 3:30pm for an additional $2 per visitor. Schedule your tour in advance because space is limited.

For information on group tours, call (319) 292-6126.

- Beth Keeney, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau

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