• 2017 Visitors Guide

    2017 Visitors Guide

    Request your free copy today

  • Reasons to Visit

    What's New in 2017

    Dig six reasons to visit Waterloo

  • John Deere Attractions

    John Deere

    Dig John Deere attractions in Waterloo

  • Waterloo Black Hawks Hockey

    Waterloo Black Hawks Hockey

    Dig home games in Party Town

  • Tea Parties

    Tea Parties

    Dig tea parties at the Snowden House

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

There are a few places in Waterloo that people told us we HAD to feature on an episode of Travel Waterloo, and D&K Hickory House was tops on that list. No better way to close out our second season than a trip to a Waterloo mainstay.

Hickory House opened in 1952 and it has remained in the same family for those 65 years. The recipes for soups, salad dressings and the barbecue sauce are family secrets they have used since the restaurant opened. And at some point in those 65 years, perfection was achieved.

Blog Hickory House Ribs Episode 34

Hickory House serves dinner, but that doesn’t mean that the staff hasn’t been there since early in the day prepping the food and making sure everything is exactly what their regulars have come to expect. 

The atmosphere is perfectly throw-back. It is comfortable and welcoming. You’re going to see some of Waterloo's history on display, with dozens upon dozens of John Deere tractors all around you. There are also some antique toy trucks that showcase Rath Packing and Waterloo Industries. It is a fun trip down memory lane. Customers have brought many of the items on display as gifts, in fact.

Blog Hickory House Family Episode 34

One of the most surprising, but best, things we learned was that the Hickory House staff has incredible longevity. Wait staff has been part of the “family” for years…decades. There are staff members who have been with Hickory House longer than I’ve been alive, and that’s a rarity in restaurants. But when everyone, from staff to guests, is treated like family, it shouldn’t be surprising.

I could gush about the food. But instead watch the episode. You’ll get a better sense of how impressed I was, and how impressed we all were. Rather, I want to draw your attention to a couple really fun and unique attributes. The drink menu features a lot of old school cocktails and ice cream drinks. You can order a Rusty Nail, a Pink Squirrel, or both. The relish tray (pickles, carrots, celery and olives) is served before the meal and is a great treat. It is something I’ve heard many people comment about, right after they tell you Hickory House features the “best ribs anywhere.” And finally, your dinner is complete with the signature finger bowls. You’re served a bowl of warm water to use to rinse your hands, ensuring that you’re not taking the sauce with you unintentionally.

Blog Hickory House Aaron Episode 34

A couple of quick tips for your Hickory House experience: Come hungry. Like grandma’s house, you’re not going to push away from the table without being full. Also, you can (and should) take home a bottle of the homemade barbecue sauce. And it is cash only. If you forget, there is an ATM on site, so you won’t have to wash your own dishes.

D&K Hickory House
315 Park Rd
Hours: Tues-Thurs 4:30-9pm; Fri-Sat 4:30-10pm

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

- Aaron Buzza, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau

Read More

Do you like to browse around in search of that perfect antique or vintage item? How about finding that perfect piece of ‘junk’ that you can repurpose into something new? The Cedar Valley has many options to help you do just that, including two events coming up this month. Use the map above to help plan your trip. 

Antique Spectacular - Vintage Market will be at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls on March 17-19. Collectors and antique enthusiasts will find the unexpected at Iowa’s largest indoor antique and collectors show. The market runs from 4-9pm on Friday, 10am-6pm on Saturday, and 10am-4pm on Sunday. Admission is $8 and parking is free. ($1 off coupon available online).

If you love junkin’ or repurposing old items, you won’t want to miss Funky Junk-a-loo on March 25-26 at the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center in downtown Waterloo. Saturday doors are open from 10am-4pm and Sunday 10am-3pm. Early bird shopping is available on Saturday beginning at 9am. Admission is $3 in advance and $5 at the door, Kids ages 10 and under are free. Saturdays’ early bird admission is $20. This marketplace highlights antiques, repurposed designs, and creations for home and garden. There will also be seminars and door prizes throughout the two-day event.

You can also spend the day exploring shops throughout the Cedar Valley. You can find antiques, repurposed masterpieces, junkin’ parts for your next project, home décor and more.

Shoppe on the Corner
209 W 5th St | Waterloo
Hours: Tues-Sat 10am-5pm
This unique little shoppe is located in the historic Russell Lamson building. It features antiques, gifts, and quality consignments.

Calico Hen House
Calico Hen House, Waterloo

Calico Hen House
1022 Alabar Ave | Waterloo
Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-5:30pm; Sun Noon-4pm.
This two-floor shop has over 8,500 square feet of shopping with 45+ vendors. There is a wide variety of antiques, collectibles, upcycled items, furniture, new home decor, florals, candles, handmade items, seasonal items and more.

Barn Happy
11310 University Ave | Cedar Falls
Hours: (Mar-Dec) Wed-Sat 9am-3pm
This old dairy barn, built in 1925, has been converted into a unique shopping experience. The main level features Iowa made products, homemade soup, sandwiches, baked goodies, and a coffee bar. Antiques and collectibles can be found upstairs in the hayloft.

The Rusty Bucket
The Rusty Bucket, Cedar Falls

The Rusty Bucket
127 E 23rd St | Cedar Falls
Hours: Thurs-Sat 9am-5pm
They specialize in raw salvaged, recycled, reclaimed materials as well as primitive, rustic, and vintage decor. A one stop shop for reclaimed materials, hardware, antiques, and some custom furniture and decor designed and created right in the store while you shop.

Fig & Frolic
114 W 5th St | Cedar Falls
Hours: Mon-Wed & Fri-Sat 10am-5pm; Thurs 10am-7pm
This shop has a quirky style bound to make you smile. The shop is full of fun unique gifts and upcycled home décor and furniture. They also are an official stockist Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® and have workshops to help inspire your creative side.  

Miss Wonderful
216 Main St | Cedar Falls
Hours: Mon-Wed & Fri 11am-5pm; Sat 10am-5pm; Sun 1-4pm
This Main Street shop has a unique mix of vintage finds as well as newer goods with vintage inspiration.  They also carry a custom furniture line that can be tailored to fit your needs.

Little Prairie Girl
206 Main St | Cedar Falls
Hours: Mon-Wed & Fri 11am-6pm; Thurs 11am-7pm; Sat 10am-6pm; Sun Noon-4pm
Little Prairie Girl has two floors of vintage items, new home goods, and ladies fashion and jewelry.

Little Prairie Girl
Little Prairie Girl, Cedar Falls

Pink Peony Studio
200 State St, #102 | Cedar Falls
Hours: Mon 11am-5:30pm; Tues-Wed & Fri 10am-5:30pm; Thurs 10am-7pm; Sat 10am-5pm
Pink Peony is located in the new 200 State Street building. They have several vendors that bring in upcycled, refinished, and original pieces. They also carry an eclectic mix of antiques, candles and décor for home and garden.

Townie Vintage
215 Franklin St | Cedar Falls
Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-5:30pm
Located in a historic home in downtown Cedar Falls, this shop is full of industrial decor, rustic wares, vintage, retro, furniture, mid-century gems, salvage, shabby chic, repurposed, jewelry and more. During the summer months, they open at 8am on Saturday to accompany the farmers market that is held across the street from their shop. 

If you're looking for a fun way to spend an afternoon or weekend, add the Cedar Valley antique shops to your travel plans.  

- Annette Freeseman, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau
Photo Credit: Calico Hen House, Cedar Falls Tourism & Visitors Bureau, The Rusty Bucket.

Read More

As you’re making your travel plans for the year ahead, we hope you’ll add Waterloo to your list. New attractions, new events, new restaurants and more – 2017 is sure to be another exciting year to visit Waterloo. So whether you’re traveling with family, friends, your significant other, or solo, here are six reasons to visit Waterloo in 2017. Plus, things are always changing and our offerings vary throughout the year, so we encourage you to come back and visit us often.

1. Culture
Downtown Waterloo is home to several wonderful museums all with in a one-mile radius. Here is a highlight of some of the new exhibits happening this year.

Grout Museum of History and Science will honor veterans with two new exhibits this year. From the Prairie to the Trenches: Iowans in the Great War shows the role of Iowans in WWI. The exhibit, on display June 27 – February 16, 2018, utilizes rare images, documents and objects to examine WWI from multiple angles.  The second exhibit, The Cold War Ablaze: Iowans in the Korean War, tells the story of the “Forgotten War” directly from those who served and shows how the Korean War shaped the Cold War and current foreign affairs. Photographs, documents, interviews and objects will reveal what happened in Korea and why. The exhibit will be on display from July 14 – July 14, 2018.

Waterloo Center for the Arts (WCA) has a new exhibit by the lead singer of The Flaming Lips, Wayne Coyne. Works by Wayne Coyne features the King’s Mouth, which is a highly immersive larger-than-life audio visual installation. It also includes prints, drawings, collages, Coyne’s full-length film Christmas in Mars, and more. The exhibit will be at the WCA through April 23.  

Reason to Visit Waterloo_King's Mouth
Works by Wayne Coyne, Waterloo Center for the Arts

2. Sports
Waterloo is home to several different sports teams including Cedar Valley CourtKings Basketball, Black Hawks Hockey, Bucks Baseball, the Waterloo Open Golf Tournament and Dekhockey. But a new sporting event coming to Waterloo this year will be the NASP State Archery Tournament on December 9 at the Cedar Valley SportsPlex. Nearly 900 youth archers in grades 4-12 from across the state will compete in the one-day event. NASP is a joint venture between the Department of Natural Resources and Department of Education. The program promotes student education and participation in the lifelong sport of archery.

3. Local Beer
Craft breweries are on the rise all over the nation and Waterloo is no different. SingleSpeed Brewery, which has been in downtown Cedar Falls since 2012, will be opening their new brewery, taproom and restaurant this spring in the historic Wonder Bread building in downtown Waterloo. The space will feature a traditional Beer Hall and Beer Garden for those looking for a social dining experience, as well as a dining room for your ‘typical’ dining seating.  While you’re in the area, be sure to visit Lark Brewery as well which opened in 2016.

Reason to Visit Waterloo_SingleSpeed
Beer Hall, SingleSpeed Brewery

4. Festivals
Waterloo is host to several major festivals each year. My Waterloo Days (MWD), June 7-11, is one of the first festivals of the summer. New this year will be activities at the RiverLoop Amphitheatre, including Movies on the Cedar, Music on the Cedar, and a lighted boat parade followed by fireworks. Your MWD button will also get you some additional discounts at participating businesses the week following MWD. There are several other festivals during the summer months including BBQ’Loo in July, Iowa Irish Fest and Cedar Valley Pridefest in August, and National Cattle Congress Fair in September. You can check out a complete, up-to-date list of events on our website.

5. Outdoors
Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens is a 35-acre oasis that showcases a variety of plants, flowers and trees that are native to the area. They have over 15 different gardens to explore, including a butterfly meadow, rose garden, rock garden and more. All three of their mosaic garden sculptures, a peacock, a buffalo and a frog, will be on display this summer. One of the newest features in the Children’s Garden is a Hobbit House. The house is over six feet tall at its center, so it is big enough for even adults to play along. The surrounding garden will be finished this spring and will include a winding trail providing a space for imagination, exploration and play. 

Reasons to Visit Waterloo_Hobbit House
Hobbit House, Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens

6. Fun for Kids
Bluedorn Science Imaginarium is a place where science comes alive with three floors of hands-on exhibits and animals. You can pet a 12-foot python, fire an air cannon, create your own laser show and much more. This year’s summer exhibit, Attack of the Bloodsuckers, explores the science of bloodsucking parasites. You can examine the what, when and how of mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, leeches and other parasites. It is creepy fun for all ages from May 26-September 4!

Lost Island is Iowa’s largest waterpark featuring 14 major slides, a lazy river, wave pool, 3 children’s play areas, gift shop and great food. They are always keeping things fresh and new at Lost Island. This year, they have renovated the infant Blue Iguana Lagoon and added lights and sound to the Jade Rapids tube slide. Their snack locations will feature fresh ingredients (nothing frozen) and they’ve added a sauce station with flavors like BBQ, bourbon siracha, garlic parmesan, mango habanero or buffalo sauce. The golf and go-kart area outside the park is open weekends in May. The waterpark opens June 2 and will remain open, weather permitting, until August 27.

Get Air Waterloo, an indoor trampoline park is coming to Waterloo. It will be located at 3731 University Ave and is expected to be open in late spring. It will feature wall-to-wall trampolines, slack line, foam pit, ninja obstacle course, and a section for toddlers. Check their Facebook page for the latest information.

But That's Not All...
While you’re in the area, why not check out our many different shopping options too. From antiques to bargain hunting, or maybe you're just looking for something new, we have options for you. And don’t forget the food. We have great breakfast options like Morg’s and Newtons Cafe. Basal Pizza has great sandwiches, salads and pizza. If you’d like something a bit more, visit Waterloo Brown Bottle, Bryan’s on 4th, or explore a bit of Europe without leaving Waterloo at Galleria de Paco. Artist and chef, Paco Rosic has recreated Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel masterpiece on the ceilings and walls of the restaurant.

We could go on and on about all the great things to see and do in Waterloo. Why not plan a trip to Waterloo and discover them yourself? 

- Annette Freeseman, Waterloo Convention and Visitors Bureau
Photo Credit: Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens, SingleSpeed Brewery.

Read More

We had been hearing some great things about Rodney’s Kitchen from folks in Waterloo. The reports were from those who walked up and ordered food and from those who had Rodney cater events for them. So of course we had to stop by and find out more. The only thing that is potentially disputable from what we’d been hearing was the reports were not glowing enough. Rodney makes some amazing food!

Rodney Lewis grew up in Nantucket, Massachusetts, and learned to cook from his mother and from chefs who visited each year. He was able to pick up tricks of the trade and found that he loved cooking. He attended chef school in Pennsylvania, moved to Texas, and ultimately was invited by family to move to Waterloo, where he’s attracted great attention very quickly.

Blog Rodney & Aaron Episode 33

Rodney’s Kitchen is a walk-up service window. You order and pay through that window, Rodney prepares your food, and serves you through the window. It is the food truck concept, without the mobility. The kitchen is incredibly small, and it is amazing to watch Rodney prepare larger orders in a space that isn’t much bigger than most home kitchens. He makes great use of space and his cooking equipment preparing great food including burgers, fried catfish and wings. We had the opportunity to try the Brisket Burger and the Philly Burger along with fries. The burgers were as good as you’re going to find anywhere, and Rodney uses a special seasoning he created on the fries, and they’re unbelievable as well. We got to see him prepare the Chicken Philly and the Footlong Polish as well, and they looked equally as good.

Blog Brisket Burgers Episode 33

Rodney’s is open Monday through Saturday and he now offers delivery, which he announced right after we filmed our interviews. Rodney is exploring new locations to open an additional restaurant in Waterloo. You’ll have to stay tuned to Facebook (his and ours), and our website to find out more. One additional tip is to bring cash. Rodney’s Kitchen doesn’t accept credit/debit cards. But if you don’t have cash on you, there’s an ATM around the corner and by the time you’re back, your food will be ready. Enjoy!

Rodney's Kitchen & Catering
437 Sullivan Ave
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-10pm
(319) 830-7145

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

- Aaron Buzza, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau

Read More

You don’t have to be a John Deere enthusiast to enjoy and appreciate the rich history of John Deere and its nearly 100-year legacy in the Waterloo area. Fans of all ages can walk away from any one of Waterloo's four John Deere attractions and experience something new for the first or maybe fifteenth time.

So whether you have just a few short hours to explore or you’re planning a day or even weekend getaway to Waterloo, make sure these John Deere attractions are on your list.

They’re fun, they're educational, and they're all FREE!

John Deere Attractions Waterloo_Why Waterloo
John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum, Waterloo

Tractor & Engine Museum
The newest of the John Deere attractions, the John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum highlights the history of tractor and engine design and manufacturing in the Cedar Valley. The historic building that now houses the museum was built in 1941 and was the site of the very first John Deere tractor factory. In addition, it includes a collection of rare John Deere artifacts, rotating temporary exhibits, videos and plenty of hands-on fun for kids and adults. While you’re there, don’t forget to stop by the museum store for a wide selection of John Deere apparel, toys and collectibles.

500 Westfield Ave
(319) 292-6126 (museum)
(319) 292-5669 (store)
Hours: Mon-Sat 9am-5pm; Sun Noon-4pm

Tractor Cab Assembly Operations
If you’re someone who likes to see how things come together from start to finish, we highly recommend a tour of Tractor Cab Assembly Operations. Here they build a variety of John Deere tractors – 6R, 7R, 8R/8RT and 9R/9RT/9RX Series Tractors to be exact. Hop aboard a trolley and watch as tractors are assembled, painted and made ready for the field. After your guided tour, be sure to stop by their gift shop for all things John Deere.

3500 E Donald St
Reservations: (319) 292-7668 or toll free (888) 453-5804
Tour Schedule: Mon-Fri 8am, 10am, 1pm (tour lasts 1.5 hrs)

John Deere Attractions Waterloo_Tractors
John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum, Waterloo

Engine Works
Unfinished engine blocks, heads and crankshafts are just a few of the many things you’ll see on your behind-the-scenes tour of Engine Works. Watch as these materials are precision-machined and assembled into John Deere diesel engines as well as power centers for other manufacturers.

3801 W Ridgeway Ave
Reservations: (319) 292-5347
Tour Schedule: Mon-Fri 9:30am, 1pm (tour lasts 1.5 hrs)

Drivetrain Operations
It takes a lot to build these big machines and John Deere does it in some of the most modern and efficient factories. At Drivetrain Operations, cast iron machining and drivetrain assembly take place for the 6R – 9R series of wheel and track tractors for final assembly in Waterloo and beyond.

400 Westfield Ave
Reservations: (319) 292-7668 or toll free (888) 453-5804
Tour Schedule: Mon-Fri 1pm (by reservation only – tour lasts 1.5 hrs)

A Few Tips When Booking Tours:

  • Reservations are recommended and must be made a minimum of 48 hours in advance.
  • Tours are booked on a first-come, first-served basis and fill up quickly.
  • Participants must be a minimum of 13 years of age (no exceptions).
  • No video cameras or cell phones are allowed.
  • No open-toed shoes or sandals are allowed.

John Deere Attractions Waterloo_Pavilion
John Deere Pavilion, Moline

If you’re thinking of extending your road trip even longer, we encourage you to visit several other John Deere attractions. The John Deere Historic Site, John Deere Pavilion, and Deere & Company World Headquarters are all located in and around Moline, Illinois (approx 2-3 hr drive from Waterloo). Don't hesitate to give our friends at the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau a call if you need assistance while you're there.

- Beth Keeney, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau
Photo Credit: John Deere.

Read More