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6 Reasons to Visit Waterloo in 2017

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posted on Friday, March 3, 2017

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.

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  3. basal pizza
  4. baseball
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  7. bluedorn science imaginarium
  8. bryan's on 4th
  9. bucks
  10. cedar valley arboretum & botanic gardens
  11. courtkings
  12. craft beer
  13. dekhockey
  14. dining
  15. downtown
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  18. exhibits
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  20. festivals
  21. food & drink
  22. galleria de paco
  23. grout museum district
  24. iowa
  25. lark brewing
  26. lost island
  27. museums
  28. my waterloo days
  29. national cattle congress
  30. newtons paradise cafe
  31. shopping
  32. single speed brewing
  33. sports
  34. sullivan brothers iowa veterans museum
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