LeClaire, Iowa, birthplace of Buffalo Bill Cody and home to reality television show American Pickers, was a booming river town in the early to mid-1800s. Then nearby Davenport put a bridge over the river, railroads became the preferred transportation method, and LeClaire’s prosperity came to a halt. Today LeClaire is booming again, with a 32% increase in population in ten years and a thriving tourism industry. In 2012 LeClaire was named one of 15 finalists in Budget Travel’s “America’s Coolest Small Towns” contest.
Located just across the Mississippi River from Illinois on I-80, LeClaire is a must-see stop whether you’re driving west on I-80, traveling the Great River Road National Scenic Biway or looking for a day trip from the Quad Cities. Most of the attractions are along Cody Road, the historic stretch of U.S. Route 67 that parallels the river. Visit the Buffalo Bill Museum, tour the Mississippi River Distilling Company, sip wine at the Wide River Winery, and enjoy a casual meal at one of several eateries. If you prefer fine dining, try Steventon’s, either for dinner or Sunday brunch. Browse antique shops, boutiques and gift shops, or choose from over 30 sweet or savory popcorn flavors at Kernel Cody’s Popcorn Shoppe.
No matter what time of year you visit, check the LeClaire event calendar. A major event is the summer Tug Fest, a festival built around a tug-of-war across the Mississippi River. In winter, eagle watch at Locks and Dam 14, and in spring and fall watch for pelicans.
LeClaire, Iowa, is about a two-and-a-half hour drive west of Chicago, off of I-80.
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