Take a nostalgic trip through memory lane in a vaudeville theater restored to its original glamour or in an old-fashioned soda shop that hasn’t changed much in a hundred years. If you prefer modern day technology, you can check out a prototype unmanned farm tractor or a museum space exhibit. If nature is your thing, you can eagle watch in the winter or tour a lock and dam in the summer. Gaming? You have your choice of three casinos. You’ll find all of this and more just two-and-a-half hours west of Chicago in the Quad Cities, off of Interstate 80, straddling the Mississippi River on the Illinois-Iowa border.
- The wait staff at the Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse in Rock Island double as entertainers during the preshow revue in this ornate former vaudeville theater turned dinner theater. Shows change every six to eight weeks, and occasional special attractions and children’s shows are added into the schedule.
- For more nostalgia, stop at Lagomarcino’s, a soda fountain and confectionary in Moline, with a second location in Davenport. Lagomarcino’s has been run by the same family, now in the fourth generation, since 1908.
- For a different take on ground beef, try Maid-Rite, an old-fashioned diner known for their loose meat sandwiches. The first Maid-Rite opened in Muscatine in 1926. Today franchises are scattered throughout Iowa, including several in the Quad Cities.
- As with most river towns, the Quad Cities attracted industry in the 1800s, including John Deere, still a major manufacturer in the area, with its headquarters in Moline. See tractors and other farm implements on display at the John Deere Pavilion, from the original model to combines used on farms today.
- Take a tour of Isabel Bloom, creators of handcrafted sculptures, in Davenport. Your guides will take you through the step-by-step process used to produce the designs of Donna Young, who follows in the footsteps of her mentor, the late Isabel Bloom.
- No matter the time of year, there is plenty to see at the Rock Island Arsenal on Arsenal Island. In the winter, watch for eagles that gather near the running waters of Lock and Dam #14. Tours of a historic clock tower are offered at various times throughout the year, or visit the Rock Island Arsenal Museum or cemeteries dating back to the Civil War.
- Davenport’s Putnam Museum, one of the first museums established west of the Mississippi River, is home to 170,000 artifacts. As a Smithsonian affiliate, the Putnam museum often hosts exhibits on loan from the Smithsonian.
- Iowa was the first state to allow riverboat gambling. In 1991 the boats had to navigate the waters, so you would embark at certain times and had to remain on the boat for the entire trip. Today those restrictions are gone, so you can come and go as you please. The Isle of Capri Casino in Bettendorf and the Rhythm City Casino are both still aboard riverboats. Jumer’s Casino in Rock Island isn’t a boat, but it is a floating structure, as required by law.
For more ideas on things to do in the Quad Cities, visit the Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau web site.
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