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Top Things to Do in Waterloo, Iowa

This former manufacturing town (population: 66,600) is a destination for history buffs. But families with youngsters will find plenty to fill a weekend, too.

What to do

Bluedorn Science Imaginarium Build a robot. Make a hot-air balloon rise. Learn how cold it is on Pluto. There’s plenty of science to explore here. 

Galleria de Paco You won’t have to crane your neck as much as you would looking at the original, and Paco Rosic’s version of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel is worth checking out. 

The Galleria de Paco in Waterloo, Iowa.

John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum Kids will love climbing up a tractor. Tours can be self-guided or led by staff.

Lost Island Water Park Ride a water coaster or hang out in the wave pool. Mini golf and go-karts are available for those who don't want to get wet.

Rensselaer Russell House Museum Take a step back to the Victorian Era on a guided tour of this restored 1861 house.

Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum See the stories of America’s wars through the lens of Iowans, such as the five Sullivan brothers who died when their ship was torpedoed in World War II. 

The Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum in Waterloo, Iowa.

Waterloo Center for the Arts Go beyond Grant Wood’s art by exploring this compact museum’s collection of Haitian art, one the United State’s largest. The Phelps Youth Pavilion’s activities inspire creativity in kids.

Where to eat

The Brown Bottle In the historical Russell Lamson Building since 1974, this eatery is known for its pasta and extensive wine list. (319) 232-3014;

Laughing Tree Cafe Linger over locally sourced meals—many made-from-scratch—inside the Waterloo Center for the Arts.

Newton’s Paradise Cafe This busy corner cafe serves comfort food in an 1870s building in the heart of the business district.

Singlespeed Brewing Company Excellent beers and some of the area's best eats, such as Iowa flatbread with sweet corn, are produced in a former Wonder Bread factory.

Where to stay

Isle Casino and Hotel The large rooms are modern and comfortable, and it’s convenient to the Lost Island Waterpark and the Crossroads Center mall.  

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