I spend at least a day a week traveling to all parts of my home state for my job at the Iowa Tourism Office. Sounds like a pretty sweet gig, doesn’t it? The trouble is, travel for work means I experience Iowa’s treasures very briefly, usually only as long as the meeting I’m attending there lasts. I’ve been to a lot of places in Iowa, but I haven’t had nearly enough time to enjoy them all.
Case in point: the Quad Cities.
So last December my husband and I left work a bit early one Friday afternoon, loaded up our two sons –ages five and two – and headed for an overnight getaway to the Quad Cities.
We started our journey at the John Deere Pavilion in Moline. (Confession: I am completely aware that Moline is in Illinois. But this place is cool. It’s worth a visit. I couldn’t deny my sons this shrine to tractors.) The pavilion showcases the history of John Deere and wows guests with real-life farm machinery. My kids loved climbing in, on and around implements of all kinds.
Back in Iowa, we checked in at the Hotel Blackhawk, which is beautiful enough for a romantic getaway but not so pretentious that I was embarrassed to have my kids with me. Our room was comfortable and complete with fantastic modern amenities including a mirrored television. The boys couldn’t get enough of that.
We spent the next few hours in the hotel’s lower level, home to retro-chic Blackhawk Bowl, where we introduced our kids to the game of bowling and casually snacked on pizza and soda.
The next morning we enjoyed breakfast at the hotel’s Bix Bistro and Lounge and then bundled up for the Quad Cities Festival of Trees’ annual holiday parade. This parade is unlike any other: it is the largest helium-balloon parade in the Midwest and includes more than 20 larger-than-life inflatables.
We spent the afternoon at the newly renovated Family Museum in Bettendorf where our kids had a blast running between various permanent and traveling exhibits. After nearly three hours, we dragged them out kicking and screaming. Literally. I’m not kidding. They could have stayed for hours more.
But little boys need naps, and it was becoming increasingly apparent that ours had had none. So we wrestled them into their car seats and begrudgingly headed for home. We skipped planned stops at the Putnam Museum in Davenport and the Mississippi River Distillery in LeClaire, promising to save those for another visit. The boys were asleep within the first 10 minutes of our drive home, exhausted from the fun we’d experienced over the last day.
Have you taken the time to enjoy a vacation, or are you blindly running from place to place? If your family needs a short respite, look to the Quad Cities. You won’t be disappointed.
Shawna Lode, Manager
Iowa Tourism Office