20 Things To Do In Davenport (Iowa)

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Nicknamed the Quad Cities, the area in and around Davenport is filled with marvels of past and modern-day engineering. Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa, along with Rock Island and Moline in Illinois, are four cities jointly packed together along the Mississippi River.

Davenport is the economic and cultural capital of the Quad City area and features unique attractions such as the Figge Art Museum, the German American Heritage Center, and the Davenport Skybridge to visit. Venture just outside the city and you’ll run into landmarks such as the Rock Island Arsenal Museum and the Nahant Marsh, providing you with a jam-packed itinerary with lots of things to do in Davenport for all ages.

Davenport, Iowa

20 Things To Do In Davenport

things to do in davenport iowa
Looking for things to do in Davenport Iowa? Check out this list of 20. The Centennial Bridge crosses the Mississippi River and connects Rock Island to Davenport.

1- Discover Putnam Museum and Science Center

The Putnam Museum and Science Center, formerly the Davenport Academy of Natural Sciences, is a highly respected and internationally acclaimed science and history centre.

Opened in 1867, the museum is one of the oldest museums west of the Mississippi and is home to over 160,000 artefacts and items for visitors to enjoy.

From discovering the mummy collection in the museum’s ‘Unearthing Ancient Egypt’ exhibit to seeing a film at the ‘GIANT Screen Theater’, the museum has plenty to see and do to keep all ages entertained.

Putnam Museum and Science Center is at 1717 W 12th St, Davenport, IA 52804.

Download the Adventurous Scavenger Hunt in Davenport by Crazy Dash for a fun adventure.

2- Tour Figge Art Museum

Originally titled the Davenport Municipal Art Gallery when it first opened back in 1925, the Figge Art Museum is one of the region’s leading art institutions, specializing in European, American and Spanish Viceregal art.

The museum’s impeccable art collection is housed inside a modern glass building designed by architect David Chipperfield.

The museum also proudly exhibits works by famed regional artists such as Grant Wood and organises art classes, lectures and events to promote the arts in the local community.

Figge Art Museum is at 225 W 2nd St, Davenport, IA 52801.

3- See Rock Island Arsenal Museum

The Rock Island Arsenal Museum, opened in 1905, is the country’s second-oldest U.S. Army museum, only beaten by the famous West Point Museum in New York.

Featuring a large collection of military, civilian and foreign firearms, the museum is on the 946-acre (383 ha), fully-functioning Rock Island Arsenal, which is still a vital military base for the U.S. Army today.

Technically situated in Illinois, the museum is a wonderful destination to visit and features tons of interesting things to see and learn about.

Rock Island Arsenal Museum is at 3500 North Ave, Rock Island, IL 61201.

4- Enjoy Colourful Blooms At Vander Veer Botanical Park

The Vander Veer Botanical Park has dazzled visitors with its beautifully manicured gardens and picturesque surroundings since its opening in 1885.

Covering an area of over 33 acres (13 ha), the botanical park features beloved attractions such as the Municipal Rose Garden, the 100-year-old Conservatory and the Grand Allée walkway.

Open year-round and organising special events such as the annual Poinsettia Lights Display and the Chrysanthemum Festival, the venue is a delightful attraction to visit and one of the best free attractions in Davenport.

Vander Veer Botanical Park is at 215 W Central Park Ave, Davenport, IA 52803.

5- Walk The Davenport Skybridge

The pedestrian-only, cable-stayed Davenport Skybridge is one of Davenport’s quintessential must-do attractions.

Opened in 2005, the 575-foot long (175 m) bridge connects LeClaire Park to a courtyard on 2nd Street.

Standing 50 feet (15 m) off the ground, the bridge provides visitors with unrivalled views of Downtown Davenport, spanning the entire width of Highway 67.

The structure features an observation deck on its south end to provide visitors with views of the Mississippi River and is complete with kaleidoscope lighting inside, making the free-to-visit sky bridge stand out at night.

Davenport Skybridge is at W River Dr, Davenport, IA 52801.

6- Go Bar-Hopping In Davenport’s Craft Breweries

fun things to do in davenport
Tasting craft beer is one of the fun things to do in Davenport Iowa.

Davenport’s Craft Brewery scene has been attracting beer lovers to the Quad Cities since the trend took off in the early 90s.

The city’s oldest and most famous beer brewery, the Front Street Brewery, has been brewing its popular Cherry Bomb Blonde and Old Davenport Golden Ale since 1992, making it one of the oldest craft breweries in Iowa.

While Davenport’s oldest brewery is perhaps the city’s best destination for great craft beer, newcomers such as 5ive Cities, Crawford Brew Works and Baked Beer & Bread Co. combine beer with entertainment and food to create the ultimate beer-drinking destination.

7- Relax At Davenport’s Centennial Park

Davenport’s Centennial Park is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream destination, offering visitors fun and healthy outdoor activities throughout this 250-acre (101 ha) urban public park.

The park is one of four public parks in Downtown Davenport straddling the Mississippi River and was opened in 2000.

Named after the Rock Island Centennial Bridge on the park’s eastern edge, the park is home to activities and amenities such as basketball courts, fishing spots, a playground, a skateboard park, three gazebos, and access to the Riverfront Trail.

Centennial Park is at 315 S Marquette St, Davenport, IA 52802.

8- Enjoy Live Music At River Music Experience

The River Music Experience is a unique live entertainment destination enabling local musicians to perform live in front of music lovers in one of three distinct venues.

The main music space is the historic Redstone Building in Downtown Davenport, where musicians and the public gather inside an old Petersen Harned Von Maur store to celebrate and enjoy music on the banks of the Mississippi River.

Featuring a weekly line-up of solo performers and bands, the venue hosts over 150 performances every year, making it the ideal place to enjoy the best local musical talent in Davenport.

River Music Experience is at 129 Main St, Davenport, IA 52801.

9- Explore The History And Beauty Of Credit Island

fun things to do in davenport iowa
A few things to do in Davenport Iowa revolve around the Mississippi River.

Credit Island is a historic Davenport landmark turned 420-acre (170 ha) public park in the middle of the Mississippi River.

The island’s name is derived from when the island was used as a trading post with the Native American tribes.

The War of 1812 would see the British-supported Sauk tribe clash against the American troops led by Major Zachary Taylor at the Battle of Credit Island, which turned out to be one of the westernmost battles fought during the war.

Combining history with outdoor activities, such as hiking, golfing, baseball and basketball, the island is a great outdoor attraction in Davenport.

10- Be Entertained At Rhythm City Casino Resort

Davenport’s Rhythm City Casino Resort started out as a riverboat casino called ‘The President’ in 1991, shortly after gambling was legalised in Iowa.

The casino soon outgrew its location on the river and in 2016, the new 35,000-square-foot (3,252 m2) casino was built in Downtown Davenport.

Today, it has over 1,000 slot machines, 25 table games, three restaurants, a spa, a hotel and an elite sportsbook, making it one of Iowa’s biggest and grandest casinos.

Whether you’re stopping by to try your luck or enjoy an evening of fine dining, the casino is an all-encompassing Davenport venue with something to do for everyone.

Rhythm City Casino Resort is at 7077 Elmore Avenue, Davenport, IA 52807.

11- Learn About European settlers At The German American Heritage Center

things to do in davenport iowa city hall

The German American Heritage Center was established in 1994 to celebrate and preserve the traditions, customs and legacy of the thousands of German immigrants who settled in Iowa.

Housed inside the Standard Hotel, the first home for many German immigrants just arriving from Europe during the 1800s, the centre features a mix of permanent and rotating exhibits and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The museum is a fantastic venue to explore if you have German roots or are just curious to learn what life must have looked like for fresh-of-the-boat Germans in Iowa during the 19th century.

German American Heritage Center is at 712 W 2nd St, Davenport, IA 52802.

12- Explore Nahant Marsh

The 305-acre Nahant Marsh preserve, situated on the banks of the Mississippi River, is one of the last remaining big Mississippi urban wetlands.

The marshland forms part of a more extensive 513-acre (208 ha) Oxbow wetland network in one of the Mississippi River’s prehistoric side channels.

Featuring permanent and seasonally inundated wetlands, the preserve is one of Davenport’s finest natural landmarks due to its sheer size and protective status.

The preserve is filled with attractions to keep visitors busy, including a boardwalk trail, picnic areas, plenty of birdwatching opportunities, and even skiing during the winter.

The multi-purpose Beréskin Gallery & Art Academy is like an art gallery, art studio and education space all rolled into one convenient attraction.

The venue was established by Pat Beréskin and exhibits paintings, sculptures, drawings and other media created by artists from Iowa and across the Midwest.

With a perfect blend of contemporary and more traditional art pieces across a wide variety of mediums on display, the venue is among Davenport’s best cultural institutions and more than warrants a visit or two while in the area.

Beréskin Gallery & Art Academy is at 2967 State St, Bettendorf, IA 52722.

14- Catch A Show At The Historic Adler Theater

The Art Deco-style, 2,400-seat Adler Theater is a leading performing arts venue in Davenport.

Opened in 1931 as the RKO Orpheum, the theatre was jointly designed by A.S. Graven and Henry Dreyfuss and was named the Adler in honour of newspaper publisher Philip Adler who made significant contributions to the venue’s restoration in 1981.

The theatre plays host to the Quad City Symphony Orchestra and the Ballet Quad Cities while also hosting the occasional Broadway production.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the theatre is a beloved Davenport landmark that is always a great destination to tour or see a live show when in town.

Adler Theater is at 136 E 3rd St, Davenport, IA 52801.

15- Shop At Freight House Farmers Market

things to do in davenport vegetables for sale
One of the fun things to do in Davenport is to shop in the local farmer’s market.

Hosted at the historic Freight House Building in Downtown Davenport, the Freight House Farmers Market is the go-to place in the region for buying the freshest produce and handmade crafts.

This scenic market overlooks the Mississippi River and is open year-round every Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday.

The market offers seasonal products and items depending on what time of year you visit, making it a fun and interesting place to stop by, even if you’ve been here before.

Freight House Farmers Market is at 421 W River Dr, Davenport, IA 52801.

16- Shop And Eat At The Village of East Davenport

The Village of East Davenport is a historic Civil War-era military and logging community turned shopping, restaurant and entertainment hub in southeast Davenport.

Nicknamed ‘The Village’, the area is the oldest neighbourhood in Davenport and is always busy with locals and travellers enjoying the area’s great amenities and urban parks.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the area lies between the Mississippi River, Kirkwood Boulevard and Jersey Ridge Road and is as historic as it is a modern-day business hub.

Combining the best of both worlds, the district’s a must-visit part of Davenport and can easily be explored on foot, stopping by quirky shops along the way.

17- Tour The Grand B.J. and Mabel Palmer Mansion

Situated on the Palmer College of Chiropractic campus, the B.J. and Mabel Palmer Mansion is a beloved Davenport landmark built in 1874 for local lumber mill owner Louis Dessaint.

The mansion was built in the Second Empire style and was acquired by B.J. Palmer, the father of the chiropractic practice, in 1912.

The house is an incredibly popular destination for tourists in Davenport.

It features wacky items like an Australian kangaroo, wicker furniture from a Philippine prison, an Aeolian Pipe Organ, and a humidor made from elephant’s feet.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, visitors can tour the entire first floor of the mansion, taking in the unique designs and bizarre furnishings along the way.

B.J. and Mabel Palmer Mansion is at 808 Brady St, Davenport, IA 52803.

18- See The Lock And Dam Number 15

The Upper Mississippi River’s Lock and Dam Number 15 is one of Davenport’s most unique historical and outdoor landmarks.

Featuring a one-of-a-kind design not found anywhere along the Mississippi, the landmark is the world’s longest roller dam and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Apart from being a major sense of pride for the citizens of Davenport, the fully-functioning lock and dam feature numerous nature trails and greenery all around, which visitors are free to enjoy.

From birdwatching to seeing this engineering behemoth in action, the lock and dam are a very cool and incredibly unique landmark in Davenport to stop by, which boasts a surprising amount of activities to enjoy.

19- Traverse The Duck Creek Parkway

The Duck Creek Parkway is a 13.5-mile-long (22 km) pathway linking Davenport and nearby Bettendorf, passing by several public parks as it winds along Duck Creek.

Built in the 1930s, the parkway is the oldest in the Quad Cities region and can be hiked or cycled, depending on your preferred transport method.

Beginning at Emeis Park and Golf Course in west Davenport and ending at Devils Glen Park in Bettendorf, the parkway is a fantastic way of seeing Davenport and the surrounding areas and is completely free to enjoy.

20- Catch A Game At The Modern Woodmen Park

The Modern Woodmen Park, previously known as the John O’Donnell Stadium, is the official home of the Quad Cities River Bandits, a Minor League baseball team affiliated with the Kansas City Royals.

Opened in 1931, the ballpark has undergone several major renovations and expansions to keep it modern and up-to-date.

Not only is the stadium a great place to catch a game of baseball, but the venue also hosts live music concerts, treating spectators to stunning views of the Mississippi River, the adjacent Ferris Wheel and the Centennial Bridge.

Modern Woodmen Park is at 209 S Gaines St, Davenport, IA 52802. 

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Jessica Shaw is a storyteller who has lived in four U.S. states - Missouri, Georgia, Ohio and Illinois - and has visited many others. She loves history and nature and is a big fan of road tripping.