20 Best Things to Do in Davenport, Iowa
Stretched along the mighty Mississippi River, Davenport, Iowa, is a modern city with strong German roots, a rich art scene, and outdoorsy citizens. The city parks are buzzing with activity regardless of the season, and there is always a game going on, whether it is golf, baseball, or ice hockey.
You can get a great view of the city from The Davenport Skybridge, one of the city’s icons, glimmering with bright lights that change all the time. Photo: Andrew Jalbert/Fotolia
»Figge Art Museum
The Figge Art Museum started its life in 1925 as the Davenport Municipal Art Gallery with a gift of 330 artworks from Charles A. Ficke, a former mayor of Davenport. The gallery changed its name to the Davenport Museum of Art in 1987 and got its current name in 2005 after it received major donations from the V.O. and the Elizabeth Kahl Figge Foundation. At that time the museum moved to the new modern glass building designed by David Chipperfield, which quickly became a city landmark. Besides Mr. Ficke’s collection of American, European, and Spanish Viceregal art, the museum’s permanent collection also contains the Grant Wood Archive, works by several other American Regionalist artists, a significant collection of Haitian art, and a number of contemporary works. The museum’s art studios, auditorium, and large lobby are always active with art classes, events, and lectures for art admirers of all ages.
Contact: 225 W 2nd St, Davenport, IA 52801, Phone: 563-326-7804
Photo: Figge Art Museum
»Vander Veer Botanical Park
Take a stroll through the Grand Allee, a beautiful wide walkway in the spectacular Vander Veer Botanical Park lined by mature trees and blooming flower beds. It is one of the century-old traditions in Davenport. The path leads to the bubbling Stone Fountain with dancing water and ever-changing lights. For those who want a bit more speed, there is another path on the outside perimeter of the garden, which offers about one mile of jogging track. You will also find gardens that were first established in 1885, including the Municipal Rose Garden, the Hosta Glade, the Old World Gardens and Fountain, the Children Garden, and so much more. The Conservatory is one of the jewels of the park with a year-round display of fragrant blooms: spring azaleas, lilies, daisies, summer tropical flowers, fall colors with the Chrysanthemum Festival, and the winter Poinsettia Lights Display.
Contact: 215 W Central Park Ave, Davenport, IA 52803, Phone: 563-326-7818
»Putnam Museum, Davenport, Iowa
If you want to see the faithful recreation of the Egyptian King Tut and the famous treasures discovered in his grave, you should head to the Putnam Museum in Davenport. This renowned museum of history and natural sciences was established in 1867, and ever since it has been bringing to light the mysteries of regional history, ethnology, anthropology, and natural science through a series of permanent and visiting exhibits. The museum holds 160,000 major artifacts and specimens. Some of the most significant are Black Earth, Big River, the past and present natural habitats of the Quad-Cities. The Hall of Mammals uses photographs, exciting dioramas, and hands-on activities to create a multi-sensory exhibit about Arctic polar bears, African zebras, and other mammals. The museum has excellent outreach and education programs in cooperation with NASA , Smithsonian, and other renowned institutions.
Contact: 1717 W 12th St, Davenport, IA 52804, Phone: 563-324-1933
Photo: Putnam Museum
»Village of East Davenport
What was once a historic Civil War military and logging community and parade grounds for Civil War soldiers from Camp McClellan is now a popular Davenport entertainment and shopping district full of galleries, pubs, restaurants, and boutiques. The Village, as it is called by the locals, is the oldest neighborhood in Davenport. It is stretched along the Mississippi River in southeast Davenport and includes the popular Upper and Lower Lindsay Parks. There is always something going on – the area is a popular venue for local events and celebrations, a place to come for a pleasant stroll and browse through unique shops, or to look for a special gift, have a massage, or book a room in one of the quaint B&Bs. The Village is registered on the National Register of Historic Places.
Contact: E. River Dr. (HW 67) and Mound St., Davenport, IA 52803, Phone: 563-324-9224
Photo: Village of East Davenport
The Davenport Skybridge is a pedestrian bridge over River Drive or Highway 67 in downtown Davenport. Its practical purpose is to provide a safe way to cross River Drive on the way to the Riverboat or LeClaire Park. But when the sun goes down, the Skybridge becomes something else. The entire span of the bridge is covered with a series of Led Lights that illuminate the bridge in a constantly changing kaleidoscope of bright colors, creating a magical vibe. The bridge is 575 feet long and 50 feet tall, and at the end facing the river, it has an observation deck with a spectacular view of the Centennial Bridge, Mississippi River, and the Davenport Levee. It is one of the most striking Davenport landmarks.
Photo: Davenport Skybridge
»Chocolate Manor, Davenport, Iowa
Chocolate Manor is a chocoholic’s heaven; in this elegant store in downtown Davenport there are 100 mouth-watering kinds of chocolates, truffles, toffees, cupcakes, cookies, and even chocolate-covered potato chips. Everything is made on site, so the smell coming out of the store is divine. They use only the highest quality ingredients and only Belgian and French chocolates. What you see in the store is not all they make; they accept custom orders, and some of them are a bit out of the ordinary. They made an eight-foot tall chocolate menorah for an orthodox Jewish rabbi, 300 toothbrushes made of chocolate for a dentist’s wedding, life-sized all-chocolate shoes, 350 chocolate tulips for a wedding, and many other chocolate delights. If you can imagine it, they can make it, and it will be delicious.
Contact: 110 E 2nd St, Davenport, IA 52801, Phone: 563-355-6600
Photo: Chocolate Manor
»River Music Experience
Located in the Redstone Building, a historic Petersen Harned Von Maur store, The River Music Experience is a music venue and non-profit organization that offers space for musicians of all kinds to share their art and for local residents to enjoy true live American music of the Mississippi River. Besides the Redstone Room, which is the live music venue, the River Music Experience also has the RME Cafe, the café and community stage that features about 150 performances per year, from local band shows to a weekly open mic. River Music Experience offers a wide range of educational programs such as Rock Camp USA, the Sound Lab, an educational recording studio, music lessons, open mic nights, jazz jams, the "Songwriters in the Round" workshops, and much more.
Contact: 129 Main St, Davenport, IA 52801, Phone: 563-326-1333
Ice cream parlor, soda fountain, chocolate shop, candy shop – call it what you want, but visiting Lagomarcino’s is like going back to childhood and going with grandpa to get a piece of candy, hot fudge, or an ice cream cone. The store in Davenport, once a pharmacy, was designed to look as much like the original 1908 Lagomarcino’s in Moline as possible, with a shiny black walnut bar and stained glass lamps. It is reminiscent of another time, full of smells and flavors that call to mind the very best of memories. Try their famous Easter eggs or fabulous hot fudge that comes with homemade ice cream.
Contact: 2132 E 11th St, Davenport, IA 52803, Phone: 563-324-6137
Photo: Lagomarcino's Confectionary
»B.J. and Mabel Palmer Residence
The B.J. Palmer House is located on the campus of Palmer College of Chiropractic and has a special place in Davenport history. The house, actually a mansion, was built in 1874 in the Second Empire style for Louis C. Dessaint, a local lumber mill owner. B.J. Palmer, who is considered a father of the chiropractic practice, bought it in 1912 for the School of Chiropractic. The mansion also held the radio station that became WOC. The house has an unusual wrap-around porch and contains a strange collection of unrelated objects such as an Aeolian pipe organ, the trunk and branches of four oak trees, wicker furniture from a Philippine prison, a humidor made out of elephants’ feet, a kangaroo from Australia, and much more – these are only a part of the original collection the Palmer family gathered during their travels. The house has been registered on the National Register of Historic Places. The first floor of the house is open to tours.
Contact: 808 Brady St, Davenport, IA 52803, Phone: 563-884-5714
Photo: B.J. and Mabel Palmer Residence
»Freight House Farmers Market, Davenport, Iowa
The Davenport Freight House Farmers’ Market is the place to come when you are out of ideas about what to cook. You can also get the fresh local produce, chat with the local farmers and artisans who bring their produce to your door, or just hang out and enjoy the buzz and lively atmosphere. Located on the picturesque Mississippi Riverfront by the historic Freight House Building in downtown Davenport, the market offers fresh farm fruits and vegetables, eggs, poultry, meets, cheeses, jams, honey, baked goods, salsas, candies, fresh flowers, handmade soaps, high quality crafts, doggy treats, and much more. Everything on the market is fresh and seasonal, so it changes with the time of the year. The market is open year round on Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday.
Contact: 421 W River Dr, Davenport, IA 52801, Phone: 563-322-6009
Photo: Jamie Hooper/Fotolia
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»German American Heritage Center
The German American Heritage Center was founded in 1994 with the goal of preserving the heritage of the German speaking population and of supplementing the knowledge of younger generations of the German immigrant experience. The center is located in the historic Standard Hotel, the first home for many German immigrants as they arrived in Davenport in the 1800s. The center has grown into a museum with two rotating exhibits and the main permanent audio-visual interactive exhibit, the German Immigrant Experience. The permanent exhibit has six education stations, an orientation theater, and two restored hotel rooms. The former hotel is an important part of the museum and is registered on the National Register of Historic Places.
Contact: 712 W 2nd St, Davenport, IA 52802, Phone: 563-322-8844
Photo: German American Heritage Center
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»Bereskin Fine Art Gallery & Studio
Beréskin Fine Art Gallery & Studio is an interesting combination of a gallery, an artists’ studio, and a classroom offering a range of art classes. The gallery offers works from a range of Midwest artists in different media, including painting, sculpture, and drawing. This mix is meant to provide artworks that appeal to almost any taste in art, where anyone can come and buy a piece for their office or home. At the same time, buyers and visitors can meet the artists working in a friendly, collaborative setting. The gallery also offers a range of classes for all levels, from beginners’ to advanced levels. The gallery’s associated local artists teach these courses. Bereskin is located in Bucktown Center for the Arts in downtown Davenport.
Contact: 225 E 2nd St #104, Davenport, IA 52801, Phone: 563-424-1210
Photo: Bereskin Fine Art Gallery
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Nahant Marsh is a 513-acre nature preserve, one of the last large urban wetlands on the Mississippi River. Located on the outskirts of Davenport, Nahant Marsh is what is called an oxbow wetland system. Oxbow wetlands are relicts of prehistoric channels off Mississippi River. Besides permanent wetlands, Nahant Marsh also has wetlands that are seasonally inundated, some saturated sedge meadows, upland prairies, bottomland forest, and a few small pockets of wet and prairie meadows. Protected under the Nahant Marsh Ecological Area, wetland habitats and wildlife can be enjoyed by the community through the use of a boardwalk, maintained trails, a dock, and bird blinds.
Contact: 4220 Wapello Ave, Davenport, IA 52802, Phone: 563-323-5196
Photo: Nahant Marsh
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»Things to Do in Davenport: Adler Theatre
The Adler Theatre is a stately Art Deco style 2,400-seat theatre and performing arts center in downtown Davenport. Opened originally as the RKO Orpheum in 1931, the theater was designed by A.S. Graven, while Henry Dreyfuss did the interior. The old RKO Orpheum’s restoration began in 1981, and the theatre was renamed the Adler in honor of E.P. and Philip Adler, newspaper publishers who significantly contributed to the restoration. The theater is home to the Ballet Quad Cities and Quad City Symphony Orchestra. It frequently hosts Broadway shows by touring companies and other popular performances and productions. The theater and the adjoining former Hotel Mississippi are registered on the National Register of Historic Places.
Contact: 136 E 3rd St, Davenport, IA 52801, Phone: 563-326-8500
Photo: Arkady Chubykin/Fotolia
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Credit Island, a historic Davenport island on the Mississippi River, is today a 420-acre park that is popular among locals and visitors for a range of activities and facilities such as a golf course and fields for soccer, rugby, baseball and softball. The park is great for walking, hiking, biking, boating, and fishing. Parts of the multi-state Great River Trail called RiverWay in Davenport run through the island. Along the biking and hiking trail you can enjoy the Art in the Park wooden sculpture exhibit, a fascinating 3-D replica of Seurat's "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte." There are also several playgrounds and picnic areas. You can also enjoy this beautiful spot by sitting on one of the benches and watching the lively traffic on the Mississippi River or trying to spot eagles that live in the area.
Photo: Photography by Jack/Fotolia
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»Quad Cities Symphony Orchestra
The Quad City Symphony Orchestra was established and had its first concert in 1916 with only 60 musicians, including amateurs and professional. Today, the orchestra performs a full season with six concerts from the masterwork series, three pop concerts such as a tribute to the Eagles, and five chamber concerts that are part of the signature series . The orchestra has 96 professional members who perform at several different venues, including the Adler Theater in downtown Davenport, which hosts the annual Holiday Pops Concert and many other performances. Centennial Hall on the Augustana College campus in Rock Island, Illinois is another frequent host of the orchestra. The chamber concerts from the signature series are mostly performed in Wallenberg Hall in Augustana. The orchestra supports five youth ensembles and conducts concerts and events in area schools.
Contact: 327 Brady St, Davenport, IA 52801, Phone: 563-322-7276
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»Bucktown Center for the Arts, Davenport, IA
Bucktown Center for the Arts is an art venue founded in 2005 in the historic downtown Davenport Bucktown area. The two city blocks that make Bucktown were known at the turn of the 20th century for dance halls, speakeasies, German music pavilions, and forty-two brothels. The center has more than a dozen studios, galleries, and shops where you can buy unique, creative, and unusual works of art. You will find paintings, pottery, photography, jewelry, sculptures, and textiles, and you can buy them from one of several renowned galleries or from the artists themselves in their studios. Bucktown Center also organizes a range of art classes and special events such as special exhibits, art competitions, and special shows of visiting artists.
Contact: 225 E 2nd St #204, Davenport, IA 52801, Phone: 309-737-2066
Photo: Bucktown Center for the Arts
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»Palmer Museum of Chiropractic History
The Palmer Foundation for Chiropractic History founded the Palmer Family and Chiropractic Museum, and its exhibits are located all over the three Palmer campuses. The museum focuses on the history of the chiropractic profession with specific emphasis on the role of the Palmer family and Palmer College. Occasionally, the museum displays a select artifact in the main atrium of the Vickie Ann Palmer Hall, asking visitors to guess what it is. The most significant collections in the Museum are Osteological Display, D.D. Palmer’s Office, Roycroft Collection of hand-made furniture, Women in Chiropractic, the Wall of Pioneers, and the Special Collections and Archives.
Contact: 115 W 7th St, Davenport, IA 52803, Phone: 563-884-5245
Photo: Palmer Museum of Chiropractic History
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»Camp McClellan Cellars
Camp McClellan Cellars is a wine store established in 1991. They have a large selection of locally produced wines and a nice selection of wines from all over the world. They also have all sorts of wine-related items you might need at home or want to buy as a gift, such as wine racks. They also have food that goes with wines and fancy gift baskets. For those who don’t know, there is a number of respectable wine producers in Iowa, such as Wide River Winery in Clinton, The Ackerman Winery in Amana, Tabor Home Vineyards in Baldwin, and many others. You can find them all at the Camp McClellan Cellars, and since there is always some kind of wine tasting event going on, you can try them all before buying them. The Cellars are also famous for having everything you need to make your own beer and wine. They have bottles, carboys, chemicals, and all sorts of other ingredients. You can try your hand at making your own wine, and if it does not work, you can always come back to the Cellars and get a few bottles of some good wine.
Contact: 2302 E 11th St, Davenport, IA 52803, Phone: 563-322-2100
Photo: Camp McClellan Cellars
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»Great River Brewery, Davenport, Iowa
Like so many other college boys, friends Paul Krutzfeldt and Scott Lehnert spent their years in college drinking beer, thinking about beer, and planning on making beer their life’s work. Unlike so many other college boys, they actually did it, and in 2004, they started a brewpub in Iowa City, only to later move the whole operation in 2008 to Davenport, where their lifelong dream of making and packaging their own hand-crafted beers became a reality with Roller Dam Red ale and 483 Pale Ale. They now make about 3,000 barrels or 744,000 pints of sweet tasting beer per year and offer tours of the brewery where you can learn how they make it and taste a few samples.
Contact: 332 E 2nd St, Davenport, IA 52801, Phone: 563-323-5210
Photo: Great River Brewery
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20 Best Things to Do in Davenport, Iowa
- Figge Art Museum, Photo: Figge Art Museum
- Vander Veer Botanical Park, Photo: Courtesy of elenarostunova - Fotolia.com
- Putnam Museum, Davenport, Iowa, Photo: Putnam Museum
- Village of East Davenport, Photo: Village of East Davenport
- Davenport Skybridge, Photo: Davenport Skybridge
- Chocolate Manor, Davenport, Iowa, Photo: Chocolate Manor
- River Music Experience, Photo: Courtesy of AnastasiiaUsoltceva - Fotolia.com
- Lagomarcino's Confectionary, Photo: Lagomarcino's Confectionary
- B.J. and Mabel Palmer Residence, Photo: B.J. and Mabel Palmer Residence
- Freight House Farmers Market, Davenport, Iowa, Photo: Courtesy of Jamie Hooper - Fotolia.com
- German American Heritage Center, Photo: German American Heritage Center
- Bereskin Fine Art Gallery & Studio, Photo: Bereskin Fine Art Gallery
- Nahant Marsh, Photo: Nahant Marsh
- Things to Do in Davenport: Adler Theatre, Photo: Courtesy of Arkady Chubykin - Fotolia.com
- Credit Island, Photo: Courtesy of Photography by Jack - Fotolia.com
- Quad Cities Symphony Orchestra, Photo: Courtesy of furtseff - Fotolia.com
- Bucktown Center for the Arts, Davenport, IA, Photo: Bucktown Center for the Arts
- Palmer Museum of Chiropractic History, Photo: Palmer Museum of Chiropractic History
- Camp McClellan Cellars, Photo: Camp McClellan Cellars
- Great River Brewery, Davenport, Iowa, Photo: Great River Brewery
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Andrew Jalbert - Fotolia.com
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