The city of Council Bluffs, Iowa is a place that pleasantly surprises many people. While at first glance, the city may not seem like much, but it offers many different things to do for a broad variety of interests. Train and railroad enthusiasts can head to the RailsWest Railroad Museum or the Union Pacific Railroad Museum, while architecture or history buffs can explore the Historic General Dodge House and the Pottawattamie County Squirrel Cage Jail and Museum. For more fun, there’s the Horseshoe Council Bluffs casino and the Mid-America Center.


We recommend that you call the attractions and restaurants ahead of your visit to confirm current opening times.

1.Union Pacific Railroad Museum

Union Pacific Railroad Museum
© Union Pacific Railroad Museum

The Union Pacific Railroad Museum, situated in the downtown district of Council Bluffs, explores over 150 years of railroad history through informative and interactive digital displays, photographs, unique artifacts, and more, as well as expands on the nation’s pioneer migration story. Exhibits range from the origins of the first transcontinental railroad in the United States back in 1862 to Abraham Lincoln to the more advanced technology of the railroading industry of modern day. The unique and beautiful Beaux Arts style building which now houses the Union Pacific Railroad Museum was once the Council Bluffs Carnegie Free Public Library.

200 Pearl St, Council Bluffs, IA 51503, Phone: 712-329-8307


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2.Pottawattamie County Squirrel Cage Jail and Museum

Pottawattamie County Squirrel Cage Jail and Museum
© Pottawattamie County Squirrel Cage Jail and Museum

The Pottawattamie County Squirrel Cage Jail and Museum was originally built back in 1885 as a jail and continued to operate as one until 1969. Added in 1972 to the National Register of Historic Places and now owned and operated by the Historical Society of Pottawattamie County, the jail is a one-of-a-kind structure in Council Bluffs due to its unique design. The jail was one of only eighteen revolving jails, or “squirrel cage” jails, built and the only three-story jail of its kind ever constructed. The cell portion of the Squirrel Cage Jail still looks today much like it did in 1969.

226 Pearl St, Council Bluffs, IA 51503, Phone: 712-323-2509


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3.Historic General Dodge House, Council Bluffs, Iowa

Historic General Dodge House, Council Bluffs, Iowa
© Historic General Dodge House

The Historic General Dodge House is a three-story, 14-room mansion standing atop a high terrace that overlooks the Missouri Valley. It features a variety of beautiful architectural features, such as walnut and cherry woodwork and parquet floors, as well as several “modern conveniences” that were rather unusual for the time period. The home was once the residence of General Grenville Dodge, one of the “greatest railroad builders of all time” and a Civil War veteran. In 1961, the house was designated as a National Historic Landmark and in 1964, the process to restore the historic home to the time period of 1869-1916 began.

605 S 3rd St, Council Bluffs, IA 51503



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4.Horseshoe Council Bluffs, Council Bluffs, Iowa

Horseshoe Council Bluffs, Council Bluffs, Iowa
© Horseshoe Council Bluffs


Horseshoe Council Bluffs, formerly known as the Bluffs Run Casino and Greyhound Park Council Bluffs, features sports betting, over 1,600 slot machines, table games, and more, offering a place for gambling and gaming entertainment in Council Bluffs, Iowa. There is a World Series of Poker poker room and approximately 68,000 square feet of gaming space. The casino is open seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. In addition to the wide variety of gaming options, the Horseshoe Council Bluffs also includes three different restaurants, providing visitors with a choice of upscale, casual, or buffet dining.

2701 23rd Ave, Council Bluffs, IA 51501, Phone: 712-323-2500


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5.Mid-America Center, Council Bluffs, Iowa

Mid-America Center, Council Bluffs, Iowa
© Mid-America Center


The Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa consists of exhibit and convention space, as well as an arena, for conventions, sporting events, concerts, and more. With almost 64,000 square feet of space, the center features a 30,000-square-foot arena with two party rooms and twelve luxury suites, an exhibition hall, convention center, meeting rooms, and other space for events. The Mid-America Center regularly provides entertainment and special events for locals and visitors alike, such as community events, USHL hockey games, family shows, rock shows, and concerts by the music industry’s top names among many other events.

1 Arena Way, Council Bluffs, IA 51501, Phone: 712-323-0536


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6.Kanesville Tabernacle, Council Bluffs, IA

Kanesville Tabernacle, Council Bluffs, IA
© Kanesville Tabernacle


The Kanesville Tabernacle in Council Bluffs is a replica of the original Kanesville Tabernacle built by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1847. The original structure was constructed as a place to hold the conference for reorganizing the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The current building was built in 1996 less than one block away from the site of the original tabernacle. The Kanesville Tabernacle replica today is open throughout the year. There is also no charge for admission.

222 E Broadway, Council Bluffs, IA 51503, Phone: 712-322-0500


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7.RailsWest Railroad Museum & HO Model Display, Council Bluffs, Iowa

RailsWest Railroad Museum & HO Model Display, Council Bluffs, Iowa
© SHIRAKAMI/stock.adobe.com

The RailsWest Railroad Museum and HO Model Display is owned and operated by the Pottawattamie County Historical Society in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The railroad museum features several exhibits and artifacts illustrating the city’s history with the railroads. Noted on the National Register of Historic Places, the museum is housed inside of the 1899 Rock Island train depot and features a collection of uniforms, dining car memorabilia, and historic photos. There is also an operating model railroad that’s rather extensive in size, as well as a caboose, railway post office car, a club car, and several locomotives on the grounds.

1512 S Main St, Council Bluffs, IA 51503, Phone: 712-323-5182



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8.Lake Manawa State Park

Lake Manawa State Park
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The Lake Manawa State Park is undeniably one of the most popular outdoor recreational spaces in the Council Bluffs area as well as the Omaha metropolitan area. Featuring 1,529 gorgeous acres of well-maintained land, this state park is home to a serene 660-acre natural lake that was formed back in 1881 when a river channel was cut off from the Missouri River due to a flood. With a name that translates to peace and comfort in English, the Lake Manawa State Park also welcomes visitors to its camping grounds where outdoorsy visitors can maximize the park’s hiking trails, swimming beach, and fishing areas.

1100 South Shore Drive, Council Bluffs, Iowa 51501, Phone: 712-366-0220


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9.Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park

Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park
© leungchopan/stock.adobe.com

Nestled along the banks of the Missouri River is the Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park. Popular amongst locals, this recreational space adjacent to downtown Omaha features a sprawling five-acre great lawn that welcomes guests to relax, picnic, and soak up the sun. Many festivals have been held at this lawn, which is also home to an amphitheater and boasts a stunning and dramatic view of the city’s skyline. From the Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park, hikers can gain access to the robust trail system of Council Bluffs which features over 40 miles of recreational trails. Run, walk, or cycle through the trails which pass by landmarks like the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge along the way.

4200 Avenue B, Council Bluffs, Iowa 51501, Phone: 712-328-4650


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10.Ameristar Casino Hotel Council Bluffs

Ameristar Casino Hotel Council Bluffs
© Ameristar Casino Hotel Council Bluffs

Experience a different kind of casino stay with the Ameristar Casino Hotel in Council Bluffs. The Ameristar Casino Hotel is a riverboat casino that holds the distinction of being the largest of its kind. It has a humongous 38,500-square-foot gaming floor where guests can try their luck at slots, play high-stakes table games, play some video poker, or bet on sports. For high rollers, a high-limit room has been recently renovated and allows patrons to raise the stakes on their games of choice. After a round at the casino, time the time to enjoy a great meal with four different restaurant options as well as the Club 38 cocktail lounge.

Ameristar Avenue, Council Bluffs, Iowa 51501, Phone: 712-328-8888


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11.Bayliss Park

Bayliss Park
© Angelic/stock.adobe.com

Drop by the jewel of downtown Council Bluffs at Bayliss Park. A popular weekend destination for the local community, Bayliss Park is the perfect spot to people-watch or stretch out on the grass for a lazy afternoon with family and friends. In addition to a gorgeous open green space, Bayliss Park is also home to a fountain with impressive light displays and unique water features. There is also a lovely sculpture by Brower Hatcher in the center of the fountain called the Well Spring. Meanwhile, the park is also home to a splash pad that children can enjoy, as well as a plaza with incredible flower beds and floral displays to enjoy. Other attractions of Bayliss Park include a performance space and touchable art.

209 Pearl Street, Council Bluffs, Iowa 51503, Phone: 712-809-5100


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12.Joe’s Karting

Joe’s Karting
© Ivan Kurmyshov/stock.adobe.com

Race like you’ve never raced before at Joe’s Karting! This popular indoor go-kart track has been professionally designed to maximize each inch of space for the best drive racing that can possibly be achieved within the karting space. Joe’s Karting is likely home to the fastest racing track in the region so guests are guaranteed an adrenaline-pumping experience where speed and sportsmanship reign supreme. For confident racers, there is typically a crew of regulars at the track ready to race with visitors, so be ready to get your game face on before challenging one of Joe’s Karting’s local legends to a friendly match.

2121 South 3nd Street, Council Bluffs, Iowa 51501, Phone: 712-256-5278


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13.The Cryptic Room

The Cryptic Room
© MedRocky/stock.adobe.com

Experience the verified best escape room experience in Omaha and Council Bluffs at The Cryptic Room. Voted first place in the Omaha World Herald’s Omaha’s Choice Awards for four consecutive years running, The Cryptic Room promises action-packed escape experiences that go beyond what one would typically expect from an escape room. Each of the games at The Cryptic Room are uniquely designed and built in-house. Meanwhile, the team of The Cryptic Room has given their all in crafting the world of each escape room as well as the leading characters of each story: Myrtle and Edward. Find out if you’ve got what it takes to beat all five of The Cryptic Room’s escape games!

523 Mains Street, Council Bluffs, Iowa 51503, Phone: 712-310-5265


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14.Ditmars Orchard

Ditmars Orchard
© Ditmars Orchard

Make apple picking one of your family traditions at Ditmars Orchard. First established in 1994, Ditmars Orchard has been maintaining its gorgeous apple orchard for many years. Through these years, Ditmars Orchard continues to improve and grow, with many more fun family activities to capitalize on than ever before. Come and partake in traditional apple picking, drop by the orchard’s vineyard to sample beautifully made wine, or even drop by the pumpkin patch in fall. For the younger guests, Ditmars Orchard has a great corn maze to explore, a small petting zoo, barrel cart rides, bumper balls, and even a human hamster wheel! Additionally, Ditmars also offers great specialty food items that are unique to this beloved orchard.

19475 225th Street, Council Bluffs, Iowa 51503, Phone: 712-256-7053


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15.Full Fledged Brewing Company

Full Fledged Brewing Company
© Full Fledged Brewing Company


Get to know the local Council Bluffs community when you drop by the town’s very first brewery, the Full Fledged Brewing Company. This brewery is a favorite for locals to gather and enjoy each others’ company over a pint. Additionally, it’s also the best place in town to sample locally produced craft beers. The Full Fledged Brewing Company offers 18 different creative brews on tap for guests to try. Meanwhile, beer lovers who want to sample as much of the menu as possible can try tasting packages alongside some great pub-style grub. Whether you’re planning on spending a relaxing evening there or are visiting to learn more about local beer crafting practices, a trip to the Full Fledged Brewing Company is sure to be a fun time.

40 Arena Way, Suite 2, Council Bluffs, Iowa 51501, Phone: 712-201-6520


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15 Best Things to Do in Council Bluffs, Iowa



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