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. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.


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, seven days a week, from 10am until 5:00pm. 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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7 Best Things to Do in Council Bluffs, Iowa



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