Dubuque is a lovely Iowa metropolis located on the banks of the majestic Mississippi River, known for renowned attractions such as the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, which details life in and around the beautiful river region. Couples can explore area landmarks such as the 19th-century Mathias Ham House mansion, operated as a living history museum today, and the Mines of Spain State Recreation Area, which offers nature trails and outdoor recreation opportunities. Eclectic restaurants line the city's historic downtown district, ranging from classic Italian bistros to inventive New American restaurants helmed by award-winning celebrity chefs. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Brazen Open Kitchen and Bar
4.Ichiban Hibachi Steakhouse and Sushi Bar
6.Lina's Thai Bistro
8.Timmerman's Supper Club
10 Best Restaurants in Dubuque, Iowa
- Brazen Open Kitchen and Bar, Photo: Brazen Open Kitchen + Bar
- Caroline's Restaurant, Photo: Caroline's Restaurant
- Copper Kettle, Photo: Copper Kettle
- Ichiban Hibachi Steakhouse and Sushi Bar, Photo: Ichiban Hibachi Steakhouse and Sushi Bar
- L.May Eatery, Photo: L.May Eatery
- Lina's Thai Bistro, Photo: Lina's Thai Bistro
- Pepper Sprout, Photo: Pepper Sprout
- Timmerman's Supper Club, Photo: Anastasiia/stock.adobe.com
- Vinny Vanucchi's, Photo: Vinny Vanucchi's
- Woodfire Grille, Photo: Syda Productions/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Pixel-Shot/stock.adobe.com
Attraction Spotlight: The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium
Visitors to the areas surrounding the Mississippi may be surprised to know that the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium is the only interpretive site for the river. Located in Dubuque, IA, this museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. Here, visitors can explore a variety of historical and biological exhibits that showcase the culture and ecology of the region. There is much to see and do both indoors and outdoors at the museum. A good place to start exploring is the Mississippi Plaza, where visitors will find aviaries full of local bird species, outdoor exhibits, and great views of Ice Harbor and the Port of Dubuque.
The plaza connects to the Mississippi River Center, which is where visitors can see freshwater aquariums, a hands-on wet lab, and touch tanks.
Mathias Ham House Historic Site
Listed on the National Register of Historic Sites, the Mathias Ham House is a must-see piece of Dubuque’s cultural and historic heritage. This distinguished 19th-century abode was built by Mathias Ham, a wealthy mining entrepreneur, in 1856. The façade of the building reveals a Italian villa style of design, which was very much in vogue during the Victorian antebellum era in America. Inside, visitors can see furnishings that match the imposing opulence of the façade. The building’s architect, John F. Rague, was known for designing large structures that conveyed a sense of distinction and luxury. Examples of his work include the Old State Capitols of Illinois and Iowa.
The grounds on which Mathias Ham’s house stands also teach visitors about the everyday lives of ordinary people. Here, visitors can see an original settler log cabin built in 1833, a one-room school house, and the lodging of a coal miner. Costumed docents facilitate the immersive experience, making visitors feel like they are truly travelling back in time.
Monster Fish: In Search of the Last River Giants
A large part of the lore surrounding rivers concerns the creatures that lurk in their depths. Throughout the world, freshwater rivers are home to species of fish that continue to grow throughout their lives. The Monster Fish exhibit at the National Mississippi River Museum allows visitors to learn more about these often misunderstood creatures. This National Geographic exhibit provides sculptures, videos, and interactive displays that allow visitors to see river giants in a whole new light. The exhibition focuses on 20 species of fish that all measure at least 6 feet and weigh more than 200 pounds. Museumgoers will also be able to reflect upon the role of these fish in the larger ecosystem. Further emphasis is placed upon understanding the strain that is being put on the waterways that have long been home to river giants.
RiverWorks Discovery: A Journey of Imagination and Exploration of America’s Waterways
This travelling exhibit is dedicated to helping visitors get a more rounded view of the ways in which human civilization is affected by rivers and affects them in return. The topics of commerce, culture, and conservation are explored through interactive, family-friendly displays and activities. Visitors will understand the river as a type of water highway, which allows the import and export of goods across multiple regions. In this sense, they are and always have been conducive to the betterment of our standards of living. The exhibit shows how commercial trade also leads to the exchange of ideas and contributes to a blossoming of arts and culture to the point that the image of the river finds itself referenced in music, literature, and art. Finally, the exhibit helps visitors gain a better understanding of their role as stewards of the fragile ecosystems embedded within rivers. Understanding the symbiotic relationship that humankind has with the environment is the first step to taking responsibility for the ways our actions impact upon it.
Many of the exhibits shown at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium can be supplemented with a movie in their state-of-the-art 4D theatre. One of the current titles on view is Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure, which complements the Monster Fish exhibit. While Monster Fish focuses on species currently occupying the planet, Sea Monsters takes viewers back in time. Here, they can see many of the ancestors that gave rise to the river giants we see today. With added movement, smell, and mist, the experience puts viewers right into the action. This makes for a thrilling and immersive experience for audiences of all ages.
350 E. 3rd Street, Dubuque, IA 52001, Phone: 563-557-9545
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Attraction Spotlight: Hotel Julien Dubuque
Hotel Julien Dubuque is an elegant boutique hotel that blends historic charm with modern amenities in the heart of the Old Main District. Built in 1839, the stately hotel was lovingly restored to its former glory with inspiration drawn from the renaissance of downtown Dubuque and reflects the elegance and grandeur of the surrounded historical district. A true landmark of luxury and sophistication, the Hotel Julien Dubuque features refined guest rooms and suites with private bathrooms, self-service bars, mini-fridges, and coffeemakers, while luxury suites have spacious sitting areas with pull-out sofas, whirlpool tubs, and fully equipped kitchens. Other upscale amenities at the hotel include a sophisticated restaurant and lounge, an indoor swimming pool and whirlpool tub, an exclusive spa and wellness center, a fully equipped fitness center, and complimentary wireless Internet. Ideally located for a quiet getaway from the city or for exploring the historic town of Dubuque, Hotel Julien Dubuque is a short walk from the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium and a few miles from Crystal Lake Cave.
Hotel Julien Dubuque offers 133 beautifully appointed and stylishly decorated guest suites, ranging from Executive and Deluxe Rooms to Luxury and Whirlpool Suites and an elaborately themed suite that celebrates the life of Al Capone. All accommodations feature king or queen-size beds with pillow-top mattresses and luxury linens, and en-suite bathroom with walk-in showers, plush towels and bathrobes, and spa-quality bath products. Sitting areas have large work desks with ergonomic chairs, iPod docking stations, and honor bars, and other in-room conveniences include LCD flat-panel HDTVs with cable channels, alarm clocks, fridges, coffee makers, irons and ironing boards, and complimentary wireless Internet.
Executive Rooms feature one king or two queen-size beds with pillow-top mattresses and luxury linens, and en-suite bathroom with walk-in showers, plush towels and bathrobes, and spa-quality bath products, and sitting areas with comfortable armchairs and ottomans.
Deluxe Rooms offer extra levels of comfort and space with king-size beds fitted with pillow-top mattresses and luxury linens, and en-suite bathroom with walk-in showers, plush towels and bathrobes, and spa-quality bath products. Sitting areas boast rich wood furnishings, sleeper sofas for extra guests and large work desks with ergonomic chairs, and modern amenities include LCD flat-panel HDTVs with cable channels, alarm clocks, fridges, coffee makers, irons and ironing boards, and complimentary wireless Internet.
Luxury Suites are well-appointed two-room suites with two queen-size beds dressed with pillow-top mattresses and luxury linens, and en-suite bathroom with walk-in showers, two-person whirlpool baths, plush towels and bathrobes, and spa-quality bath products. Separate living rooms have two large LCD Flat Panel HDTVs, sleeper sofas, and comfortable armchairs, and large work desks with ergonomic chairs and in-room conveniences include LCD flat-panel HDTVs with cable channels, alarm clocks, fridges, coffee makers, irons and ironing boards, and complimentary wireless Internet.
Whirlpool Suites are perfect for romantic weekend getaways or business travelers who want extra space and comfort and feature king-size beds fitted with pillow-top mattresses and luxury linens, and en-suite bathroom with walk-in showers, plush towels and bathrobes, and spa-quality bath products. Sitting areas boast rich wood furnishings, sleeper sofas for extra guests and large work desks with ergonomic chairs, and modern amenities include LCD flat-panel HDTVs with cable channels, alarm clocks, fridges, coffee makers, irons and ironing boards, and complimentary wireless Internet. Whirlpool Suites can be combined with Luxury Suites to create two-bedroom Whirlpool Suites with sleeping areas are connected by communal living areas with sleeper sofas for additional overnight guests.
Premier Suites offer the ultimate in comfort with fully equipped kitchens, open-plan living rooms, private bedrooms with king-size beds fitted with pillow-top mattresses and luxury linens, and en-suite bathroom with walk-in showers, plush towels and bathrobes, and spa-quality bath products. Kitchens feature granite countertops, breakfast bars, full-size appliances including a dishwasher, and cabinetry stocked with cookware, dinnerware, silverware, and glassware. Well-appointed living areas have relaxing reading chairs, sleeper sofas and 42” LCD Flat Panel HDTVs with cable channels.
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Named after the notorious Midwestern gangster of the Prohibition Era, the opulent Capone Suite is private, spacious, and luxurious. Decorated in a vintage theme rich with Old World Hollywood glamor, the suite features a fully equipped kitchen with granite countertops, a breakfast bar, full-size appliances including a dishwasher, and cabinetry stocked with cookware, dinnerware, silverware, and glassware. A spacious living room and meeting area is accessed by French doors and has an executive dining table for eight guests, and a sleeper sofa, two comfortable chairs and a 42” LCD Flat Panel HDTV with cable channels. The suite has two large king bedrooms and en-suite bathrooms offering granite-topped vanities walk-in showers, plush towels and bathrobes, and spa-quality bath products, and a half bathroom is situated off the living area. Vast windows around the suite embrace breathtaking views of the Mississippi River, and modern amenities in the suite include LCD Flat Panel HDTVs with cable channels, alarm clock radios with iPod docking stations, hair dryers, irons and ironing boards, and complimentary wireless Internet.
Caroline’s Restaurant serves delectable American cuisine in an inviting and relaxing atmosphere. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; Caroline’s presents creative menus of delicious American cuisine with a twist, along with signature cocktails, fine wines and craft beers from around the world.
The Riverboat Lounge is an elegant lounge where light appetizers and handcrafted cocktails, spirits, craft beers, and fine wines can be enjoyed in a laid-back ambiance. The Lounge serves an enticing small plate menu, a variety of craft cocktails and excellent wines, and offers live entertainment four nights of the week, making it the perfect place for after-work drinks, pre-dinner cocktails, or a stylish night out with friends. An outdoor terrace boasts comfortable seating and breathtaking views of the Mississippi River.
Amenities and Recreation
The Hotel Julien Dubuque offers luxurious accommodations and an array of deluxe amenities and facilities for guests to enjoy. Upscale services include an indoor swimming pool and whirlpool tub, a fully equipped fitness center, an exclusive spa, and wellness center, and 15,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space for up to 400 people. Caroline’s Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily and the elegant Riverboat Lounge provides a relaxing spot for appetizers, drinks, and live entertainment. A business center has copying, faxing and printing services, along with complimentary wireless Internet, and the hotel provides free parking for guests. Guest services include room service, same-day laundry service, a grocery shopping service for long-term guests, and a complimentary shuttle service the to the airport and various other attractions.
Weddings and Events
The Hotel Julien Dubuque has beautifully appointed spaces for special occasions and celebrations from intimate weddings and ceremonies to grand receptions of up to 400 people. Venues include the elegant Grande Ballroom with its 17 foot chandeliered ceilings, the Fleur de Lis with its grand windows overlooking historic Main Street, the River Room, and the Harbor Gallery.
200 Main Street, Dubuque, IA 52001, Phone: 800-798-7098
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