This is part 2 of a three part series of 100 family road trips within a 100 miles of the Quad Cities! Make sure you catch part 1 and part 3 to get all your good stuff onto your calendar!
Planning road trips is super easy with our lists of sites to see near the Quad Cities. All of the sites in this post are within an hour’s drive.
Wilton IA 30 miles
Wilton Candy Kitchen: The owners are Wilton natives who just love all of their customers. Dating back to 1860, it’s an old-fashioned soda fountain, and the oldest in the country, right here in Iowa! You can sit right in front at the counter and watch them mix your drinks/ice cream. Everything on the menu sounds really yummy. The place has a whimsical, magical feel to it. It’s a must if you’re planning family road trips from the Quad Cities.
Public Library: when you’re done browsing at the candy kitchen, take a stroll around the tiny downtown. Visit the adorable library and let the kids play at the park.
Wilton is totally uptown now as they just got a Subway and a Dollar General! So if your kid loses a shoe, or you need emergency undies, you’re all set.
Maquoketa IA 47 miles
Maquoketa Caves If you have yet to visit the caves, please try it this year. I’ve done it while baby wearing. It’s not too arduous; you just will need someone to make sure you’re bending low enough if you go into some of the caves with babe on your back. We always have a fantastic time getting muddy and wet (bring towels!) and it is always nice and cool, even on the most humid Iowa summer day.
Iowa Grape Vines Winery, Root Beer and Ice Cream Just one word: Yum.
Clinton Engines Museum You don’t really need much of a descriptor, it’s an engines museum. Lots of fun for engine enthusiasts when you’re going on family road trips from the Quad Cities.
Hurstville Interpretative Center This is really a local hidden gem in my opinion. It’s a small room, packed with information and learning opportunities. Outdoors you’ll find a pair of swans and other wildlife. Inside, many chances to learn about all sorts of nature. Among other highlights, they have a bee hive which enables you to watch the bees work at their tasks. Fascinating.
Hurstville Lime Kilns I didn’t even know such a thing existed until we saw the sign on the highway. According to LowTechMagazine.com, ““Lime” here means neither the citrus fruit nor the tree, but refers to a white powder derived from limestone. For at least 7,000 years humans created lime in kilns, much like they hardened pottery. Creating mortar for construction was a primary use.” Concrete made by Romans in this way has lasted for thousands of years, while our concrete usually only lasts for decades. These kilns aren’t from ancient Rome, but it’s still cool to see the original technology of our ancestors. It’s also much more fun if you read up about something before you go see it, so you and your kids have some context about why it’s so interesting.
61 Drive In Outdoor movies. Love. Don’t be a trashy person who leaves your garbage all around though. Clean up after yourself.
Bluff Lake A restaurant built by hand in the 1960s, it’s been family owned its entire existence. Everyone who’s eaten there exclaims over the deliciousness of the food and the casualness of the owners. Perfect for eating with kids when you don’t want to worry about table manners. Open only on weekends. Whether you’re looking for date night or a family road trip near the Quad Cities, check this place out.
Monmouth IL 48 miles
LeSuer Nature Preserve You can take a walk among several different habitats, such as prairie before the people moved in, (did you know that the prairie grass would have been as high as a school bus?!) forest and water. A beautiful place in which to observe nature.
Wyatt Earp Birthplace A 30 second shootout at the OK Corral has become the stuff of legend. Depicted by many actors, including Kevin Costner and Kurt Russell, and fodder for many Westerns, it all started here, in humble Monmouth IL. If you have a wild west enthusiast in your house you’ll want to visit this stop on our list of family road trips from the Quad Cities.
Bishop Hill, IL 50 miles
Bishop Hill National Landmark A historical township with Swedish heritage; you’ll find reenactors here when you visit during a special event. The buildings are open for a self guided tour Wednesdays through Sundays. Much more than a historical learning opportunity, you’ll find something for everyone from sweet little restaurants where kids are welcome and cherished to boutiques for mom, all with the picturesque feel of days gone by.
Burlington IA 58 miles
Snake Alley is a street located in Burlington, Iowa, which was built in 1894. In 2017, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! recognized the street as “Unbelievably Crooked” and the #1 Odd Spot in their Odd Spots Across America Campaign
Fun City: With an indoor/outdoor water park, bowling alley, go-kart track, laser-tag arena and arcade, it is literally a fun city! Davenport mom Maggie says it’s their top day trip destination because her “boys love it all!”
Catfish Bend Casino & Resort. Great food and fun city for the grown ups.
Crapo Park (cray-po) (although you’re welcome to still say it “Crapp-o” in your head! I know I can’t help it!) is a city park with arboretum and botanical garden, alongside the Mississippi River
Dankwardt Park Burlington’s city parks have a lot to offer, and not just in the sense of name hilarity. You’ll find grand views and places to stretch your legs as well as the chance to catch some nature doing what nature does. Being all “nature-y”.
Mosquito Park Read above. It’s essentially the same description. 🙂
Starr’s Cave Park, Preserve, and Nature Center Did someone say cave? Yes, there’s a cave, named for a guy named Starr, and a park. See what I mean about the names? Lots to see and do here, if you can tear the kids away from the bumper cars at Fun City, you definitely want to check it out.
It’s worth the jaunt across the river to Oquawka, IL and visit Norma Jean’s grave, the Elephant Killed By Lightning, the perfect mix of kitsch and oddity. Perfect addition for a family road trip from the Quad Cities.
Iowa City, IA 52 miles
Black Angel of Oakland Cemetery Rumor has it that this particular black angel is haunted. Check out the legends and have fun scaring yourselves. Cemeteries are underused public spaces in my opinion. My family and I love wandering through cemeteries, wondering about the people who lived before our time, what their lives were like, and making up tales about them. I know my deceased loved ones would be honored to have you traipsing through their eternal resting place.
Old Capitol In the original capital of Iowa, the capitol holds much history of our state.
U of I Museum of Natural History A huge place with all kinds of animals, birds, and more. Anyone would find this an enjoyable outing. Perfect for a rainy day. I like it because it’s quiet and educational. Two wins for this tired mom.
The Iowa Children’s Museum The Museum is in the mall. It has a lot to offer kids of all ages. While you’re there, go ice skating at Coral Ridge Mall or visit Trader Joe’s. You could spend some time at Scheel’s sporting goods or eat at Zombie Burger.
Hickory Hill Park Walk-run trail routes, picnicking, grilling, and nature study. What more could a person ask for from a park? Oh restrooms you say? It has restrooms too!
University of Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame For the sports fans in the family, this is a mecca. For the rest of you, you’ll find something to enjoy here too.
On a nice day be sure to visit Devonian Fossil Gorge You can see a dried out riverbed that has all kinds of fossils and learn about them. Rock Island reader Ashley highly recommends a visit and tells us, “They have maps that correspond to the various numbers around the gorge about the many fossil types located at different spots. Fascinating!”
Ashley also loves McBride State Park near Solon, IA. They have a raptor center there where you can see all kinds of raptors that are there for various reasons such as injury, have been imprinted on humans, like owls, hawks, kestrels, and eagles. Additionally, there’s a bird blind where you can watch all kinds of birds come to their feeders. Nearby posters about the birds help you identify and learn more about the avian visitors. Hiking and waterfalls make this an ideal family outing! All free.
Columbus Junction IA 53 miles
Lovers Leap Swinging Bridge 8 stories above the ground
Simply Soothing Iowa Marketplace home of the Bug Soother, invented by a local mom makes this a sweet little stop on road trips within an hour of the Quad Cities.
Galesburg IL 56 miles
Riverside IA 57 miles
The Voyage Home Museum: This is a fun little museum and just one of the cute and kitschy things you’ll see on this family road trip from the Quad Cities.
Riverside Casino for excellent food options
Sabula IA 58 miles The only island city in Iowa is one of many perfect road trips from the Quad Cities.
Jackson County Welcome Center Replica of old-fashioned schoolhouse, complete with a bell to ring and authentic furnishings.
Island City Harbor Refreshing, not crowded beach on the river
Green Island Wildlife Area kayak, boat, fish get wet and muddy. It is a true blessing being alive when you can see nature at its best in places like this. Add this to your family road trips from the Quad Cities to your list.