Thanks to the Quad Cities for hosting my family this summer. It was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise difficult season and I’m grateful for the memories made while we explored a new area.
I’ve lived in the Chicago area most of my life and had never traveled to the Quad Cities before this year, despite them being less than a few hours from where I live. The Quad Cities is a region of cities that includes Davenport and Bettendorf in southeastern Iowa and Rock Island, Moline, and East Moline in northwestern Illinois.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was so much to do in this region and many family-friendly places to visit. The best part was that all the cities are so close together that you can easily travel around between them so keep that in mind when you plan a trip here.
Family Museum in Bettendorf, Iowa
The first place we headed upon arriving to the Quad Cities was the Family Museum in Bettendorf, Iowa. There were a number of engaging exhibits including the Lil ‘Sssippi River Valley exhibit that explores the bridges in the area and has a 28-foot waterplay table that resembles the Mississippi. They also have Luckey Climber, a huge climbing structure that let’s kids safely climb up two stories high. I absolutely love play-based children’s museums like this and my youngest two really enjoyed playing in “Fox Hollow”, with it’s realistically designed pretend play areas you’d find in a community like a bakery, pizzeria, and post office. There was an outdoor play area with a plane-like climbing structure, water play, and a nature area.
My favorite part of the museum though was the Imagination Studio where children and adults alike were encouraged to create using open-ended materials including a plethora of recycled and upcycled items. Those who stopped by could create with clay, paint, build their own robot, even work at work benches with real tools. It was pretty amazing to look around and see all of the creativity going on in that studio! And it was included in the admission cost so there was no additional fee to participate or cost to get assistance from the knowledgeable staff member who was in the room.
Another thing I appreciated, as a mom of a child on the Autism Spectrum, was that they have special sensory kits to assist those who may need support with calming children with special needs. Upon request, the Guest Services staff will gladly provide a kit filled with items like calming brushes, sensory toys, and tools to assist children with tension that they may endure while playing at the Museum. Also, the Museum’s staff is happy to provide a quiet low-lit room when necessary to help your child so you can visit with peace of mind knowing you will have a place to escape to if your child needs it.
Happy Joe’s Jungle Bungle in Davenport, Iowa
After visiting the museum we headed for a late lunch at one of the most popular pizza chains in the area. Happy Joe’s Jungle Bungle has a pizza buffet restaurant upstairs and an indoor play area downstairs. We didn’t go to the play area but we had to try the famous “Taco Joe” pizza we had heard so much about. My husband and youngest son absolutely love buffets so this was probably one of the highlights of the trip for them and the kids ended lunch with ice cream so you know we left with some smiling kiddos.
In the late afternoon we went out and rode the Channel Cat Water Taxi, a 47-passenger boat that takes visitors to the four landings around the Quad Cities in a continuous loop throughout the day from Memorial Day through Labor Day. I really enjoyed how relaxing the ride was! This would be the perfect way to get around during the warmer months and it can carry up to seven bikes so if you are biking the trails you can bring your bike along on the water taxi.
Stoney Creek Hotel & Conference Center in Moline, Illinois
We enjoyed our overnight stay at Stoney Creek Hotel & Conference Center. It was nicely situated by the river and we had an amazing room complete with a fireplace and Jacuzzi tub. Plus, the beds were super comfy which is really one of the most important things when you are exhausted from traveling, right?!
Breakfast is included in the stay which is always a nice way to save money. The hotel itself was nice and clean and they have a great indoor-outdoor pool that my family really enjoyed swimming in.
Freight House Farmer’s Market in Davenport, Iowa
I love a good Farmer’s Market and the Freight House Farmer’s Market in Davenport did not disappoint! This farmer’s market is open year-round on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. During the summer and fall months they expand outdoors with over 200 regional vendors on Saturdays. I liked that they had a variety of vendors from restaurants to produce to flowers to crafts. I went home with some handmade hairbows for my daughter and some fruit that could fit in our small cooler. If I had been going right home- and not had a full day of activities and travel ahead of me- I would have left with an armful of items because there was so much that I wanted to buy!
Lagomarcino’s in Moline, Illinois
After the Farmer’s Market we checked out of the hotel and then went over to Lagomarcino’s for sandwiches and ice cream sundaes. The food was delicious and the restaurant reminded me of an old-fashioned soda shop that I’d only seen in the movies!
Niabi Zoo in Coal Valley, Illinois
After lunch we headed to the Niabi Zoo. Emma and Lucas fed giraffes and I snapped the above photo that shows the pure joy that my daughter experienced throughout our trip to the zoo. I mean, when you come face-to-face with a giraffe like that how can you top that experience!?
The zoo has over 600 animals representing 200 species from around the world, all encompassed on more than 40 acres of picturesque forest preserve.
On the way out of the zoo we had to stop for this photo opp with the lion statue that Emma was too excited to see. I’m 99.9% sure she thought it was real and her mom was just casually letting her stand next to it. She then tried opening it’s mouth to see it’s teeth and was confused as to why she couldn’t do so (she obviously hasn’t gotten out much lol!)
Yes, if you are are counting, this was our third time getting ice cream during our two day trip. What can I say? We were on vacation! We grabbed chocolate shakes for the drive home and I don’t regret it for a minute :) The shakes were so thick and creamy that we should have ate them with spoons instead of grabbing straws. It was a great way to end an amazing trip!
Another place we hoped to check out but didn’t get a chance to was the Putnam Museum in Davenport, Iowa. It looks like an amazing history and science museum that my older boys would have really loved! Their Science Center has more than 45 hands-on experiences such as the Pull-Yourself-Up Pulley, Laser Fog, an interactive bi-lingual robot and more. They also have an Egypt exhibit which I was really looking forward to see. Make time in your schedule to visit it!
The Visit Quad Cities website has a number of other seasonal guides that would be good to check out as you are planning your trip. They have a lot of fun ideas for Halloween here.
The Quad Cities now has a Family Pass! You can find family fun with the Visit Quad Cities Family Pass and use it as your guide to all the best family fun the Quad Cities have to offer. There are deals you can use like discounts on admission, BOGO offers, free admission, and other freebies making this free mobile Quad Cities Family Pass a must have. Plus, each attraction you check into gets you closer to earning prizes! Have fun, check-in and earn a chance to win visa gift cards and a Quad Cities Getaway with a two-night stay for up to four people with the free mobile Quad Cities Family Pass. Get your pass here.
Where would you head first in the Quad Cities? Chat with me on social media and let me know :)