May 13, 2019

14 Unique Trails In Iowa

Whether you’re on the hunt for hamburgers, a sweet wine or perhaps a water trail, there’s a trail in Iowa for it. There’s even something for someone on the hunt for something a little “strange.” You don’t have to drive all over Iowa to find these trails, though. In 2019, Pottawattamie County (the nearest Iowa county to Omaha) was named the official Trail Capital of Iowa, so I decided to investigate what that means.

Disclosure: I was invited on a media tour to visit some of the stops included in various tours in Pottawattamie County. Other than complimentary lunch and a cookie, I was not compensated for this post. (I did gain about a pound learning about the trails, though).

Exploring the county that's know as the Trail Capital of Iowa - A look at the 10+ trails in Pottawattamie County, including a water trail, a wine trail, historic trails and more! Of course there are trails for active adventurers seeking hikes, biking or paddling in Iowa.

Loess Hills National Scenic Byway

If you’re not completely sure what the Loess Hills, they’re pretty unique to the region. The hills are formed by a fine windblown soil at the end of the last Ice Age. You’ll only find loess like this in two places: Along a stretch of 200 miles from Sioux City, Iowa to St. Joseph, Mo., and China!

14 unique trails in Iowa - The Loess Hills Scenic Byway
Fall would be a great time to drive the Loess Hills Scenic Byway, but that’s not to say the vistas are bad in early spring.

Driving through the scenic hills can be pretty amazing, if you time the seasons right. I particularly like stopping to hike through some of the parks in the Loess Hills.

14 unique trails in Iowa - Loess Hills National Scenic Byway takes you through a picturesque region of Iowa. One of the parks in the Loess Hills is Hitchcock Nature Center.
Hitchcock Nature Center is one of the closest parks with trails that take you into the Loess Hills.

Wabash Trace Nature Trail

The Wabash Trace Nature Trail is a great crushed limestone trail made out of an old railroad. So it’s flat. One of its end points is in Council Bluffs (the other is down south in Blanchard). It’s 63 miles long, and while I can only account for about 20 miles of it, it’s a nice trail for families to bike (or walk or snowshoe or whatever).

It’s also home to the Taco Ride, a super fun ride on Thursday nights. Since a lot of people imbibe in some booze at some point during the Taco Ride, take caution on the route, especially at night. It’s not a lit trail at night.

Also, it’s good to note that there is a $1 daily fee or a $12 annual pass to ride the trail. Please pay it since it helps pay for the upkeep of the trail.

What In The World?: On the Trail For Stranger Things

The name of this trail just really gets my attention. I’ve actually done one thing on the list already – goat yoga. You can find it at Honey Creek Creamery and Does and Dairy. It’s a seasonal thing because, well, baby goats are a spring thing. When I did a session at Honey Creek Creamery, we spent more time cuddling the kids and taking selfies, but still, I highly recommend it!

14 unique trails in Iowa - What in the World?: On the Trail for Stranger Things includes stops for curious sites or curious activities, like goat yoga
It’s perfectly acceptable to take a selfie or cuddle a baby goat during goat yoga sessions at Honey Creek Creamery in Honey Creek, Iowa.

Some of the other stops include The Black Angel and Squirrel Cage Jail in Council Bluffs.

Wine Your Way Through The Hills Trail

Pre-kids, I had a goal of visiting every winery in southwest Iowa. I’d sample some wines, maybe buy a bottle, and then just admire the views. If you feel like “wine-ing” your way through this trail, you’ll visit wineries like Loess Hills Vineyard & Winery in Crescent, Breezy Hills Vineyard & Winery in Minden and Prairie Crossing Vineyard & Winery in Treynor.

Related post: Wineries near Council Bluffs

Other stops are related to wine (or sometimes a stretch) but aren’t wineries. They include places to get meats and cheeses, as well as galleries like The Painted Camel in Macedonia, where you might be able to find unique serving glasses or trays.

14 unique trails in Iowa - Wine Your Way Through The Hills Trail takes visitors to wineries, farms and galleries to purchase wine-related items
The Painted Camel is a gallery in Macedonia, Iowa featuring variety of paintings, pottery, textiles and more made by local artists.

More trails in Iowa

I only went into detail about a few of the trails in Pottawattamie County. Additional trails that might interest you include:

14 unique trails in Iowa - Lewis & Clark Trail
Lewis & Clark Monument & Scenic Overlook is in Council Bluffs. In addition to offering a view of the Missouri River and Omaha, the park has some short but nice trails to hike.

B&B Trail: Watta Way to Enjoy Burgers and Beer – This trail sounds particularly good to me. You can bet Iowa is going to have good hamburgers, but guess what? The beer is good too!

California Trail – Trace part of the California Trail, an emigrant trail that crossed the state.

Freedom, Faith and Fellowship – Historic Country Churches Trail – It’s exactly what it sounds like. Learn about the faith of the county’s farming forefathers.

Lewis & Clark Trail – U.S. history buffs, this one’s for you. This trail route in Pottawattamie County takes to some of the spots visited by the historical figures.

Lincoln Highway Heritage Trail – The first transcontinental highway passed through Iowa, and you can trace the route as it passes through Pottawattamie County.

Mormon Trail – Yep, that trail passed through Iowa.

Pioneer Trail – The Manifest Destiny sent pioneers trekking across the country, and their trail passed through this part of Iowa.

Railroad Highway Multi-Use Trail – This trail takes you through smaller communities in the county.

Stars and Bronze Tribute Trail – Throughout the county, you can find tribute projects honoring veterans and public figures, including the “Eagles of Honor” statues and Freedom Rock. Quite a few of the stops are in Council Bluffs, including one that honors Deputy Mark Burbridge, who was killed while on duty in 2017.

West Nishnabotna River Water Trail – I want to canoe this 27-mile trail someday (probably not all at once). This water trail is suitable for kayaks and tubers, too. There are several access points into the river, so you can make your trip as long or short as you want. Find access points in Avoca, Hancock, Oakland, Carson and Macedonia.

A look at the 14 trails that have made Pottawattamie County the Trail Capital of Iowa - Trails include water ways, "stranger things" trail, historic trails, and one that's all about burgers and beer

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May 7, 2019

Best Things To Do In Sioux City

Kim’s note: This is a guest post written by Sioux City local and Oh My! Omaha friend, Lindsay. I asked her to write a local’s guide to Sioux City (and Siouxland, which encompasses the Big Sioux River drainage basin in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota). She didn’t disappoint!

If you’re like an Omaha version of me, you probably come to Sioux City, Iowa, occasionally, but stick to what to you know. Well, I’m ready to fill you in on our local favorites! Here are my top picks for where to eat, where to play, and what to bring home if you are in Sioux City for a day. You can’t actually do all of them in one day, but you can mix-and-match your favorites to make a perfect day trip to Sioux City for your family!

Local mom shares where to eat, play and explore in Sioux City, Iowa. This guide includes restaurants, tips on where to hike and where to see a show, and the best museums to see if you only have a day to visit. #Iowa #Guide #SiouxCity #Siouxland

Where to eat in Sioux City

Breakfast: Jitters in downtown Sioux City makes the best cake donuts in Siouxland, and they are my top recommendation for a Sioux City breakfast. It made the list of Midwest Best Donuts.

Things to do in Sioux City, Iowa - Eat where the locals eat! Don't skip getting a donut at Jitters.
Sprinkle donut at Jitters in downtown Sioux City. Photo courtesy Siouxland Families

Sunkist Bakery in Morningside (or on Hamilton Boulevard) delights with a wider variety of donuts including yeasted and jam- or custard-filled types. For healthier fare, try to track down the Heartland Coffee and Nosh food truck for one of their breakfast bowls and some lavender lemonade!

Lunch: La Juanita looks like a typical hole-in-the-wall taqueria, but you’ll be blown away by the award-winning flavor of their tacos, burritos (which have been rated as amongst America’s “most life-changing”) and other delicious fare.

Or drive through Billy Boy or Tastee for restro flair and great comfort food. Billy Boy is known for its burgers and ice cream, while Tastee shines with its loose meat sandwiches. Both pair best with root beer, and if you like onion chips, they’re worth the upgrade at both places.

Related post: Read about Tastee and other places Oh My! Omaha visited on a weekend getaway to Sioux City.

Dinner: For a sit down experience, Rebo’s on Fourth Street has amazing fajitas. M’s, also on Fourth Street, makes pasta worth the calories. Four Brothers in the Morningside area of Sioux City (near the mall and Highway 29) serves up delicious gourmet burgers and more.

Prefer carryout? Sioux City residents perpetuate a (good-natured) feud between El Fredo’s Pizza and Jerry’s Pizza. El Fredo’s sauce has delightfully intense zing, while Jerry’s crusts are crisper and the sauce milder. Both are delicious. Sneaky’s Chicken and Diamond Thai are also Sioux City carryout classics that you can’t go wrong with.

Where to play in Sioux City

Hiking: I recommend Stone State Park and the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center. The trails at the nature center connect to the rest of Stone Park if you’re looking for a longer hike. They are fun in their own right if you are looking for a short, kid-friendly walk. The Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center trails lead to a rustic looking outdoor playspace you won’t want to miss!

Five Ridge Prairie north of town also offers a fun hiking experience, with fewer amenities but more impressive views.

Things to do in Sioux City, Iowa - Hike the Stone State Park, a scenic park in the Loess Hills
A hilltop view from a trail at Stone State Park, with trails that take you into the Loess Hills. Photo courtesy Siouxland Families

Pools & water fun: Riverside Park is your best bet – it’s Sioux City’s best public pool, complete with waterslides, a splash zone in the pool area. There are two wheelchair-accessible splash pads on the other end of the park near the Miracle Field adaptive playground. Lewis and Lief Erickson parks also have pools open to the public.

Other outdoor fun: There are more than half-dozen disc golf courses in the Sioux City area, with the newest almost completed at Lief Erickson Park. You can also enjoy a walk or bike ride along the riverfront, play mini golf, or shop at the Sioux City Farmer’s Market to get some fresh air and sunshine (and veggies!).

Live entertainment: Sioux City has two movie theaters, plus other live entertainment at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, the Tyson Events Center, and the Sioux City Orpheum Theater.

Things to do in Sioux City - See live entertainment from concerts to comedians at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
The lobby of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Sioux City. Photo courtesy Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City

Tip: Be careful on Facebook, theatergoers! Sometimes it is hard to tell which event posts are for events at your Omaha Orpheum Theater and which are for our Sioux City Orpheum!

Indoor sports: You can get sporty indoors with the rock climbing wall at the Long Lines Center. Check out the Drop Zone Family Fun Center with trampolines, a ninja course and laser tag. Cool off at the IBP Ice Center with indoor ice skating year round.

Museums: Sioux City has a surprising number of museums for a city of this size. Some that I especially recommend to visitors include the Sioux City Art Center (the Grant Wood corn room is a must-see!), LaunchPAD Children’s Museum for little visitors, and the Sioux City Railroad Museum with its brand new grand-scale railroad now open for rides.

Tip: If you belong to a membership that’s part of the Association of Children’s Museum, admission to LaunchPAD Children’s Museum is half off! If you have a Patron level membership at Omaha Children’s Museum, you can take advantage of that reciprocal membership discount.

Things to do in Sioux City - Visit LaunchPad Children's Museum
LaunchPAD Children’s Museum is a fun, kid-friendly place to visit in Sioux City. Photo courtesy Visit Sioux City

Souvenirs from Siouxland

Siouxland’s best souvenirs are mostly edible. Jolly Time Koated Kernels makes delicious popcorn flavored with cheese, chocolate, candy, and more. You can buy them at their factory store as well as at locations around Siouxland.

Things to do in Sioux City, Iowa - Buy treats at Palmer's Old Tyme Candy Shoppe
The truffle display case at Palmer’s Old Tyme Candy Shoppe in Sioux City. Palmer’s Candy Co. is known for creating the Twin Bing in 1923. Photo courtesy Siouxland Families

Or head to Palmer’s Old Tyme Candy Shoppe, which never disappoints with their candy. From factory seconds to gourmet truffles and handmade fudge, you’re sure to find a type (or 10) you and your loved ones will gobble with delight.

Related post: Palmer’s Candy Co. invented the Twin Bing, so when you’re in Sioux City, you’ve got to try it! So much so, it’s on the Sioux City bucket list!

For less perishable keepsakes, try the museum gift shops and Sioux City Gifts. One of the cutest options for kids is a small plush Newfoundland (like Lewis & Clark’s dog!)

Whether you’re visiting family, or in town for work or a kid’s sport tournament, or coming up just for fun, Sioux City loves visitors from Omaha. I hope these tips help you make the most of your time up here. Drop by anytime, neighbors!

About the author

Lindsay is a Sioux City mom of three who loves dramatic earrings, buttercream frosting, hiking with her family, and crafts from hand embroidery to slime making. Lindsay writes about family-friendly fun in Sioux City and beyond at SiouxlandFamilies.com. Her latest venture is a series of YouTube videos highlighting area attractions in a minute each, “Sioux City in 60 Seconds.”

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December 28, 2018

The Iowa Mom Who Designed The Perfect Sports Bra

I’m fine with writing about conquering a ropes course or hiking with my family, but I’ve never thought of writing about the bra I was wearing when doing it. Sports bras were just functional, right? It took wearing a sports bra designed by a woman in Council Bluffs, Iowa, to realize they can be functional and comfortable. Let me tell you about Tamara Brunow and H2W Apparel.

H2W Apparel is a sports apparel line designed for women of all sizes designed by Tamara Brunow. The comfy sports bra zips in the front and has an H-back design. #partner #bra #sportsbra

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post by H2W Apparel. I also received complimentary product for the post. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

What is H2W Apparel

H2W Apparel was started by Tamara Brunow, after a particularly crummy 16-day stretch of work in 2011 when the Missouri River had flooded. Brunow owned a construction company, and was raising three kids on her own, so you can imagine those long days both professionally and personally. And long days in an uncomfortable bra is miserable, right?

Tamara Brunow, owner of H2W Apparel.
Tamara Brunow is a single mom and business owner who was tired of uncomfortable bras, so she designed her perfect bra. Photo courtesy H2W Apparel

And one day, she decided there has to be a better bra and if she couldn’t find it, she’d design it. She had the engineering chops and she was a woman who was all too familiar with cute but unbearable bras, so though many trials and errors, she designed the bra that you’ll find in the H2W Apparel line.

The bra has custom-molded cups that offer the support you need but not a total uni-boob look to it (you know how sports bras can be), and a mesh lining that allows the skin to breath. The bra zips in the front, making it easy to take on and off, especially post-workout.

And the design feature that really makes the bra stand out? The bra has a patent-pending ergonomic H-back, which eliminates the annoying strap from slipping down.

“I think you hit a point in your life, you realize the cute things that sell are not functional. “I just want to be comfortable,” said Brunow.

I tried the H2W Sports Bra

Brunow sent me a few of the bras and pants to try out before writing this. I tried out the bra with the H-back, you guys. And, for real, it’s not a bra you immediately want to rip off as soon as you enter your house.

Right before Christmas, I wore it on a 2-mile hike around Hitchcock Nature Center right before Christmas, and then kept it on to do some last-minute shopping that evening. It was comfortable and worked well (plus it didn’t look like I was wearing a sports bra).

The bra for every woman

I want to point out that Brunow intended for her sports apparel to be for every woman, especially the women often overlooked by the sports industry.

“We want women of all sizes to wear our clothes. We want to be an inclusive brand.”

H2W apparel is sports apparel for women of all sizes, with clothes available from Medium to XXL.
H2W Apparel is available in sizes Medium to XXL. Photo courtesy H2W Apparel

When she was designing her bra and researching performance fabrics, she concluded that anyone over a size 12 was pretty much ignored by the sports industry.

“Once you’re beyond a size 12, you’re on a raft by yourself,” Brunow had concluded. So, she set out to change that.

Her bras include sizes that fit women who wear up to a size 24. And she wasn’t done with bras – she went on to design super comfy workout pants, too. Her pants, Gym and Swim, are scaled large so that the XXL works for women in sizes 24-26.

The Gym and Swim should’ve been in my life four months ago when I tried moonlight kayaking. They’re comfy and they’re waterproof. The pants have nylon latex in them, like in swimsuits. And my favorite part, these pants don’t slide down, so no more plumber’s crack. H2W also has soft leggings available.

The colors are limited, just black or gray bras for now, but as the company grows, Brunow will add more colors. She told me she’s had women request a nude or white bra.

In case you’re wondering what H2W stands for (as I was), it stands for Brunow’s personal mantra: “Happy, healthy, whole.”

I love it, don’t you?

Where to buy H2W apparel

You can buy H2W Apparel online and locally in a handful of stores right now. In Omaha, it’s available at Nearly Naked Lingerie at 171st and Center streets, and Karma Yoga at 156th and Dodge streets. In Council Bluffs, you can find apparel at Hello Gorgeous Hair Salon at 1010 S. Main St., suite 500. And, further beyond, products are available at Teal Creek Boutique in Fort Calhoun, Neb.

H2W Apparel New Generation Bra has a front zipper and a patent-pending ergnomic H-back. Photo courtesy H2W Apparel

Online, you’ll find H2W Apparel prices to be pretty reasonable, especially for how comfortable they are. Bras are $60, and pants range from $15 to $25.

If you buy one, let me know what you think of it!

H2W Apparel is a sports apparel line designed for women of all sizes designed by Tamara Brunow. #partner #bra #sportsbra

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December 14, 2018

Winter Day Trips From Omaha

There’s only one thing to do when cabin fever strikes: Bundle up and get out of the house. I recently shared a list of 30+ things to do this winter in Omaha. But if you’ve done it all here, or at least it feels like it, then maybe it’s time to get out of town. Here are some ideas to inspire your next winter day trips from Omaha:

Winter day trips from Omaha, Nebraska - Indoors and outdoor ideas for families #Nebraska #Iowa #familytravel

Council Bluffs, Iowa

You don’t have to go far for your next day trip. Council Bluffs, Iowa, has enough to keep you busy for the day. Visit Union Pacific Railroad Museum for free, or pay a few dollars to see the nearby Squirrel Cage Jail. The city also has Joe’s Carting, for go carts.

Related post: Family-Friendly Outdoor Activities Near Council Bluffs

The historic Squirrel Cage Jail is located in Council Bluffs.  Photo courtesy Iowa Tourism Office

Where to eat? 712 is great food but not necessarily a place you’d necessarily want to bring little kids to. Pizza King is an iconic pizza joint (though Pizza Counter nearly won the entire Great Pizza Tournament this year). Quaker Steak & Lube is a chain restaurant, but the decor gives you plenty to look at while you’re there. 

Honey Creek, Iowa

Bundle up and hit the trails at Hitchcock Nature Center. You can rent snow shoes and if you’re feeling adventurous, try a sled down the Chute Trail. Warm up and have the kids play around the great visitor’s center.

Related post: Fall At Hitchcock Nature Center

Where to eat? When the weather’s nice, I usually pack a picnic for Hitchcock outings. However, I don’t picnic in the winter. Crescent is your closest city with restaurants. My favorite restaurant is closed now, so I guess I’ll just recommend the iconic Crescent restaurant, Pink Poodle. I haven’t eaten there in, oh, about 20 years, though, so I can’t tell you if it’s still great or not.

Truthfully? I drive into Council Bluffs if I’m looking a restaurant near there. 

Crescent, Iowa

The area’s only skiing is at Mt. Crescent in Crescent, Iowa. In addition to ski slopes, there are tubes to rent. Best part? You don’t have to walk up the hill each time with the big tubes; Mt. Crescent has a lift for the tube trail, too.

Where to eat? Mt. Crescent has a small lodge that may have some food. It’s near Crescent, Iowa, so see the above suggestion.

Lincoln, Neb.

There’s so much to do in Lincoln in the winter, but our favorites are the Lincoln Children’s Museum and Morrill Hall. We also enjoyed Lost In Fun!, but it is out of the way of most everything.

Related Post: 8 Great Things To Do With Kids In Lincoln

The hall of mammoths at Morrill Hall on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Where to eat? We always end up eating at Lazlo’s with the kids in the Hay Market. Fora good dessert, I recommend The Rabbit Hole Bakery, an Alice in Wonderland-themed café.

Ashland, Neb.

Mahoney State Park is a destination in itself, but you can combine a stop there with a few hours at Strategic Air and Space Museum. Outdoor activities at Mahoney include tobogganing and ice skating. We usually spend all of our time at the Activity Center, which has a huge indoor playground and climbing walls.

The indoor Activity Center at Mahoney State Park is a popular (and inexpensive) destination for families living in Omaha.

Where to eat? – You could eat at the Activity Center, but I wouldn’t recommend it beyond getting a snack. Head into Ashland for Cherri’s, which has some good sandwiches and ice cream, or just get a pizza to go from Casey’s.

If you’re traveling without kids, there’s winery and tasting room to check out, too. Visit Cellar 426 or Glacial Till Tasting Room.

Related Post: Things To Do At Mahoney State Park In The Winter 

Nebraska City, Neb.

OK, I’ll be the first to tell you Nebraska City is better any other time of the year, but don’t dismiss it. For older kids, explore some of the historic sites including Arbor Lodge and Wildwood Historic Center. If you’re ambitious and hearty in the winter, hit the trails at the Arbor Lodge Tree Adventure.

Related Post: Visiting Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure

Going off the trail at the Arbor Lodge Tree Adventure in Nebraska City, Neb.

Where to eat? The last restaurant we dined at in Nebraska City is now closed and, I confess, I’m more likely to pack a picnic visit (and then eat apple pie at the Apple House Market next door to the Tree Adventure). The Keeping Room looks charming, so if I were to pick the one I’d try out, I’d go there.

Your turn: Tell me a great winter day trip from Omaha!

Great, family-friendly day trip from Omaha - Things to see and do in nearby towns like Lincoln, Ashland and Honey Creek #Nebraska #Lincoln #Midwest

Get more day trip ideas by following my Pinterest board dedicated to traveling with kids through Nebraska:

https://www.pinterest.com/ohmyomaha/traveling-in-nebraska-with-kids/

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December 11, 2018

Comparing Hotels In The Quad Cities

When I started planning our first trip to the Quad Cities, I was at a loss on where to stay. The Quad Cities are four cities that are so near each other, you get the feeling it’s just one bigger Midwest city.

We’ve passed stayed in three different Quad Cities hotels now, in three different cities, so now I can at least offer suggestions on where to stay based on your budget or plans. The Quad Cities, for the unfamiliar, are in eastern Iowa and Western Illinois (Davenport, Bettendorf, Rock Island, Moline and East Moline…yes, five cities).

Disclosure: Our stays were hosted by Visit Quad Cities. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

Not sure where to stay in the Quad Cities? This post compares three hotels located in Davenport, Bettendorf and Moline. #Iowa #Illinois #familytravel

Related post: Plan a trip to the Quad Cities with the help of this post full of family-friendly things to do in the Quad Cities.

Element Moline

Moline, Ill.

Our room at Element had the look and feel of a chic loft – brick walls, concrete floors, and a kitchen.

You may be familiar with the Element brand – sleek designs with a focus on health and green living. This location is within walking distance of the concert arena, a bike trail, and the John Deere Pavilion, which is a great, free place to visit with kids.

It has a small pool and complimentary breakfast with healthy options. There’s also a happy hour during the week, which may or may not appeal to you when you’re on a family trip.

The complimentary breakfast one morning included an egg white scramble and fresh fruit. I also got a pastry because I’m no diet saint.

There are not a whole lot of shops or restaurants within walking distance.

Kids will like: The pool.

Kids won’t like: Our room only had a shower.

Parents will like: The spacious suites that let a family be a little less cramped. Ours had a kitchen, too. There’s also free Wi-Fi. Parking is comped by the hotel.

Good for: Families that like free breakfasts with healthy choices and families looking for a bit more spacious rooms.

Related post: Read more about Element Moline in this hotel review.

My Place Davenport

Davenport, Iowa

My Place in Davenport, Iowa, is an affordable hotel option for families visiting the Quad Cities.

This is a newly-opened location of the chain My Place. It’s a good option for families on a tight budget.

This location is a short drive from a lot of shopping options and malls. It’s also pretty close to the very fun Family Museum, which will appeal to families with younger children.

The My Place room we stayed in overnight had a full-size fridge and small range.

Kids will like: Comfy beds.

Kids won’t like: There’s no pool.

Parents will like: How budget-friendly and clean it is. We were looking for a hotel for a stopover for a road trip.  We didn’t need much for an overnight, just beds for all of us that were comfortable. Parents might also like the kitchenette with a huge fridge in the room. There’s also free Wi-Fi. Parking is free.

Parents won’t like: There is no complimentary breakfast. You can, however, order breakfast to be delivered to your room. The prices were pretty reasonable, and beat fast food.

Good for: Families on a budget or families making a quick overnight stop.

Hilton Garden Inn Bettendorf

Bettendorf, Iowa

The Hilton Garden Inn was the best fit for our family with amenities we all wanted (especially that hot tub by the pool). It’s in a good location near the interstate so it’s easy to get to places.

The lobby of the Hilton Garden Inn in Bettrndorf, Iowa, was decked for the holidays when we visited right after Thanksgiving. 

It’s within an easy drive–or if you’re feeling up to it, an easy walk–to some restaurants like Pizza Ranch and Starbucks. It’s also not far from one of the breakfast places we went to on our Quad Cities weekend trip, Jimmy’s Pancake.

What kids will like: The pool is the biggest of the two hotels that had them, plus it has a hot tub. Kids will like the fresh, homemade cookies at check in, too.

Nighttime swim in the pool at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bettendorf, Iowa.

What parents will like: The cozy lobby, that hot tub I mentioned, and the free coffee in the lobby. There’s also a bar and restaurant in the lobby.

What parents won’t like: No complimentary breakfast. The hotel restaurant in the lobby looks like it would be included, but expect to pay for that buffet. Kids are half-price, though.

Things to look forward to in Quad Cities in 2019

A bike trail along the Mississippi River in the Quad Cities.

Museum updates: The Buffalo Bill Museum in LeClaire has anew addition housing a replica 1920s interior of a one-room school house. The Putnam Museum & Science Center in Davenport opens “RACE: Are We So Different” in January. The German American Heritage Center in Davenport opens an exhibit on the Schweibert Family in March. The Figge Art Museum opens an exhibit on Tiffany’s stained-glass windows, vases, lamps and accessories on Feb. 16 and running through May 19. The Family Museum has a summer exhibit running June 8 throughSept. 8 called “Run! Jump! Fly! Adventures in Action!”

Drink updates: Bootleg Hill Honey Meads just opened in downtown Davenport, serving a variety of meads and craft drinks. 

Additional things to look out for in 2019: Quad Cities Air Show returns after a two-year break in 2019. The show will be June 29 and 30. The 100th Mississippi Valley Fair is July 30 through Aug. 3. The 2019Grand Stand acts include Brad Paisley, Jake Owen, Tesla and Dan + Shay. Snowstar has a new zipline course, with one zipline that’s 1,300 feet long. The world’s largest truck stop, Iowa 80 Truckstop, is near the Quad Cities and it has recently finished a $10 million expansion and remodel project. Look for the antique trucks added to the main entry. Quad Cities got a new hockey team, theQuad City Storm, in 2018. Playing in the Southern Professional Hockey League, the season runs October through April.

Looking for free things to do with kids in the Quad Cities? Read this post!

Not sure where to stay in the Quad Cities? This post compares three hotels located in Davenport, Bettendorf and Moline. #Iowa #Illinois #familytravel

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November 17, 2018

Exploring Putnam Museum With Young Kids

When we went to the Quad Cities this fall, our kids were 7 and 9. Fun ages, but in the window between enjoying children’s museums (which they still love) and starting to appreciate science museums geared toward older ages. We went to Putnam Museum in Davenport, Iowa, and found a place that catered both to the children’s museum fans and science center fans in both of them (with a good dash of history and natural history thrown into the mix).

Things to know about visiting the Putnam Museum in Davenport, Iowa (one of the Quad Cities) - What kids like, how long to expect to spend there, and what's not to be missed #Iowa #familytravel #museum

Disclosure: Our visit to the Quad Cities was hosted by Visit Quad Cities. Admission to the Putnam Museum was free thanks to reciprocal memberships I have with my Omaha Children’s Museum membership. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

What to expect at Putnam Museum

The museum is rather large, and at first, may feel a little overwhelming. Where to go to first, was our question. We asked the lady at admissions what she’d recommend for kids and she pointed us toward the science center area, the Egyptian room and said not to miss out on the dinosaur augmented reality screen.

Testing out a simple machine at the Putnam Museum in Iowa
Putnam Museum has a lot of hands-on activities for kids to explore STEM concepts.

Those were good tips. The science center was the first spacein the museum you walk into, so that was easy to find. In it, kids and adultscould explore 45 hands-on stations. Some were loud, like really loud.

Putnam Science Center inside the Putnam Museum in Davenport, Iowa
This was a magnetic exhibit that I wish I knew better how to explain. There were 45 areas in the science center and I’ve already forgotten how half of them worked.

My son was drawn toward exhibits with touch screens, like ones where you could compose music or edit a video.

My daughter probably could’ve spent the entire afternoon “playing” with the dinosaurs. In this room, you could stand in front of a screen and watch dinosaurs walk, crawl or fly by you. It entertained the kids for a long time.

Augmented reality exhibit at Putnam Museum
The exhibit “Back to the Jurassic” is an augmented reality experience that thrilled my kids. It’s a 5-minute program with dinosaurs that you can interact with on screen.

And me. I’ll admit it.

The museum is also part natural history museum, so like I mentioned earlier there’s a room with mummies and artifacts from ancient Egypt. That was an impressive room.

Ancient Egypt exhibit at Putnam Museum in Davenport, Iowa
Learning about mummies and Egyptian hieroglyphs at the Putnam Museum in the Quad Cities.

But there were may other areas to see that explore history,especially history as it related to the Quad Cities.  In that space, you walked through the history of these rivertowns, all the way back to the time of Native Americans. There’s a kids spacetucked in the back of this exhibit that allowed for dress up and pretend play.

If you have a kid interested in animals around theworld, you’ll encounter displays of animals throughout the museum. The exhibitthat featured river creatures and plants was very well done and interactive.The one with more exotic animals like a polar bear and rhino appeared a littlemore dated.

Things to know about Putnam Museum

We arrived at the end of the day and had about an hour and a half to explore.  We saw and played with quite a bit of things in that short period of time. I’d recommend allowing at least two to three hours here.

Playing with a robot at the Putnam Museum in Davenport, Iowa
My son tested a robot’s “vision” during our visit to Putnam Museum in Davenport, Iowa.

While we didn’t get to watch anything, there’s also an IMAX theater in the building.

Tip: Putnam Museum is part of the Association of Science &Technology Centers. If you have a membership to another ASTC museum (and inOmaha, that would be Omaha Children’s Museum), you can get free admission for up to four people. This is a great deal! Learn more about reciprocal membership benefits like the the ASTC program here.

Exhibit at Putnam Museum in Davenport, Iowa
Can any kid resist playing with air pressure? Kids can put a scarf in a tube and wait for it to shoot out the top. This area of the Putnam Museum entertained my youngest for a long time.

Putnam Museum is one of 250+ museums that belong to the ASTC reciprocal membership program. To find out all the kid-friendly museums like it that are within driving distance of Omaha, read this post!

If you go

Putnam Museum

Where: 1717 W. 12th St., Davenport, Iowa

Website

Things to know before visiting the Putnam Museum in Davenport, Iowa - It's part science center, part history museum and a lot of fun. Tips on what to see and how much time to expect to spend there #quadcities #familytravel #museum

Plan a Quad Cities Family Trip

Want to visit Putnam Museum along with some other great family-friendly attractions in the Quad Cities (which are Davenport, Bettendorf, Moline and Rock Island)? Read on for some of my favorite places:

Fun Things To Do With Kids In The Quad Cities

Where To Stay In The Quad Cities – Illinois Side

The Figge Art Museum And Kids

Free Things To Do With Kids In The Quad Cities

Comparing Hotels Around The Quad Cities

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