After 4 years living & exploring the Quad Cities, I can confidently say that these are the 10 (plus a bonus) BEST things to do in Davenport Iowa.
4 years ago, I moved to Davenport, Iowa, to live in the Midwest for the very first time.
A little background on me-
I grew up in San Diego, CA and have lived in both Southern & Northern parts of California. I eventually moved to Phoenix, Arizona and lived there for a few years, after which I moved to Davenport.
Suffice it to say that I am a big city girl that loves the sun.
Since moving to Davenport, I have gone out of my way to truly discover what this Quad Cities area has to discover. What is there to love? What are its special features, nooks & treasures?
4 years later, I can confidently say that I have found the funnest things that Davenport has to offer.
These are all spots and activities that I’ve personally enjoyed and have no problem visiting again and again. These are the places where I bring out of town guests to have a fun time (and even old time natives who have gotten kinda complacent with their hometown).
I’m sharing them with you today and here they go…
10 (+a bonus) Best Things To Do in Davenport, Iowa
1. Go Wine Tasting at the Wide River Winery
1128 Mound St, Davenport, IA 52803
This list isn’t necessarily in order but this is easily one of my top 3 things to do in Davenport!
Wide River Winery is a winery local to Eastern Iowa, with 3 tasting rooms one of which is Davenport. Word is that the owner is an attorney that got into winemaking and this is why all of the wines have legal sounding names (e.g. Not Guilty, Blushing Testimony, etc).
This is a favorite because the wine is spectacular, the location is charming and the vibe there is always friendly and lighthearted.
Their wine is so good that we always try to keep a bottle at home. (Comment below if you’d like to know my favorites). Luckily, their wines are not only available in the tasting rooms; you can also buy them at local grocery stores like HyVee.
The Davenport location is in the East Village, which is chock full of restaurants and little shops, so it is easy to take a walk in the area after your wine tasting. (Which can come in handy if you indulged a little too much wink wink).
This location has a patio for outdoor sipping and on some nights, they have live music.
(Other locations offer winery tours).
Finally, the vibe there is always pleasant. The staff has always been extremely nice and are easy to converse with. The atmosphere is all inclusive so that it’s magical for date night, great for friend meetups and perfect for when you want to go out…but not go all out, you know what I mean?
2. Take a Flight Lesson at Carver Aero
9230 N Harrison St, Davenport, IA 52806
I discovered Carver Aero in a moment of expert-level-wifeliness.
For my husbands first birthday in Davenport, I wanted to gift him a flight lesson because that is something that he has always been interested in.
After doing my research, I discovered Carver Aero – a private aircraft company with multiple Iowa locations – one of which is in Davenport. In addition to their charter services, they also offer flight lessons and so I called them to try to book a one-time lesson.
Wow! They were incredibly accommodating!
I bought a gift certificate from them and on the agreed upon day, we drove out to one of their locations and a pilot took my husband through a short lesson after which he helped him co-pilot the plane over the Mississippi River and the Davenport Area.
He even let me sit in the back (and oh boy I was shaking like a leaf…I love my husband but a pilot he is not…yet at least).
After landing, they gave us more information about flight training and tada!! I’m here to tell you about it.
Pleasant experience all the way through. 10 / 10 – would highly recommend.
3. Discover Treasures at the Freight House Farmers Market
421 W River Dr, Davenport, IA 52801
I kid you not- the Davenport’s Farmers Market is the best farmers market I have ever been to.
And I know I’m not crazy because my sister visited and said the same thing.
They host a large number of local farmers, bakers, artisans and growers during the months when the weather is conducive to outdoor activity.
This is a great farmers market because it is large (vendors set up indoor as well as outdoor) and there is a wide variety of products (bath and body, drinks, baked goods, homewares, fruits, vegetables, food trucks, etc). Because of all the agriculture grown in the area, the high quality of these items is evident.
If you prefer Farmers Markets that are rife with live entertainment though, this might not be the one for you. However, a lot of people come out so it’s very much a popular thing to do.
4. Go Bowling at the Historic Blackhawk Hotel
200 E 3rd St, Davenport, IA 52801
The Blackhawk Hotel is actually an Autograph Collection hotel which means it is pretty ritzy. Whenever I walk in, my first impression is always “vintage glamour“. There’s a reason why this hotel has been chosen to host multiple presidents.
If you are into artistic hotel design (something I’ve really started to appreciate), it’s truly a site to see in and of itself. So, if you can spend a night here, I’d recommend it.
However, if not, you can find yourself a few hours of semi-upscale entertainment at BlackHawk Bowl & Martini Lounge – which is located in the basement of the hotel and is accessible to all (not just hotel guests).
You can host parties or meetings here, reserve bowling lanes in advance or just walk in for a quick bowling game. Expect old school luxury vibes at this bowling alley.
5. Take a Family Walk along the Mississippi River
400 Beiderbecke Dr, Davenport, IA 52801
If your priority is free things to do in Davenport, Iowa, this is the one for you.
Even though a walk sounds a bit mundane or ordinary, there’s something quite impressive about this massive river.
First of all, the Mississippi River runs parallel to Davenport so you can walk for miles if you want to. I’d do this sometimes for exercise or to clear my head.
Another nice thing about this walk is that it is quite scenic. This riverfront runs near Downtown Davenport and features historical landmarks that you can read about, like places that were stops along the Underground Railroad.
They hold festivals here during the spring/summer and the area encompasses a minor league baseball field, a bandshell stage, Skybridge, train tracks with running trains and so much more. I’ve even seen people fish here!
Not only for pedestrians, this riverfront is also pet friendly and bike friendly.
Be careful though – it does flood out that way from time to time when the river gets high.
6. Get Your Art Fix at the Figge Art Museum
225 W 2nd St, Davenport, IA 52801
If you think you’re not the type to look at art on your spare time, you are not alone. I’m not either.
I first visited the Figge when my father in law came into town. As he is a senior, I planned it as a laidback but stimulating activity for us all to discover together.
I turned out to be the one most surprised by this museum! It’s HUGE! Of course, we’re not talking Louvre huge but trust me- there are far bigger cities with far less impressive museums.
The Figge has no shortage of interesting exhibits and they feature art by recognizable names. They also have sculptures, textiles and a cafe inside where you can take breaks. It’s classy, affordable and quite accessible (not usually crowded at all). I truly don’t believe that you have to be an art connoisseur to enjoy the Figge.
That very first day, we explored until closing time!
7. Work off some steam at Michael’s Fun World
354 W 76th St, Davenport, IA 52806
If you’re looking for a whole-family friendly activity to do in Davenport, you need to check out Michael’s Fun World.
This amusement park offers Go-Karting, batting cages, rock-climbing, laser tag, miniature golf and so many more fun things to do. Your kids (and you) will definitely have fun. I’ve been to Michael’s Fun World a couple of times with no intention of even dabbling in the activities, only to find myself racing Go Karts soon after.
They also host parties and events here.
If you’re willing to venture a few minutes to Bettendorf, you can do a lot of the same things at a newer arcade and fun zone known as the BettPlex aka the TBK Sports Complex.
8. Take a Dinner Cruise on the Mississippi River
2501 River Drive, Moline, IL 61265
Ok, so this one is a liiiitle bit of a cheat because you do have to board the cruise from the Illinois side of the Quad Cities which means you have to cross the bridge from Davenport. But, this is literally about a 10 minute drive from most other things on this list.
If you don’t mind this, then you should take a look at the CelebrationBelle, which is the Quad Cities cruise line.
When the river isn’t freezing (literally!), you can sign up for lunch cruises, dinner cruises, dance cruises, themed cruises (like Christian Tunes or Movie Tunes cruises). You can even go on overnight cruises!
I would describe this activity as “chill” or “pleasant”. The lunch cruise, in particular, is a laidback, serene ride perfect for a Sunday afternoon.
Check out Celebration Belle’s calendar to find and book the perfect cruise for you!
9. Wander Around the Vander Veer Botanical Park (Great for family photos!)
215 W Central Park Ave, Davenport, IA 52803
Vander Veer Botanical Park is probably the most popular park in town, and for good reason. It sits right central and offers a lot to do. In addition to the actual greenhouse and Conservatory, you will also find a rose garden, playground, pond, sculptures and more.
It is very common to find people taking a walk, running and hanging out with their pets at all times here.
For me personally…my favorite thing about VanderVeer is the ambiance there during the winter holidays. In the fall, they string lights along the main walkway which is lined with tall trees and benches. The walkway leads you all the way down to a fountain.
IT. LOOKS. MAGICAL.
Especially when it’s covered in a light layer of snow.
pro-tip: If you’re looking to take family pictures in Davenport, Vanderveer is a great idea.
10. Rock Star Bingo, at a Local Restaurant or Pub
If you’re looking for something to do in Davenport, IA on the weeknight, this is the one.
Rock Star Bingo takes a regular night out to eat and makes it extremely lively.
Basically, this is musical bingo, but the bingo numbers are replaced with song titles. The DJ plays the tunes and if you know it, you mark it on your bingo card. 5 in a row wins and if you win, you often get a prize like a free drink ticket! (Multiple rounds & multiple winners are selected).
It’s really fun, if I do say so myself.
I’m sure that rock star bingo must be available in other cities, but I’ve yet to find it anywhere else. So, while this idea isn’t necessarily exclusive to Iowa, it’s a fun thing to look forward to when you’re in Davenport.
Look here for the Weekly Schedule by Think & Drink Entertainment. (They also host Trivia Nights).
BONUS #11. Watch a Ballet, Symphony or Broadway Show at the Adler Theater
136 E 3rd St, Davenport, IA 52801
The Adler Theater holds a special place in my heart because this is where I attended The Nutcracker ballet for the first time.
Located in Downtown Davenport, the Adler Theater seats over 2000 people, including balcony seating. It’s completely elegant inside and features classic red seats, super high ceilings and Art Deco styling.
The theater hosts touring Broadway Shows from time to time so you will want to check their upcoming schedule here.
I hope that this list has given you some awesome ideas of things to do in Davenport Iowa.
This area truly has a charm of its own and even as we move to other places, we will always be grateful to the Quad Cities for so many fun memories.