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Discover the Marvels on the Mississippi

March 26, 2014 Destination North America No Comments Email Email

In the Quad Cities there’s so much to see and do it takes two states and four cities to hold it all!  The Quad Cities lines the Mississippi riverbanks with Illinois on one side and Iowa on the other.  

With a combined population of more than 400,000 people, the Quad Cities is comprised of Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa; Rock Island and Moline/East Moline, Illinois; and surrounding communities.

150650_num456447_600x600The Quad Cities is the largest metropolitan area on the Mississippi between Minneapolis, Minnesota, and St. Louis, Missouri.  The region is just a 2 ½ hour drive from Chicago, Illinois, and is served by the Quad City International Airport (MLI).  The Quad City International Airport has a choice of 11 non-stop destinations on four major airlines, including United Express to Chicago O’Hare and Denver; Delta to Atlanta, Detroit, and Minneapolis; American Airlines from Chicago O’Hare and Dallas/Ft. Worth; and Allegiant Air to Las Vegas, Phoenix-Mesa, Tampa Bay, Punta Gorda, and Orlando.  There is also an art gallery featuring regional artists and works from corporate collections, a gift shop, snack bar, lounge and visitor center.  The airport completed a new runway in 2011. In 2009, National Geographic Traveler named the Great River Road from Minneapolis to Davenport as one of the 50 “Drives of a Lifetime.”  With the museums and attractions that have cropped up along the way, it is “not only one of the most scenic drives in the country, but also one of the culturally richest.”

Each city offers its own history and atmosphere.  Moline, Illinois, with roots tied to John Deere and Deere & Company’s World Headquarters, has gone through a major re-development process and continues to expand and improve its beautiful downtown riverfront.  Gift shops, antiques, ethnic and traditional restaurants, riverboat cruises, water taxi rides, and riverfront trails make this city a place to be enjoyed by all ages.

Bent River Brewery serves up a fine selection of homemade brews, Lagomarcino’s in its original soda fountain, the Celebration Belle Riverboat, Channel Cat Water Taxi, i wireless Center, John Deere Pavilion, Deere & Company World Headquarters, and John Deere mansions are just a few of the highlights of Moline.  Just a short drive from downtown you can enjoy shopping at SouthPark Mall where over 150 stores offer everything from clothing and jewelry to gifts and food.

Head west from Moline and you will enter Rock Island, Illinois, a city built from the beginnings of steamboats, railroads, lumber, and a taste for fun!  Downtown Rock Island, called The Downtown Rock Island Arts & Entertainment District, features art galleries, pubs, nightclubs, and restaurants.

Arts and entertainment make Rock Island a hot spot for the night owl. Stop in and enjoy a beer at the award winning Blue Cat Brew Pub.  You’ll find an interesting selection of micro-brewed beers in a variety of flavors, including hearty dark stouts and ales.  Visit Quad City Arts and Midcoast Fine Arts galleries for inspiring works from regional artists.  Take in a musical at Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse – set in an amazing vaudeville-era theatre.  Or, if comedy is more your style, try The Speakeasy or the entire family will enjoy ComedySportz at The Establishment Theatre.  For outstanding French cuisine, make a reservation at Le Figaro.  Live music is also abundant in Rock Island.  Visit RIBCO (Rock Island Brewing Company) for great indoor and outdoor concerts.  Check out the new Schwiebert Riverfront Park featuring a digital playground, the latest in playground equipment and the first installation in the Midwest.

The Downtown Rock Island Arts & Entertainment District is also the hub for seasonal, outdoor music festivals and special events, such as Gumbo Ya Ya Mardi Gras in the District, Ya Maka My Weekend Caribbean Festival, various Gallery Hops and more.

Be sure to travel outside the downtown area to enjoy gaming at the new Jumer’s Casino & Hotel, waterski shows by the Backwater Gamblers and American Indian history at Black Hawk State Historic Site.  This was the site where the Sauk & Meskwaki tribes once called their home, and the famous Sauk warrior, Black Hawk, lived.

Cross the Mississippi River from Rock Island and you’ll find yourself in downtown Davenport, Iowa—the largest of the cities.  Davenport has gone through an impressive change as new attractions have opened and continued renovation and new development takes place throughout the downtown area.  Located in Davenport, guided Segway tours let riders glide effortlessly along the scenic Mississippi riverfront bike path learning about area history and landmarks.

A few of Davenport’s attractions include the Figge Art Museum, River Music Experience for live music, the Skybridge, Putnam Museum, Adler Theatre, German American Heritage Center, Bucktown Center for the Arts, and Rhythm City riverboat casino.  You’ll also find a nice selection of stores, pubs, coffee shops, and restaurants in the downtown area.  Modern Woodmen Park, the home of the Quad Cities River Bandits, was voted the “Best Minor League Ballpark” in the 2013 10Best Readers’ Choice Travel Awards.

Head east out of the downtown area on River Drive and you will find yourself at the historic Village of East Davenport.  This six-square block shopping district is filled with quaint shops, restaurants, pubs, antique stores, and galleries.  And if you like to really shop, you’ll have your choice of over 200 stores at NorthPark Mall and along the area’s 53rd Street shopping corridor.

Like the other cities, Davenport’s riverfront hosts a variety of world-class festivals including the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival, Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, River Roots Live Music Fest, Quad City Symphony’s Riverfront Pops Concert, Brew Ha Ha, and Celtic Festival & Highland Games.

If you head east on River Drive from downtown Davenport you’ll find yourself in Bettendorf, Iowa, — home of the Family Museum, Isle Casino Hotel, 53rd Street Shopping Corridor, and just a 15 minute drive from a wonderful little town called LeClaire – a true river town from the past and the birthplace of the wild west’s Buffalo Bill Cody.

Other Quad Cities Highlights Besides the downtown areas, the Quad Cities’ Rock Island Arsenal Island – a 3-mile long island set in the middle of the river – showcases Lock & Dam river tours, the Mississippi River Visitor Center, the first permanent house built in the area, a Civil War and National Cemetery, and a military museum that tells the history of the island from its beginnings as a fur trading post.  Bring a valid picture I.D. to get passage onto the Island.  Non-U.S. citizens must make reservations at least a month ahead to enter the Island as it is also a working military installation.

The Quad Cities is also home to a variety of parks and Niabi Zoo.  You’ll also enjoy Scott County Park, Loud Thunder Forest Preserve, West Lake Park and a variety of botanical centers including VanderVeer Botanical Park, Longview Conservatory, and the Quad City Botanical Center.

Golf courses are also abundant in the Quad Cities.  Choose from more than 25 courses including TPC Deere Run, home of the John Deere Classic PGA TOUR. Golf is big in the Quad Cities, but the price tag is not.  The average cost for 18-holes of golf with a cart is about $35.  In fact, Golf Digest magazine voted the Quad Cities as one of the top 20 golf destinations in the United States.

If you like the outdoors, biking trails are as abundant as parks and golf courses. Hop on the Great River Trail for a 62-mile ride along the Mississippi River from Rock Island to Savanna, Illinois.  Or cruise along paved riverfront trails and city trails in Davenport and Bettendorf where public works of art and historical markers add interest to the riding experience.  Bike rentals are available through the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau by the hour or for the entire day.

The Quad Cities offers a fun, interesting and unique getaway destination.  The area lets visitors experience a riverfront city atmosphere along the mighty Mississippi River with great historical attractions and neighborhoods, casinos, non-gaming riverboat cruises, delicious Midwestern style cuisine, outdoor recreation, world-class festivals, luxury accommodations, wonderful museums, galleries, and unique shopping experiences.

For more information on the Quad Cities, contact the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau at 800-747-7800 or visit the official website of the Quad Cities at www.visitquadcities.com.

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