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Featured Photo by Experience Waterloo

Waterloo, Iowa: The Best Things To Do On A Summer Day

Waterloo, IA

If you find yourself traveling the Iowa Great River Road this summer, you may want to consider a short detour west to the vibrant city of Waterloo, Iowa. Only 85 miles west from Dubuque, you can find this Iowa city right on the Cedar River. With a thriving arts district, great local food options, epic sports venues, and 11 major festivals throughout the year, Waterloo is a great summer destination.

Waterloo is especially enjoyable when you have a couple of days to make your extra stop worthwhile. You can visit some great restaurants and bars, enjoy the wildlife areas and state parks, check out some epic museums, and learn about the history and culture of the area. But you should also make sure to have a little extra fun and enjoy the summer weather in the best ways possible. Here are a few recommendations on how to spend a sunny summer day in Waterloo.

5 Ways to Get Outside on the Turtle River

The Riverloop Amphitheatre and Arts Mall is a great outdoor venue to spend some time at on a summer day. Hosted by the Waterloo Center for the Arts, there are always events going on at the outdoor amphitheatre that the whole family can enjoy. Additionally, you can see some amazing views of the Cedar River and take advantage of the beautiful outdoor space for plenty of outdoor activities including walking and picnicking.

On Friday evenings in May through August, the Waterloo Center for the Arts hosts free, live summer music at the amphitheatre. They also hold Cinema on the Cedar, a free summer movie series from June-September where you can watch an outdoor movie by the Cedar River and grab movie snacks from the concessions. If you’re visiting during the daytime, the kids can also enjoy the splash pad to cool off in the summer weather.

5 Ways to Get Outside on the Turtle River

Both adults and kids alike will enjoy a day of fun at Palmer’s Family Fun on a summer day in Waterloo. A family owned business, Palmer’s ensures safe and fun entertainment for everyone. It is a popular spot for birthday parties, outings, family reunions, group gatherings, picnics, and more to create lasting memories with friends and family.

At Palmer’s, the possibilities for fun are seemingly endless. You can ride go-karts around the track, play two 18-hole miniature golf courses, or try your hand in the batting cage. They also have a giant jumping pillow, which is a favorite of the little ones, a driving range, a laser tag arena and their newest attraction, archery tag. With so many activities to choose from, you can plan on spending at least half a day at Palmer’s, though you may be left wanting to come back for more.

5 Ways to Get Outside on the Turtle River

Photo by KW Paintball

If you’re interested in a summer activity that can double as a great workout and an excuse to spend some time outdoors, then paintball is a perfect option. Luckily, KW Paintball in Waterloo is one of the largest paintball arenas in Iowa with several different designated areas for players of different ages and skill levels. KW Paintball is suitable for kids, adults, large groups, and various celebrations with different equipment and arenas for each group.

Even if you’ve never tried paintball before, KW Paintball is a great place to learn. They have options for regular paintball, low impact paintball, and gellyball paintball. The gellyball paintballing is the perfect option for kids, whereas the low impact can be great for someone who has never played before. You can check out their website to learn more about each of these options to find out which is suitable for your skill and comfort level. Also, feel free to bring your own equipment to play with, or you can also buy everything you need at KW Paintballs’s shop on the grounds.

5 Ways to Get Outside on the Turtle River

A trip to an outdoor waterpark is hard to beat on a hot, summer day, especially if you’re traveling with kids. Lost Island Waterpark in Waterloo is Iowa’s largest waterpark featuring a long list of attractions for all ages and abilities, and a fun island adventure, tropical paradise theme. With miniature golf, go-karts, and a ton of major water slides and attractions.

Lost Island Waterpark has everything you could possibly want for a perfect waterpark experience. With 14 major waterslides, a lazy river, and a huge wave pool, it is easy to spend a whole day at the park going on rides and relaxing in the sun. There are also 3 different children’s play areas for the younger kids to enjoy and most of the areas are wheelchair accessible, so anyone and everyone can have a great time. On top of everything, there is a gift shop, places for food, a miniature golf area, and a go-kart area outside of the waterpark to provide you with everything you may need throughout the day.

5 Ways to Get Outside on the Turtle River

Photo by Maxx Rentals

Another fun, summer day activity is getting out on a lake or river. Found at their beach location in George Wyth State Park, Maxx Rentals is the perfect resource for rentals of all kinds of watercraft and floats. George Wyth State Park is home to four different lakes, Brinker, George Wyth, Fisher, and Alice Wyth, putting Maxx Rentals in the prime location for both renting and getting out on the water in the same place. Being one of the leading outfitters in the area, Maxx Rentals has a goal of bringing outdoor recreation and adventure to as many people as possible while being easily accessible and affordable.

You can choose from various rentals including single and tandem kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, canoes, tubes, pedal boats, and floating water mats. Maxx Rentals will provide you with everything you need to get out on the water and have a great summer day with family or friends. The equipment is also user, beginner, and family friendly, so anybody from absolute beginners to seasoned users can enjoy their rental.

Content Writer and Social Media Coordinator. I paint, listen to music, and play with my dogs a lot. When I’m not doing all that, I love to read and try new things.

Maeve Miller

Writer , River Travel Magazine