Cedar Rapids serves as the center for arts and culture in eastern Iowa.
Artist Grant Wood portrayed the rolling farmland surrounding the city in his paintings. Wood, who lived and worked in Cedar Rapids, is best known for his 1930 painting American Gothic.
“Cedar Rapids is culturally rich with attractions that celebrate art and history,” said Jennifer Pickar, director of communications and marketing at the Cedar Rapids Tourism Office. “Our museums and historic attractions are welcoming and will work with groups to create a memorable experience for guests.”
Iowa’s second-largest city lies on both banks of the Cedar River.
At the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library discover unique stories of Czech and Slovak history and culture with either a guided or self-guided package. Groups can tour the Sleger Immigrant Home with a museum docent and find out about genealogical research at the Skala Bartizal Library. Learn about the 2008 flood that inundated the NCSML campus and how the 1,500-ton structure was moved 480 feet from its original site and 11 feet higher.
In nearby Czech Village, browse in unique shops.
Savor the samples of Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery. Enjoy pizza cooked outdoors in the wood-fired brick oven for lunch.
Groups can learn more about American Gothic and its artist, Grant Wood, in the city. The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art houses the world’s largest collection by Wood. Group members will step back in time as they enter Grant Wood Studio at 5 Turner Alley, the fascinating original (and quirky) studio where Wood lived and worked. It’s where he painted American Gothic. The studio is not handicapped-accessible.
Experience grandeur with a visit to Brucemore – A National Trust Historic Site. Brucemore, while it was home to only a few, carries the history and memories of a community. The beautiful Queen Anne-style mansion sits in a park-like estate, inviting exploration of its gardens, fascinating history and magnificent 21-room mansion.
Indian Creek Nature Center is perfect for an outdoorsy group or a stop for fresh air. The nature center is easily accessible and provides a number of different experiences, including on such topics as birds, Iowa wildlife, forest wildflowers and butterflies/insects that can be customized for a group.
Pickar said operators seeking a step-on guide, should contact The History Center. She noted the center also does great walking tours.
The tourism office offers tour operators suggestions and connections to local businesses. But due to the office’s small staff, Pickar encouraged operators to visit tourismcedarrapids.com/meetings/fam-tour/ and reach out directly to the businesses they wish to visit.