Dubuque Things to Do
Dubuque, Iowa, a picturesque town on the Mississippi River, is home to many things for visitors to do. Although most of Dubuque’s attractions are located near the river, there are also many things to see and do elsewhere in Dubuque.
The Mississippi River
One of the biggest attractions of Dubuque is the Mississippi River itself. Dubuque is located near Lock & Dam 11, one of the many locks along the Mississippi. The lock, which has a boat and wildlife viewing deck, is a great place to see the river and circling bald eagles. Nearby is Eagle Point State Park, which offers a great view of the Dam (and in season, bald eagles), and is also a great picnic spot. The Bluffs of Dubuque provide another beautiful view of the river and of Dubuque.
Dubuque Attractions Near the River
Ice Harbor, a river inlet, is home to the Port of Dubuque and to several attractions that include Paddlewheel Plaza, which features the giant paddlewheel that was once part of the nearby William M. Black, a historic steamboat that is currently a floating museum. Nearby is the Diamond Joe Casino, a casino boat, where visitors play at their own risk! Ice Harbor is also the starting point for the Spirit of Dubuque River Cruises, which include sightseeing, lunch, and dinner cruises. Connecting Ice Harbor to downtown is the Mississippi Riverwalk, a pedestrian trail that opened in 2003, from which you can see many Dubuque sites, old and new. The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, which offers indoor and outdoor exhibits, is the number one attraction in the state of Iowa and a must-see for visitors to Dubuque. Other sites to visit near the Riverwalk include the Shot Tower, one of the last standing historic lead shot manufactories that used gravity to shape shot into the distinctive ball form, and the Dubuque Star Brewery, a former beer brewery that is home to the Stone Cliff Winery.
Sites in Downtown Dubuque
Beyond the Riverwalk, downtown Dubuque is home to numerous interesting sites. The Iowa Welcome Center, which shares quarters with the Dubuque Chamber of Commerce, is a good place to begin your visit. Among the downtown historic sites in Dubuque, the Town Clock is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as is the Dubuque County Courthouse, a working courthouse that is also an architectural gem. Next door to the Courthouse is the Old Jail Museum, the former county jail and a rare example of Egyptian Revival Architecture. Another interesting site to see in Dubuque is the Cathedral of Saint Raphael, the oldest church in Dubuque (appointment required to visit). And for a great view of Dubuque and the surrounding area, there is the Fenelon Place Elevator, a cable car that is believed to be the world’s shortest and steepest railroad.
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