Dubuque, population 57,546, is an industrial Mississippi River port in eastern Iowa near the Wisconsin and Illinois border. The area became Iowa's first European settlement in 1788. In the 1800s the town had a thriving economy based on mining and river traffic. Today, Dubuque's renovated riverfront, Victorian architecture, historic venues, and outdoor recreational activities combine to make the city one of Iowa's top destinations.
The America's River development honors the Mississippi River with a variety of riverfront attractions connected by a river walk. Here, the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium highlight the town's river history with boat displays, aquariums full of catfish, and information on river dignitaries like Lewis and Clark. A casino, indoor water park, amphitheater, and meeting and conference center are also on site. Sightseeing and dining tours of the Mississippi are available by riverboats, paddle wheelers, and yachts.
In town, Victorian mansions line the streets. Tours of the finest of these homes are available year round. Downtown is filled with antique stores, unique shops, and restaurants. Guided tours of the city and riverfront are offered by trolley, bus, and horse-drawn carriage. Nearby wineries and orchards provide festive side trip destinations.
Dubuque is also the setting for many outdoor activities. Bird watching is popular because a variety of birds, including bald eagles, make the river valley their home. Visitors can hike, bike, cross-country ski, and snowmobile along the 26 mile Heritage Trail or take a scenic drive along the river on the Great River Road. Parks offer river overlooks and caves to explore. Sundown Mountain provides skiing and snowboarding slopes.
Dubuque is 70 miles northeast of Cedar Rapids and 92 miles west of Waterloo. It is accessible via U.S. Highways 20, 52, 61, and 151. There are many lodging options including national chains, cabins, campgrounds, and bed an breakfasts.