Family Fun in the Quad Cities
The Quad Cities offer more family fun than can fit into one day! Splurge on a night in one of the many hotels and make a weekend full of memories. Here are four places our family enjoyed.
The Putnam Museum participates in the ASTC Travel Passport Program. Check your local science center membership benefits to see if you can receive free admission to this museum.
Don’t let the outside of this older museum fool you! Putnam Museum boasts exciting hands-on exhibits that can’t be found at other Midwest museums including Science Center of Iowa and The Children’s Museum in Coralville.
The museum layout has six distinct areas. Allow for a few hours to fully enjoy all that there is to experience. Guests enter into the Grand Lobby with plenty of seating for snacks, a gift shop, and theatre. Main Level exhibits start on the 2nd level.
The virtual reality display was a first for our family and left us all laughing as we each gave it a try. Near this display is access to the outdoor Dino Dig area geared more toward younger children.
The Natural Science Wing hosts the Hall of Mammals and has displays featuring the unique bridges along the Mississippi River. In the Black Earth-Big River area is a fun tree for kids to climb in and an area for little ones. A submarine invites play in the Ocean Experience. Our children loved all of these kid friendly spots. We found most of the displays in working order and easy to use.
The Lower Level is sports themed with lots of active hands-on displays.
Putnam Museum brings Iowans a rare glimpse into Ancient Egypt with their mummy display. This is a wonderful exhibit for any student studying ancient history. The only other location I know of in the Midwest area to see things like this is in Chicago at the Field Museum. Overall, this museum is a worthy stop.
Perfectly designed for preschool through elementary, this museum has tons to do. The main floor hosts the children’s museum, classroom space, dance lessons, and the Great Hall. During our visit, a new indoor climbing structure was being built in the lobby. On the second level is a science lab, art studio, and clay studio. These features and programs can close earlier than regular museum hours, so ask when you visit. The Family Museum participates in the ASTC program so check your benefits.
Kids can unleash their imaginations in Fox Hollow Town Square. A working phone system allows children to call each shop or location from the others. So if you are visiting the shoe store, you can call the vet clinic to check on your pet.
This is the perfect place to come with friends. The more the merrier! A small baby/toddler area is located in the Playhouse (behind white picket fence), making it easy for parents to keep an eye on everyone.
In George’s Farm kids can sit in a combine, harvest vegetables, and climb around inside the barn to get to the treehouse slide.
Nearby is the water table play area. Just prepare to have your kids soaked. If they don’t get wet inside, they will surely want to get wet outside. The Outdoor Play Area is spacious with plenty of room for classroom programs and story times on the shaded hillside.
We loved the creative environment that the Family Museum fosters. When you visit, sign your children up for a session in the Think Shop. Under careful supervision from the helpful staff, children and families can use real tools to make creations. My kids were attempting to build a wooden car. This exhibit can be time consuming, so plan ahead.
The Hauberg Indian Museum is located inside the Civilian Conservation Corps lodge built in 1934. The museum is small but thorough. My son said, “It was short but good.”
Part of Black Hawk Forest, several miles of hiking trails lead along Rock River and throughout the forest. Visit the museum first to get the lay of the land, then hike the trails to find the historic site.
Inside the lodge is public rental space, displays about the Civilian Conservation Corps, and of course, the Indian Museum. Older students will appreciate the architecture and history.
The Hauberg Indian Museum is laid out in a circle which takes visitors through a typical year for the Sauk and Meskwaki, starting in the spring and ending in winter. Children can look into the full sized replicas of both summer and winter homes. The Dugout Canoe has a unique local story which kids find fascinating.
While the museum has limited hands-on experience, admission is free and the experience is worth a visit. Plan for a 30-45 minute visit depending on how much your family likes to stop and read displays. Guided tours are available upon request. Currently the museum is only open Wed-Sun so check before you visit.
The museum is located on the same hill that used to be an Indian village. Ask the guide to explain the map and location.
We have saved the best for last and I am not joking. My kids loved this museum. During the first ten minutes of our visit the kids kept exclaiming, “cool”, “very impressive”, “wow”, “mom, look at this”!
First check out a campus map and figure out parking. While we enjoyed our walk across the beautiful, shady Augustanna campus, you can park close by in Lot A1, Lot B, or parallel park along 38th Street. The museum is housed in Swenson Hall (#85 on the map).
Field trips and general admission are free. Guided tours and classroom space is available for student groups. Call and chat with museum staff. We really appreciated our guide and learned several fascinating facts from her.
The Fluorescent Mineral Exhibit is amazing. Guests step behind the black curtain, then a staff member turns off the lights and the rocks or minerals glow.
The museum offers a few hands-on displays which kids will enjoy, including a fossil and mineral hunt. Ask the staff which items your children can touch and feel. Teachers, homeschool parents, and scout groups can check out the free Geology Discovery Kits. Labeled samples and educational games make learning fun.
Depending on your child’s love for geology, plan to spend at least an hour taking in the more then 1,500 rock, mineral, and fossil specimens.. There is so much to look at and enjoy.
Dinosaur bones are just one more reason to make this an Iowa Bucket List destination!
Other Area Attractions
We wish we could have stayed and done more. There are several other museums and educational opportunities for Family Fun in the Quad Cities. Visit Quad Cities has an extensive list which will help your family find all the excitement!
When you’re planning your trip, grab a free Very Important Visitor wrist band for discounts on lodging, food, and attractions.