Family Weekend in Dubuque

A family weekend in Dubuque 

Nestled in the bluffs of northeastern Iowa along the Illinois border, Dubuque offers family fun with stunning views.

Our crew recently had the privilege to stay and play in this family friendly city in late summer. Besides the typical chain restaurants and common amenities, a funky downtown vibe and unique river walk attracts visitors.  Check out these six family favorites!

Children look at river and downtown Dubuque.

Grand Harbor Resort

Grand Harbor Resort is just steps away from the Mississippi Riverwalk. Boasting a huge conference center, full service hotel amenities, and a waterpark, Grand Harbor Resort is hard to pass up with their reasonable rates.

The onsite eatery, Tony Roma’s Restaurant and Lounge, was actually delicious and I would highly recommend it. Typically I hate hotel restaurant food, but not here. Yummy!

Our kids loved the waterpark which is geared toward tweens and under. While not in peak condition, the water temperature was comfortable and the smaller size makes it easy to keep track of everyone.   Note that food and drinks are not allowed into the waterpark but can be purchased at the concession stand.

Mississippi River Walk

The Mississippi River Walk is right outside the hotel doors and wraps around to the National Mississippi River Museum. Tim & Lisa from The Walking Tourist do a fabulous job of showcasing the river walk. Check out their full review.



The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium

The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium is a multiple building campus with outdoor exhibits between the buildings. Make sure to check out the map to get the most out of your visit. During our stay we were only able to visit the special exhibits building and unfortunately didn’t get to experience the sting ray touch tank or fun hands-on water play area.

We did however enjoy the special Da Vinci exhibit.


Fenelon Place Elevator 

A real highlight of the trip was taking a ride on the Fenelon Place Elevator. This little stop has been on my bucket list for a while and it was such a fun experience. We parked at the top at 512 Fenelon Place, took the elevator down the hill and had ice cream while I read to the children about the elevator’s history.

Sweet Memories & Downtown

Sweet Memories is a locally owned bakery selling treats, cakes, ice cream, and gifts.  Owner Sherri’s joy shines through as she happily serves customers and offers tourism tips.


While visiting the downtown area, don’t miss out on the fun street art.  Check out this map to find free parking. New public restrooms can be found at 5th Street and Bluff Street near a parking lot.

Natural Beauty

There are many places to enjoy the great outdoors in Dubuque. Eagle Point Park is just one dollar per car for entry. View Lock & Dam #11, hike, picnic, and more in this beautiful park.

Mines of Spain Recreation Area houses a nature center, hiking trails, and the Julien Dubuque Monument set atop the river bluffs.


If you have older children, don’t miss Sky Tours Zipline. Set up over historic Union Park, your family will have a blast while they learn about history. Our ten-year-old children don’t weigh enough to do this experience yet, but we plan on it someday when they are older. We went as a couple for a trip several years ago and have never forgotten the experience.

You’ll find it hard to fit all of these fabulous activities into your family weekend in Dubuque, but that will just encourage you to come back for more fun!


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  1. Can’t go wrong with Dubuque. Make a trip in January or February if the river is frozen to check out some of the best Eagle viewing in the Midwest.

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