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11 Best Things to Do in Muscatine, Iowa

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Muscatine is a city in Muscatine County, Iowa, positioned along the Mississippi River and is nicknamed the “Pearl of the Mississippi. In 1887, a German immigrant, John Fred Boepple, came to Muscatine. Fred had a knack for designing buttons and discovered new ways of making stunning, fancy buttons.

Later, Nicholas Barry and his sons invented a machine that made better buttons with less labor. Muscatine soon became the world’s largest button manufacturer, earning its name, “Pearl Button Capital of the World.”

Today, tourists flock to the city to explore its countless tourist attractions, including art galleries, historical landmarks, wildlife, and scenic views.

Bridge in Muscatine, Iowa

Regardless of age, there is an endless list of fun things to do. Children and adults alike enjoy the recreational opportunities that the city offers.

Things to Do in Muscatine, Iowa

1. Pine Creek Grist Mill

Address: 1893 Wildcat Den Rd, Muscatine, IA 52761, United States

Located along Pine Creek, the Pine Creek Grist Mill was built by Benjamin Nye – the first settler of Muscatine County. Today, there are only 10-15 mill buildings in Iowa, and Pine Creek Grist Mill is one. Also, it’s the only mill with fully operational machinery.

The picturesque view of Pine Creek is one of the best sites in the entire Muscatine County to practice your photography skills. The mill hosts Ghosts of Pine Creek Hallow and Heritage Day, two popular yearly events.

It has a campground and a picnic area where you can sit and enjoy the outdoors with your family. Kids can also experience hands-on milling activities. On Pine Creek Grist Mill trails, you’ll also come across two popular rock formations: The Devil’s Punch Bowl and Steam Boat Rock.

Also, the tours from May through October are free! Nonetheless, note that the mill is currently closed. Therefore, check the official website to keep track of the opening dates and plan your visit accordingly.

See Related: Things to Do in Des Moines, Iowa

2. Muscatine Art Center

Muscatine Art Center
Magicpiano, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 1314 Mulberry Ave, Muscatine, IA 52761, United States

Muscatine Art Center is a must-see tourist attraction if you have an eye for aesthetics. You’ll find enticing period rooms, decorative arts, and charming paintings by the world’s most recognized artists.

Previously known as the Laura Musser Museum, it was renamed the Muscatine Art Center and has been a popular and important gathering place for Muscatine settlers.

Over the years, Muscatine families have attended several events, children have participated in school group programs, and adults have enhanced their knowledge and skills related to art.

The art center offers almost 20 changing displays and exhibitions each year, so there is always something new to discover.

While adults can explore artifacts depicting local history, children can see the interactive displays in the two-story Stanley Gallery. Do not forget to check the website to stay updated about the art center’s opening and closing dates.

See Related: Things to Do in Ankeny

3. Weed Park

Weed Park Scenery
image by raybyerley/TripAdvisor

Address: 1 Park Dr, Muscatine, IA 52761, United States

Located in the northeast of Muscatine County, the park is a great place to spend a day with family – particularly if you want to enjoy some outdoor Muscatine Iowa activities.

The land, now known as Weed Park, was donated to Muscatine by Mr. and Mrs. James Weed in 1907. This 72-acre park is home to a rose garden, zoo garden, tennis courts, playground equipment, picnic shelters, and restrooms.

The zoo garden consists of sculptures of butterflies, turtles, bison, elephants, pheasants, lions, and monkeys. Seeing this garden will surely bring smiles to your children’s faces. The beautiful rose garden, filled with charming roses, is perfect for sitting and relaxing with your significant other.

See Related: Things to Do in Davenport

4. Wildcat Den State Park

Wildcat Den State Park Trail

Address: 1884 Wildcat Den Rd, Muscatine, IA 52761, United States

Besides the popular Pine Creek Grist Mill, the Wildcat Den State Park has more to offer visitors. If natural sites pique your interest, you will enjoy spectacular park views.

The park has around 28 non-modern picnic areas and camping sites. Camping allows you to explore the park features and make memories with your family. 

The park’s campground has vaults and water bathrooms. However, there is no electrical facility. So, remember to bring your essentials to ease your camping experience.

See Related: How to Pack for a Camping Trip

5. The Environmental Learning Center at Discovery Park

Environmental Learning Center Entrance
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 3300 Cedar St, Muscatine, IA 52761, United States

If you plan to tour the city with children, visiting the Environmental Learning Center at Discovery Park is one of the best things to do in Muscatine and for justifiable grounds! The sight of turtles, snakes, fish of eastern Iowa, and nature exhibits will excite your little ones.

Moreover, the learning center features over a hundred mounted animals, outdoor landscaping, snake and turtle displays, two 1200-gallon aquariums with native fish, and interactive displays.

The park also offers access to trails and several restrooms. You cannot bring food, drinks, or pets to the exhibit spaces.

See Related: Free Iowa Travel Guide

6. Muscatine Aquatic Center

A Little Boy Swimming in the Pool

Address: 1 Park Dr, Muscatine, IA 52761, United States

The Muscatine Aquatic Center features a zero-depth entry area and five slides, including one family slide, two drop slides, two long slides, and an interactive play structure for kids.

Besides, the center also has several lockers and family restrooms. In other words, the Aquatic Center is heaven for pool lovers. You and your kids alike will enjoy splashing in the water and taking slides.

The park is good for all ages. It has everything from adult slides to kid-friendly water slides. If you plan a trip to Muscatine in the spring or summer, keep this park on your tour list for thrilling and fun things to enjoy in Iowa.

If you’re looking for some of the best hotels nearby, the Best Western Pearl City Inn is a great choice to make your trip even more convenient. The hotel has endless facilities to add to your comfort. Also, it’s only a 7-minute drive away from the Aquatic Center.

7. National Pearl Button Museum

National Pearl Button Museum Exhibit
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 117 W 2nd St, Muscatine, IA 52761, United States

The National Pearl Button Museum is a perfect place for history lovers. Unlike the popular gold rush of the Midwest, Muscatine didn’t earn its name for gold. Instead, the pearl shells taken from the rivers of 19 states gave birth to the 1890s story – when Muscatine was named the Pearl Button Capital of the World!

If you’re interested in history, you’ll love to explore the history and industry center. It has several interactive and interesting displays that preserve Muscatine’s industrial history.

The museum allows you to examine local products, from file cabinets to buttons. The companies manufacturing these goods had humble beginnings. For instance, the owners faced numerous difficult days but kept pushing through despite the risk of failure.

So, “made in Muscatine” signifies taking risks, evolving to keep up with the demands, and turning dreams into reality. Overall, the industry center highlights the past, present, and future of Muscatine.

8. Muscatine Soccer Complex

Soccer Ball

Address: 401 S Houser St, Muscatine, IA 52761, United States

Muscatine Soccer Complex of the city is recognized as the best soccer facility by the National Turf Grass Managers Association. This is enough to know why downtown Muscatine is a great place to visit.

The complex covers an area of 41 acres and features eight full-sized soccer fields. Moreover, two of the eight full-sized soccer fields have amended soil and are international-sized. The soccer complex hosts several events sponsored by the state, nation, and location leagues. Individuals of all age groups participate in the events.

Complex usage should be requested in advance. Nonetheless, this policy is ruled out for regional, state, and national events. Because of pre-booking restrictions, you won’t be able to watch the game if you’re looking for Muscatine Iowa things to do today.

Soccer’s ever-growing popularity shows no sign of slowing, and it won’t be wrong to say that the soccer complex gives them a chance to quench their thirst for watching a live game. The soccer complex also has restrooms and a parking lot; however, note that pets and alcohol are forbidden on the complex’s grounds.

9. Deep Lakes Park

Deep Lakes Park
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: Pettibone Ave, Muscatine, IA 52761, United States

You can engage in various activities at Deep Lakes Park, from fishing, hiking, swimming, and studying nature. The 425-acre area of Muscatine is located south of Muscatine at 2552 Pettibone Avenue.

Thousands of locals and tourists visit Deep Lakes yearly to get the most out of this multi-activity park. It has numerous grassy areas, dunes, and ponds that are ideal to explore.

The park also features a 55-acre Lake Chester. You can catch Catfish, Bluegill, and Bass in the lakes and ponds of the park. Besides, there’s a swimming beach where you can swim with friends and family.  Nonetheless, ensure you swim within the marked boundary only if you’re a pro swimmer, as there are no lifeguards on duty.

Boating, Kayaking, and Canoeing are other fun-filled and exciting activities in the park. The park also has several air-conditioned and heated cabins available for rent. Nonetheless, if you plan to stay in Muscatine for a long and wish to tour the whole city, it’s best to book a suitable, spacious hotel room that provides easy access to your tour destinations.

The Merrill Hotel and Conference Center is one of the top-rated hotels in the city. This luxurious hotel offers world-class dining, free Wi-Fi service, a swimming pool, and a fitness center. Even better, it’s only a 10-minute drive from Deep Lakes Park.

See Related: National Parks to Visit in November

10. Land of the Swamp White Oak Preserve

Swamp White Oak Preserve Scenery
image by Hannah H/TripAdvisor

Address: 1335 231st St, Letts, IA 52754, United States

Located near Conesville, Iowa, the land of the Swamp White Oak is home to several species of reptiles, amphibians, and wildflowers. It also has a running, walking, hiking, and bird-watching trail.

It is one of the greatest surviving examples of a floodplain oak savanna. Most have been cut for agricultural reasons, and a few are overgrown. The land has diverse forbs, grasses, bushes, and sedges. The prominent canopy species include bur oak and hickory, downy hawthorn, and swamp white oak.

From wetlands and plants to wildlife species, the Land of Swamp White Oak offers plenty of things to explore. If you love wildlife and forest photography, this is a place to capture some great photos. Besides exploring the wildlife, you can go hiking and paddling to have a fun-filled experience with your family.

The Nature Conservancy continues to maintain and restore the ecological communities of the preserve. They engage with landowners, business leaders, farmers, and community leaders to conserve this significant land. The conservancy aims to connect more people to nature.

See Related: Things to Do in Ames

11. The Great River Road National Scenic Byway Mississippi River

Great River Road Scenery
Idawriter, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Whether you own a car or book one, tracing the Mississippi River’s course, the Great River Road Scenic National Byway is one of the best road trips to discover in America. Gear up to explore the vibrant culture, rich history, charming streets, and natural beauty of America on the Great River Road.

The 3,000-mile road extends through hundreds of river towns and almost ten states. Charles Young – a native Muscatine – is the face behind this memorable river road. He devoted a part of his life to creating the road. Additionally, he is the man who suggested the white and green signs of the iconic pilot’s wheel.

The road also takes you to the Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site, Wyalusing State Park, and Mississippi River towns, where you can learn more about the charming communities that line the river along Great River Road.

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