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11 Fun & Best Things to Do in Muscatine, Iowa

Muscatine is a city in Muscatine County, Iowa, US. The town is 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.

There is an endless list of fun things to do in Muscatine, Iowa, regardless of age. Children and adults alike enjoy the recreational opportunities that the city offers. We’ll explore some of the best activities in Muscatine, Iowa.

Things to Do in Muscatine, Iowa

Bridge in Muscatine, Iowa

If you plan to visit Muscatine for the first time, you may wonder, “What to do in Muscatine, Iowa?” The good news is, the city has something for everyone. What’s more, if you’re strapped for cash, you’ll find some great free things to do in Muscatine, Iowa, too!

Here are some of the best things to do in Muscatine, Iowa. 

1. Pine Creek Grist Mill

Things to Do in Muscatine
“Pine Creek Grist Mill” by Neal3K is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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 to practice your photography skills in the entire Muscatine county. The mill hosts Ghosts of Pine Creek Hallow and Heritage Day, two popular yearly events.

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

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.

Also, check out the official address of Pine Creek to make your tour easy and convenient: 1884 Wildcat Den Rd, Muscatine, IA 52761, USA.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Des Moines, Iowa

2. Muscatine Art Center

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

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. As such, there’s always something new to discover in the art center.

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 opening and closing dates of the art center.

If you’re looking for things to do in Muscatine, Iowa, this weekend, you can rent a car to make your trip more convenient. Fortunately, you can manage online booking by entering the date, day, time, and location.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Ankeny, Iowa

3. Weed Park

Weed Park Scenery
image by raybyerley/TripAdvisor

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

The land now known as Weed Park was donated to Muscatine city by Mr. and Mrs. James Weed in 1907. This park covers an area of 72 acres and 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, elephant, pheasants, lion, and monkeys. The sight of this garden will surely bring smiles to your children’s faces.

Additionally, the beautiful rose garden, filled with charming roses is a perfect place to sit and relax with your significant other. If you’re looking for the most affordable things to do in Muscatine Iowa, do not forget to visit Weed Park.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Davenport, Iowa

4. Wildcat Den State Park

Wildcat Den State Park Trail

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 certainly enjoy spectacular views of the park.

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 a vault and water bathrooms. However, there is no electrical facility. So, do not forget to keep your essentials to ease your camping experience.

Further, whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, the park has diverse trails to explore some of the most fascinating views. 

See Related: How to Pack for a Camping Trip

5. The Environmental Learning Center at Discovery Park

Environmental Learning Center Entrance
Management / TripAdvisor

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, Iowa, and for good reason! 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.

6. Muscatine Aquatic Center

A Little Boy Swimming in the Pool

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 good thing about the park is that it is for all ages. You’ll find everything from adult slides to kid-friendly water slides. If you are planning a trip to Muscatine Iowa in the spring or summer, make sure you 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 to stay 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

National Pearl Button Museum is a perfect place to visit 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 history intrigues you, you’ll love to explore the history and industry center. It has several interactive and interesting displays that preserve the industrial history of Muscatine.

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.

Tourists from around the globe consider the museum visit as one of the top Muscatine Iowa things to do.

8. Muscatine Soccer Complex

Soccer Ball

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

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, if you’re looking for Muscatine Iowa things to do today, you won’t be able to watch the game.

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

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

Thousands of locals and tourists visit Deep Lakes every year 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 for you to swim with your friends and family. 

Nonetheless, ensure you swim within the marked boundary and only if you’re a pro swimmer because 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: Best National Parks to Visit in November

10. Land of the Swamp White Oak Preserve

Swamp White Oak Preserve Scenery
image by Hannah H/TripAdvisor

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, you have plenty of things to explore in the Land of swamp white oak. 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.

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, the Great River Road, tracing the Mississippi River’s course, is one of the best roads to discover in America. Gear up to explore the vibrant culture, rich history, charming streets, and natural beauty of America on the River Road.

The 3,000 miles 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 Mounts State Historic Site, Wyalusing State Park, and Mississippi River towns, where you can learn more about the charming communities that line the Mississippi River on the Great River Road. You’ll also come across countless world-class restaurants, do not forget to dine in and enjoy scrumptious cuisines.

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