Things To Do In Eastern Iowa Along I-80

Things To Do In Eastern Iowa Along I-80

There are a lot of unique things to do in Eastern Iowa along I-80. See the American Pickers store, museums, wineries, a giant truck stop, and much more!

Things To Do In Eastern Iowa

After an amazing overnight stay in Grinnell, we were continuing east on our Iowa road trip. Over the next two days we saw more of the state we were growing to love and discovered there are so many fun things to do in eastern Iowa!

Things To Do In The Amana Colonies, Iowa

Visiting the Amana Colonies is probably one of the most unique things to do in Eastern Iowa. There are seven colonies and they were founded by German immigrants back in 1855. Visiting the colonies is like stepping back in time.

Collectively the colonies have been named a National Historic Landmark. There are cute shops that sell homemade items like soaps and chocolate fudge. There are also antique shops, there’s a woolen mill, wineries, and a brewery.

Pro Tip: Get to know the over 100 Iowa Wineries!



Visiting the Amana Colonies is one of the most unique things to do in Eastern Iowa
The Amana Colonies are made up of seven colonies
Enjoy a walk by many of the charming shops at the Amana Colonies
Enjoy a walk by many of the charming shops
Some of the things you'll see at the Amana Colonies
Some of the things you’ll see at the Amana Colonies

Things To Do In Iowa City, Iowa

As you continue east looking for I-80 attractions, we recommend stopping in Iowa City. It is home to the Old Capitol Museum. The capital of Iowa was Iowa City from 1839 until 1857, when it was moved to Des Moines. Since then the capitol building has been used as a university and museum.

Inside, there are restored period rooms including State and House Chambers. For us, however, the highlight of the Old Capitol was the incredible reverse-spiral staircase.

Things to do in Iowa City include visiting the Old Capitol Museum
Things to do in Iowa City include visiting the Old Capitol Museum
The incredible staircase inside the Old Capitol Museum in Iowa City
The incredible reverse-spiral staircase inside the Old Capitol Museum in Iowa City
Inside the Old Capitol in Iowa City
Inside the Old Capitol

Another one of the unique things to do in Iowa City is to head over to the Devonian Fossil Gorge. The fossils and limestone bedrock date back almost 200 million years before the dinosaurs! There are markers that tell about the area and you’re free to walk around. We were able to spot some fossils, which we thought was really cool!

The Devonian Fossil Gorge in Iowa City
The Devonian Fossil Gorge in Iowa City
375 million years ago this was the ocean floor!
375 million years ago this was the ocean floor!

Things To Do In West Branch, Iowa

In West Branch, we recommend visiting the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. Inside, visitors will learn all about the life and accomplishments of Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the US. Exhibits include stories about his world travels and post-presidential humanitarian work.

The Museum is located on the Hoover National Historic Site. As you walk around you will see the small cottage where Hoover was born as well as other period buildings. You can even pay your respects and visit the grave-site of Hoover and wife Lou Henry Hoover.

The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa
The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa
Exhibits include Hoover's childhood in Iowa and Oregon
Exhibits include Hoover’s childhood in Iowa and Oregon
The grave-site of Herbert Hoover and wife Lou Henry Hoover
The grave-site of Herbert Hoover and wife Lou Henry Hoover

While in West Branch, we also recommend visiting Brick Arch Winery. They have great wine and delicious snacks.

Wine tasting in Iowa
Wine and snacks at Brick Arch Winery

Things To Do In Walcott, Iowa

Continuing east, you’ll come upon the World’s Largest Truck Stop. This I-80 truck stop is the biggest truck stop in the world! Inside, besides the normal stuff you’d find, you’ll also find: a chapel, game room, barber, dentist, chiropractor, library, movie theater, restaurant, showers, laundry, and more! It’s amazing!

The World's Largest Truck Stop in Walcott, Iowa
The World’s Largest Truck Stop in Walcott, Iowa
biggest truck stop in the world
This was just the beginning. There are multiple floors and surprises around every corner!

Just behind the truck stop, you’ll also find the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum. Inside, visitors can see over 100 trucks, dating back to the early 1900’s as well as lots of other cool memorabilia like original petroliana signs and vintage gas pumps. Admission is free, although they do appreciate donations.

Iowa 80 Trucking Museum in Walcott, Iowa
Iowa 80 Trucking Museum
Iowa 80 Trucking Museum
Trucks have come a long way!

Things To Do In Davenport, Iowa

One of the top attractions in Davenport is definitely The Putnam Museum. We’d say this is kind of a mix between a science and history museum. You can learn about ancient Egypt and also get hands-on experiences with robots! They also have temporary exhibits on rotation. While we visited, they had an exhibit about the Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which we really enjoyed.

Things to Do in Davenport include the Putnam Museum
Things to Do in Davenport include the Putnam Museum
Lots of interesting exhibits at the Putnam Museum
Lots of interesting exhibits at the Putnam Museum

There are many more things to do in Davenport, but unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit them all. We heard that the Figge Art Museum is a really great museum and that taking a tour of the Isabel Bloom Studio is pretty interesting as well.

Things To Do In LeClaire, Iowa

If you’re starting the day in LeClaire, we recommend your first stop be Antique Archaeology, the home base for the American Pickers Show on History Channel. We had no idea this shop was here, and even though we’d only watched the show a few times, we thought it’d be really awesome to see in person.

And so did a bunch of other people. We got there before the store even opened and there was already a gaggle of people waiting. So yeah, get there early. Even if you have no plans on buying anything, you’re more than welcome to take a look. There are some pretty interesting items!

Antique Archaeology in LeClaire, Iowa
Antique Archaeology in LeClaire, Iowa
Antique Archaeology in LeClaire, Iowa
Which of these items would you take home?

Did you know Buffalo Bill was born in LeClaire, Iowa? You can learn all about him and his adventures in the Wild West at the Buffalo Bill Museum. There are also a lot exhibits showcasing the history of the area, from Native American artifacts to the Lone Star Stern Wheeler (one of the longest running wooden steamboats in the US).

Buffalo Bill Museum in LeClaire, Iowa
Buffalo Bill Museum in LeClaire, Iowa
Buffalo Bill Museum in LeClaire, Iowa
Get to know the legendary Buffalo Bill
Lone Star Stern Wheeler (one of the longest running wooden steamboats in the US)
Lone Star Stern Wheeler

Just behind the museum is the mighty Mississippi River. We took a few minutes to walk along the RiverWay, where we found a small veteran’s memorial and the Scott County Freedom Rock. We also saw the Riverboat Twilight, waiting quietly to start touring again in May.

Strolling along the mighty Mississippi in Le Claire, Iowa
Strolling along the mighty Mississippi
LeClaire Veteran's Memorial
LeClaire Veteran’s Memorial
Scott County Freedom Rock in LeClaire, Iowa
Scott County Freedom Rock
Riverboat Twilight in LeClaire, Iowa
Riverboat Twilight

Pro Tip: Learn more about the original Freedom Rock in our Western Iowa post.


Although we weren’t able to tour the studio, we were able to visit the Isabel Bloom store in LeClaire. It’s obvious that Isabel Bloom was loved in the community and her artwork and sculptures touched the lives of many.

Isabel Bloom store in Le Claire, Iowa
Isabel Bloom store in LeClaire

Another cute shop in LeClaire’s historic downtown is Grasshopper’s. Located inside an old historic home, the shop has antiques, gourmet food items, wine, and many other items. President Obama has even stopped by this charming store!

Grasshopper's in LeClaire, Iowa
Grasshopper’s in LeClaire, Iowa
SO many cute and unique items at Grasshopper's in LeClaire, Iowa
SO many cute and unique items!

And don’t you dare leave LeClaire without visiting either Wide River Winery or Mississippi River Distilling Company (or both). They offer visitors some pretty delicious drinks! 😉

Iowa wineries include Wide River Winery with wine and chocolate
Wine and chocolate at Wide River Winery!
Lots of tasty spirits at Mississippi River Distilling Company
Lots of tasty spirits at Mississippi River Distilling Company

Where To Stay In Eastern Iowa

We recommend staying at the Holiday Inn Express LeClaire. It’s on the southern end of LeClaire, so a great location between it and Davenport. It’s also close to I-80, making it convenient if you’re continuing on to Illinois.

It is a riverfront hotel, so we were extremely happy with our balcony that looked out onto the Mississippi. We also loved the comfy bed and complimentary breakfast!

Check Holiday Inn Express LeClaire rates!



Holiday Inn Express LeClaire Riverfront Davenport
Holiday Inn Express LeClaire

Final Thoughts On I-80 Attractions In Eastern Iowa

There are so many things to do in Eastern Iowa along I-80! We feel there’s such a great mix of historical, quirky, and sophisticated stops. We were certainly sad to be leaving Eastern Iowa, and Iowa in general. It feels like we only scratched the surface by road tripping along I-80, so next time we hope to explore Iowa’s northern and southern cities.

What do you think of Eastern Iowa’s I-80 attractions? Let us know in the comments below! 🙂

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There are a lot of unique things to do in Eastern Iowa along I-80. See the American Pickers store, museums, wineries, and a giant truck stop!

**A big thank you to Travel Iowa for their help in creating this awesome itinerary. As always, all opinions are our own.**

14 Comments
  • Danny H says:

    Great write up Vicky! To be honest, I wouldn’t have considered visiting Iowa, but I might stop by to explore. Thanks again for the travel reference material.

  • Nancy Laitar says:

    We went to LeClaire to take a Twilight Riverboat overnight trip down the Mississippi. What a beautiful experience! It was so serene and relaxing! We also visited the Buffalo Bill museum. Had dinner at Bier Stube, a German restaurant right on the river. Visited Antique Archaeology. American Pickers is one of my husband’s favorite shows! We will visit Iowa again!!!

  • Cindy says:

    Looks like a great time! Love eastern Iowa for a fun adventure, and LeClaire is a very interesting historic town to explore!

  • MIKE MEINDERS says:

    Just an FYI Riverside, Iowa just 13 miles south of I-80 on 218 Exit 80 to Riverside is the Voyage Home History Museum for the Future Birth Place of Captain James T. Kirk of the Star ship Enterprise in Star Trek series. He will be born in the year 2228 in Riverside Iowa. This is a great stop for all Si-Fi fans we welcome all people from all over the world.

  • Pam Greer says:

    We are definitely adding Iowa to our roadtrip list! I love all the old buildings.

  • kate werth says:

    It may sound silly but I always forget about little old Iowa! I love these kinds of lists- I’m embarking on an all 50 states list and I’m going to pin this to my board for inspiration. IA isn’t too far from MI so I bet I could get in a really neat weekender trip, because that gorge looks awesome!

  • michele says:

    It’s surprising how much there is to do in Iowa (hey I didn’t even know they had any wineries at all!) You did a great job highlighting what there is to do in Eastern Iowa whether its on a road trip with the family or as a couple.

  • shelbi says:

    Being able to visit the biggest truck stop in the world makes Iowa a state worth looking into! I love history and it looks like there is a good amount of American history to see!

  • This looks like such a fun journey through Iowa! I loved the pictures. Grinnell is already on my radar but I will have to add Hoover’s gravesite, as well. Who doesn’t love a good truck stop? That one looks amazing!

  • Rosemary says:

    I always thought the largest truck store was in Texas. Now, I know different. It’s incredible that they have a chiropractor, movie theatre, dentist, etc. Pretty impressive. I’ve actually never been to Iowa and it looks like you had great time. This article gives me a much better understanding of what to expect from Eastern Iowa.

  • Lara Dunning says:

    Iowa is such a pretty state and I’ve only driven through it, never stopped to explore. This post has a ton of things that would interest me, like the wineries, history and the Amana Colonies. Thanks for sharing! Saving!

  • Seems a nice place to wander around!

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Hi! I'm Vicky, a South Florida-based blogger traveling around the world with my stuffed monkey Buddy. Tired of the 9-5, we recently sold all of our stuff and started traveling full time. Click on the photo to learn more!

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