BLOG
Starting conversations about cities
 
 

30 Things You Need To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Iowa’s second largest city sits on an intersection of river and train tracks, but beyond all the commerce is a city deeply passionate about its history, art, and food culture, and the landscape that holds it all together.

Leah McBride Mensching

15 articles, 0 comments

1. Dobry Den!

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Flickr user Chepner

The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library is located in Cedar Rapids. It was founded in 1974 by a group of second and third-generation descendants of Czech immigrants. In 1995, Czech President Václav Havel, Slovak President Michal Kovác and U.S. President Bill Clinton presided over the museum’s new building dedication.

2. An Island In the Middle of Iowa

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Flickr user Carl Black

Mays Island is a small island in the Cedar River. Cedar Rapids is one of just a handful of cities in the world (think Paris’s Île de la Cité) with government offices on a municipal island.

3. It’s Number Two

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Flickr user trebomb

It’s the second largest city in Iowa, with just under 130,000 residents. Des Moines has nearly 210,000.

4. Forget The Shire; This Is Frodo’s Hometown

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Wikipedia

The city doesn’t like to boast, but it’s a hometown to some pretty famous actors, including Elijah Wood, Ashton Kutcher, Ron Livingston, Bobby Driscoll and Michael Emerson.

5. It’s Rockin’ The Suburbs

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Flickr user Jason Steffens

As Cedar Rapids has grown, its borders have expanded, and its surrounding small towns have become suburbs or bedroom communities. These include Atkins, Bertram, Ely, Fairfax, Hiawatha, Marion, Palo, Robins, Shueyville, Swisher and Walford.

6. It’s Home To A Longstanding Muslim Community

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Flickr user U.S Embassy, Jakarta

The first Muslims arrived in the area in 1895, from the Bekaa Valley in what is today Lebanon and Syria. Islamic Services of America, which provides Halal Certification services, was established in Cedar Rapids in 1975. The Mother Mosque of America, dedicated in 1934 and located just west of the Cedar River, is the longest standing mosque in North America.

7. It’s Back To Nature

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Flickr user Joshua Mayer

Long before Iowa became farmland, it was a vast expanse of prairie. On the edge of Cedar Rapids, Indian Creek Nature Center aims to preserve and protect natural wildlife and plant habitats, while giving visitors a chance to learn more about the environment and the nature surrounding them. Visitors can explore trails through prairie, wetlands and woodlands, as well as check out special displays and exhibits.

8. It’s American Gothic

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Flickr user Allan Henderson

Painted by Grant Wood in his home and studio in Cedar Rapids in 1930, American Gothic may be the most iconic painting in the United States. The studio is now owned by the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, which houses the largest collection of Wood’s work in the world.

9. It’s In Your Gas Tank

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Flickr user Loco Steve

Cedar Rapids is home to one of Archer Daniels Midland’s largest plants, which produces 420 million gallons of ethanol a year, more than any other plant in the country. Other grain processors have facilities in the city as well, including Cargill, General Mills and Quaker Oats.

10. The City That Has Five Seasons

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Flickr user stijn Debrouwere

Throughout the city, you may notice a design that looks kind of like a stylized tree. That is the symbol for the “City of Five Seasons,” a tagline the city uses. The five seasons are, of course, spring, summer, fall and winter, and the fifth is a reminder to enjoy all the seasons, and to enjoy life.

11. Its Dining Scene Is Top Notch

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Flickr user Keoni Cabral

Every city has an “It” restaurant – a little classy, and with excellent food. In Cedar Rapids, that restaurant is Zins. The menu offers tapas-like small plates, main courses and an excellent wine selection. It has won the hearts of the locals in the best way possible, through their stomachs.

12. It Has Roots In Flight

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Flickr user Timothy J Carroll

Orville and Wilber Wright may have tested their theories of flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, but their imaginations of flight began in 1878, when their family moved to Cedar Rapids. Their father, a bishop with the Church of the Brethren, was assigned to a post in Cedar Rapids. He gave the boys a helicopter-like toy, which flew around the room using a rubber band. The boys loved the toy, and even duplicated it a number of times before moving to Dayton, Ohio, where they eventually built their historic airplane.

13. Just For A Little While, Pretend This Is Your House

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Flickr user Wikipedia

Everyone loves to explore an old mansion, and Cedar Rapids has one of the best. Brucemore is Iowa’s only National Trust Historic Site. It offers tours, holds special events throughout the year, and also hosts musical and fine arts performances. Its grounds are also beautiful, and a great place to take a stroll.

14. You Can Go Back In Time

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Flickr user Chris Heald

If visiting Brucemore has whet your appetite for more historical touring, Cedar Rapids has you covered. Ushers Ferry Historic Village is home to 20 historic buildings, set on 10 acres, that depict life in a small Iowa town between 1890 and 1910.

15. Get Your Jog (Or Stroll) On

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Flickr user kc7fys

This mid-sized city has more recreational space than most big cities. With 74 parks, four golf courses and six swimming pools (not to mention the athletic fields, pavilions and playgrounds within), you have no excuse not to take advantage of some recreational time.

16. Share In The Bounty

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Flickr user Jason Steffens

Thanks to a growing farm-to-table movement, farmers markets everywhere seem to be growing. But Cedar Rapids was holding a farmers market long before anyone heard of the word “locavore.” Its market has been around in one form or another since 1902. Today there are two markets, the Noelridge Farmers’ Market and the Downtown Farmers’ Market.

17. Frank Was Here

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Douglas and Charlotte Grant House in Marion is a Usonian home designed by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It was constructed in 1946.

18. Go Read A Book … To A Dog

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Flickr user Bonner Springs Library

The Cedar Rapids Public Library has two branches, Downtown and the Ladd Library, on the city’s southwest side. It offers programs for everyone from toddlers, to teens and beyond. One program invites children to read to trained, certified therapy dogs, an activity that has been proven to improve reading skills and gain confidence.

19. Walk Through The Trees

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Flickr user SG Yung

The Morgan Creek Arboretum is home to more than 250 species of trees and shrubs, as well as a butterfly garden. It is part of the Morgan Creek Park, which also offers camping, a trail system, cross country ski trails, a field sports area, picnic areas, a playground, prairies and wetlands.

20. Art From Home And Around The World

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Flickr user Paul Sableman

The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art’s roots go back to 1895, when local community leaders were inspired by the World’s Colombian Exposition in Chicago. Today the museum is located in its original building, a Carnegie Library, complete with a 42,000 square foot addition. It also owns the Grant Wood Studio just three blocks away, which is open for guided tours several days each week.

21. It’s A Movie

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Wikipedia

Cedar Rapids is a 2011 comedy about Tim Lippe, played by Ed Helms, who goes to Cedar Rapids to represent his company at an insurance convention. The movie also stars John C. Reilly, Anne Heche, Sigourney Weaver, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Alia Shawkat, Rob Corddry, Kurtwood Smith, Stephen Root and Thomas Lennon.

22. Play Ball!

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Flickr user Stijn Debrouwere

You don’t have to go far to see some great baseball. True to its corn production-surroundings, the Cedar Rapids Kernels are a Class A minor league team, affiliated with the Minnesota Twins. The Kernels play at the Veterans Memorial Stadium.

23. Run River

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Flickr user Stijn Debrouwere

The Cedar River is an important part of the city, and enjoying it is important to residents. Trails alongside the river make for scenic views while walking, jogging or biking. Locals also enjoy boating, and Ellis Park, alongside the river, is a great place to just sit back and watch the river run past.

24. Home To Iowa’s African American Museum

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Wikipedia

The African American Museum of Iowa was launched in 1994, and has become one of the foremost educational resources on African American history in the state. The museum offers tours, exhibits, a summer camp, family programs and more.

25. Flood Prevention

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Flickr user Joe Schmidt

The city is continuing to recover from a massive flood that devastated much of the city in 2008, but years later, that recovery has also turned into prevention. In December 2013, the state’s Flood Mitigation Board awarded the city $264 million for a flood mitigation project to protect both sides of the Cedar River.

26. It’s The Best Place To Live

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Flickr user Mike Willis

Cedar Rapids ranked No. 1 in Iowa for the “Top 100 Best Places to Live” list by Livability.com, and came in 29th in the nation.

27. It’s Getting Greener

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Flickr user Jason Steffens

The city has been working toward becoming more environmentally friendly, and in 2012 established five guiding principles of sustainability. They are: 1) Build a community that embraces diversity and history; 2) Advance opportunities for business, individual and community growth; 3) Promote economic and social growth while restoring relationship between the city and its natural environment; 4) Create a city that is affordable and accessible to all members of the community; and 5) Serve as a leader in creative, successful strategies to lead progression toward a more sustainable future.

28. Cheers!

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Flickr user Anders Ljungberg

Cedar Rapids has a wonderful arts and history scene. And where there is culture, there is (usually) wine. The area is home to three vineyards and wineries: Cedar Ridge Vineyards in Swisher, Fireside Winery in Marengo and John Ernest Vineyard & Winery in Tama.

29. The Play Really Is The Thing

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Flickr user chicagogeek

The city is home to not just one or two live performance theaters, but six. The Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre presents two or three operas each season, as well as special events; the Legion Arts/CSPS is a former Czech social hall that presents contemporary art, music and theater; Orchestra Iowa is one of the oldest symphony orchestras west of the Mississippi River; SPT Theatre Company is a professional performing arts organization; The Old Creamery Theatre Company stages comedies, dramas, musicals and children’s shows; and Theatre Cedar Rapids is the area’s largest community theater.

30. A Modern Bohemian Market

10 30 Things To Know About Cedar Rapids Before You Move There

Source: Flickr user Ethan Olson

The NewBo City Market goes on all year round in the city’s New Bohemia neighborhood. You can buy locally grown, specialty prepared foods, meat, seafood, flowers and baked goods. The market also holds festivals, flea markets, concerts and cooking classes.

Facebook

Looking for a new home? Movoto’s got you covered. With millions of listings, plenty of property information, and established agents all over the country, we make finding your future home simple. And when you’re ready to take a break from browsing homes, you can always come back here to learn more about your favorite cities.

posted on: January 28, 2014
29,828 views, 12 comments

Facebook Conversations

comments

12 Comments

  1. Michael M Kelly Sr

    I was born and grew to adult status in Mason City, Iowa but by the time I was 23 and had a growing family, I realized that if I was to raise that family in relative comfort I would have to move somewhere to find a better income than was available in Mason City. So I checked out Cedar Rapids and found that it had all that I and my family would need.
    When I came to Cedar Rapids, Iowa from Mason City in 1965, I fell in love with the city, it’s beauty, it’s architecture, old and new, and it’s wonderfully friendly people. I found that I and my family were welcomed and accepted immediately on arrival. When I first arrived I did so alone so that I could seek employment and look for a home to bring my family to live. People immediately stepped up to offer assistance as to where to look for and apply of work. They also came forward with assistance in finding a home for me to rent so I could bring my family down. I found that Cedar Rapids was a city full of kind and generous folks who were proud of their city and more than willing to share with newcomers the wealth, entertainment, beauty and just plain enjoyment of living in the community of Cedar Rapids! That’s why I have made Cedar Rapids my home for the last 49 years!!
    Recently the Cedar Rapids Gazette published an article that announced that: “Cedar Rapids Makes List Of Top 10 Places To Retire!..City also No.30 on the site’s 100 Best Places to Live for 2014!” – (See more at: thegazette.com/2013/11/19/cedar-rapids-makes-list-of-top-10-places-to-retire/#sthash.mE8K4QDQ.dpuf)
    I have lived here for forty-nine years now and I can honestly say that Cedar Rapids is by far the most enjoyable place in this country, heck, maybe in the world, to live!!

  2. Rex

    Torn between two worlds…

    Lived there for 18-years…joined the Navy, settled in Florida in ’89. Love the ocean, hate the heat/humidity/bugs. Love the different seasons/people/ and family in Iowa…but don’t like the extreme weather and 8-months of cold…

  3. Barbara Klawiter

    Cedar Rapids is a celiac friendly town – we have several resturants that cater to those of us that are on a Gluten Free Diet- my favorite is Zeppelins. They have a specialty menu for us that are GF and it is all so wonderful!!!

  4. Christa

    It’s so refreshing to see people talking about the wonderful qualities of this city. So often, on the local news channel websites, the comments are made by people who have not had the opportunity to fall in love with Cedar Rapids. I’ve lived here my whole life and, while I’d love the adventure of living somewhere new, I can’t imagine being gone for long. Location, amenities, residents… What’s not to love?

  5. Bill Hosford

    In addition to these great features there is also the awesome Cedar Rapids Science Center. The Center recently moved to a much larger location on near the corner of Council and Blairs Ferry Road NE. The main gallery features a great collection of interactive exhibits for children and adults. Three large classrooms accommodate special programs and parties, and the developing maker space provides a venue for inventors. The Center’s First Lego League team recently won a hard-earned trophy at the State LEGO tournament in Ames. Fun for all.

  6. Shelly David

    Thank you for the great article about my hometown. Although I have now lived in Texas for quite awhile, I was born and raised in CR and my family has been there for over 100 years. Your article showed me things I never knew about the city. I visit once or twice a year and will make sure to check out some of these attractions next time I am in town.

  7. Beth Zakrasek

    The first thing I would say about Cedar Rapids is how great the schools have been for our kids. When we moved here 20 years ago, our children were 9 and 5. They received a first rate education, loved their 3 schools of Erskine Elementary, McKinley Middle, and Washington High. The music programs in those schools alone was reason enough to move to Cedar Rapids. Great schools usually mean great community support and this is certainly true for CR.

  8. Sue

    This was a nice showing for Cedar Rapids, but we have more wineries. You missed Deja’ Vine which boasts several award winning wines all made entirely of Iowa grown grapes–something most wineries cannot say! And I would agree with another comment–the best schools; especially Catholic Schools! We are blessed to live in an area that supports the arts and encourages kids to pursue their artistic talents at a time when most schools are cutting the arts out of their budget.

  9. Bob deMuth

    I was raised in C,R. And always thought it was under rated as a great place to live and grow up. Although today I shun the extreme weather there, my heart will always have fond memories of Cedar Rapids.

  10. rachel

    you missed the paramount theater and its amazing restoration and organ. and how the downtown library is new and filled with an unheard of number of new books! and how about coe, mt mercy, and kirkwood with it’s innovative hotel all in one city? i’d change the comment about “most” of the city being flooded – we were all effected but most stayed dry…might scare people away. love the rest of the list!

    • Mom Margaret in response to rachel

      I loved living along the Cedar River, even though there was flooding in 2008. I have lived in earthquakes (California), higher crimes rates and relentless traffic but not here. Great people, they love their city and know how to make things happen. Just a mile or so from the city, you will see the largest deer I have seen; some are as large as elk. I was so happy my daughter moved here in 2008 and has not left. We have bought a home. I am working out of state now, but this is my home and happy to have it. Rachel, you are the happiest you have been and I am so proud of your accomplishments and thankful for what the city has to offer.

  11. Charlotte

    I’m looking for information about Iowa Milling Company that was in CR in the past and operational at least as long as the late 1940s. I would like to tell my Grandchildren about the company where their Grandfather worked part time at night loading and stacking big sacks of feed by hand into railroad box cars when he was in high school. I don’t know when Iowa Milling went out of business or was purchased by some other company. So far I can’t find any mention on the internet about Iowa Milling company in Cedar Rapids.

 

Leave a Reply

Name:
Email:
Comment:

 
Email