The Quad Cities region encompasses five cities total: Bettendorf, Davenport, Moline, East Moline and Rock Island. The name originates from a time before Bettendorf was considered its own city, and the name“Quint Cities” never quite took.
2. Each City Has Its Own Personality
Source: Flickr user VisitQuadCities
Davenport is the largest, and is home to lively riverfront downtown area. Bettendorf has a family-friendly vibe and is mostly residential. The Moline area is a civic and retail hub and closely tied to John Deere. Rock Island is home to Rock Island Arsenal, the largest government-owned weapons manufacturing arsenal in the United States, and is known for The District—its hopping entertainment neighborhood.
3. Quad City Locals Get Their Ice Cream Crazy Thick Malts At Whitey’s
Source: Whitey’s Ice Cream via Facebook
If you ask where to get primo ice cream in the summer (or winter) months, locals will inevitably direct you to Whitey’s—a local icon. It’ll be easy to find, since there are nine locations in the Quad Cities area. You can’t go wrong with one of their malts, which are notorious for being so thick that you can hold them upside down without losing the sweet, creamy goods.
4. Minor League Baseball Gets Major League Support
Source: Wikimedia user BotMultichillT
It may be the minor leagues, but the Quad Cities folks love to support the River Bandits. The single-A Houston Astros affiliate play in Modern Woodmen Park, which has been around since 1931, but was recently given an awesomely kitschy overhaul, including a tiki village, a 110-foot Ferris wheel, and a tall field of planted corn. Last year Modern Woodmen was named the best minor-league ballpark nationwide by USA Today.
5. Front Street Brewery Is An Unbeatable Beer Spot
Source: Front Street Brewery via Facebook
Front Street Brewery in Davenport is a favored beer spot for visitors and locals alike. The Mississippi-side brew pub is an all-in-one drinking environment, featuring free brewery tours, a homey restaurant area and a beer garden. The handcrafted brews are top notch, and all pair perfectly with fried pickles.
6. Daytrotter Has Made Rock Island An Indie Music Mecca
Source: Daytrotter via Facebook
The Quad Cities have become an unlikely destination for the biggest names in independent music since Rock Island Illinois’ Horseshack recording studio started hosting their “Daytrotter” sessions, featuring stripped-down in-studio performances from upcoming bands. Daytrotter performances have helped bands like The Lumineers, The National, and The Fleet Foxes gain major steam.
7. Pretty Much Everybody In Moline Works For John Deere
Source: Flickr user SD Dirk
In case you’ve never seen a farm or been responsible for a lawn, or been outside, really, John Deere is one of the largest agricultural machinery manufacturers on the planet. The company is headquartered in Moline, and is the driving engine behind the city’s economy. If you live in Moline and you don’t work for Deere, your neighbor probably does.
8. And John Deere Sponsors The Area’s Biggest Golf Tournament
Source: John Deere Classic via Facebook
The Quad Cities area has its very own PGA tournament in the John Deere Classic, which is played at TPC Deere Run, and in the past has been won by golf titans like Payne Stewart, Vijay Singh and Zach Johnson. When there isn’t a tournament going on, TPC Deere Run is open to the public, although it will cost you a pretty penny.
9. You’ll Have To Relearn Everything You Knew About Pizza
Source: Wikimedia Commons user Ericnotderek
While Chicago is considered the Midwest mecca for pizza lovers, you might reconsider which city deserves the title after moving to the Quad Cities. Local institutions like Happy Joe’s and Harris Pizza feature “taco pizza,” a local delicacy topped with refried beans, cheese, lettuce, tomato and taco chips. Even if you decide to go straight sauce and cheese, you’ll notice some unique differences—Quad Cities-style pizza crust has a malty taste, and the slices are cut into strips.
10. Loose Meat Sandwiches Are Way Tastier Than They Sound
Source: Maid-Rite via Facebook
With six locations in the Quad Cities, Maid-Rite, and their un-pattied ground beef, mustard, and dill pickle “loose meat” sandwiches, are local staples. Elsewhere around town, you might see them on the menu as a “tavern sandwich.”
11. Mississippi Valley Life Means Easy Outdoors Access
Source: Quad Cities via Facebook
Being located near the biggest river in North America has its advantages when it comes to outdoor fun. Living in the Quad Cities means some of the best landlocked fishing, boating, kayaking and canoeing in the Midwest. If water isn’t your thing, you always have the option to explore riverside trails or just slack off on the beach.
12. The Adler Theatre Is An All-in-one Entertainment Outpost
Source: Flickr user U.S. Army
While the larger capacity iWireless Center in Moline occasionally books bigger acts like Cher and Pearl Jam, the Adler Theatre in Davenport consistently delivers a wider range of top talent, from stand-up comedy, to live music to big Broadway shows that have hit the road.
13. Codfish Hollow Is The Best Place To Watch Live Music In A Barn
Source: Codfish Hollow Barnstormers
Sponsored by the music mavens at Daytrotter.com, the “Barnstormer”concerts at the barn-turned-venue Codfish Hollow have quickly become a distinctive part of the area’s live music scene. Past performers have included national acts like Counting Crows, as well as smaller and local bands.
14. Jazz And Blues Lovers Have A Home in Davenport
Source: Mississippi Valley Blues Society via Facebook
Davenport is the home of the annual Davenport Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, which has been headlined by blues legends like WC Clark, Buddy Guy, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, as well as the the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival, dedicated to local jazz legend Bix Beiderbecke. The Bix Memorial Fest lasts four days and takes places at venues all over the city.
15. A Booming Agriculture Biz Means Non-stop Farmers’ Markets
Source: Freight House Farmers Market via Facebook
Being an urban outpost in a sea of farmland definitely has its advantages. The agriculturally rich area has great access to the areas super-fresh farm foods. If you’re on the outskirts, it won’t be uncommon to see fresh goods available for purchase on the back of pickup trucks. In the city, there’s no shortage of formal farmers’ markets between May and October, and Davenport’s Freight House Farmers Market is open year round.
16. Go Figge-ure! Davenport Is Home To One Of The Coolest Art Museums In The Midwest
Source: Wikimedia Commons user CTF83!
The Figge, located in Davenport, is the architectural and cultural gem of the Quad Cities. Designed by world-renowned British architect David Chipperfield, the 114,000 square-foot modern structure functions as an all-encompassing art museum and the home to Western Illinois University’s Museum Studies graduate program.
17. You Can Pick A Living Situation That Suits You
Source: Quad Cities via Facebook
Moving to an amalgamation of small cities means lots of options when it comes to picking a living situation. If being a starving artist is your MO, a downtown Davenport loft might suit you. If you’ve graduated from city life, a tight-knit suburb like Coal Valley might make more sense. Or, if you blow your nose with $100 bills and eat exclusively truffles and caviar, a 19th century mansion overlooking the Mississippi might be more your speed.
18. No One Does Races Quite Like The Quad Cities
Source: Quad-City Times Bix 7 via Facebook
The Quad Cities Marathon, Quad Cities Criterium bike race, Trinity Quad Cities Classic Regatta, and Bix 7 Road Race—a seven mile Davenport race to honor Bix Beiderbecke and kick off the Jazz Festival—are all big community draws. And if physically exerting yourself isn’t really your thing, looking on while eating and drinking to excess can be fun too.
19. Get Your Artsy Fartsy On In Bucktown
Source: Bucktown Center for the Arts via Facebook
Back at the turn of the 20th century, the Bucktown neighborhood in Davenport had a hard earned reputation for debauchery stemming from its big number of notorious speakeasies, dance halls and brothels. These days, Bucktown is still an area of interest, but more for the Bucktown Center For The Arts—a renovated industrial building made up of over a dozen shops and studios featuring the work of local artists—rather than its unsavory entertainment.
20. Outsiders Be Warned: Locals May Be Slow To Warm Up
Source: Flickr user Joel Dinda
Since Midwestern cities are usually tight-knit places where families can trace their roots back for generations, don’t be surprised if your neighbors greet you with a touch of skepticism and uncertainty at first. But once you get to know them a bit better, you’ll see that famous“Midwestern friendliness” kick in.
21. MetroLINK Will Get You Where You Need To Go
Source: Facebook user Metro IL Quad Cities
While most people in the Quad Cities area get from A to B using a car, if you live in on the Illinois side of town, the MetroLINK bus system is constantly mentioned as one of the country’s best. Around 10,000 riders a day take the system, which in 2012 was named one of the three best public transportation systems in the country by The American Public Transportation Association.
22. Fareway Is The Most Super Of Supermarket Chains
Source: Fareway Food Stores via Facebook
Outsiders may have never heard of the Midwestern grocery store chain, but locals love the store’s cleanliness, top notch meat and produce, kindly employees and crazy good prices. In 2012, Fareway was ranked by Consumer Reports alongside Wegmans, Trader Joe’s and Publix as the most super of all supermarket chains.
23. Locals Think They’re Snow Driving Gods And Goddesses
Source: Flickr user DVIDSHUB
Because the area regularly gets knocked with ice, snow and wind between November and February, longtime Quad Cities residents approach driving during treacherous conditions with a level of hubris that can, quite frankly, be alarming. In tough weather, defensive driving is the best kind of driving.
24. The Quad Cities Are Crazy Affordable
Source: Flickr user Kris McGuire
Obviously, it varies from city to city and neighborhood to neighborhood, but the Quad Cities are, by and large, an affordable area to live in and a great place to buy a house. In 2012, Yahoo named the Quad Cities one of five markets that were “beating the housing bust,” and in 2010, Forbes magazine named the Quad Cities America’s “Most Affordable Metro.”
25. The Quad Cities Food Hub Is Good For Business And Waistlines
Source: Quad Cities Food Hub via Facebook
Davenport’s Quad Cities Food Hub is an agriculture business center aimed at green innovation and high-quality food production. Recently, the downtown hub added a kitchen incubator for food and kitchen-related businesses to its riverfront warehouse space.
26. Windy Weather Means Getting Unplugged At Inopportune Times
Source: Flickr user Alan Light
If you move to the Quad Cities, prepare for your technology-related rage to correspond to the raging winds: they’re known to frequently knock out internet, power and anything satellite related.
27. There’s A Big City “High Art” Scene
Source: Quad City Symphony Orchestra via Facebook
For the kind of art you might enjoy with a pinky up, maybe even whilst wearing a monocle, check out the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, which plays six masterworks concerts, three pop concerts and three chamber concerts yearly. You can also see the nationally-acclaimed Ballet Quad Cities, an ensemble that performs modern dance and classical ballet, and occasionally partners with Orchestra Iowa.
28. You’ll Notice A Slight Influx Of Laptop-Wielding, Issues-Contemplating College Kids Come Fall
Source: St. Ambrose University via Facebook
While it’s not generally thought of as a “college town,” the Quad Cities area is home to Saint Ambrose University in Davenport and Augustana College in Rock Island. Both are small liberal arts schools.
29. In Gumbo Ya Ya, Rock Island Has Its Own Mardi Gras
Source: Flickr user Roberta
Spicy food, music and ample adult beverages? Yes, please. The Gumbo Ya Ya Festival is one of most popular annual events in Rock Island’s District neighborhood. The celebration of Cajun culture runs for two days every June on the Great River Plaza.
What do you love about living in the Quad Cities? Tell us in the comments below!
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