Do you love antiques, libations, and waterfront views? If so, you’ll fall in love with the small-town charm of Le Claire, Iowa. We spent some time exploring Le Claire, IA, this past summer, and if this charming spot isn’t already on your radar for a laid-back weekend trip, it should be!
Le Claire was founded in the 1830s by mighty river adventurers, but today, the Cody Road Historic District attracts tourists for its charming buildings, great dining experiences, riverboat adventures, boutique shopping, and unique history.
Walking down the Cody Road Historic District in Le Claire is one of the best things to do in Le Claire, IA. Discover all you can see, do, and explore along this nine-block stretch—and beyond!
Best Things to Do in Le Claire, IA
1. Buffalo Bill Museum
Have you ever heard the name “Buffalo Bill”? Well, he’s from right here, in Le Claire, Iowa!
William Cody (Buffalo Bill), born in 1836, was a scout in the U.S. Army, a Pony Express rider, a buffalo hunter, an actor, and more. He’s considered one of the world’s first global celebrities because of his dramatized show about the Wild West.
Visiting the Buffalo Bill Museum in the Cody Road Historic District is one of the best things to do in Le Claire, IA, since visitors can learn about the adventurous life of Bill Cody. You can also see documents, artifacts, and exhibits about regional history, including the Mississippi River, Native Americans, and American settlers.
2. Antique Archeology
Do you watch the television show “America Pickers” on the History Channel? If so, you’ll recognize Antique Archeology in Le Claire, Iowa, as the home base for American Pickers!
Antique Archeology sells clothing, accessories, antiques, home décor, vintage items, and other collectibles. Paying a visit to Antique Archeology is definitely one of the best things to do in Le Claire, IA, but if you ever find yourself in Nashville, they have a location there too.
3. Wine Tasting
If you like wine (and who doesn’t!), wine tasting is one of the best things to do in Le Claire, IA. There are two primary wineries in Le Claire—Wilde River Winery Tasting Room and Olathe Creek Vineyard and Winery.
Wilde River Winery Tasting Room is situated within the Cody Road Historic District, so it’s a convenient place to explore if you’re walking around. However, I’d highly recommend hopping in the car and driving a few minutes north to Olathe Creek Winery.
Olathe Creek Vineyard and Winery is owned by a local couple, Bryce and Julia. They hand-planted two acres of vineyards in 2019, and their winery has been growing ever since! We really enjoyed their wines, especially the seasonal ones (we bought a Blackberry Bliss to bring home). Plus, the ambiance of their lovely tasting room and the lush greenery outside was so beautiful and relaxing. Stop by to support this awesome family during your time in Le Claire! And if you’re looking for more wineries while you’re exploring the Midwest, check out these Geneva-on-the-Lake wineries.
4. Mississippi River Distilling Company
If wine isn’t your thing but you’d still like a drink, head over to the Mississippi River Distilling Company. This distillery uses locally-sourced grains to make small-batch, handcrafted spirits, including vodka, gin, whiskey, and flavored liquors.
If you stop at the Mississippi River Distilling Company, you can take a free tour of the distillery or simply sip on a cocktail while overlooking the Mississippi River.
5. Grasshoppers and the Vintage Wine Cellar
If you didn’t do enough shopping at Antique Archeology, head over to Grasshoppers and the Vintage Wine Cellar. This unique gift store is situated in a beautiful historic home on a hill that overlooks Le Claire and the Mississippi River. Inside, you can walk through each room in the house to discover different themes—including kitchen accessories, clothing, home décor, and more.
Downstairs, you can head into the Captain’s Spirit Cellar, where you can stock up on wine. Grasshoppers also has guest homes that you can rent during your visit to Le Claire, and they have a shed with restored items and antiques you can explore.
6. Riverboat Twilight
If you’re on the Mississippi River, you can’t miss the chance to go on a riverboat cruise. Riverboat Twilight is an old-fashioned riverboat that allows passengers to take in the Mississippi River’s sights, sounds, and smells, and setting sail on the Riverboat Twilight is one of the best things to do in Le Claire, IA!
The Riverboat Twilight offers a sightseeing cruise for just under two hours for $20 per adult and $12 per child. These cruises include a complimentary iced tea or lemonade, or you can purchase a beverage at the bar on the third deck. You’re also allowed to bring lunch on the boat since there is no food service.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also embark on a two-day Mississippi River cruise to Dubuque, Iowa, on the Riverboat Twilight. These cruises include meals, lodging, entertainment, and admission to the National Mississippi River Museum, and you can explore some of the best things to do in Dubuque, Iowa, while you’re there!
7. Cody Road Coffee
Cody Road Coffee is probably one of my favorite coffee shops I’ve ever been to, and that’s saying something because I really love exploring local coffee shops. We went here three times during our trip, and I got the same thing every time because it was so good!
Cody Road Coffee is a small, rustic coffee shop that’s themed around Buffalo Bill, and it has an adorable western-themed gift shop attached. The Turtle Mocha was the drink I loved (and would recommend)—it’s a mocha with praline, caramel, and espresso. They also have other fun drinks you can try, like Buffalo Bill’s Butterscotch Latte and the Peanut Butter Caramel Latte.
8. Green Tree Brewery
Green Tree Brewery is a local brewery, and visiting this spot is one of the best things to do in Le Claire, IA. It’s named after the “Green Tree” that sat on the banks of the Mississippi River for nearly 250 years but eventually died in the 1960s.
However, this iconic tree lives on (in spirit) at Green Tree Brewery. Here, you can enjoy small-batch craft beers in the tap room, including the Buffalo Spit Oatmeal Stout, River Bottom Red, and Doc’s Blondie. Regardless of which type of brews you like, you’re sure to find something to please your palate.
Note: Green Tree Brewery doesn’t serve food, but you’re welcome to bring food from the surrounding local restaurants into the tasting room to enjoy with your beer.
9. Boutique Shopping
Aside from Antique Archeology and Grasshoppers, there are tons of other cute boutiques and great places to shop in this quaint town. In fact, antique shopping is one of the best things to do in Le Claire, IA!
Personally, I loved browsing Cody Road Trading Post, Bela, and Aunt Hattie’s Fanciful Emporium Unique Gift Shop. You can also make your own candles at Buttercupp Candles, located in Grasshoppers—I wish we had more time to do this on our trip!
10. Local Dining
Le Claire has plenty of great restaurants you can dine at, which is one of the best things to do in Le Claire, IA. Here are a few local favorites:
- Blue Iguana Mexican Cantina—This restaurant is the perfect spot for tacos, fajitas, burritos, and margaritas.
- Bierstube—Try traditional German fare, including sausages and pretzels, while overlooking the Mississippi River.
- Steventon’s—This beautiful restaurant has a two-tiered deck overlooking the Mississippi River and serves dishes made with fresh, local ingredients.
- Crane & Pelican Café—This fine-dining restaurant serves guests a seasonal menu in a historic location that overlooks the Mississippi River.
- The Faithful Pilot Café—This restaurant in Le Claire has been open since 1991. They offer an intimate dining area for locally sourced, fine-dining fare and a casual bar that offers live music on select days and hosts food and wine events.
Best Places to Stay in Le Claire, IA
- River View Lodge—Enjoy an indoor swimming pool, beautifully-decorated rooms, and a terrace overlooking the Mississippi River at this beautiful spot.
- Heart of Le Claire—Stay in the heart of Le Claire is this adorable two-bedroom apartment with a kitchen and an ideal location in the Cody Road Historic District.
- Holiday Inn Express—Right on this Mississippi River, this hotel features an indoor swimming pool, hot tub, hot breakfast buffet, and more.
Plan a Charming Getaway with These Best Things to Do in Le Claire, IA
Does the quaint town of Le Claire, Iowa, on the banks of the Mississippi River sound like somewhere you’d like to visit? It’s not a big town by any means, but it’s the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing, laid-back weekend or day trip!
Which of these best things to do in Le Claire, IA, sounds most interesting to you? Let me know in the comments below!
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