30 Free Things to Do in Cedar Falls
on Wednesday, December 27, 2017
The Cedar Falls Tourism & Visitors Bureau celebrates their 30th anniversary in 2018 and each month we’ll highlight events, family activities, attractions and lots of things to do that make Cedar Falls a great place to visit and live!
This month, we’d like to begin with many of the FREE things to see and do while in Cedar Falls. Because we’re turning 30, we’ve chosen 30 activities you can enjoy this year.
When it's winter…
Discover the Cedar Falls Visitor Center by perusing the gift shop and racks of free brochures. The 2018 Waterloo/Cedar Falls visitor guide and calendar of events are now available along with free calendars from Cedar Falls Utilities!
Take a self-guided tour of the Victorian Home and Carriage House Museum and imagine what life was like without television and smartphones during the Victorian era. On February 1, the museum will reopen for the season and their new feature exhibit, “Bear Whistles, Butter Churns & Beyond: Ceramics in Cedar Falls” will open February 22.
Hike the soft trails at Hartman Reserve Nature Center and be sure to stop back to see the renovated interpretive center when it opens this winter!
As the snow begins to fall, our extensive trail system becomes perfect for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Did we mention we have trail maps at the visitor center?
If ice skating is more your speed, enjoy skating outsid e at Gateway Park. Restrooms are heated, there’s a shelter and the rink is lit until late evening.
At the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), stop and enjoy the tropical plants and warmth of the UNI Botanical Center. When the temperature outside drops below zero, it feels like a tropical paradise!
Also on campus is the UNI Museum in the Rod Library. Their current exhibit, “Right Side Up: The Art and Life of Herb Hake,” features his cartoons and original radio broadcasts and TV programs.
On almost any day of the month, you can listen in on a UNI School of Music performance by faculty or students. The School of Music is regarded as one of the finest music programs in the Midwest.
Down the street from campus, enjoy fine art exhibits, free movie nights and more at the Hearst Center for the Arts. In the spring and summer, be sure to take a stroll through their sculpture garden.
In November, attend the annual Festival of Trees in the renowned Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center on the UNI campus. Throughout the year the center hosts university ensembles, nationally-known artists, the wcfsymphony, Broadway shows and more.
Annually, on the day after Thanksgiving and throughout December, enjoy several Holiday Hoopla events in the downtown district of Cedar Falls. Annual events include Jingle & Mingle on Main, Baby It’s Cold Outside, Hoopla Cheer & the Ugly Sweater Contest and Movie Magic. It’s always a surprise how Santa will arrive the day after Thanksgiving and be sure to visit him at his workshop and watch the holiday light show on 4th & Main Streets.
(cross-country skiing on the trails at Hartman Reserve)
When it’s spring…
Delight in an afternoon driving tour of the Barn Quilts of Black Hawk County. The Cedar Falls Visitor Center has a map/brochure of the barns on the tour.
At the Veterans Memorial Park, honor those who fought for our country. Be sure to visit the Black Hawk County Freedom Rock adjacent the park.
Take a historical walking tour of downtown Cedar Falls. The Cedar Falls Historical Society has created a self-guided tour and the Cedar Falls Visitor Center has a copy along with a photo scavenger hunt of architectural details of the buildings located in the downtown district.
Visit one or all of the more than 15 public sculptures throughout the city. The newest additions are downtown and in North Cedar (located directly north of Cedar Falls on Center Street). For your convenience, we also have a free Cedar Falls Public Art Guide at the visitor center.
(2018 Cedar Valley Pedal Fest is June 30-July 1)
And when it's summer and fall…
Bike or walk the Cedar Valley Trails and try out one of the fitness stations like the ones that around South Prairie Lake.
While exploring the trails around North and South Prairie Lakes, discover and name the metal prairie critters along the trail.
Head north and stroll around Big Woods Lake and enjoy the restored prairie and informational kiosk built by the Cedar Falls Rotary Club. See if you can spot a Bald Eagle.
Rock on at Live to 9 after work in Sturgis Park on Fridays in June and July.
Bring your lawn chair and listen to the music of the Cedar Falls Municipal Band every Tuesday evening, June through July, in Overman Park.
Bring your blankets and lawn chairs to Overman Park and enjoy a family-friendly movie under the moon and stars. Movies Under the Moon takes place on select Friday evenings during the summer.
In June, explore the College Hill Arts Festival at College and 23rd Streets and visit a few of the College Hill merchants.
Meet up with old friends and revel in all the stages of entertainment at the Sturgis Falls Festival and Cedar Basin Jazz Festival in June.
Picnic at Pfeiffer Park and take a stroll or ride your bike across Krieg’s Crossing, enjoying the view from this long pedestrian bridge.
Try some disc golf at Tourist Park, the 3rd oldest course in the world.
Get on your bike and participate in as many rides as you can fit into a day during the 3rd annual Cedar Valley Pedal Fest in July.
In July, enjoy the music and craft vendors at the annual Cedar River Cleanup and Festival at Island Park.
Enjoy the beauty of the prairies in Cedar Falls starting at the UNI Tallgrass Prairie Center.
Borrow a pair of binoculars from the Cedar Falls Visitor Center and do some bird watching around North and South Prairie Lakes.
Grab your kayak and explore the Cedar Valley Paddler’s Trail, a ten mile water and portage trail. The Cedar Falls Visitor Center has a map of water trails!
Have a BMX or mountain bike? Try out Tondro Pray Bike Park for BMX bikes, mountain bikes and cyclocross. In November, Twisted Spokes hosts Twisted Cross and it’s free to attend and watch the action!
Find more Things to Do in our 2018 calendar of events and Waterloo/Cedar Falls Visitor guide. If you have questions, contact the Cedar Falls Visitor Center at 800-845-1955 or stop by and see us at 6510 Hudson Road.
We’d be happy to help!
(Discover the Cedar Valley Paddler's Trail)