Fun for Free

Itinerary | Family Fun for Free | Cedar Falls, Iowa

Family Fun for Free

Sometimes you just need a daytime getaway – time away from phones and time to reconnect with family. You don’t have to travel far or spend a lot of money to make it a great day. Pack your backpack with breakfast, snacks and lunch for the family and head out to find your adventure in Cedar Falls, Iowa!


The Cedar Falls Visitor Center is a trailhead to the Cedar Valley Trails. Enjoy breakfast on the patio and soak up the view of the lakes and prairie. More than 170 species of birds have been identified at Prairie Lakes. How many different species will you see at the feeder? Did you know that you can check out a pair of binoculars at the Visitor Center to do some bird watching?

While the air is still crisp and cool, grab a Cedar Valley Trails & Recreation Guide at the visitor center and head out on a hike or bike ride around the lake. There are more than 100 miles of trails to explore, but perhaps the 1.3 mile trek around Prairie Lake will be enough for the morning. Can you find and name all the prairie critter sculptures along the Prairie Lakes Trail?


You and the kids have had a good work out and it’s time for a break. Just a short drive from Prairie Lakes Park is the UNI Botanical Center. You’ll be impressed with their diverse selection of ferns, tropical plants and cacti. Have lunch on the shady (and hidden) patio. Don’t forget to look for Columbo! Perhaps he’ll tell you hello before you find him.  

It’s been an active day so far and the kids may be getting tired. Your next choice might be a quiet visit to the Hearst Center for the Arts to see an exhibit, shop in the gift shop or stroll through their sculpture garden (also located adjacent the Cedar Valley Trails). Or, perhaps you want to do some more exploring. Just 3 miles from the UNI Botanical Center is Hartman Reserve Nature Center. Learn about flora and fauna at the interpretive center and then head out on the trails for some hiking on the soft trails. Count how many deer you see!

On the way home, stop by Pfeiffer Park and visit one of our Little Free Libraries. The park also has a bike repair station, water fountain, jungle gym, shelter and access to the trails. 

Visit our Trip Planner and learn to create an itinerary of your own using the Travel Pack. Have questions or need assistance? Just Contact Us. We'd be happy to help.

As always, things change. Be sure to check with all attractions and stores to be sure they're open on the days you'd like to visit.