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Let’s take a trip to….the Midwest? Yes, you read right. With summer here a lot of us are planning a vacation. Last year, I had the pleasure to discover the Quad Cities and cannot stop thinking about it.
The Quad Cities is made up of a dynamic group of towns along the Mississippi River in Iowa and Illinois. The “original” lineup was Iowa’s Davenport and Bettendorf then Rock Island and East Moline in Illinois. Thus, making the Quad Cities.
Given the numerous towns in nearby counties, the “QC” has expanded over the years. What was once a lot of farming and agricultural business has turned into thriving communities with world-renowned dining (even their own kind of pizza), outdoor activities, shopping, river cruising, art and more.
There is so much for everyone to enjoy. Read on for my itinerary for a visit to the QC.
Stay in Moline, Illinois
Fly into the Quad Cities International Airport and check into the gorgeous Axis Hotel. The Axis is a Tapestry Collection by Hilton Hotel in Moline, Illinois. The suites are spacious, comfy, and quiet.
Best part? Downtown is right outside, which makes it very walkable.
A few things not to miss within 10 minutes of the hotel include the James Beard award-winning Lagomarcino’s. The famous ice cream and soda fountain has been operating since 1908.
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The portions are huge and will have everybody screaming for a banana split or their classic hot fudge sundae. Lagomarcino’s also has a full confectionery and specialty chocolate counter so grab some treats to enjoy during your stay.
Around the corner, visit the John Deere Pavilion. The agricultural machinery giant calls the Quad Cities home and recently unveiled their new state-of-the-art headquarters.
There are photo ops galore as visitors young and old can pose in larger-than-life tractors and learn the history behind Deere. Make sure to check out their beautiful gift shop and bring some souvenirs home.
Get a Cultural Experience in Davenport, Iowa
Don’t miss exploring the incredible Figge Art Museum. The Figge is located in Davenport, Iowa, and boasts over three thousand works of art to leave everyone in awe. Their vast collection currently includes works from Peanuts creator Charles Schulz and photographer Ansel Adams.
Another fun gallery nearby is the Bix Beiderbecke Museum. Beiderbecke was a world-renowned Jazz musician who was born and raised in Davenport. He played with many of the Jazz greats and Louis Armstrong was a close friend.
This intimate museum offers visitors the chance to learn more about his short yet extraordinary life. If you or anyone in your group are aspiring musicians, this should be on your list.
Nothing screams “Mayberry” more than the adorably quaint town of LeClaire. Their main street is adorned with funky and old-timey- antique stores to browse for hours.
Have you heard of a little TV show called American Pickers on the History Channel? Their original store is in the center of LeClaire and is a must-see.
Along with the Buffalo Bill Cody Museum (Cody was a LeClaire native), don’t miss a chance to hop on the Riverboat Twilight cruise. With three cruise options, the 90-minute excursion has resumed for the summer season.
During the beautiful ride, you will sail up the Mississippi River and get a glimpse of several river towns. A complimentary drink is included as well as a full-service bar for purchases. Although there’s no dining service, you’re welcome to bring your own snacks or picnic basket.
Eat Your Way Through the Quad Cities
There’s certainly no lack of incredible dining options during a trip to the Quad Cities. For breakfast, don’t miss QC Coffee and Pancake House. The throwback diner is serving up some of the best plates in Rock Island, Illinois. No visit is complete without ordering their cinnamon roll pancakes.
On the Iowa end in Bettendorf, Food Affair Bistro offers twists on many classic plates. For the morning, enjoy modern takes on toast, omelets, benedicts and waffles. They also are an excellent option for lunch and dinner. If dining gluten-free happens to be of concern, they got you.
For dessert, Whitey’s Ice Cream is right nearby. Whitey’s has been another Quad City favorite for more than 80 years and you’ll find several shops throughout the region.
QC Style Pizza
You will also find a kind of pizza you probably didn’t know existed. Quad Cities style is a “thing” and just as important as Chicago or New York. For Quad Cities, their pies are known for a thin crust with a slight sweetness to it. This is thanks to adding malt to the dough. Instead of a typical tomato sauce, the spread has more zest and a bit of spice to it.
Two great parlors to try out are Happy Joe’s and QC Pizza Company. The latter is known for its Sour Pig with ham and sauerkraut. At Happy Joe’s, no visit is complete without ordering their taco pizza. It’s just as tasty as it sounds. All your favorite ingredients from a taco act as the pizza toppings.
Whatever you end up doing, you cannot go wrong when you take a trip to the QC.
Author’s Bio: Mary Farah is a Los Angeles-based freelance travel writer. She’s written on her blog, Along Comes Mary, since 2012. Her work can be found in various online outlets including FWT Magazine, Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels, Ventura County Mom Collective, and GoWorld Travel.
Mary is a proud member of IFWTWA, the International Food, Wine, and Travel Writers Association. A former executive board member, she currently serves on their conference and editorial committees. When she’s not writing or traveling, her favorite place to be is with her husband, daughter, and their two dogs.