100 Road Trips Near the Quad Cities- Part 1


Want to take a road trip near the Quad Cities? We’ve got a lot to offer in the Quad City area, but if you’re like me, sometimes you want a change of scenery and to get the heck out of town. We’ve compiled a fantastic list of road trips near the Quad Cities you can take this summer! Choose a couple to get on the calendar now before your summer completely fills up!

This is part 1 of a three part series of 100 road trips near the Quad Cities (100 summer family day trips within 100 miles of the Quad Cities.) View Part 2 and Part 3 before making all your summer plans!

West Lake 7 miles

Barely qualifying as an actual road trip near the Quad Cities as it’s so close, you’ll find four lakes with a beach, paddle boats, kayaking and canoeing. This is an ideal location for birthday parties, camping, any time you want to get out into nature a bit without driving too far. The lakes are currently drained but definitely keep it in mind for future- and the camping is still good! 

Eldridge IA 10 miles

The Play Station– trampoline park and more. You know how in A Christmas Story they’re always telling the little boy “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!”? I have nothing against trampoline parks and own a trampoline myself. It doesn’t stop me from always wanting to say to my kids when we go to this great value of a park “You’ll break your neck, kid!”

Walnut Grove Pioneer Village Several little shops line a main street of this literal pioneer village. Go during a festival if you can, and not only because you’ll get in free if you don pioneer outfits but also there’s kettle corn and gun fights! Just going on your own any old day makes this a fun outing. Plenty of room to run around, and some historical education make this a great spot to plan a picnic with friends. It’s an easy area to keep an eye on your kids.

Scott County Park– Free to enter, bike trails, hiking, an Olympic size swimming pool and splash pad, picnic areas and camping make this a perfect day away from home. The trails vary from wide open mown paths on which you could take a stroller, to narrow trails in the woods. There’s sand volley ball and creeks to play in and many picturesque scenes.

Lost Grove Lake– Fishing, canoeing, kayaking or just walking on a few trails in this open prairie type area. In July there are fields of sunflowers.

Bliss and Backroads– A fantastic little boutique which is locally owned, you can find something adorable just for you whether on line, at one of our events, or in the physical store. Check them out!

Summer Festival and Moonlight Chase July 10 2021 A small town festival worth making the jaunt for. Do include this in your summer road trip near the Quad Cities plans.

Miss Effie’s Country Garden At Iowa’s first pick your own flowers farm, you can make an incredible bouquet inexpensively. Besides seeing all of Miss Effie’s beautiful posies, you can pet her cats and see her chickens and ducks. You could even plan brunch with your pals and rent tables in the Corn-Zebo. The Quad City Moms Blog hosted an outstanding event there: Mom Speed Dating. Moms got to take home flowers AND new friends. It’s a sweet little road trip near the Quad Cities.

Hampton IL 12 miles is not too far for a little road trip near the Quad Cities

Illiniwek Forest Preserve

Nature Spiral, a literal spiral primarily made of 65 boulders, with outlined images of native birds, fish, insects, animals, and plants cut into the surface of many of the stones was made by a local artist.

Heritage Park Interpretive Center– learn about the Mississippi and its importance in our area’s settlement and growth

Stone’s Apple Barn– Apples and orchards galore!

Great River Trail- Wildlife and nature. Take a long bike ride or a short stroll, it’s all beautiful!

Brettun & Black Mercantile Store is a dry goods store and museum as it appeared in 1849. Education and shopping! What’s not to love?

over shoulder photo of woman driving and car through the front window road trip near the quad cities

Walcott IA 13 miles

I-80 Truckstop The World’s Biggest Truckstop is not an exaggeration. This is a good spot to kill a sweltering summer afternoon just browsing. Be prepared for all of the “ Mama, can we buy this?” requests because the kids are fascinated by the place. It’s  a sweet little road trip near the Quad Cities.

Iowa 80 Trucking Museum The varied collection of trucks and vehicles is amazing even if you don’t consider yourself a fan of trucks. The display is organized and spacious. Friendly and helpful staff answer any questions your truck aficionados may have. While the tour is free, donations are appreciated.

Truckers Jamboree July 8-10, 2021 Antique Truck Display some dating back to 1900, over 175 exhibits, Iowa Pork Chop Cookout Carnival games, a pet contest, trucker olympics, live music, and. fireworks—all for free!

When you’re tired of looking at trucks, eat at any of the nearby restaurants including Gramma’s Kitchen, which supports local farmers with delicious food, or head into Walcott itself for burning off some energy at one of their great parks or check out the cutest little public library.

LeClaire IA 18 miles

Buffalo Bill Museum All about a government scout and Wild West showman, the museum is so interesting and inspiring that if you’re not careful, you may end up with a cowboy and buffalo lover who now begs you to take him to Wyoming to see where Buffalo Bill retired. (Not that this happened to me!)

A Brand New Park- Huckleberry Park –  playground equipment, restrooms, pavilion, basketball hoops, and pickle ball courts. 

Shameless Chocaholic Do I really even need to try to convince you to go here? Chocolate is a must have for road trips near the Quad Cities.

The Crane and Pelican- locally sourced menu, delicious food in an adorable river boat captain’s mansion make this one of LeClaire’s top restaurants.

It’s always a fun family trip to the various candy, popcorn, and ice cream shops!

The skate park and nearby creek My kids bring their bikes and love the hill and the obstacles. Then they cool off by walking into the shaded creek area nearby and imaginatively playing, discovering “new lands”, and getting grubby.

Tug Fest 2021 will be August 12-14, 2021. It’s an actual tug of war across the Mississippi and there will be bands and fireworks. It’s fun for all!

Princeton IA 23 miles

The Buffalo Bill Cody Homestead is the boyhood home of Buffalo Bill Cody, replete with buffalo on site. The old fashioned house is fun to browse through no matter if you care about Buffalo Bill or not. Typical of the time period of Little House on the Prairie kids will love to see how our ancestors lived.

Dewitt IA 23 miles

Clinton County Fair July 21-25, 2021 you’ll find all kinds of things to love at this perfectly sized fair. Live music and carnival rides are a given, and watching the rodeo is not to be missed.

TYCOGA Winery -after a day out wrangling the kids and giving them the summer of their lives, you deserve a moment to catch your breath at the serenity pond while you taste locally delectable wines.

Smilee’s Ice Cream Support a local family while you enjoy melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork sandwhiches and the kids devour a sampling of one of the 32 flavors of melt-all-over-the-floor-and-their-face ice creams.

German Hausbarn Museum Built in Germany in 1727, you’ll be amazed to find a relic like this in Iowa! Only open on weekdays.

Malone Park This 30-acre park includes a 9-acre lake for fishing and swimming, perfect for a quiet afternoon of enjoying the water, but shallow and small so you aren’t as anxious about watching the kids. Bring your own trash bag-the times I’ve been there the garbage is overflowing.

Clinton IA 25 miles

Clinton is a great spot to go for a road trip near the Quad Cities.

Stone Tower – Eagle Point Park A breathtaking view of the river and beyond.

Bulger’s Hollow Recreation Area This sweet little area literally dead ends into the river! You’ll find a nice little picnic area and chance to sit still and enjoy nature. Try not to eat a gnat. That’s a little too much nature.

Eagle Point Park Bike Trails A beautiful bike ride.

Coney Island at Cattail Slough This secluded little spot is nestled along the river with a small sandy beach and an area for fishing. Enjoy a picnic or bring along your guitar and have a good old fashioned singalong.

Mississippi River Eco Tourism Center You’ll find a huge aquarium here boasting local species of fish. Whether you want to rent a kayak or get a ride with a naturalist for a guided tour, you’ll likely find what your looking for with this little stop off.

Sawmill Museum I’m sure you know the reason the semi-pro baseball team in Clinton is called “The Lumberkings”. If you don’t know, you can find out why and more at the Sawmill Museum. This is especially a hit with fans of big machinery (aka most little kids I know!)

Clinton Area Showboat Theater Just as it sounds, you can take in a musical while you’re on a boat. Support local theater and enjoy the show! This summer’s line up includes All Shook Up, July 1-18, Church Basement Ladies, July 22-August 1, and Constellations, August 5-14. 

Clinton County Historical Society and Museum Another museum? C’mon QCM, how many museums can we go to? Well, I’ll tell you. A lot. This one happens to be home to one of only three manually powered engines in the world.

Felix Adler Children’s Discovery Center A basic small town children’s play area. My kids love to build for days with their giant collection of Citibloks, and I like it because I can see the whole room at one time so there’s no having to follow right behind them to keep track of them. It’s not very crowded either, which is another bonus in my book.

Bickelhaupt Arboretum Learn about all kinds of varieties of flowers and plants with the nifty labeled signage.

Wide River Winery After a long day of kid-centric fun, you deserve to take some time for yourself. Buy a bunch of different flavors. If you find a favorite you can also buy their wine in the metro area to restock.
River Arts Center
You can paint your own pottery or you take in some local artists’ work. This also is home to a cool local theater with lots of adults eager to share their love of theater with families. You definitely want to add this to your list of road trips near the Quad Cities.

Cordova IL 25 miles

Cordova International Raceway Love noise, action packed fun, and big engines? This is for you!

Colona IL 26 miles

Lavender Crest Winery Just go here.

Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park The Hennepin Canal State Trail is an ideal destination for a relaxing day of picnicking, hiking, biking, fishing and old fashioned family fun. There are plenty of picnic tables along the 104.5-mile linear park spanning five Illinois counties (Rock Island, Bureau, Henry, Lee and Whiteside). If you want to be extra, you can look up information about the canals ahead of time, such as the Panama Canal, Erie Canal or Suez Canal and help everyone see what an incredible feat of engineering this was for the time. Definitely learn the song “The Erie Canal Song”, and sing it all day, until everyone is annoyed with you. Tell the kids you’ll stop singing only if they write an essay comparing and contrasting the Hennepin Canal with one of the other ones you learned about. This is what road trips near the Quad Cities are all about.

Green Rock Memorial Bike Path: Running along the Hennepin Canal, this is a picturesque hike or walk, or indeed, bike ride (it is called a bike path, after all).

Fort Obie Rendezvous and Living History Encampment – 2nd Weekend in October Living history in the time of the mountain men, offering many demonstrations, some in which kids can participate in. Mark your calendar for this wonderful experience.

Colona’s Scott Family Park is where you’ll find activities for everyone, including a swimming pool, miniature golf, arcade, paddle boats, a stocked fishing pond, and more.road trips near the quad cities woman looking at a map and has a camera hand with photo of buildings on tablet

Aledo IL 30 miles

They have a coffee shop called Deja Brew.

DEJA BREW!! That alone would be enough to pique my interest, but it’s also attached to clothing boutique. This might not be the ideal stop for you and your kids, as the kids I know don’t get too excited about clothes and coffee. Although they should. Definitely a worthwhile road trip near the Quad Cities.

Rhubarb Festival First weekend in June Aledo is also the home to the Rhubarb Festival. Now I don’t know if it’s really true, but the governor of that fine state dubbed it to be the Rhubarb Capital of Illinois. If you’re not familiar with rhubarb, come get acquainted. It’s a tart odd looking stem of a plant, which, when you add enough sugar is absolutely out of this world delicious. The fine people of Aledo have been perfecting rhubarb recipes for decades. It’s small town fun at it’s finest.

Mercer County Fair July 13-17 From the expected carnival rides, animal shows and pageantry you can also enter your baby into the decorated diaper contest or wander through the Pumpkin House or have your small set enter the pedal tractor pull. One of the earliest county fairs in the area means your kids won’t have that jaded been there, seen that attitude they sometimes get. Definitely add it to your list of summer road trips near the Quad Cities.

This is the first in a three part series of a 100 incredible day trips within a 100 miles of the Quad City area.  View Part 2 and Part 3 before making all your road trip summer plans!

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  1. Reusable Usables has been closed for quite some time, but we have a new park – Huckleberry Park – that has playground equipment, restrooms, pavilion, basketball hoops, and pickle ball courts (to open next week). Also, it’s always a fun family trip to the candy, popcorn, and ice cream shops, too! 🙂


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