Discovering, Iowa

Fun Things To Do in Dubuque

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Dubuque, IA, go ahead and book that weekend getaway because Dubuque, IA, is full of things to do. This bustling city is truly “where Iowa started.” It is Iowa’s oldest city and an excellent stop on the Great River Road that follows the Mississippi River. 

This Mississippi River town has a history and great food, and there is no shortage of fun things to do in Dubuque.

fun things to do in dubuque

Fun Things To Do in Dubuque, IA

Our motto when we go anywhere is to dine, drink, and discover, so that is how we will break down this Dubuque guide for you as we show you all the things to do in Dubuque

Some of our activities were hosted by Travel Dubuque. All opinions are our own. This post may contain affiliate links, which cost you nothing but help support us.

Dining in Dubuque (Plant-Based edition)

Foodies will be right at home in Dubuque. We honestly pick towns based on how good the foodie scene is. So we definitely have to include dining out as one of the fun things to do in Dubuque.

With so many great options to choose from that it’s hard to decide where to eat, the town is an automatic win for us. Dubuque has this “problem,” and it’s a good problem. It means we’ll be planning a trip back to visit. 

We’re highlighting the restaurants that offer vegan or plant-based dining options. 

Check out our vegan guide for Dubuque here for more details. 

Brazen Open Kitchen

Chef Kevin, a Bravo Top Chef finalist, changes his menu at Brazen every three days. Located in the Millworks District, the interior is lovely and a spot for a nice dinner. The vegan pizza and chocolate cake dessert were incredible. One thing’s certain: your meal will be special here, and the cocktail menu is great. 

Pepper Sprout

It’s hard not to love a restaurant named after a Johnny Cash song. Don’t let their menu fool you. You won’t find any vegan options listed, but when asked, they’ll prepare you something on the spot based on their available veggies. Our vegetable curry was outstanding. 

Pete’s Thai Kitchen

We love eating at Pete’s Thai Kitchen when we visit Dubuque. This is a quaint little spot for lunch or dinner. The food and service are consistently good every time! 

Convivium Urban Farmstead

Convivium is an excellent spot for a nice meal, but there’s more than meets the eye at Convivium Urban Farmstead. Convivium is a nonprofit with a mission to improve life through food. They grow food and serve food and coffee at their cafe. All the profits generated from the restaurant, coffee house, catering, and event space rentals go back to supporting their mission. 

Take a 45-minute tour that encompasses the Urban Farmstead and neighboring yards. As they say, it takes a village. 

Drinking in Dubuque

Dubuque has excellent, at least a dozen locally owned coffee shops, six breweries, and two wineries. Yep, there are more fun things to do in Dubuque. We’ve only scratched the surface and here are a couple of our favorites. 

We’ll highlight just a few here. You’ll have to plan a trip to Dubuque to try them all. 

7 Hills Brewing Company

7 Hills Brewing Co is a big taproom that serves food. It’s located in the Millwork District, another destination in Dubuque. Consider booking a room at TownePlace Suites, as it’s directly across from 7 Hills Brewing Company. We have stayed there several times, and it’s lovely. We love the extra space these rooms provide. The kitchens are great for bringing home leftovers or popping a crowler from a local brewery into the refrigerator.

7 Hills Brewery- Fun Things to do in Dubuque

Related: Beer Lovers should check out the National Brewery Museum in Potosi, WI. It’s just 25 miles north of Dubuque on the Great River Road! 

Dubuque Star Brewing Company & Stone Cliff Winery

This might be a first for us—a brewery and winery in one building. Genius! Located in the Port of Dubuque, it is a beautiful Romanesque-style brick building home to both Dubuque Star Brewery and Stone Cliff Winery. It’s located on the Riverwalk, next to the shot tower, which we explain more about below.

You only have to go upstairs to visit Stone Cliff Winery, which overlooks the Port of Dubuque on the Mississippi River and the River Walk as you sip on a flight or glass of wine. 

Discovering in Dubuque

There are so many fun things to do in Dubuque, which draws us back repeatedly. We love River Towns, and there is so much charm and history to take in that it’s impossible to see it all in one visit.

We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite fun things to do in Dubuque.

Take a Mississippi River Cruise

The Mississippi River is the world’s fourth-largest river and passes through Dubuque. A riverboat tour is a great way to experience the vibe of a river town. There are three riverboat options, each offering slightly different experiences. Check out the schedule here.

We rode on Dubuque’s American Lady, which was a lovely experience. It’s so cool to see Dubuque (or any river town) from the water. 

National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium

The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium is a 14,000-square-foot museum with three museums in one. It offers an interactive way to learn about the culture and nature of the Mississippi River. Visitors can view animals and fish native to the Mississippi River and learn how to be good stewards of the Old Miss.

Look at Tiffany Windows at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church

St. Luke’s United Methodist Church is the earliest church formed in Dubuque and has the fifth-largest collection of Tiffany windows. The church is open to the public; anyone can view and photograph the windows. Here is the schedule for Tiffany Window Tours 

Tiffany Stained Glass at St. Luke's Church, Dubuque

Visit The Shot Tower

The Shot Tower in Dubuque is the last remaining west of the Mississippi. It was built to produce lead shot ammunition and was used during the first year of the Civil War. A fire destroyed the tower, but it’s since been fully restored. Learn more about it’s place in history here.

Ride Fenlon Place Elevator- the  World’s Shortest & Steepest Scenic Railroad 

Fenlon Place Elevator is a unique activity and just one of the fun things to do in Dubuque. This 296-foot incline was built in 1882 by a banker, J.K. Graves, whose house was on top of the hill and his bank at the bottom. This is a prime example of working smarter, not harder. He built this cable car so he wouldn’t have to walk the hill when he went to work. You’ll have stunning views of Downtown Dubuque as you take this ride.

Fenlon Elevator in Dubuque

Stroll along the Mississippi Riverwalk

This half-mile paved walkway is a beautiful sight along the Mississippi. From the riverwalk, you can Access Star Brewery and Stone Cliff Winery, an amphitheater, and the Shot Tower and enjoy the beautiful Mississippi River views. 

Riverwalk in Dubuque Port

Visit the Julien Dubuque Monument at Mines of Spain

When Julien Dubuque first arrived, the Mesquakie Indians granted him the right to mine the land for lead. Here, they founded the first Euro-American settlement of what became Iowa. Julien ended up marrying the daughter of the chief of the Mesquakie Indians, and when he later died, he was given tribal honors. Learn more about Julien Dubuque at the monument where he is buried, which overlooks the Mines of Spain Recreation area. 

Chase Murals in Dubuque

There are nearly 50 murals in Dubuque, and they are stunning! We consider chasing murals to be one of the fun things to do in Dubuque. You could spend a weekend just chasing murals about town. Here is a map that shows all of the mural locations. 

Eagle Point Park

Eagle Point Park is one of our favorite stops for fun things to do in Dubuque. It offers amazing views of the Mississippi River. Head to the bluff lookout for an eagle-eyed view of Mississippi River Lock and Dam No. 11. Eagle Point Park also offers a viewpoint of Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin.  Bring a picnic lunch and explore this 164-acre park in Dubuque. 

Mississippi River overlook at Eagle Park in Dubuque

Millwork District

If you’re looking for a Rivertown vibe with arts and culture, food, and cocktails, it’s in the Millwork District. Check out their Facebook page for the latest events. 

Dubuque Arboretum Botanical Gardens

We love to visit Arboretums and Botanical Gardens. The Dubuque Arboretum Botanical Gardens is free to visit and volunteer-run. We loved how it was organized, especially the Japanese Garden and annual gardens.

Related: Check out the Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford, IL, just under two hours from Dubuque.

japanese garden at dubuque

Where to Stay in Dubuque

We mentioned that TownPlace Suites is in a great location. It’s next to the Millwork District, making it very walkable to food, drinks, and shopping.

We have also stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Dubuque Downtown. It was very nice and had a great location near the Mississippi River. They offer a nice breakfast, and they’re connected to Mystique Casino. If you enjoy gambling, this makes the list of fun things to do in Dubuque.

If you prefer more luxury accommodations, consider booking Hotel Julien Dubuque. The interior is stunning, and restaurants, coffee, and shopping are connected. Hotel Julien is located downtown, so you can walk around and find fun things to do in Dubuque.

Pin for Planning your trip to Dine, Drink, and Discover Dubuque, IA

If you’re looking for another Iowa gem full of history, visit the Amana Colonies

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