Visiting Iowa City

Iowa City at a Glance

With its immediate neighbors of Coralville and University Heights, Iowa City’s population is 149,450. Iowa City was once the territorial capitol of Iowa, and the Old Capitol building in the middle of the University of Iowa campus was built in 1842. Iowa City leads the country as the U.S. city with the highest percentage of adults holding Bachelor’s degrees at 44%. The city is especially known for its medical campus and writing programs. University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is a major teaching hospital and level-1 trauma center with nearly 800 beds. In 2008, Iowa City was named a UNESCO City of Literature. Since 1955, graduates and faculty of The University of Iowa have won 25 Pulitzer Prizes.


Transportation to Iowa City from the Eastern Iowa Airport


Downtown Restaurants

Most are open for lunch & dinner; we’ve also pointed out the few breakfast spots.

  • Atlas127 Iowa Avenue — Wraps, homemade soups, salads, and seasonal entrees. A nice outdoor patio. Lunch & dinner.
  • Basta Pizzeria Ristorante121 Iowa Avenue — Casual fine dining Italian restaurant. Offers fresh, local ingredients and many made-from-scratch dishes. Lunch and dinner with nice outdoor seating.
  • Graze115 E. College Street — Claiming to have Iowa City’s best martini, Graze offers a world menu.
  • Masala Indian Vegetarian9 S. Dubuque Street — Like the name says, vegetarian Indian food.
  • Mickey’s Irish Pub11 S. Dubuque Street — A longtime Iowa City pub that offers burgers and sandwiches for lunch and dinner.
  • One Twenty-Six126 E. Washington Street — Eclectic menu with interesting sandwiches and salads for lunch; dinner entrees include an array of meat and fish options. A smaller wine bar, Hearth, is upstairs.
  • Short’s Burger & Shine18 S. Clinton Street — Offers great, locally raised, gourmet burgers. Several different varieties to choose from. Vegetarian options also available. Lunch and dinner.

Near Northside Restaurants 

  • Bluebird Diner330 E. Market Street — A more upscale diner than Hamburg Inn.
  • Devotay117 N. Linn Street — Tapas bar with an eclectic interior.
  • El Bandito’s, 327 E. Market Street — Fresh and interesting Mexican food; good drinks. Serves weekend brunch.
  • Hamburg Inn214 N. Linn Street — A perennial favorite of presidential candidates visiting Iowa City, this diner offers pancakes, burgers, and pie shakes!
  • Motley Cow Café130 N. Linn Street — One of Iowa City’s more innovative restaurants with a seasonally changing menu. Offers breakfast on weekends.
  • Oasis Falafel206 N. Linn Street — Casual spot for falafel, hummus, and other Middle Eastern fare. Lunch and dinner.
  • Brix Cheese Shop and Wine Bar, 209 N. Linn Street — Teresa's favorite — wonderful wine deals in the afternoon and creative cheese boards with excellent pickles!


If you’d like to get a few items to have for your visit, there are two good markets in walking distance to the Obermann Center:  The Bread Garden Market is located on the Pedestrian Mall in the same building as Hotel Vetro, and the New Pioneer Food Coop is at 22 S. Van Buren St. For basics (and good wine), John’s Grocery on the corner of Market and Gilbert is close.


Iowa City offers a number of good coffeehouses, most of which have free wi-fi. The most popular is probably Java House at 211 E. Washington St., open from 6:00 a.m. to midnight. The Times Clubabove Prairie Lights Books at 15 S. Dubuque St., offers coffee and pastries by day and wine by night; as well as being in a phenomenal bookstore, it is also on the site of a former literary club that once attracted writers like Gertrude Stein and Langston Hughes. High Ground Cafe is closer to Obermann and has beer, wine, and sandwiches in addition to coffee.

Book Resources

Events and Nightlife

There are a few events specific to the week of your visit. We’ve also featured a few of our favorite arts venues.

  • The Mill — A pub/restaurant that has long been the heart of Iowa City’s music scene with an emphasis on folk; it’s also a popular literary hangout. There is live music most nights, which you can find at
  • Riverside Theatre — Iowa City’s independent theatre offers a line up of plays during the academic year and a Shakespeare festival over the summer months. 
  • FilmScene — Independent movie theatre on the pedestrian mall.
  • The Englert Theatre — Restored vaudeville theatre that features national singer-songwriters, comedians, spoken word, and more.


  • Campus Recreation and Wellness Center — On the corner of Burlington and Madison St., this state-of-the-art facility offers an Olympic lap pool, a leisure pool with a hot tub, classes, a climbing wall, indoor track, and two floors of exercise machines and equipment.
  • There are two yoga studios in the downtown area. Heartland Yoga (where Jennifer teaches) is located on the second floor of the Hotel Vetro building. Schedules can be found at Yoga, 224 S. Clinton Street, is at
  • Running — The Iowa River provides a naturally scenic running path. Area trails and routes can be found here: