NEEDS UPDATING: Boxed(IN) Quad Cities

By Sonya Luse Geenen

It’s cold. It’s windy, or sleeting, or snowing, or raining – or all of it at once – and while we can be thankful for the moisture our sleeping gardens are getting, our bundled up bodies need a break! “Who? Me?” you ask. Yes, you! You need weekend away… some time to explore a new area, eat good food, and find tasty brews, ‘cause then – just like that – the cold doesn’t seem so bone chilling, and you’ll quite possibly be ready to weather a few more weeks (or months) of that weather.

Since moving to the Quad Cities a couple of years ago, I’ve been having a great time exploring the area. It’s just a short drive from the Driftless Region, so come see why those creative geniuses at Raygun emblazoned upon a shirt “The Quad Cities: Twice As Nice As The Twin Cities.”

Weekends can be oh-so-different depending on who you’re with. It might be you and the girls or guys, could be you and the kiddos, or maybe you and your sweetums, but however you’re planning your much-needed weekend away, there’s something here for everyone. Pick and choose to make your weekend what you need it to be… you could even dun dun dun: Choose Your Own Adventure!*

Friday Evening:

The weather has cooperated and you’ve made the drive south to the East Coast of Iowa. You are rolling into town(s), and your travel companions have noticed an aura of hanger (anger because you’re hungry) in the car that will only escalate until you feed the beast. You have to do something, and fast!

If you’re after a burger and a local beer go to Front Street Brewery. Their Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwich is ahhh-mazing; pair it with sweet potato fries and you’ve got it made. Their Mac and Cheese is also ridiculously good and you better get a Raging River Ale – I guarantee it will make you hoppy!

If you feel like soup – think gouda and red pepper – or an amazing sandwich like the Cuban Melt, Café Fresh is where you are headed. They serve a full bar menu as well as local beer on tap. On Friday and Saturday nights the bar and lounge area make for a cozy place to hang.

But if you’ve decided that it’s not really hanger you’re feeling because you snacked the whole way down, it’s obviously just a good beer you’re in search of. No frills, no food, just some Good Local Beer. You are headed to Great River Brewery. The tasting room is warm and the beer is cold. You will find a beer you like. A lot.

Your belly is full of food and/or drink, and you are starting to feel sleepy.

If you are zonked out, you need to find a place to lay your head, in downtown Davenport is the beautiful and historic Hotel Blackhawk. It opened in 1915, and underwent a complete renovation in 2009. It has played host to many notable folks from current president Barack Obama, to several past presidents, to Guy Lombardo and his big band. The Bix Bistro inside the Blackhawk serves a full breakfast lunch and dinner menu. And PLEASE check out the Blackhawk Bowl and Martini Lounge in the basement of this amazing building. The lanes originally opened in 1956, and it was reopened in 2011 as part of the Blackhawk Hotel’s restoration. Go and bowl on one of the eight lanes and drink a tasty beverage!

Another place to snooze and be comfy is Stoney Creek Inn in downtown Moline, Illinois. It’s located conveniently to, well, everything in the Quad Cities. I’m going honest here, the best thing – yes there are the standard hotel things and they’re really great – but the best thing is the pool area. Sit in the hot tub to soak for a while and then jump in the pool where you can splash on through an entryway to an outdoor heated swimming area. And this is all cool enough, but on a cold night, or on a snowy night, it’s really magical. A stay comes with free hot breakfast too!

If you’re not sleepy and still looking for trouble:

River Music Experience (RME) has shows on most Fridays and Saturdays. RME is a non-profit performing arts center dedicated to providing a space for locals and visitors to listen, learn, and play music. They bring in great nationally known and regional artists. Check their site (see sidebar) for information and show times.

Next up, Rozz-Tox, as they bill themselves, is a café, cultural space, gallery, and music venue. A cool, laid back venue with dripped-to-order coffee, local beer, and cupcakes (don’t forget the cupcakes!). Look for the mannequin in the second floor window – I’m betting that Mannequin Venus of Fancy Pants in Decorah is a close cousin.

Or… Go Bowling! Blackhawk Bowl and Martini Lounge (see details under the Hotel Blackhawk description) is a great late evening location. Bowling, drinks, food, huge TVs, music, backlights, retro décor. What more could you ask for? That’s right: nothing.

Now go to bed. It’s late and you’re tired. No? Well, you’re on your own till morning. Have fun!

Good Morning! Food, Coffee, Fun, and more local brews are in store for you today.

If you’re in the mood for a coffee shop and walking around kind of morning/day there are several spots to suit your mood:

The College Hill District in Rock Island, Illinois is a great place to start your morning. It is concentrated at the intersections of 14th Avenue with 30th Street and 37th to 42nd Streets. Cool Beanz is the local college coffee shop hang out, with big couches and a fireplace. The College Hill has a fun bunch of antique and vintage shops. Fred and Ethel’s is a Fifties Retro Antique Shop: it’s fantastic. Craving a just-before noon beer? Against the Grain Brewery and Alehouse is the Quad Cities only Nano brewery. While they aren’t serving their own beer at present time, they are serving unique craft beers from around the US, and they are delicious, plus it’s a great spot with pool tables, darts, and they’ll even accommodate your Saturday afternoon sports needs on their TVs. For lunch head east on 14th Avenue to La Rancherita for tasty authentic Mexican food.

If you’re up for a little road trip on your road trip, LeClaire, Iowa is an awesome small Iowa town located just 20 minutes out of the Quad Cities. It’s home to American Pickers (of the History Channel), many other antique shops, and locally owned businesses. Stop at One Twenty Nine for some coffee on your walk around town. You will want lunch at Crane and Pelican – the meatloaf sandwiches are outta this world and Amanda (or one of her fantastic staff) will serve you sweetly and graciously. If you’re looking for a little treat, order the Homemade Limoncello. It is divine. After lunch, make sure you swing by the Mississippi River Distilling Company. They have a beautiful facility overlooking the Mighty Mississippi and they’ll give you a tour and let you try some handcrafted spirits made from local grains. The LeClaire website (see sidebar) offers more places to shop, and more places to eat and drink too.

If you’d rather scope out a farmers market today, and then see some mummies or maybe some art or a museum geared towards young kids and their adults, here are your next adventures:

The Freight House Farmers Market is Davenport’s year-round market. Be sure to stop at Fresh Deli by Nostalgia Farms (in the Freight House building next to the Farmers Market) to grab a coffee and some food.

Next, head to the Family Museum – it’s a great bustle of activities for the little ones it targets… you know, the eight and under crowd. Explore tornados and clouds, play with oversized blocks, and then shop in a kid-sized grocery store. The options are endless, at least until naptime.

Or find your way to Putnam Museum of history and science. Founded in 1867, it was one of the first museums west of the Mississippi. With lots of interactivities, detailed historical exhibits, and mummies to learn about, the Putnam has something for everyone. It also boasts a National Geographic Giant Screen Theater, with a digital and amazing 57 by 70-foot screen showing feature and documentary films.

OR (and?) check out the Figge Art Museum – a huge beautiful glass structure situated in downtown Davenport near the Mississippi. Their galleries are a mix of permanent and special exhibitions with local Iowa and regional artist as well as international art on display.

You’re hungry; you’d like a drink; you want to sit. There is no adventure here just some simple instructions:

Take yourself to Bent River Brewery in Rock Island. Though Bent River doesn’t have food, you can BYOF (Bring Your Own Food). As you’re ordering your first round, of Uncommon Stout or any of the other delicious beer they offer, choose the type of pizza pie you’ll be ordering from Harris Pizza, and choose who will be going to pick it up. It’s delicious. We stick with simple mushroom or cheese, though you can go fancier too.

So you need other options. How about Hockey, or Disney on Ice, or the Harlem Globe Trotters? They’re all at the iWireless Center in Moline this winter. And for even More Places to Eat, Sleep and Enjoy, hop on for a little pre-trip research! We hope to see you around this winter!

* The author of this piece has compiled the information. Remember, adventures are ultimately chosen by YOU. If you’re wanting to see a show, or a hockey match, or the like, please please please do a little bit of planning to make sure the events you are looking forward to are going on the weekend you are in the Quad Cites. And as always, have fun!

Quad Cities driving distances:
170 miles from Decorah
242 miles from Rochester
192 miles from La Crosse
132 miles from Elkader

Eat and Drink:

Against the Grain Brewery and Alehouse
1340 31st Street, Rock Island, IL • 309.283.7605

Bent River Brewery
512 24th St, Rock Island, IL

Café Fresh
1514 5th Avenue, Moline, IL • 309.797.6966


Cool Beanz
1325 30th Street?Rock Island, IL • 309.558.0909


Crane and Pelican
127 South 2nd Street, Le Claire, IA • 563.289.8774


Fresh Deli by Nostalgia Farms
421 West River Drive  Davenport, IA • 563.424.4561

Front Street Brewery
208 East River Drive, Davenport, IA • 563.322.1569


Great River Brewery
332 East 2nd Street, Davenport, IA • 563.323-5210


Harris Pizza
3903 14thAve, Rock Island, IL • 309.788.3446


La Rancherita
4118 14th Avenue Rock Island, IL • 309.794.1648


Mississippi River Distilling Company
303 North Cody Road, LeClaire, IA • 563.484.4342


One Twenty Nine
129 North Cody, Le Claire, IA • 563.729.1035



LeClaire, Iowa
(Nearby small town fun)


The Family Museum
2900 Learning Campus Drive, Bettendorf, IA • 563.344.4106

Figge Art Museum
225 West Second Street in Davenport, IA • 563.326.7804


Fred and Ethel’s
1326 30th Street, Rock Island, IL • 309.786.3511


Freight House Farmers Market
421 West River Drive  Davenport, IA • 563.322.6009


iWireless Center
1201 River Drive  Moline, IL 61265 • 309.764.2001


Putnam Museum
1717 West 12th Street, Davenport, IA • 563.324.1933


River Music Experience
129 N. Main Street, Davenport, Iowa 52801 • 563.326.1333


2108 3rd Avenue, Rock Island, IL 61201 • 309.200.0978



Hotel Blackhawk
200 East 3rd Street, Davenport, IA • 563.322.5000


Stoney Creek Inn
101 18th Street, Moline, IL • 309.743.0101


Sonya, like lasagna, when not exploring the Quad Cities, is teaching kiddos about science, (think lady bug costume, and Madagascar hissing cockroaches), baking pies, and spending time with her awesome husband, Dave.

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