Introduction to Iowa City, Iowa
Iowa City, the county seat of Johnson County, Iowa, is located about 28 miles south of the city of Cedar Rapids and about 115 miles east of the state capital of Des Moines. Known as the "Athens of the Midwest" due to its wide spectrum of cultural and intellectual activities, the city is home to the University of Iowa. Highways servicing Iowa City include Interstate 80, U.S. Route 6 and Iowa State Highway 1. Nearby towns include Coralville, Tiffin, and North Liberty.
Founded in the late 1830s, Iowa City was the state's first seat of government, serving as Iowa's capital from 1842 to 1857. As the western part of the state continued to develop, however, Des Moines was chosen to replace Iowa City as the state capital. Partially compensating for this loss was the establishment in Iowa City of the University of Iowa, which later became the first public university in the nation to admit men and women on an equal basis and the nation's first institute of higher learning to accept creative work in theater, music, writing, and art as theses for advanced degrees. The University continues to this day to wield a tremendous economic impact on the area, having become the city's largest employer, with over 20,000 employees.
Things to do in Iowa City
Small-town hospitality combined with big-city amenities make Iowa City an ideal location for finding things to see and do. The Old Capitol building commemorates the city's history as Iowa's original state capital, and stands today as a major landmark and tourist attraction in the middle of the University of Iowa campus. The University's teaching hospital offers a large collection of art and houses a Medical Museum on its eighth floor. Other local historic/cultural spots include Plum Grove, home of Iowa's first governor, and the University of Iowa Art Museum. Attractions only a short distance away include the Amana Colonies, offering German home style food and crafts just 20-minutes west of the city. The small town of Kalona, 20 minutes southwest of Iowa City, offers a look at the culture of its large Amish population. The small town of West Branch, 10 minutes east of the city, is the birthplace of Herbert Hoover and home to the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum where visitors can learn more about America's 31st president.
In addition to culture and education, Iowa City is also a great place for recreation and fun. Kids can enjoy Waterdance Fountain on the car-free Pedestrian Mall, which also serves as a gathering place for students and locals, and attracts large crowds for its summertime events such as the Friday Night Concert Series and the annual Jazz Fest, held every July. Also taking place in July is another annual city event, the Johnson County Fair. In early June, the city hosts the annual Iowa Arts Festival where visitors can enjoy the state's best music, visual art, and food. Over 40 public parks populate the Iowa City area, several of which overlook the scenic Iowa River and contain networks of walking and biking trails in addition to relaxing picnic sites. The Coralville Lake, located to the city's north, offers a host of recreational activities, including pleasure boating, fishing, swimming, and water-skiing.
Sports in Iowa City reside in the domain of the University of Iowa's athletic teams, known as the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Hawkeyes, whose nickname was borrowed from the state of Iowa (also known as the Hawkeye State), are a member of the Big Ten Conference. The nearest professional sports team can be found in Cedar Rapids (a half-hour drive to the north), home to the Cedar Rapids Kernels, a Minor League Baseball Class-A team affiliated with MLB's Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Kernels compete in the Midwest League.