fun things to do in Iowa City

5 Best Outdoor Activities in Iowa City This Winter

While it may be cold, winter in Iowa City offers unique opportunities for outdoor enjoyment. Looking for local, family-friendly fun? Ice skating at Terry Trueblood Recreation Area has something for everyone, with a playground and hiking trails in addition to skating. Bundle up and come outside to enjoy Maughanster Appliance Repair’s picks for the best outdoor activities in Iowa City! 

Wondering What to Do This Winter? These Are the Best Outdoor Activities in Iowa City

Whether you’re craving winter solitude or safe social interaction, our city provides a variety of outside enjoyment. From romantic adventures to kid-friendly diversions, these are the best outdoor activities in Iowa City this winter.

1. Outdoor Ice Skating at Terry Trueblood

To ice skate on a frozen lake is to enjoy this winter pastime in its original form. While Terry Trueblood’s lake isn’t the biggest in the area, its amenities make it one of the most popular group activities Iowa City.

Skate rentals, easy hiking trails, ample seating, and a playground provide comfort and fun for skaters of all ages to enjoy an afternoon. Before you go, be sure to check the recreation department’s website to confirm that ice conditions are adequate.

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Photo by PressCitizen

2. Hike at Cedar River Crossing

While Cedar River Crossing doesn’t offer steep inclines and picturesque peaks, it’s one of the best outdoor activities in Iowa City for hikers. That’s because its 513 acres of wetlands can offer challenges through mud, snow and thick grass that’s unique to our local geography.

Once you park near Sutliff Bridge, head north to explore 40 acres of trails along untouched grassland. However, we recommend that bird lovers head south to enjoy the county’s largest population of water birds along the river banks. 

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3. Winter Cabin Retreat

Looking for a romantic weekend getaway or family adventure? A winter cabin retreat near some of the best hiking trails in Iowa City provide a special local experience. Backbone State Park and Lake Darling State Park offer rental cabins of various sizes that are fully-equipped with kitchens, bathrooms and showers.

You’ll love Lake Darling’s 10.2 mile lakeside trail along its picturesque shores. Meanwhile, Backbone State Park has moderate cliffs and beautiful forest paths to explore before an evening of rustic relaxation. 

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4. Hike at Kent County Park

Of all the parks near Iowa City, Kent County Park is famous for its size and diverse landscape. However, while this park may be popular, it’s 1,000+ acres provide enough secluded trails to feel like you’re wandering untouched ground. The eastern trails offer meandering paths through secluded woodlands full of towering pines.

Meanwhile, the southern trails provide miles of waving grasslands while northern routes showcase numerous ponds. Wildlife abounds in every direction, thanks to the park’s peaceful feeling wherever you roam.

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Photo by PressCitizen

5. Let’s Roam Scavenger Hunt at the Capitol Building

Who knew that fun things in Iowa City can include a winter scavenger hunt? Explore the city’s famous outdoor landmarks looking for clues to the questions and riddles on Let’s Roam’s smartphone app.

As teams of two or more, search local plaques, statues and outdoor art for the answers before moving on to the next challenge. All questions and answers are digitally recorded along the way as you strive to beat the latest high score.

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We hope our list of the best outdoor activities in Iowa City inspires a winter adventure to remember. Our city offers something for everyone to enjoy some local, cold-weather fun!