a family’s guide to visiting the Quad Cities

Thinking of visiting the Quad Cities? Well we have you covered with the QCMB’s Family Guide to Visiting the Quad Cities.

Our family has only lived in the Quad Cities for four years and we have fallen in love with this city we live in. There are a few things you should know though, so you look like you belong here in the Quad Cities.  First, the QC is actually made up of 5 cities.  Yes, 5 cities. I guess the “Quint Cities” never caught on.  The five principal cities are: Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa, and Rock Island, Moline, and East Moline in Illinois.  The cities straddle the Mississippi and traveling around in the QC you will cross many bridges over the Mississippi River. So now that you know the basics of our amazing Midwest city here is what you must do and where you must eat when you are here visiting.  From one non-native to another.

travel guide QC

Where to Stay 

Stoney Creek Inn  is our favorite family-friendly hotel in the QC.  This is a great hotel that is right on the waterfront close to many area attractions.  They have wonderful suites with bunk beds that can accommodate larger families.  The fantastic heated indoor/outdoor pool is an added bonus.                                                                                                                                                101 18th St. – Moline

Hotel Blackhawk  is one of the most sophisticated accommodations you can stay at in the QC and is located in downtown Davenport.   My kids call Hotel Blackhawk “swanky”.  They do have suites that can accommodate up to 6 people in this historic building and my kids favorite part is a bowling alley in the basement.  Flying in to the QC?  The Hotel Blackhawk has complimentary shuttle service to and from the airport.                                                                                               200 E. 3rd Street  – Davenport

Radisson Quad City Plaza  is a great place to stay in the Quad Cities.  The hotel is perfectly located adjacent to the iWireless center and walking distance to the John Deere Pavillion.  The Radisson also has a pool which is perfect for the kids and complimentary shuttle to and from the airport.                                                                                                                                                                        1415 River Dr – Moline

Holiday Inn QC  is located right off Interstate 74.  With it’s indoor heated pool and situated next door a great shopping center, this hotel has got everything.  Also the J Bar is located off the lobby for great eats and cocktails.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     425 Elmore Avenue – Davenport


What to Do

John Deere Pavilion  You can’t come to the QC, without getting your feet wet in a little John Deere education.  The John Deere Pavilion is a fantastic place to explore tractors, combines, and anything John Deere green.   Your kids will have fun playing in the Discovery Zone, where they will learn where our food comes from.     (Moline)

Niabi Zoo  Ride the train and explore our great zoo.  Visit the giraffe exhibit and meet our newest baby giraffe, Genesis.   (Coal Valley)

Bettendorf Family Museum  Use your imagination as you investigate all the Bettendorf Family Museum has to offer.  There is so much to explore inside and out at this fun interactive museum.  Stop by for one of their Drop-In classes to create something to take home.  (Bettendorf)

Freight House Farmer’s Market  Fruits, vegetables, baked goods, wine, eggs, honey, candy, fresh cut flowers, and beautiful handmade crafts.  Our farmer’s market has got it all.  Open Saturdays 8 -1, Sundays 11 -3, and Tuesdays 3 -7.    (Davenport)

Putnam Museum   One place where you can discover many Quad-City artifacts, interact with awesome science exhibits, and watch an IMAX.   (Davenport)

QC River Bandits  Catch a game watching QC’s very own Minor League Team.  The kids will love taking a ride on the ferris wheel and seeing the Quad Cities from up high.   (Davenport)

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Channel Cat   The Channel Cat Water Taxi is a fantstic way to get around the QC and enjoy the sights of the Mississippi River.  These open air boats operate seven days a week, Memorial Day through September.  (Multiple stops in the QC)

QC Family Entertainment  If the Iowa weather is dampening your outdoor plans, head to QC Family Entertainment.  They have bowling, laser tag, arcade games, and much more.   (Moline)

Michael’s Fun World  What doesn’t Michael’s Fun World have to do?  Go Karts, batting cages, mini golf, jungle zone, there is so much to do.  Summer Hours are Mon – Thurs: Noon – 10 Pm Saturday: 10 am – 10pm  Sundays: Noon – 8pm      (Davenport)

QC Botanical Center  Surround yourself with beauty while visiting the QC Botanical Center.  See the beautiful flowers and watch the Koi, frogs, and toads glide through their habitats.  (Rock Island)


Where to Eat 

The Quad Cities has some great restaurants, here’s a few restaurant recommendations perfect for families:

Breakfast (Breakfast is our family’s favorite meal of the day so you can’t skip some of these QC favorites)

Jimmy’s Pancake House  (Bettendorf)

Ross’ Restaurant  Try the Magic Mountain!  (Bettendorf)

Village Inn  (Multiple Locations)

Donuts & More    (Davenport)

Redband Coffee Company   (Davenport)



Cafe Fresh  If you are looking for great atmosphere and delicious food, Cafe Fresh has it.  Make sure you try there pickle rolls.  Yum!   (Moline)

Azteca   Our family loves Mexican cuisine and this is one of our favorites.  (Multiple Locations)

Olive Tree Cafe   Flavorful and healthy Mediterranean (Bettendorf)

Dr. Gyros  (Rock Island)



Machine Shed  A family friendly restaurant, where the kids meals come out in John Deere toy tractors.  (Davenport)

Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse  A great place for excellent steak and the fine dining experience. (Moline)

Captain’s Table  Great views of the Mississippi River while you dine on fish and seafood.  Check out their live music in the summer!  (Moline)

Red Ginger Sushi   (Bettendorf)

Crust  Our family could eat pizza every night, and Crust is one of our favorites.   (Bettendorf)

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Lagomarcino’s  Sundaes, malts, and banana splits.  This is the place.  (Multiple Locations)

Whitey’s Ice Cream  You can’t come to the QC without trying the hard dip ice cream from Whitey’s.  Tons of flavors and each one is absolutely delicious.  (Multiple Locations)

Tropical Sno  You always have room for shaved ice.  (Davenport)


Off the Beaten Path  (if you want to step outside and venture out of the traditional sight seeing spots)

Scott County Park

Wildcat Den State Park

Maquoketa Caves


Welcome to the Quad Cities.  It’s a wonderful place for Midwest fun!  Can’t wait to see you here.

Find travel guides from all over the country from our sister sites here.

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3 Responses to a family’s guide to visiting the Quad Cities

  1. Kim June 5, 2015 at 10:39 am #

    This is such a great list, Lynn! Perfect for visitors and for locals!

  2. Anna in Quad Cities June 30, 2016 at 11:25 am #

    Absolutely love Whiteys!! I am a sucker for their cotton candy icecream!


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