Downtown Iowa City Boutiques
Ashley Funkhauser, 27, Iowa City
From Iowa Avenue to the Pedestrian Mall on College Street, downtown Iowa City is filled with great places to shop. I love leisurely walking around from door to door to see what’s inside. With the addition of some new and unique boutiques this summer, the Ped Mall is starting to take on the feeling of the small Chicago neighborhoods.
My favorite addition is Catherine’s Cheap and Chic. Like Catherine’s, its sister store, Cheap and Chic is full of fun, girlie clothing and accessories. However, as the name states, the store is cheap! There
are so many great things that you can easily walk in, pick up five items and spend less than $50.
It’s great to have a store downtown that fills the niche of trendy clothes on a budget.
I still love Dulcinea, Domby, Velvet Coat, Catherine’s and another new addition, Inbox. If one store doesn’t have what you’re looking for, it’s only a short distance to the next. They are full of fun clothing and accessory pieces ranging in price from “I’ll take three” to “Whoa, that is more than my car loan payment!”
The Iowa Artisans Gallery is a
place unlike any other. The one-of-a-kind jewelry and art pieces are
as fun to purchase as they are to see. I am never disappointed with the shop and leave thinking “Until next time.”
Some stores might look intimidating, but don’t fear the unknown. You will be surprised as to what you find in downtown Iowa City and how much variety is in its small space. My list is only a small portion of what you’ll find and it is truly an experience everyone needs to have in the Corridor.
Valhalla Combat Club
Beau Laughridge, 28, Cedar Rapids
My favorite place in the Corridor is without a doubt Valhalla Combat Club in Cedar Rapids. There is no better place in the area to get punched in the face!
Valhalla is a mixed martial arts and boxing gym ran by Demian Papagni and Bill Kamery. Coaches include: Keoni Koch, Dave Sherzer, Devon Christian and Joe (aka Joda — old school boxing genius). The gym is open seven days a week, from 4 to 8 p.m. weekdays and weekend hours vary. It’s a great place to train for all skill levels. Everyone is extremely respectful and welcomes newcomers with open arms. However, egos should be checked at the door, because Keoni takes great pleasure in testing
the point at which an arrogant meathead will physically and mentally reach their proverbial breaking point (kidding… sort of).
Valhalla Combat Club is the premiere place in the area to learn fundamentals of mixed martial arts, get a great workout, as well as learn mental discipline. It’s an incredible group of people — basically one big happy family, assuming that your idea of a happy family involves trying to bludgeon your brothers into submission.
Please be advised that if you have a popped collar, white sunglasses or a faux-hawk gym privileges can immediately be revoked.
I love Cedar Rapids
Cymaron Dawson, 30, Cedar Rapids
I am proud to be a Cedar Rapidian. I am the senior pastor of Living Waters Kingdom Church. I was born and raised in Cedar Rapids.
In the summer of 2002, I relocated to Milwaukee, Wisc. I spent four years there, but it never quite felt like home. Although I was surrounded by all of the amenities of city life, I often wanted to click my heels together and say “there’s no place like home.”
I found myself not only missing my family, but I missed seeing familiar landmarks. I would miss the nights that I spent sitting by the duck pond at Noelridge Park clearing my thoughts. I also remember a time when I got sick and found myself in the precarious situation of not knowing where the hospitals were. I remember thinking that if I was in Cedar Rapids I would have easy access to either Mercy Medical Center or St. Lukes Hospital and not have to be concerned about the quality of care I would receive.
Here, I appreciate the fact that I don’t always have to look over my shoulder.
I am very proud of the fact that there are cultural entities such as the African American Historical and Cultural Museum of Iowa. After I moved to back to Cedar Rapids to start Living Waters, they graciously opened their doors to us.
After the devastation of the flood, I became even more proud to live here, because this city showed the world that although we may be relatively small in size, we have enormous heart, resiliency and strength.
I love Cedar Rapids.
Krista Johnson, 28, Cedar Rapids
Daniel Arthur’s is one of my favorite restaurants in the Corridor. The staff, ambience and food are all wonderful.
No matter what type of food you enjoy, you will find something you like because they specialize in seafood, steaks and vegetarian dishes. You can enjoy dinner in the main dining area, have a private party on the second level or enjoy live music in the Six Feet Under Lounge.
You could even get a tour of the 1800s mansion turned restaurant from one of the owners. The staff is always welcoming immediately when you walk in the front door. Either the hostess or the bartender at the upstairs bar are happy to help you.
My favorite drink at Daniel Arthur’s is the mermaid martini and my favorite meal is the blue crab stuffed pork loins. I also love the crab cakes, grilled jerk duck breast, calamari, shrimp cocktail and the BLT salad. The food is wonderful and the seafood brought in fresh daily.
Josie Hesjke, 39, Cedar Rapids
For me, the mark of a favorite place is the perfect amalgamation of a metropolitan experience and the sense that you belong — almost like walking into Grandma and Grandpa’s house. While I have several Corridor favorites, from the Coffee Emporium and Zins to summer Fridays in the Iowa City ped mall, one venue I don’t think I could live without is Brucemore.
To some, Brucemore is nothing more than an 1800s mansion — or a place where only the older and retired generation visits. But I consider Brucemore a magnificent treasure for families and singles of all ages in our community.
One of my favorite things to do in the summer with my youngest children is to attend Brucemore’s Outdoor Children’s Theater. Last year’s rendition of “Puss ‘n Boots” still has my youngest son talking, “Was that big cat in boots real?”
We usually attend with friends that have kids too. We sit outside in Brucemore’s magical garden theater, eating snacks on our picnic blanket and are taken away into the wonderland that the talented cast and Brucemore staff have created for us.
In the summer, Brucemore gives our community numerous beautiful and exciting opportunities to enjoy their marvelous estate, such as the Balloon Glow, Bluesmore and their Classics at Brucemore series. “To Kill a Mockingbird” was such a great outdoor theater experience this year, that our 14-year-old son agreed, “Yeah, it was pretty good.” (Any of you with a 14-year-old knows that this review is akin to “5 Stars” coming from anyone else!)
But let’s not forget Iowa winters. They can be long, frigid and boring. In January, Brucemore’s Modern Salon warms you up with stories, music and songs performed by talent such as Janelle Lauer and Doug Elliott. These artists and musicians are belting out tunes five feet from you, as if you are receiving your own special concert in Grandma and Grandpa’s cozy, yet elegant, living room.
So, make Brucemore one of your favorite places. I guarantee, you’ll experience world-class talent in a homey, yet regal environment. And who knows, Jim Kern may not mind if you slip, and call him “Grandpa Kern.”
RJ Holmes, 31, Mount Vernon
Even though the floods wiped out their space in Iowa City, Hancher Auditorium proved that no amount of water could contain the brilliance of the performing arts.
From stereotype-breaking performers like Time for Three to beautiful works of art by the Joffrey Ballet to the hilarity of Kathy Griffin and the fervor of Rent, Hancher knows how to entertain a crowd. Tickets to the world-class performances are reasonably priced, and students from any college or university get a discount too.
Plus, while the powers-that-be decide where their new facility will go, the Hancher performance stage has been moving around Iowa City (and beyond) which makes the incredible acts even more accessible to people throughout the Corridor.
Stacey Walker, 21, Iowa City
Freeze the best of the 1990s grunge scene, add great food and obscure, yet lively, bands and jam pack it all into an old brick house with low lights and a simple bar and you’ve got The Mill.
The menu is as eclectic as the crowd it draws, ranging from pasta primavera to black and blue burgers. The dining experience is complemented by its outdoor patio, and frequent live music. It is hard to peg The Mill specific to any genre. I’ve heard bluegrass, rock, alternative, jazz fusion and just about every other category of music. It’s large back room area has become a gem in the Iowa City music scene. This room is also used for trivia on Sunday nights, where $1 and quick wits could send you home with a pocket full of cash and memories of fun times. The Mill is a wonderful experience, from the food to the people. It is quite easily my favorite place when I’m in the area. I recommend it to anyone!
Kelli Weber, 29, Cedar Rapids
It may be the back road drive, the small town charm or the fabulous food that will make Augusta one of your Corridor favorites. But whatever it is, I guarantee once you try it, you will keep coming back!
The New Orleans-style shrimp and fried mushrooms with garlic aioli will knock your socks off. I have never had mushrooms like this! Any combination of appetizer, soup and salad and entree will satisfy you to no end. You can indulge in a simple sandwich or stretch out your culinary experience into a five-course meal. Whatever your choice, you will be impressed. The aura of the restaurant only enhances the food with its exposed brick interior and mismatched chairs and friendly staff. You are sure to see the chef pop his head out a time or two from the kitchen to see his patrons.
After my multiple Augusta experiences, I can never order similar menu items at any other restaurant because they just don’t compare. No one can touch the mushrooms, shrimp, fried boneless chicken, tenderloins or cherry bread pudding. I would name all the menu items but I don’t have the space.
See for yourself, go to Augusta for your next date night, Sunday brunch or lazy lunch and your taste buds will be changed forever! Enjoy!
Indian Creek Nature Center
Erica Zito, 38, Cedar Rapids
Indian Creek Nature Center is an invaluable Corridor getaway for any nature lover.
My 8-year-old son is the bug whisperer. While other boys his age can rattle off Tom Brady’s football stats, my son can tell you the detailed differences between a stink bug and a leaf bug. So when Indian Creek Nature Center introduced its Bug Academy, we were quick to sign up.
Indian Creek Nature Center offers woodlands, prairies and wetlands to explore and miles of trails to hike. While perhaps best known for its spring Maple Syrup Festival and fall Honey Fest, Indian Creek offers so much more.
My kids have been attending the excellent programs and camps at Indian Creek ever since I can remember.
As preschoolers, they built an eagle-sized nest with sticks and watched bees in the hives. They saw salamanders, turtles and snakes up close, and they learned to identify different frogs’ songs.
As elementary students at day camp, my kids learned fire safety and cooked biscuits in a campfire. They built their own fishing poles and tried their hands at fishing. They erected a natural shelter and learned how to use a compass. My son even had his last birthday party at Indian Creek — complete with a snake search.
Our favorite times at Indian Creek, though, are the times we simply take walks on our own. We like to explore the wetland area and count how many frogs we can spot, walk through the prairie and find insects or peek into the bat houses and see the bats huddled together.
Jason Brummond, Cedar Rapids
I was introduced to Pagliai’s Pizza growing up in Iowa City. Things got pretty serious in college.
During my last year of school at the University of Iowa, starting in fall 2007, my good friend Charlie and I went to Pagliai’s every week – a few times twice. Sometimes we’d go soon after it opened for an early bite and others right before close after a tough night of work.
We went to celebrate, like that previous spring when a not-so favorite basketball coach bolted out of here for a dryer climate. Usually, we just went to escape the stress of classes, work and everyday life.
For me, that’s the great thing about Pagliai’s. There are no TVs and few distractions. You can put your phone to the side, forget about e-mails and enjoy real, engaging conversations with a friend or family. The area’s best pizza is an added bonus.
The quaint, family-run restaurant has been around since 1962 and offers a classic thin crust pizza, a standard of excellence and a nostalgic atmosphere. The open-air kitchen allows patrons to watch their pizza move through the assembly line and into the large ovens. The plate glass windows and neon sign in front of the restaurant are inviting and old-fashioned.
Pagliai’s has a loyal customer base and is a family tradition for many locals. Despite its popularity, the restaurant is surprisingly relatively unknown by college students and visitors. Unless you know someone who’s familiar with the area, it can be easy skip over or miss entirely.
That’s too bad, and why it always one of my top recommendations. It’s simple and straightforward. With Pagliai’s Pizza, you know what you’re going to get. You can’t say that about too many things.
Taste on Melrose
Shannon Hanson, Cedar Rapids
I can’t say for certain, but I probably wouldn’t have tried Bistro Taste on Melrose in Iowa City if it weren’t for the fact that my husband and the chef grew up together. Chef/Owner Christian Prochaska transformed what was known as Melrose Market during my undergrad days into an intimate dining experience just past the shadow of Kinnick Stadium on Melrose Avenue.
Taste on Melrose maintains the tradition of great, small restaurants in Iowa City. Its menu may be small, but it delivers a terrific variety of easily approachable and flavorful food, much of which is prepared with local ingredients. Here, details are important, including simple touches in décor and attentiveness, plus the open kitchen, which becomes a show in itself.
The ambiance is perfect for both a casual dinner night or something a little dressier: a special birthday, anniversary, or Hancher show. They are open for lunch, and patio dining is a great option, especially in the fall.
For starters, I recommend the crab cakes (they’re just a bit on the spicy side), the simple Taste salad, and bread salad, featuring tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella. The bread is always baked fresh and often is accompanied by a trio of house-made butters. The selection of wine isn’t overwhelming and the list is updated often. Taste also features a small selection of local and craft beers.
Christian does a great job of offering a few options of fish/seafood, beef, or chicken with very simple descriptions on the menu. The pastas are equally delicious and are available in smaller portions. I try to order something different each time, but I do have my favorites. The scallops are my absolute favorite! My husband often gets the ribeye or pasta with chicken.
Make sure you get the complete Taste on Melrose experience and order dessert. Crème Brule is a house specialty as is their chocolate dipping plate, featuring fresh fruit and homemade peanut butter cookies.
Some words to the wise: they are closed Mondays and occasionally close for private parties. And the restaurant is in University Heights, so watch your speed and park legally.
Eric Hanson, Cedar Rapids
Part performance space, part art gallery, part community center, CSPS is definitely something to put on your ‘must discover list’ in the Corridor.
To walk by it, CSPS looks like an ordinary storefront along the New Bohemia gateway on Third Street SE in Cedar Rapids. But when nightfall hits the southeast side and those neon letters begin their silent siren song, a passionate and dedicated crowd of arts patrons pack the place about 100 nights a year.
Although the stage and gallery are on the second floor, CSPS rivals any ‘underground’ club in the Midwest that I’ve been to. The space is intimate, seating about 170, but the acoustics are great. I’ve seen live theatre, puppetry, poetry, a community forum, dance, and music, and CSPS worked for them all.
Maybe what I like best about the place is its diverse line up. Since 1991, CSPS has provided a mix of proven and provocative arts programming, including 12 to 15 art exhibits and 85 to 100 performing arts events each year, often featuring performers from foreign countries. Film, theatre, performance art, and poetry all dot the calendar on a nightly or weekly basis, including Tony and Grammy Award winners, local voices, and undiscovered talent.
Not only is CSPS a great performance space, it has a great history. CSPS, which loosely stands for the Czech and Slovak Prudential Society, is a late-19th century social hall. In addition to the performance space and gallery, CSPS houses Legion Arts, a local award-winning not-profit organization dedicated to experimental art, young artists, and contemporary art.
Staying on top of the schedule does take a little work on your part. Look for the multi-colored flyers in coffee shops or on community bulletin boards. Legionarts.org will post dates or you can follow Friends of Legion Arts on Facebook. And, parking in that area takes some creativity, so make sure to plan accordingly.
Monica Lyons, Monticello
One of the greatest benefits of working at Cornell College is my close proximity to my favorite restaurant, the Lincoln Café.
A stop in the afternoon for one of my favorite lunch treats; the maytag blue burger with homemade fries, spicy chicken sandwich, or something from their specials menu always hits the spot. If it’s been a crazy day at work, their gourmet desserts are the perfect pick-me-up. You need to arrive before noon, or risk waiting for a table to become available, which just provides me with an opportunity to see the new artwork from local artists.
Eating lunch at the Lincoln Café never gets old. I could eat there 5 days a week. It’s too bad they’re closed on Mondays! And when I’m looking for a great place for a girls night out, or a date night with my husband, the Lincoln Café is still my #1 restaurant. The atmosphere changes with white linens, candle light, wine, and the best service….but, we’re all know people are there for the most delicious dinner specials in the Corridor.
Ann Oleson, Cedar Rapids
Traveling two to three days a week for work over the past six years equals some serious frequent flier miles and a lot of coffee at a lot of different places. From java at the famous Boston Common Coffee Company to the well-established G’s & Z’s Coffee Shop in the museum district of Houston, I have hit a few great coffee houses. Let me say as a matter of fact, no place holds a candle to Brewed Awakenings in Cedar Rapids.
As I look to describe Brewed Awakenings, two words come to mind — “Eclectic Charm.” From the parade of people swinging through the back door like it was the set of FRIENDS (from college students to local elected officials) to the vintage furniture including overstuffed couches that you don’t want to get up out of make up this unique charm. There are always an interesting variety of musical genre CD’s stacked on the counter and funky pieces of art on display by local artists. Needless to say when entering through the door you will have all senses stimulated, not only by the incredible and comfortable décor, but by the sweet aroma of their brewed java.
Now about the coffee. No matter what type of coffee enthusiast you are, whether it be “tall, dark and flavorful” or “short, sweet and sensuous” Brewed Awakenings brews it. My personal fave, and I strongly suggest you order up, is “a liar’s latte with extra hazelnut” (it’s not on the menu) but it comes with a beautiful leaf design in the foam at the top if you ask with a “pretty please.” Each detail is paid extra attention to at Brewed Awakenings and while they are making your coffee there is one more temptation – the glass case. In that inviting display case is a menagerie of the sweetest treats in town, from apricot scones to frosted sugar cookies to homemade banana bread. And just in case those delectable treats don’t water your mouth then you had better avert your eyes while paying at the cash register because a giant jar of varying biscotti and a rack of organic chocolates beckon you to add just one more item to your order.
Ahhhh yes, in age of national chains, mass marketing, and uniform experience, we do have a “real” coffee house of eclectic and unique local charm…Brewed Awakenings. Each cup of coffee is like a small piece of art, made with care just for you. Brewed Awakenings is worthy of a stop any day of the week.
Ann Virden, Cedar Rapids
Although cheese is my pizza of choice, I’ve recently began to broaden my taste buds at my favorite pizza place in town. “Where is this?” you ask. Tomaso’s Pizza on Center Point Road. With loads of topping choices and three delicious pizza crusts, any combination will be sure to satisfy a hungry customer.
Each pizza starts with a hand-tossed crust. Whether you are in the mood for thick or thin crust, three different options are available. The New York Thin Crust is the perfect amount of thin for those that don’t like too much breading. If you enjoy a thick and bready cornmeal crust with a big lip to hold in all the toppings, I would suggest the Chicago Deep Dish. Last but certainly not least, the thick and bready Detroit Deep Dish. Made with no lip and cheese all the way out to the edge of the pan, the crust caramelizes perfectly (this is my personal favorite!).
Now that you’re trying to decide which crust is right for you, let’s move on to the toppings. A number of combos are available to choose from if you’d like the advice of the experts, or feel free to make your own from the vast list of ingredients. The Mombo Combo is a customer favorite. Made with a variety of fresh ingredients, it tops the charts as the Signature Best Seller. Other combos include the Hawaiian Ham and Pineapple, Tex Mex Taco, Chicken Veggie Delight, Veggie Combo, and the Great Garden – I’m All In. Oh, and don’t forget my current favorite – the Ham and Kraut. It’s pretty sassy!
To top off the visit, share a pitcher of beer from the tap or sip on a glass wine and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and cozy booths. It’s perfect for a night out with friends or a first date. You will be sure to leave stuffed to the crust!
Kari Lammer, Cedar Rapids
Although I have a lot of favorite things throughout the Corridor, (like the trails, the Coralville Reservoir, and Volleys), the “things” here are not what makes it a great place. For me, what I love most about the Corridor is the people. Let me explain…
As a new person to the community in 2007, I jumped right in to groups such as ImpactCR and PTDN Diversity Network. The current members of both groups were extremely welcoming and inviting. Before I knew it, I was involved in committees and eventually serving on the board for each of these groups.
Another example of how amazing the people are in Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Corridor community is for a run a friend and I put on. The run was a fundraiser for flood recovery, called Run the Flood. With 10 days before the race, and 50 volunteers, we reached out to the United Way, Salvation Army, and the news outlets looking for another 150 volunteers. By race day, we had 150 volunteers. I knew very few of them, but it’s amazing to me that the people in this community are so willing to share their time for a good cause.
So although there are great restaurants, bars, and recreational activities in the Corridor, nothing beats the attitude of the people who make up the community. I can find restaurants and culture just about anywhere, but I’m not sure I could find this community of people anywhere else.
Kari Cooling, Cedar Rapids
Bever Park is definitely the best park in Eastern Iowa. It is maintained and operated by the Cedar Rapids Parks & Recreation Department and is free to the public. This park has something for every age. A welcome addition to the Bever Park is Old McDonald’s Farm which was completed by Junior League of Cedar Rapids. This Farm provides educational opportunities for children as well as the ability to see a wide variety of animals. Old McDonald’s Farm is always busy with people checking out what it has to offer! There are plenty of areas through Bever Park to Run and Walk and Bever Pool is a favorite to many. Everyone should check out this fabulous park!
Blake Rasmussen, Iowa City
It’s difficult to describe the allure that is Colonial Lanes. For all intents and purposes, it should be a dive. It’s right near the (Iowa City) airport, the bar is typically full of, um, interesting people, and I’m pretty sure the arcade selection hasn’t changed much since 1998.
But lanes themselves are pristine (and that’s why we’re there, right?), and the cost for a game falls somewhere between cheap and criminally underpriced. It’s hard to imagine how they maintain nice lanes while charging pauper’s prices, but somehow they keep the alley modern and fun (Then again, I’ve enjoyed myself at bowling alleys where the pins were set up by a single person in one case, and strings in another. I can only assume they were manned by an unemployed puppeteer).
As a pretty unexpected bonus, the alley also sports an 18-hole indoor miniature golf course that can be played for a mere $2 a game. It’s not particularly challenging after playing the course 15 times (I have), but it’s a surprisingly great place to take a date on the cheap (and I have). Just don’t make too much of a show when you offer to pay. It doesn’t impress anyone.
And let’s not forget the legendary Roger Lutsky commercials. I’ve never seen the man myself, but just the fact that the Pitchman of the Pins could be there, haphazardly flying down the lane or dropping a bowling ball on his foot, is enough to keep me coming back.
Cedar Valley Humane Society
Stephanie Filer, Cedar Rapids
Many people aren’t aware of the Cedar Valley Humane Society (CVHS), but they are a very important resource to our community. The CVHS is an open-access shelter, which means they will take in all homeless, abandoned, neglected and abused animals and care for them until they are placed in rescue groups or adopted.
In addition, they have important programs throughout the year such as dog obedience training classes, pet assisted therapy programs (animals visits to care facilities and nursing homes), and microchip clinics. They also have a variety of fun events like a miniature golf tournament, picnic in the park for people and their pets, Halloween pet costume contest, and you can be sure they are in almost all of the community parades. The CVHS is also a really fun place to visit. I love going out there and playing with all the cats that are available for adoption or taking one of the dogs for a walk.
The reality is that due to a variety of reasons, some people can just no longer care for their animals. I cannot imagine what would happen if the CVHS wasn’t there to take these animals in, care for them and find them new homes. They are a great asset to our community and serve as a very important resource to people who can no longer care for their pets and for people looking to adopt a dog or cat to add to their family… like me!
The mission statement of the Cedar Valley Humane Society (CVHS) is that they are dedicated to creating a quality and humane environment for all animals. This mission is right in-line with my own personal values, which is why I have chosen to adopt two dogs, one of which is from the CVHS – Marley.
The Silver Spider
Emily Muhlbach, 25, Cedar Rapids
Every girl has a favorite store she gravitates toward when she’s got the itch for something fun, out-of-the ordinary, and creative. The Silver Spider in Mt. Vernon is definitely on my list of favorites. Nestled in the quiet downtown area of Mt. Vernon, the Silver Spider is easy to find and close to home.
As soon as you walk in you are greeted by bracelets, necklaces, rings, handbags, and scarves, and that’s just in the entryway. The sheer volume of unique and one-of-a-kind items requires a shopper who pays attention to detail and is a patient peruser. You usually need to make at least two trips through the aisles just to ensure you notice everything. Rookies often make the mistake of taking a quick peek at a display, when in reality you could devote fifteen minutes to it and still not catch everything.
The jewelry is creative and original. Where else can you go to find a gold necklace with an ornate octopus on it, or rings with flowers encased in glass? For those with a taste for the eccentric, the store is full of pieces with birds, owls, flowers, and spider designs. For the traditionalist, pearls, vintage brooches, and chandelier earrings are also easy to find. And there is everything in between, from Eiffel tower charm necklaces to earrings with blue or gold feathers – there is literally something for everyone. I love being able to find fun items that look like I purchased them in New York, when all I needed was a small Iowa town.
If you’re not into jewelry, the Silver Spider carries unique gift ideas such as stationary, fun books, How To’s, and journals. Picture frames, art décor, lamps, and paperweights can also be found on the shelves or displayed on the walls. The store is perfect when you are in need of a short getaway with some friends, and the neighboring cafe makes it ideal for catching a sandwich and some shopping. My final reason for loving the Silver Spider? Their great clearance sales!
Cedar Rapids Ice Arena
Ricky Legree, Cedar Rapids
Growing up in Southern California, I wasn’t really exposed to a lot of hockey. You’ll see the L.A. Kings or Anaheim Ducks on TV but they don’t exactly play 15 minutes away. One of the things I love about being in the Cedar Rapids area is the fact that I can go watch live hockey without breaking the bank or driving a long distance to see a game.
When people think of the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena, the first thing that usually pops into their head is RoughRiders hockey. I don’t blame them. The RoughRiders are a good team that always competes for the title. And during intermissions, you can always check out the dude dancing in Section S. All you readers out there that have been to a game know exactly where to look when Y.M.C.A. is playing on the sound system.
What some might not know is that there is whole lot more going on in that arena throughout the entire year. You can grab friends or family and go to one of their public skate sessions, you or your kids can get involved in their figure skating program, or you can join one of their hockey leagues.
I don’t know much about figure skating but I’ve played in their adult hockey league for the past 4 years. They have different skill levels depending on your experience. You might see guys in the C-league (lower level) that are just learning how to pass and shoot. And then you’ll see very skilled guys in the A-league (highest level) in the faster paced games.
Occasionally, you’ll see current RoughRiders players as referees during our games. The leagues are very organized and most players in the league are pretty friendly. It’s a coed league so all you ladies with aspirations of playing some recreational hockey can sign up as well. The CR Ice Arena has a few youth programs as well. If you’d like to learn more, just check out www.cricearena.com. You just might become a fan of the CR Ice Arena too.
Iowa Hawkeye Football Games
During football season, a good majority of the Corridor’s population migrate to Iowa City to meet at Kinnick Stadium to support the Hawkeyes. And if you’re not in Iowa City, others find themselves in front of the TV or listening to the radio.
There are many different parts that contribute to the love of football for the Hawkeye’s. The Hawkeye spirit is a mixture of the atmosphere at Kinnick with songs, cheers and chants in Hawkeye Nation. But, by far it is the dedicated Iowa Fans that make the Iowa games an experience and community. Tailgating starts the day with more food and drinks than one should probably ever consume in a given day. It is always fun to see the fans decked out in their Hawkeye pride and the more outrageous… the better!
The game itself is always thrilling. Being the in stadium with the team always brings out the rowdy side of any fan. The Hawkeye’s are a big family that all support the team win or lose… and in any weather. We are all proud to be a Hawkeye!
Vanessa Solesbee, Cedar Rapids
My guilty pleasure is a store in Marion called Joy. It is a great little boutique that carries some of my favorite designers, including Betsy Johnson, Michael Stars and Free People. It is also my go-to place to buy jeans in the Corridor – one pair at a time and after tons of saving, of course! They have a variety of unique items, from hot party dresses to causal tees to locally made jewelry. Every time I step into Joy it is like stepping into a little boutique in Austin, Chicago or Manhattan.
Joy is a little piece of fashion heaven right here in the Corridor. Now, if I could just get them to build a second store in downtown CR!