The Mississippi River, the basis for several books written by Mark Twain, attracts thousands of visitors to the Burlington area. Besides opportunities for boating and fishing, you can watch bald eagles fish among ice floes in the winter. You also may enjoy riverboat gambling aboard Catfish Bend Casino that is dockside at the Port of Burlington from November through April.
From the dramatic Crapo and Mosquito Parks’ bluff-tops, you can absorb spectacular vistas of the river and broad Illinois floodplain. You can also get up close at Burlington’s new Riverfront Park, public boat ramps, boat docks and multimillion-dollar riverside plazas. You can enjoy frequent festivals, watch the steamboats that cruise the upper Mississippi River, or simply relax with a winding shoreline walk.
At the Iowa Welcome Center in the Port of Burlington building, you can borrow guide tapes for a walking or driving tour through our downtown and Heritage Hill national historic districts—including Snake Alley. Ripley's Believe It or Not labeled Snake Alley the “Crookedest Street in the World.” It was built in 1894 by three German immigrants who wanted to create the allure of a winding hillside, similar to what you would find in the vineyards of France and Italy. It drops 58 feet from top to bottom with switchback curves. The intent was that horse-drawn carriages could get downtown without going down the steep inclines of other streets. Although Lombard Street in San Francisco is similar, this was the original. Among the activities that involve the twisted street include The Criterium bicycle races and the Snake Alley Art Fair.
You also may take a driving tour around the city with stops at other historic, scenic and cultural landmarks. In West Burlington, for example, you may visit the grotto that is adjacent to St. Mary’s Church.
Visit the Wildlife Elks Farm, home to beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife. A series of man-made ponds and lakes make the farm an ideal home for animals and waterfowl. Visitors can view the day-to-day operations of a working elk farm, which has been raising and breeding elk for more than 10 years.
Several major events draw international attention such as the Great River Bridge Race, which runs on a unique course that includes Snake Alley and the soaring new cable bridge to Illinois. The Snake Alley Criterium is one of the nation’s Top 10 races for competitive cyclists. Local residents and visitors each year also enjoy the Dan Bied Memorial Jazz Fest, Burlington Steamboat Days American Music Festival, Snake Alley Art Fair, Dragon Boat Festival and a host of other activities.
For a good night’s rest, the Burlington and West Burlington area is home to several hotels— some have facilities for large banquets and conventions, and most with national chain affiliations. Bed-and-breakfasts beckon those seeking home-like lodging in
For details, visitors can rely on a well-developed tourism infrastructure. Contact the Welcome Center at (319) 752-8731, the Burlington Area Convention and Tourism Bureau at (319) 752-6365, call our national toll-free line, (800) 82-RIVER, or visit online at www.growburlington.com or www.visitburlingtoniowa.com. You may also visit the Chamber’s offices at RiverPark Place, 610 N. Fourth St., Suite 200, for more details. And don’t forget to ask for a “goodie bag” filled with handy information you can use during your tour of the area.