You don’t need to break the bank to have fun in Waterloo. In fact, you can spend an entire weekend soaking in all the FREE activities and still not run out of things to do!
The next time you’re here for a visit — or if you live in the area and want to discover more free local gems — check out some of our favorite spots:
Rise and shine with the roosters at Waterloo’s very own petting zoo — Sunrise Children’s Zoo — located on the National Cattle Congress grounds just outside of downtown. Here, you can see goats, donkeys, ducks, cats and dogs, a baby horse — and even a pair of peacocks! Admission is free, but donations are welcome and you can purchase food if you want to feed the animals.
Next, take a five-minute car ride to the John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum in the TechWorks campus in Downtown Waterloo. This world-class museum is completely FREE to the public all year round and is filled with hands-on activities and interactive exhibits, letting kids grip the handles of a steel plow and test their strength against real horse power. You can also discover rare artifacts and modern machinery while you learn about the history of this iconic American manufacturer.
End your first day on an exciting note at Friday Loo — a free block party-style event hosted in Lincoln Park, where you can jam out to live music, enjoy delicious grub from your choice of food trucks, run around or just be social. This event happens once a month — so plan your trip accordingly if you don’t want to miss it!
Waterloo’s extensive trail system boasts more than 110 miles of free trails open 24/7 every day of the year. Go for a hike, bring your bike or strap on your skates — there’s plenty of room for the whole family to explore!
One of the most breathtaking spots to take in the natural beauty of the Cedar Valley is at George Wyth State Park. This designated National Urban Wildlife Sanctuary is home to white-tail deer, river otters and more than 200 species of birds! You can also boat, fish and swim in its many lakes and beaches.
Don’t forget to bring your cooler and pack a lunch — this is the perfect place for a picnic! (Open picnic shelters and grills are available.)
After working up a sweat on the trails, head towards the RiverLoop Amphitheatre in downtown Waterloo for your next destination — Mark’s Park. Cool down at the splashpad, go wild on the playground or take a breezy stroll around the newly renovated riverfront while you soak in the views of the city.
Every weekend in the summer, the RiverLoop Amphitheatre comes alive with music, festivals and all kinds of family-friendly entertainment. From RiverLoop Rhythms to Cinema on the Cedar, there’s something new to look forward to every week! Check out their events schedule to see what’s happening while you’re in town.