Council Bluffs is a city nestled as the County seat of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, United States.
The city has a population of sixty-two thousand, three hundred and seventy-six at the 2020 census, making it the most populous city in Southwest Iowa and the third largest in Omaha.
Council Bluffs is blessed with numerous eye-catching attractions, ensuring that there is absolutely something for everyone.
Popular attractions in the city include Union Pacific Railroad Museum, Horseshoe Council Bluffs, Bayliss Park, Lewis and Clark Monument Park, West Pottawattamie Fairgrounds, the Western Historic Trails Center, Full Fledged Brewing, and more.
Are you planning a trip to Council Bluffs? Here are the top things to do in Council Bluffs, IA.
Things to Do in Council Bluffs
1. Union Pacific Railroad Museum
When you visit the city of Council Bluffs, one of the top things to do is to stop by the Union Pacific Railroad Museum.
Union Pacific Railroad Museum is located in the downtown district of Council Bluffs with more than one hundred and fifty years of railroad history.
This railroad served as the eastern terminus of the first transcontinental railroad in 1869, linking the existing Pacific Coast and Eastern U.S rail network.
Union Pacific Railroad Museum is filled with lots of information, interactive digital displays, unique artefacts, photographs, and more.
There is an extensive array of exhibits from the ancestry of the first transcontinental railroad in the United States in 1862 to Abraham Lincoln and then to the most upgraded technology of the railroading industry of the modern-day.
Union Pacific Railroad Museum is housed in a beautiful Beaux-Arts style building, formerly the Council Bluffs Carnegie Free Public Library.
Address: 200 Pearl St, Council Bluffs, IA 51503, United States
2. West Pottawattamie County Fairgrounds
West Pottawattamie County Fairgrounds is a wonderful Westfair amphitheater in the West Pottawattamie Fairgrounds.
This Westfair amphitheater attracts more than forty thousand visitors every year due to its style of celebrating family values.
West Pottawattamie County Fairgrounds hosts several events and shows, including automotive shows and concerts held every year.
The Westfair amphitheater hosts the largest county fair in Southwest Iowa, which is one of the major highlights of this place.
Address: 22984 US-6, Council Bluffs, IA 51503, United States
3. The Cryptic Room
Visiting the Cryptic Room is one of the best things to do in Çouncil Bluffs, especially with your travel companions.
The Cryptic Room offers you a live-action experience once you are inside the themed escape room.
Each room involves searching for close, solving the puzzles, and finding new ideas with the limited time available.
The Cryptic Room is a locally owned team-based escape room uniquely designed and built to provide an exhilarating escape room moment.
There is no better way to spend the day with your buddies rather than at the Cryptic Room, a place that helps to strengthen the bonds between loved ones.
The Cryptic Room is perfect for birthday parties, a day out with co-workers, friends, and even neighbors.
Address: 523 S Main St, Council Bluffs, IA 51503, United States
4. Historic General Dodge House
Historic General Dodge House is a haven for architect amateurs, do add to your checklist of the things to do in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
This house is a three-story building with fourteen rooms overlooking the Missouri Valley, standing atop a high terrace.
Historic General Dodge House is characterized by several architectural features, including modern conveniences with parquet floors and walnut & cherry woodwork.
The dodge house was formerly the home of General Grenville Dodge, one of the most distinguished railroad builders and a Civil War veteran.
Historic General Dodge House was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1964, and it is open to everyone, both visitors and locals.
General Grenville Dodge played a vital role in the community and was also ranked the Major General in the Union Army.
Address: 605 S 3rd St, Council Bluffs, IA 51503 United States
5. Horseshoe Council Bluffs
For an exciting day out with your buddies, add a visit to Horseshoe Council Bluffs to your bucket list of things to do in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Horseshoe Council Bluffs features more than one thousand, six hundred slot machines, sports betting, table games, and much more.
Originally known as Bluffs Run Casino and Greyhound Park, Council Bluffs offers the public a place for gaming entertainment and gambling.
Horseshoe Council Bluffs is a 68, 000 square feet gaming facility consisting of a top-notch poker room with eighteen tables open all days of the week.
There are three different restaurants that offer a wide array of food options, including buffet or casual dining, for visitors to choose from.
Visitors also get to enjoy fantastic live music and comedy performances on the schedule, as well as Horseshoe Poker Championship.
Address: 2701 23rd Ave, Council Bluffs, IA 51501, United States
6. Kanesville Tabernacle
Another top thing to do in Council Bluffs is visiting the Kanesville Tabernacle, a replica of the original Kanesville Tabernacle built in 1847.
The Kanesville Tabernacle was originally built by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a place to host the conference for reorganizing the first Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Its replica was built in 1996, just less than a block away from the original site of the Kanesville Tabernacle.
The original tabernacle was built as a cottonwood log cabin of 40 feet by 60 feet, which was later destroyed after serving its papers.
The Kanesville Tabernacle is open seven days a week from 10am-5pm throughout the year, free of charge.
Address: 222 E Broadway, Council Bluffs, IA 51503, United States
For an incredible dining experience, visit Barley’s with your travel companions.
Barley’s is located in an old renovated watering hole bought by Matt and Jill Johnson, who just wanted to provide a great bar.
The restaurant was established in 2001, and sooner than expected, it became a place where many generations of friends and family came to hang out, eat, and drink.
Barley’s offers a large food menu which includes meals like Nachos, steak, taco salad, chicken quesadilla, haystack onion ring, hamburger, fried gizzards, shrimp po boy, farmhouse salad, pizzas, and more.
They also offer thirty-two local and craft beer options together with domestic favorites on tap, including tasty cocktails and a large wine selection.
Barley’s expanded in 2006, providing enough space to attend to much bigger patrons and host larger private parties and special occasions.
Address: 114 W Broadway, Council Bluffs, IA 51503, United States
8. RailsWest Railroad Museum & HO Model Display
The RailsWest Railroad Museum & HO Model Display is located in the 1899 Rock Island train depot in Council Bluffs and it’s filled with a lot of history.
It is currently owned and operated by the Pottawattamie County Historical Society and was noted on the National Register of Historic Places.
The RailsWest Railroad Museum & HO Model Display showcases several exhibits and artifacts focusing on the city’s history with the railroads.
You will find a dining car memorabilia, historical photos, collections of uniforms, and other historical artifacts relating to the eight railroads that served the city.
The RailsWest Railroad Museum & HO Model Display features an operating model railroad, a club car, a railway post office car, and more.
Address: 1512 S Main St, Council Bluffs, IA 51503, United States
9. Ditmars Orchard
Visiting Ditmars Orchard is one of the best things to do in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Ditmars Orchard was officially founded in 1994, and has gained a good repair for beautifully maintaining the apple orchard.
This is your number one go-to place for fresh apples, pumpkins, and fall family fun center to continue their tradition.
Ditmars Orchard owns and runs a vineyard; they offer homemade jellies, salsas, jams, and more which you can purchase from the farm store.
Visitors can pick up strawberries and sunflowers during the summer periods, while apples and pumpkins in fall.
There are different family-friendly fun on-site such as a petting zoo with kid goats, a bounce house, bumper balls, a corn maze, and more.
Ditmars Orchard offers live music and delicious wines from their vineyard, with a wide variety of delicious treats like corn fritters and apple cider donuts.
Address: 19475 225th St, Council Bluffs, IA 51503, United States
10. Full Fledged Brewing
A nice place to while away time either alone or with your travel companions in Council Bluffs is Full Fledged Brewing.
Full Fledged Brewing was founded in 2019, nine years after Marshall and Dessie crossed paths in 2010, and have continuously made memories together.
The brewery is a realization of the total sum of their experiences together, and is also committed to offering customers an unforgettable experience.
Full Fledged Brewing is one brewery in the city that freshly brewed delicious beers in a vibrant and comfortable environment.
They serve drinks like councils’ Kolsch, Floyd the barbarian, ffbco hefeweizen, blufftown brown ale, 3 wishes granate, 29/eighty, stay oatful, dream big, haze dweller, chili buzz, dank heavens, and more.
Address: 40 Arena Way, Ste. 2 Council Bluffs, Ia 51501
11. Sugars Diner
Sugars Diner is a local restaurant and bar that serves some of the best meals and drinks in Council Bluffs.
The meals are made using locally sourced fresh ingredients, which is why the meals come out fresh and delicious.
Sugars Diner offers a friendly and cheerful ambiance for their guests to feel comfortable and have a great time.
They serve meals like Pork Tenderloin Sandwich, Fat and Fluffy, taco salad, Chicken Fried Steak, soups, reuben, cottage cheese, bacon cheeseburger, fried mushrooms, hot wings, sweet potatoes fries, and pizzas.
Sugars Diner also offers beverages and other kinds of drinks from their full-service bar to blend with the meals.
Every night, the Dj plays great music for everyone to enjoy, and they also host karaoke for those interested in having a fun night.
Address: 2725 E Kanesville Blvd, Council Bluffs, IA 51503, United States
12. Ameristar Casino Hotel Council Bluffs
Ameristar Casino Hotel Council Bluffs is a beautiful place with an expansive 38, 500 square foot gaming floor filled with table games, video poker, sports betting, and slots.
It consists of four different restaurants offering a vast food options, ensuring there’s something for everyone. In addition, Ameristar Casino Hotel Council Bluffs features a Club 38 cocktail lounge that offers different kinds of drinks.
Their guests’ rooms offer visitors modern and luxurious furnishings, featuring a refrigerator, premium bedding, flat-screen TV, and high-tech lighting.
Ameristar Casino Hotel Council Bluffs consists of selected suites with an in-room hot tub, dining area, living room area, and hot tub.
The property features a fitness center, an indoor pool, and a well-packed gift shop. Ameristar Casino Hotel Council Bluffs offers easy access to different attractions in Council Bluffs, such as Lake Manawa State Park, Henry Doorly Zoo, and more
Address: 2200 River Rd, Council Bluffs, IA 51501, United States
13. Bayliss Park
For a fun day with your friends and family, add a visit to Bayliss Park to your list of fun things to do In Council bluffs.
Bayliss Park features a fountain and a sculpture at the center designed by Rhode Island-based sculptor Brower Hatcher, Rhode.
The park features a mind-blowing monument, which provides a backdrop to its performance space which serves as a venue for outdoor concerts and festivals.
Bayliss Park’s plaza features tables and benches, edged by neat flowerbeds in such a way that the floral display can be well seen from inside and outside of the park.
The park also features a small interactive splash pad with the water patterns of the sprays duplicating the forms of the large central fountain.
Bayliss Park offers a comfortable setting for the audience under the shades of large Hackberry and oak trees.
Address: 100 Pearl St, Council Bluffs, IA 51503, United States
14. Tom Hanafan Park
Tom Hanafan Park is a park that offers you a fun experience and should be on your checklist of things to do in Council Bluffs.
The park features a five-acre great lawn, an open landscape & amphitheater, which serves as a perfect venue for festivals and events.
Tom Hanafan Park serves an ecological purpose and consists of almost twenty acres of reforestation, bypassing the large lawn.
This park is an excellent place for a walk or bike ride with dreamy sunsets and filled with public art. Make sure you stop by Tom Hanafan Park, take a walk, and attend some exciting concerts and festivals in the summer.
Address: 4200 Avenue B, Council Bluffs, IA 51501, United States
15. Black Angel Statue
Black Angel Statue was constructed in honor of the wife of General Dodge, Ruth Anne Dodge, who died in 1916.
The sculpture was erected by Daniel Chester French, who also created the famous seated Abraham Lincoln found inside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.
Black Angel Statue is a live translation of a dream experienced by Mrs. Dodge on the three nights preceding her death.
It was said that she ( Mrs. Dodge) told her daughters about the dream where she was on a rocky shore, and a small boat approached through the mist saw.
Later on, the daughters delegated French to build a memorial to Mrs. Dodge based on her dream description, and it was commissioned in 1920.
Black Angel Statue illustrates a winged angel with one arm outstretched and the other holding a vessel from which water flows which states the dream she had on the third night when she told her daughter she transformed into a new and glorious spiritual being.
Address: 623 N 2nd St, Council Bluffs, IA 51503, United States
16. The Western Historic Trails Center
The Western Historic Trails Center is a great place for those who would love to get outside and have tremendous fun in Council Bluffs.
The center is a place of exploration built in 1997 by the National Park Service, and occupies a whopping four hundred acres of prairie located at the northern end of Riverside Park.
The Western Historic Trails Center showcases sculptures by Timothy Woodman, quotes, and maps relating to the trails and America’s history of Westward Expansion.
This center offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy live musical performances and learn more about the city’s history.
The Western Historic Trails Center offers a tranquil place perfect for outdoor picnics where visitors get to enjoy the sunshine and beautiful scenery.
The center also offers group and school tours with the requirement of advanced booking by calling. Western Historic Trails Center is open to everyone for free.
Address: 3434 Richard Downing Ave, Council Bluffs, Lee51501, United States
17. Harrah’s Council Bluffs
Harrah’s Council Bluffs offers you a chance to have fun and enjoy the welcoming ambiance; it provides luxurious accommodations, which include deluxe rooms and exquisite suites.
Each room features a flat-screen TV, coffeemakers, comfortable beds, sofas, and microwaves with a balcony that offers beautiful views of the river, the skyline, and the golf course.
Harrah’s Council Bluffs offers more than five hundred shots, live entertainment, table games, and an amazing dining.
There is a fitness center, two lounges, a gift shop, and three restaurants that serve delicious meals with fantastic drinks.
Harrah’s Council Bluffs is a nice place to visit or lodge with your travel companions, which offers you all chances to create new and lovely memories together. Add Harrah’s Council Bluffs to your bucket list of things to do in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Address: 1 Harrah’s Blvd, Council Bluffs, IA 51501, United States
18. Lewis and Clark Monument ParkIf you are searching for a place to hang out with your friends and family, a visit to Lewis and Clark Monument Park is one of the top things to do near Council Bluffs.
Lewis and Clark Monument Park spreads to thirty-five acres of land and features several exciting amenities.
The park features several hiking trails and mountain biking trails, making it a popular destination for hikers and bikers.
Lewis and Clark Monument Park houses the Lewis and Clark monument, offering breathtaking views of Eppley Airfield, the Omaha skyline, and Big Lake Park.
Several areas in the park are designated for picnics with convenient restrooms and a lovely plaza with an overlook.
Address: 19962 Monument Rd, Council Bluffs, IA 51503, United States
19. Lake Manawa State ParkLake Manawa State Park is a favorite place for adventure seekers located in the south Council Bluffs, covering seven hundred and forty acres.
This lake is a remnant of the Great Flood that took place in 1881 when the altered course of the river formed a large body of water.
Lake Manawa is surrounded by over one thousand, five hundred acres of land, making it a major recreation center in the city.
Lake Manawa State Park is a perfect place for hiking and boating as well as picnicking while enjoying the relaxing outdoors.
You can rent a paddleboard, kayak, or canoe for a more exciting adventure; Lake Manawa State Park offers anglers boat ramps, an accessible pier, a fish cleaning station, and fishing jetty.
Lake Manawa State Park features the Dream playground, which officially opened in 2018 and is tagged the biggest ADA accessible playground in the state.
Address: Mohawk St, Council Bluffs, IA 51501, United States
20. Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge
Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge was officially opened on September 28, 2008, by the cities of Council Bluffs and Omaha.
The foot of the bridge is located in Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park, and was a combined project by the City of Omaha, and the Council Bluffs with the Iowa Department of Transportation.
Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge is linked to the 150-mile trail network in the Omaha area, and maybe closed occasionally due to weather conditions.
This is an S-curved structure that helps visitors cross the state line, and in a unique way, Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge consists of numerous spots on both sides of the crossing where there are conventional and electric bikes for rental.
Address: Council Bluffs, IA, United States
21. Pottawattamie County Squirrel Cage Jail and Museum
Pottawattamie County Squirrel Cage Jail and Museum was constructed as a jail in 1885 and operated as such until 1969.
The museum was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972; it is currently owned and operated by the Historical Society of Pottawattamie County.
Pottawattamie County Squirrel Cage Jail and Museum, due to its unique and remarkable design, makes it one of the only eighteen revolving jails.
It is the only three-story jail of its kind ever constructed and was built at the same time as the courthouse, but it still looks like it did in 1969.
Pottawattamie County Squirrel Cage Jail and Museum educate visitors about how this unique system functioned and how they experienced the cramped conditions in the cells.
Address: 226 Pearl St, Council Bluffs, IA 51503, United States
22. AMC Council Bluffs 17
AMC Council Bluffs 17 is a popular destination for several families in Council Bluffs, located north of the Mid-America Center.
This theater features recliner seats and reserved seating which are relatively comfortable and offers a clear view of the state with no stress or obstacles.
AMC Council Bluffs 17 also features a bar that offers a wide variety of drinks and a restaurant serving delectable meals.
The cinema is a well-known location for meetings and events of different sizes, ensuring that every event held here is memorable.
AMC Council Bluffs 17 staff is nice and well mannered when attending to visitors, offering fantastic prices for affordable prices.
Address: 3220 23rd Ave, Council Bluffs, IA 51501, United States
23. Mid-America Center
The Mid-America Center is a facility of almost 64, 000 square feet, comprising exhibits and convention space.
The center consists of a 30, 000 square foot arena which includes twelve luxury suites, a convention center, two party rooms, meeting rooms, exhibition halls, and more.
The Mid-America Center is an excellent place for several sporting events, concerts, conventions, and many others.
This center offers locals and visitors an amazing entertainment experience through many exciting events like family shows, community events, rock shows, and USHL hockey games.
This answers what to do in Council Bluffs for a fun time, do add to your list of places to visit in Council Bluffs.
Address: 1 Arena Way, Council Bluffs, IA 51501, United States
Plan a Trip to Council Bluffs
Council Bluffs is a city with a unique mix of history and cultures, there are museums here and festivals you shouldn’t miss if you want to learn more about its history and culture.
There is something for everyone, from shopping in some of the lively malls, dining at nice eateries, watching your favorite movie at one of the best cinemas, having a chilled bottle of beer at any of the amazing breweries, and many others.
Start planning your trip to Council Bluffs today!