Dubuque explorations: What to do around town
Kasandra Kucharcyzk (TheLorian)
Loras College can feel like its own private island atop the hill of Loras Boulevard, but when you need a break from campus, it’s awesome to know that Loras is a part of a community that is full of diverse experiences. Dubuque is full of activities that cater to all sorts of fun. From celebrating Dubuque’s rich history, highlighting the Midwest’s beautiful landscape, and containing plenty of space for indulging in lazy days, Dubuque is full of opportunities.
For when the weather is adequate, there are many outdoor attractions around Dubuque. Avid hikers and those looking for hair-raising scenic overlooks should check out Mines of Spain Recreation Area and Swiss Valley Nature Preserve. Mines of Spain has 15 miles of walking trails through the bluffs of Dubuque and along the Mississippi River, and also historical archaeological sites in tribute to French explorer Julien Dubuque. Swiss Valley features 476 Acres of meadow and forest that can be explored by their numerous walking trails. In the winter, Swiss Valley also offers cross country skiing trails and free snowshoe rental, so there’s no reason to not check out this nature preserve right now. For the even more adventurous types, there is always Crystal Lake Cove. The caves boast active stalactites, stalagmites, and complexes of crystal formations that you can explore with the guided tours they have to offer.
If you’re looking to do a more leisurely activity, the Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is a great place relax, walk around, and/or study at. The Arboretum is the largest in the country and the 60 different gardens within the property each embody unique breeds of nature and beauty. The Mississippi Riverwalk is also a great place to unwind at after a week full of classes. The Riverwalk is a great place to stroll down to look at the river and discover many interesting art installation pieces as well. Right by the Riverwalk is historical downtown Dubuque that’s full of local shops, great food, and areas of historical significance. The Mathias Ham Historic Site is a Dubuque staple. It has been influential in Iowa’s history and is known as a possible hot spot for activities of the paranormal nature. Entering the Ham House sends you back into the antebellum era of 1812-1815. The mansion has been restored and transformed into a museum and also houses a one room school house on the property and a replica mine shaft.
Downtown, you can also find and even ride on the shortest and steepest railroad in the world. It’s known as Fenelon Place Elevator and was originally built in 1882. After a fire, the cable car was rebuilt in 1893 with the technology that it still uses today. Together, you and your friends can ride the inclined railroad up and down the scenic bluffs of Dubuque. But watch out at the top for the goats that wander the bluffs as well. There are also many small businesses in Downtown Dubuque that you can support down Bluff Street, in Cable Car Square District, or the Industrial District down by Washington Street. There’s something to see every weekend so when you get the chance, take your nose out of your text book and experience the wealth Dubuque has to offer. For more fun ideas, you can check out: