Visiting the Iowa City area for an Iowa Hawkeye football game? Get ready for a full weekend with the best game day weekend experiences. From outdoor recreation to shopping and all kinds of dining, you can make a different itinerary for each visit (because we bet you won’t come just once)!
Start the day with a round of golf at Brown Deer Golf Club or Finkbine Golf Club. Not a golfer? Ride your bike on the area’s extensive trail network. Tom Harkin trailhead is a great place to start. Fall is also a beautiful time to hike the trail on the cliffs overlooking the Iowa River at Squire Point.
Come afternoon, hop off Interstate 80 to check out Coralville’s Iowa River Landing. There you will find a variety of restaurants and shops. After that, take some time to head to Downtown Iowa City. Wander into shops, find some new Hawkeye apparel, or visit the Old Capitol Museum. It’s also a fantastic place to sit on a patio for a meal or beverage. Experience the city’s pedestrian mall, take photos of the public art murals, and stroll through the Northside neighborhood.
Looking for live music? You’ll find something to suit your tastes at one of several live music venues. How about a little ax-throwing? Hatchet Jack’s also offers entertainment for those 18 and older. Big Grove Brewery is not far from Downtown for those 21 and older. You could also head north of the city to check out Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery.
You will have more dinner options than you know what to do with. See Iowa City from above at Vue Rooftop or have a steak night at Joseph’s Steakhouse. Pizza lovers are sure to enjoy the locally famous Pagliai’s Pizza and Wig & Pen. Sea food lovers will savor St. Burch Tavern. Those are just a slim few of the many options to choose from.
Today’s the day! Game day in Iowa City is a sea of black and gold with over 100,000 people outside the stadium. Walk along Melrose Avenue to take in the tailgating festivities or find a spot of your own to anchor down and tailgate. Lawn games, great food, and cold drinks are encouraged. Watch the Iowa Football team exit the buses and enter Kinnick Stadium on the south side, with each player and coach touching a bronze helmet next to a 20-foot-tall Nike Kinnick statue. At an hour and fifteen minutes before kickoff you can watch the Iowa Hawkeye Marching Band play at the UI Recreation Building northwest of the stadium.
Doors open two hours before game time. Inside Kinnick is an experience unlike any others in the Big 10. The Hawkeyes enter the field as a swarm to Back in Black by AC/DC, alongside waving gold “I – O – W – A” flags. Those same flags are flown after every Hawkeye score with different sections yelling each letter to spell Iowa. Cheer alongside 70,000 fans, sing the Iowa Fight Song with the Marching Band, and wave to the kids inside the Stead Family Children’s Hospital towering just behind the stadium, dubbed the Iowa Wave. It’s an unforgettable environment and chills worthy every single time. With a Hawkeye win, sing the Iowa Victory Polka with the whole crowd. Depending on the time of day and the energy you have left, head to one of the many businesses mentioned above.
Take a leisurely morning by visiting one of many great brunch spots – Iowa River Power, Bluebird Diner, and Tin Roost are a few of the local picks. After, visit Wilson’s Orchard which is a treat in the fall for kids and adults alike. The family-owned orchard with an on-site event venue and restaurant offers apples (u-pick or pre-picked), apple cider donuts, slushies, and more. It’s a retreat just north of town that feels much more removed in the best way. Beginning late-September, Colony Pumpkin Patch is also open and a seasonal favorite for pumpkins, activities, and corn maze. Have a safe drive home and do it all over again the next home game!