In this article I’ve covered all of the fun and best things to in Rock Island IL.
Rock Island, the seat of Rock Island County, is a historic and culturally lively city on the world-famous Mississippi River.
Arsenal Island, an active US Army base for more than two centuries, is part of the Quad Cities (population 400,000) that straddle the Mississippi and the Illinois-Iowa border.
As an operational military base, a visit to Arsenal Island is a requirement, even if it necessitates a verification process and guest pass.
Downtown Rock Island has a lot to offer, from riverside parks and the Great River Trail to decades of opulent architecture and the Quad Cities’ most vibrant nightlife and entertainment scene.
Best Things To Do In Rock Island IL
Table of Contents
20. Festival of Trees
The Festival Of The Trees is a popular neighbourhood event that leaves participants in awe of the participants’ inventiveness. Trees are lavishly arranged with themes, colours, and to meet a variety of adjacent diversions and interests.
Not only will you be inspired by the trees on display at the historic Sidney and Berne Davis Art Center, but you’ll also be able to choose your favourite. The friendly competition serves as a motivator for members to give it their all.
The annual event begins the day after Thanksgiving and lasts until the major Saturday in December. This is a free event, but donations are accepted at the entrance to help fund the Southwest Florida Goodwill Foundation’s purpose.
19. Figge Art Museum
The Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa, is a must-see for art lovers. All things considered, the Museum is an art gallery and community art school that offers workshops and guided tours to visitors. A visit to the Figge Art Museum is an absolute must for everyone who enjoys painting and modelling.
A dazzling tiny jewel of a gallery with a nice, long-lasting collection and some unique, one-of-a-kind exhibits. The gift shop is incredible, and the structure is fantastic.
18. The Freight House Farmers Market
The Freight House Farmers Market is a non-profit organisation that operates a year-round ranchers market in Davenport, Iowa’s historic Freight House Market Place on the waterfront.
Ranchers have a long tradition of delivering their produce to the cargo house station via rail for public sale. Our market continues the tradition by providing easy access to more than 150 businesses with locations in Iowa and Illinois, including ranches, nurseries, bakeries, meat and seafood suppliers, cheddar manufacturers, and claim to fame food producers.
We are a gathering place in the neighbourhood. Our diverse local environment, solid dynamic ways of life, innovative sustainably produced food kinds and goods, training, and the ranch-to-table movement are all celebrated here.
17. ComedySportz Quad Cities
ComedySportz is the Quad Cities’ longest-running show, with over 25 years of award-winning comic improv in the District of Rock Island. Every Friday and Saturday night, they host a match for the fans at The Establishment.
The show at 7 p.m. is the best deal in the Quad Cities. An exhilarating experience in which you laugh until tears stream down your face and your sides ache.
You will adore this location. It’s a memorable evening for the whole family.
They may even add your storey into the performance if you bring 25 or more relatives. In the cinema, there is an awesome seat arrangement of action and remarkable sightlines.
The comedy will make you laugh so hard you’ll pee your pants.
16. Sunset Park
Sunset Park is a 250-acre metropolitan park featuring a 50-acre lake, Lake Potter, and a Mississippi River outlet. It is the southern end of the Great River Trail and contains a 1.9-mile walking path. Lake Potter and the Mississippi River, with its abundant fishing opportunities, are accessible via three boat ramps. The recreation centre offers open-air ice skating in the winter.
15. Ya Maka My Weekend
Since 1992, a Reggae festival has taken over downtown Rock Island for a whole weekend in August.
Ya Maka My Weekend, which attracts tourists from all over the Midwest, is a celebration of Caribbean culture, complete with palm trees, a tropical ambience, delectable West Indian street food, steel drum bands, and, of course, plenty of Reggae music.
Pato Banton, Taj Weekes, Dubtroni Kru, Kenyatta Hill, and former Wailers members are among the prior performances.
14. Fryxell Geology Museum
For something completely different, Augustana College’s Swenson Hall of Geosciences has one of the greatest collections of minerals, rocks, and fossils in the Midwest.
Fritiof Melvin Fryxell (1900-1973), a 44-year geology professor at the college, is honoured with the Fryxell Geology Museum.
The museum’s collection originated from the late 1880s and now numbers over 20,000 specimens, with 1,500 on display at any given moment.
The 22-foot skeleton of a Cryolophosaurus, a crested dinosaur discovered in Antarctica, as well as an entire wall of vivid neon rocks and a cast of a Tyrannosaurus skull, are just a few of the incredible exhibits. The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the academic year and is closed during the summer.
13. Whitewater Junction Aquatic Center
An outdoor pool complex is located in Longview Park, just south of the Broadway Historic District, and is available throughout the summer.
Whitewater Junction offers a zero-depth entry pool with four slides: the Rocket (body slide), the Zephyr (tube), the Cannonball (drop), and the Express (drop) (open drop).
There are numerous spray features, as well as a tumble bucket, for children to enjoy. Swimming lessons and aquatics classes are offered by Rock Island’s Parks & Recreation Department, and several party packages are available if you want to schedule a party here.
12. Circa ‘21 Dinner Playhouse
The historic Fort Armstrong Theatre, now known as the Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse, is a landmark in downtown Rock Island that will stop you in your tracks.
Designed in an early Art Deco style, it first opened in 1921 to the silent film Midsummer Madness, directed by Cecil’s older brother, William C. deMille.
Lila Lee (1905-1973), the film’s star, was there that night. The polychrome terracotta panels with Illinois and Native American designs on the exterior are beautiful.
The themes continue inside, with three huge Native American heads adorning the proscenium arch’s extremities.
During the school summer and winter breaks, the facility is now a dinner theatre that hosts lighthearted Broadway musicals, tribute acts, and children’s shows.
The Bootleggers waitstaff is one of only two troupes of performing waitstaff in the United States.
11. Broadway Historic District
This elegant home neighbourhood southeast of downtown Rock Island is ideal for a self-guided tour for anybody interested in 19th-century architecture.
The Broadway Historic District features an incredible 550 Victorian houses, ranging in style from Greek Revival to Italianate, Queen Anne, Romanesque Revival, and Colonial Revival.
Since 1998, the district has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it is known for its creative preservation practises.
A initiative to remove fake siding from old houses is one of these programmes. You can obtain a map for a self-guided tour from the district’s website, which includes clickable icons that provide intriguing context on the historically landmarked properties on Broadway.
10. Black Hawk State Historic Site
On a 150-foot bluff above the Rock River, a tribe of 4,800 Native Americans from the Sauk Nation lived at the turn of the century.
The Black Hawk State Historic Site, which covers 208 acres, is known for being the birthplace of Black Hawk (1767-1838), a prominent role in the War of 1812 and the Black Hawk War of 1838.
You can visit the property to explore the trails that wind their way through the woods, along the riverbed, and to a series of calm picnic sites.
With artefacts, historic records, and a stunning scale model of the village, the Hauberg Indian Museum provides greater information on the Sauk and Meskwaki Native Americans and their relocation.
Exhibits about the Civilian Conservation Corps, which built the museum and laid out the park’s trails during the Great Depression, are also available.
9. Mississippi River Visitor Center
The US Army Corps of Engineers has been assisting in the navigation of this stretch of the Mississippi River for well over 200 years.
You can learn more about this at the Mississippi River Visitor Center on Arsenal Island, which is located next to the river.
You can watch barges travel through the sophisticated lock and dam system from April to December, and you can book a guided tour for more information.
During the months of January and March, the locks and dams become an important feeding place for bald eagles, presenting yet another spectacular sight.
8. The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum
The First Church of Christ, Scientist (1896), built in the Palladian style with a grand Doric portico, is one of the most striking structures in the Broadway Historic District.
The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, a countrywide institution founded in 1983 by California real estate magnates David and Marsha Karpeles, has 17 campuses.
To name a few, they amassed the world’s largest collection of historic documents and manuscripts, which included Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, Descartes’ Treatise as the Father of Philosophy, Handels’ Messiah, the Bill of Rights, the first printing of the Ten Commandments from the Gutenberg Bible, and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.
These rotate between institutions in rotating exhibitions, so there will always be something new to see. The building’s inner dome, which is finished with 8,000 coloured fish scale glass panes atop an intricate timber construction, will also be visible.
7. Great River Trail
Sunset Park in Rock Island is the western trailhead for a 62-mile paved trail that runs alongside the Mississippi River.
The Great River Trail, which is open to walkers and cyclists, is a great way to see the Quad Cities, passing near to the John Deere Pavilion in Moline and the Channel Cat Water Taxi, which will carry you over the Mississippi to Davenport.
The trail runs over designated bike trails and shoreline levees through beautiful riverfront communities as far as Savanna, on the right-of-way of a former spur of the Chicago, St. Paul, Milwaukee and Pacific Railroad.
6. Quad City Botanical Center
This prominent botanical attraction on Rock Island is located near the river. The spectacular Sun Garden conservatory is the focal point of the complex, which opened in 1998.
An atrium with a 70-foot skylight sits above tropical fruit-bearing plants like vanilla, coffee, coconut, chocolate, and banana in this extraordinary climate-controlled skyscraper. There’s also a koi pond, a creek, and a 14-foot waterfall on the premises.
The Children’s Garden, which includes an important collection of rare conifers, an 800-foot model train, and seasonal gardens for perennials, prairie wildflowers, butterflies, and more, is a popular destination for families in the summer because of its educational aspects and water features.
5. Denkmann-Hauberg House
This 4-hectare (10-section of land) grassland-style property, which was established between 1909 and 1911, is an important piece of Rock Island history. Volunteers can enjoy interesting activities at the house today, such to Starlight Revue, where you can listen to live music under the stars in Lincoln Park or watch authentic 1920s football.
This house has an amazing location: it drapes over a bending slope in an extremely focused yet surprising layout. Robert C. Spencer, a contemporary of Frank Lloyd Wright, designed this Prairie-style show-stopper in Chicago. Spencer was recognised for incorporating “avant-garde” Prairie elements, such as half-timbering, into his designs. Mrs. Hauberg’s favourite flower, the tulip, is prominently featured both outside and inside. Spencer customised the tulip for stone inlays, mortar shaping, wood organ screens, equipment, lovely tiles, and much more.
Jens Jensen, a Chicago-based set designer who is well-known for his work, laid out the ten-acre site to resemble a Wisconsin forest. A meandering path and a stone expansion remain on the west side of the house, as do a few other elements from Jensen’s scenario.
Attend the History Talk, which costs only $5 at the entrance.
4. Schwiebert Riverfront Park
A waterside park located just downstream from Arsenal Island offers a beautiful view of the river, downtown Davenport, the west side of Arsenal Island, and the Centennial Bridge.
Schwiebert Riverfront features a small promenade along the Mississippi River, as well as two large lawns, public art, a unique digital playground, and an interactive fountain that is popular with kids on hot summer days.
During the summer, this is an ideal place for outdoor concerts, and there is a dedicated stage for such occasions.
In the winter, Schwiebert Park is a great place to see the bald eagles that flock to the Mississippi River and Arsenal Island to fish.
3. Downtown Rock Island
Restaurants, one-of-a-kind boutiques, pubs, comedy clubs, galleries, nightclubs, live music venues, a microbrewery, a historic hotel, and a stunning Art Deco theatre abound in Rock Island’s downtown district.
This is the Quad Cities’ arts area, with over 1,000 residents and close to 3,500 employees, and an events calendar to match, with a series of festivals attracting thousands over the summer.
Downtown Rock Island is especially worth seeing for its diverse architecture, which dates from the late 1800s through the mid-1900s.
Many of these attractive brick commercial buildings have been turned into residential lofts, giving the city’s heartbeat a boost.
2. Rock Island Arsenal Museum
After West Point, the museum on Arsenal Island is the second-oldest U.S. Army Museum, having opened in 1905.
From a summer camp place for the Sauk Native Americans to Fort Davenport, the origins of the arsenal, and the island’s role as a Union prison camp during the Civil War, this attraction provides light on the island’s historic past.
Outside are howitzers, an M65 Atomic Cannon, rocket launchers, and different anti-tank guns, among other vehicles and equipment.
With nearly 1,200 firearms on permanent display, the museum houses the second-largest collection of small guns in the United States Army.
These exhibits describe the Rock Island Arsenal’s manufacturing methods as well as the wide range of military equipment produced there.
1. Rock Island Arsenal
The 950-acre island in the Mississippi River, which earned the city its name, is likely to draw your focus.
This operational US Army complex, now known as Arsenal Island, serves as the headquarters of the First Army and the US Army’s Center of Excellence for Additive Manufacturing.
For more than 200 years, the island has been linked to the government, and it now houses the country’s largest government-owned weapons production arsenal.
There are various reasons to visit the original arsenal buildings, which are now a National Historic Landmark.
The historic Colonel Davenport House (c. 1833), Memorial Park, a reconstructed blockhouse from the original Fort Davenport, the Rock Island National Cemetery, a conserved Confederate cemetery, and the Mississippi River Visitor Center, which we’ll discuss later, are all worth visiting.
So this was our list of the best things to do in Rock Island IL, hope you guys enjoyed reading.