Department - MidAm

May 2016

Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is going places

by Eric Andersen

  • Downtown Cedar Rapids

    /Portals/0/images/Magazine/2016/0516/Close_Up_CR_CedarRapids.jpg

    Downtown Cedar Rapids

    Downtown Cedar Rapids
  • Club Room Gallery, CSPS Hall

    /Portals/0/images/Magazine/2016/0516/Close_Up_CR_gallery.jpg

    Club Room Gallery, CSPS Hall

    Club Room Gallery, CSPS Hall
  • Chef Gabriel Vera, Doubletree

    /Portals/0/images/Magazine/2016/0516/Close_Up_CR_Chef.jpg

    Chef Gabriel Vera, Doubletree

    Chef Gabriel Vera, Doubletree

Summer is almost here and the warmer months will mark the launch of a new image for the Cedar Rapids Area CVB, which is rebranding as Go Cedar Rapids.

“The Cedar Rapids area has been booming for the past seven years,” says Sarah Hermanson, director of meetings and conventions with Go Cedar Rapids. “Over $1.5 billion has been invested in our downtown. The number of new restaurants, breweries, entertainment venues and shopping options coming on-line have transformed the experience that groups can enjoy throughout [the city] and its surrounding areas.”

Cedar Rapids is a prominent cultural hub in eastern Iowa and the summertime is when the city’s art displays shine brightest. This season, Go Cedar Rapids is celebrating artist Grant Wood, a world-renowned American painter best known for his depictions of the rural Midwest. Go Cedar Rapids is paying homage to his American Gothic painting with Overalls All Over, a public art project featuring 25 six-foot fiberglass statues depicting the iconic farmer and daughter duo from the painting.

Other prominent art showings include Immortal: Warhol’s Last Works, an art display at The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library through Oct. 2, 2016, and Rodin: Portraits of a Lifetime at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art in early June. Both venues offer facilities capable of hosting various group functions.

“This summer’s art offerings are phenomenal and showcase the quality of art you’ll find on display in Cedar Rapids no matter when you visit,” Hermanson says.

And as a plus for groups, all of these new developments are a short drive (or walk) away from the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cedar Rapids Convention Complex at the U.S. Cellular Center, which offers more than 80,000 square feet of exhibit and meeting space, making it the second-largest convention center in Iowa.

The restaurant scene is rapidly expanding in Cedar Rapids, with a number of innovative fine-dining concepts rounding out the already established local eateries. Black Sheep Social Club is just one of several group-friendly restaurants planned for the area, which will offer 24 regional brews on tap, custom cocktails and a menu featuring traditional Midwest dishes with a modern flair.

Craft breweries are also booming in Cedar Rapids—some of which are receiving attention on the national brewing circuit. Lion Bridge Brewing Company took home a Gold Medal at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival for its Workman’s Compensation, a dark mild ale with notes of biscuit, toffee and chocolate, and again took home the Gold in 2015 with The Disaster at Meux brown porter—another highly drinkable brew.

Other easy-to-miss, but definitely worth a look, breweries include Turner Alley Brewing Company, which recently debuted a Tap Room with limited hours, Another Road Brewing in Marion, Iowa, which plans to expand to a larger facilitiy soon, and The Quarter Barrel, an arcade-themed bar that recently started offering its own selection of brews on tap.

Backpocket Brewing Company in Coralville, Iowa, also announced it is opening the Backpocket Pilot Pub, a full-service pub brewing experimental and small batch beers for the general public, in downtown Cedar Rapids this year. Backpocket’s main brewery serves up a number of signature German-style beers.

And lastly, Go Cedar Rapids revealed it will launch the CR Ale Trail later this summer that connects established and up-and-coming breweries in the Cedar Rapids area, each offering a signature experience representative of the brewery and its owners.

Needless to say, your group will not be going thirsty (or hungry) in Cedar Rapids anytime soon!

Go Cedar Rapids
319.398.5009

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