The ‘New’ Iowa City-Coralville Area Offers Affordable Midwest Meeting Opportunities

April 18, 2019

Perched along the Iowa River lays the almost complete Iowa River Landing, a new neighborhood that’s put Iowa’s Iowa City-Coralville area on the map for Midwest destinations with its fresh spread of meetings-friendly hotels and close-by entertainment.

The 180-acre mixed use development contains the curation of recently constructed hotels, museums, shops, restaurants, brew pubs and more.

This has afforded the larger community the ability to attract hundreds of conferences, meetings and special events unable to take place in the area before.

Coupled with the nearby University of Iowa that resides in lively downtown Iowa City, the overall location includes a range of unique venues ideal for any group gathering.

Iowa River Landing: 30 Years in the Making

It took nearly 30 years to transition the Iowa River Landing from an industrial park to what it is today. Now, one of the neighborhood’s key assets is the Coralville Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, a 286-room property built in 2006 that makes a structural statement as the anchor of the development. It’s also the area’s largest meeting space.

The Coralville Marriott Hotel & Conference Center is comprised of:

  • Nearly 60,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space.
  • 13 event rooms.
  • 20 breakout rooms.
  • A 30,000-square-foot exhibition hall.
  • Capacity for up to 4,050 attendees.

The hotel comes with a variety of amenities to customize events, from an outdoor terrace and pre-function space to proper tech equipment and in-house catering.

​Coralville Marriott Hotel & Conference Center Exterior View, Credit: Adrian Thompson
Coralville Marriott Hotel & Conference Center Exterior View, Credit: Adrian Thompson

If you’re the type of planner who likes to leave your event on a philanthropic note, the hotel can even donate 5 percent of your group or catering revenue to the local University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s hospital (famous for the “Iowa Wave” during Hawkeyes football).

The building is conveniently located for attendees. Across the street sit dozens of attractions that emulate proud local vibes and give the area its unique persona.

Iowa River Landing Signature Stops

Below is a run-down of a few of the signature places meeting planners and attendees will find.

Iowa River Landing Businesses in Coralville, Iowa, Credit: Adrian Thompson
Iowa River Landing Businesses in Coralville, Iowa, Credit: Adrian Thompson

Backpocket Brewing: This craft beer destination is a must for those who want a taste of local life–it includes a large taproom, beer garden for the public and delicious brick-oven pizzas–grab a slice while you enjoy a tour with your group.

Iowa River Landing Sculpture Walk: Each of the 11 sculptures along this path were created by Iowa artists and are inspired by a work found in the Iowa Writer’s Library.

Iowa River Landing Wetland Park: Comprised of a two-acre pond surrounded by five acres of wetlands, the wetland park includes elevated walkways along with a viewing tower, all of which make an ideal location for group nature walks and bird watching.

Antique Car Museum of Iowa: Car lovers delight at this 28,000-square-foot showroom that features over 90 cars from 1899 to the mid-1970s.

Antique Car Museum of Iowa Exterior View, Credit: Adrian Thompson
Antique Car Museum of Iowa Exterior View, Credit: Adrian Thompson

The Iowa Writer’s Library: For those who like to read, located in the lobby of the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center is a collection of nearly 800 books written by former attendees of the nationally renowned Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Incoming in 2020: Xtream Arena and Fieldhouse

The final tenant to make its way home in the Iowa River Landing’s master plan will be the multipurpose Xtream Arena and Fieldhouse. Set to open in August 2020, the Xtream Arena aims to be a signature attractor of both amateur and professional sporting events.

This also includes various athletic competitions and tournaments.

[Related Content: Eastern Iowa Sports Venues and Meeting Experiences]

The arena will support the demands of the nearby University of Iowa hockey team (which in the past used a local mall’s skating rink to practice), as well as the University of Iowa women’s volleyball team. It can host basketball, wrestling, concerts, graduation ceremonies and more.

Xtream Arena Interior Rendering, Volleyball Sporting Event
Xtream Arena Interior Rendering, Volleyball Sporting Event

Big City Amenities Without Big City Prices

Getting to this Midwest spot isn’t difficult.

The Iowa City-Coralville area is about 20 miles from the Eastern Iowa Airport, which offers shuttles, taxis, rideshare or bus services to get attendees where they need to be. It’s not the largest airport in the state, but it does offer multiple nonstop flights throughout the country, including to and from major hubs such as Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver and others.

The Iowa City-Coralville location is also an affordable option for any meeting planner looking to keep his or her event in the Midwest while cutting costs.

Backpocket Brewing in Coralville, Iowa, Credit: Adrian Thompson
Backpocket Brewing in Coralville, Iowa, Credit: Adrian Thompson

The average hotel rate in Iowa City and Coralville is $83 compared to $215 in Chicago, $149 in Minneapolis or even $107 in Des Moines, the largest city in Iowa.

The average meal cost is also significantly reduced; it’s $46 a meal versus $74 in Chicago, $64 in Minneapolis and $59 in Des Moines.

A Planner’s Overview of Iowa City and Coralville

Aside from the Iowa River Landing, the surrounding Iowa City and Coralville area is home to a range of venues for any style of gathering.

The University of Iowa resides in the heart of Iowa City, making it a center for education, culture and fun events. The compact campus and downtown scene include farm-to-table restaurants, Big Ten sports, boutique retail, live shows and more.

Consider checking out the newly-designed Graduate Iowa City, whose interiors pay tribute to local themes, or the Iowa Memorial Union Main Lounge for your next planned event.

Both include 10-plus meeting rooms and knowledgeable staff to assist with meetings.

For a more dramatic approach or to garner an artistic vibe, try booking the Coralville Center for Performing Arts or the Englert Theatre in Iowa City.

You can even finish day events with a group outing to the nearby Cedar Ridge Vineyards, a family-owned vineyard that boasts a 200-person event center.

Energized and still growing, the Iowa City-Coralville area offers a small-town vibe with big city amenities to ensure that travelers of all tastes are able to have fun, memorable experiences.

With many developments completed, still under construction or getting ready to break ground, it’s wise to keep an eye on Iowa for your next meeting or event.

[Read This Next: Eastern Iowa Showcases Heritage at Group-Friendly Venues]

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About the author
Adrian Schley | Contributing Writer

Adrian Schley has been writing for Stamats Business Media since March of 2018. She earned her BA in journalism at the University of Iowa, where she also studied English.