WATERLOO, Iowa — While the year 2020 was crazy for everyone the Lost Island Waterpark in Waterloo got a big honor in the middle of the pandemic. It was named the best water park in the country by USA Today.
“It’s a huge resurgence after COVID, we can tell that people are clearly wanting to get out of the house,” said Matt Neiman, Manager of the water park. “They’re wanting to do things, and an outside activity allows them that freedom of getting to interact with people, without having to be indoors or feeling like they’re too close to anyone as well.”
Also a place where keeping cool was a year-round venture — the Cedar Falls Ice House Museum. This large round brick structure is located near the Cedar River. Its purpose was to store ice, taken from the river for use in people’s “ice boxes” before there was refrigeration and air conditioning.
“The structure is located on a site that has been home to an ice house as early as 1858,” said Carrie Eilerts, Executive Director, of the Cedar Falls Historical Society. “The structure was built in the winter of 1921, to 1922, so the wooden structure that was here before this burned down in the fall of 1921. then the community really came together to rapidly rebuild it.”
Nearby the Ice House is the Behrens-Rapp Mobile Station, which serves as a visitor center for Cedar Falls. It has some period antiques and traveler brochures. There is also a restored one-room schoolhouse.
There is a pizza place in Waterloo that has been under the same ownership for 59 years. George Nicholas bought what he called Mamma Nick’s Circle Pizzaria in 1962. He founded that with his late mother. He explains the long-popular pizza.
“I can only say one thing, quality homemade, we grind our own sausage, make our own dough fresh several times a day,” said Nicholas.
Cedar Falls also has a downtown with the historic Black Hawk Hotel, and lots of shops to visit.
“We often want to promote ourselves as a great girlfriend getaway because we’ve got a charming downtown district lots of local shops restaurants and such,” said Kim Manning of Cedar Falls Tourism Office.
Local people here say when they go for ice cream, they recommend Four Queens Dairy Cream, a spot with four locations only found in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls metro area.