Destination Iowa: Burlington

Destination Iowa

BURLINGTON, Iowa — When visiting the southeast Iowa city of Burlington, there is one thing you cannot miss: the Mississippi River. And there’s another one right behind it at Snake Alley.

“I’d say the one thing that needs to be on everybody’s bucket list is Snake Alley,” said Chelsea Lerud, executive director of the Burlington Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Snake Alley was built in the late 1800s because the residential district was up on the bluff and the commercial district was down below. It was back when they had horses as the mode of transportation, so it was difficult to get down to the shopping district.”

The very crooked, one-way Snake Alley has drawn attention to this community.

“Kind of a claim to fame in ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not!’ It’s unbelievably crooked and we rival Lombard Street in San Francisco for America’s most crooked street,” said Lerud. “It is something that you can still drive walk or bike down.”

Every Memorial Day weekend, they hold the Snake Alley Criterium. Bicycles ride 20 laps of the downtown, going uphill on Snake Alley.

The Mississippi River also draws visitors to this city on cruise boats, though COVID-19 has put a pause on those travels for this summer.

“We are a dock for the river cruise ships. Right now we host the American Queen, American Duchess and the American Countess on regular basis. And starting in 2022, we will begin hosting Viking River Cruises.”

The Burlington Convention and Visitors Bureau operates a visitors center right on the river, which also is a terminal welcoming the cruise boat visitors.

The community also can entertain families away from the river.

“PZAZZ! Entertainment Complex is a great family destination,” said Lerud. “We host a lot of youth sports tournaments here and a lot of families will stay an extra day or two.”

The FunCity game center has all kinds of arcade games, go-karts and bowling for kids.

For those wanting to get outdoors, there is Starr’s Cave Park. This is a cave out of the side of a bluff. A long bridge spans the Flint Creek to reach the cave. It is currently closed to the public to protect the bats who reside there. They were affected by “white-nose syndrome.”

“This is the place to be, if you’re in Burlington,” said Marcus Nack, the Des Moines County naturalist at the Starr’s Cave Nature Center. “We have a beautiful park here, we have the Flint Creek Trail, which travels right through the middle of the park.”

If you plan to visit Burlington Iowa, here is a link for information Always check the attractions to see what there status would be in light of COVID19.

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