Tag Archives: area attractions

Pictures from the Marion Arts Festival

Hundreds packed Marion Square Park to see vendors from throughout the Midwest. From jewelry to paintings and ceramics, there was something for everyone – including some amazing kettle corn to enjoy why you shopped. We had the opportunity to spend a couple hours at the Marion Arts Festival today, as well as visiting a few shops in downtown Marion. 

I thought I’d share some pictures.

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posted by: heatherjoy77



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Filed under Arts and Music, Community Events, Stuff for kids to do, Why it's great to live here

The Smaller Side of the Corridor

Chalk the Walk event in Mt. Vernon reminds us all that the smaller towns contribute to the Corridor’s quality of life.

I know the purpose of this blog is talk about the Corridor – and even as a local I’m not exactly sure what we mean by the Corridor. I think at one time a study was completed that said Cedar Rapids and Iowa City technically act as one metro area, based on whatever factors studies like that consider important.  The economies are shared. The citizens zoom back and forth on I-380 like Chicagoans drive across town for a great restaurant.  There are so few miles between the two and the people are so intertwined in both cities they could statistically be counted as one. 

I know the Corridor technically refers to the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City area.  But I don’t think the Corridor can be so easily defined.  It’s not bounded by highways or city limits.  It’s more than just Cedar Rapids and Iowa City; it’s also the small towns in the area that consider this their home.  Places like Mt. Vernon, West Branch, and Central City may not technically be the Corridor, but the people that live there and the shops, restaurants and activities from these towns undoubtedly contribute to why the Corridor is so inviting.
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Fresh air, delicious produce, and unexpected treasures

One of my favorite aspects of the spring and summer is the return of our area’s farmers’ markets. From fresh produce and colorful flowers, to homemade baked goods and handcrafted soaps and candles, there’s always something fun and new to discover at the local farmer’s market. Plus, supporting your local growers always makes you feel good!

Although many don’t open until May, Hiawatha appears to be leading the pack and will open their market this Sunday. Our area offers residents a number of different markets to shop; here is a listing of a few local markets and their hours of operation.

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Kid-Friendly Corridor


My son received a red flag at his 3-year-old preschool. Yes, I know, it’s every mother’s nightmare.  His teacher emailed and described the offense: block throwing.  I agreed with her, this behavior simply can’t be tolerated (although I’ve personally seen him throw blocks on and off for most of his life, so I’m not terribly surprised.)

My husband and I brainstormed ways to fix the behavior, and although it won’t place us in the parenting hall of fame, we both agreed that nothing changes behavior better than rewards. So a new version of the potty chart was created and hung on our kitchen wall.  Every day he didn’t receive a red flag at preschool, he put up a sticker.  Five stickers in a row = fun activity with mom and dad.

So our adventures of finding new and engaging ways to entertain our son led us to uncover numerous activities in the area.  And let me tell you, the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City corridor literally has hundreds of family activities.

I think our first weekend involved Chuck-E-Cheese, or the PlayStation, or some other national chain-like business that doesn’t really scream Unique Corridor Activity.  But, they are here and they work in a pinch. And, I relish any chance I have to remind my husband that I can kick his butt in the basketball toss or skeeball.

Some of our fun, more unique outings included:

  • Old McDonald’s Farm:  This amazing ‘farm’ is located right here in the middle of Cedar Rapids. There are animals to pet and a farm exhibit.  Did I mention it’s FREE?
  • Iowa Children’s Museum: We are absolutely blessed to have this museum in our area. I’ve heard through the grapevine they have a family free nightonce a month.  And, the children’s museum is located in the Coral Ridge Mall – fun for the moms.  You can leave dad and the kids at the old fashioned carouselwhile you check out some sales.
  • Usher’s Ferry: This is like visiting a town right out of the history books, complete with a one-room school house. They have numerous events here, and we’ve taken our son to two: train days and wild, wild west day.
  • Cedar Rapid Kernels: We are a baseball family, and although we do visit Wrigley Field in Chicago at least once a year, we love to support our local club. On most Saturday nights in the summer they have free fireworks after the game, and they are impressive to big and little kids alike!  
  • Splash Pads: It’s like invasion of the splash pads. I wish they’d of had these when I was kid.  Also check the Coralville and Iowa City parks departments Web site’s for additional listings.
  • Pinicon Ridge Park:  This park is about 15-20 minutes from Marion, but it’s worth the drive. There are paddle boats, trails, and in the winter a great sledding hill!  A great place to fish with little ones as well. Oh, and a lookout tower.  It’s tall enough to make my knees get a little shaky, but those fearless kids love it.

As this is the weekend before Halloween, we have many activities planned, including walking on some Haunted Trails at Camp Hitaga outside Walker, IA (about a 30-minute drive from Cedar Rapids), visiting Knight’s Farm in Springville, IA to pick out some pumpkins and enjoy a hayrack ride (about a 20-minute drive) and getting spooked at the kid-friendly haunted house in North Liberty, which is run by the North Liberty Jaycees. 

There is nothing like experiencing the Corridor through the eyes of a child. I know we can actually stop the chart anytime now; he’s learned his new behavior and hasn’t had any more incidents of block-throwing or other criminal behavior. To be honest, I’m looking too forward to the weekends to stop now! 

I know there are a zillion cool activities I’ve missed; this was just a start to get us thinking. Feel free to post your ideas here!

postd by: heatherjoy77

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