Over the weekend we took at trip to visit Jason’s parents (and my lovely in-laws) who live in Milan, IL an area known to many as The Quad Cities. Now, let us not argue over exactly what cities are a part of this whole “Quad” group, because as I have learned since marrying into this section of the country, there are five cities and it’s best if we don’t ask why there are five and not just four. Regardless, if you happen to find yourself in the Rock Island, IL, Moline, IL Davenport, IA, Bettendorf, IA or East Moline, IL aka the Quad Cities, there’s plenty to do to and see and plenty of great places to eat. So, here’s Our Wandering Families 10 Must-Dos when visiting.


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Top 10 Must-Dos in the Quad Cities


The Figge Art Museum

Jul 20, 2016
The Figge Art Museum

The Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa. serves as the major art museum in the eastern Iowa and western Illinois region. The modern glass building on the banks of the Mississippi was designed by Stirling Prize-winning Modernist British architect David Chipperfield (The Figge was his first US commission) and has become a beautiful addition to the Davenport area. This is a great place to spend an afternoon and with rotating exhibits, educational classes, and community focused programs there is always something going on at The Figge. And if you needed more of a reason to visit, The Figge Art Museum is free through September 22nd, 2016!


The John Deere Pavilion

Jul 20, 2016
The John Deere Pavilion

The John Deere Pavilion located in Moline, IL is a must-do for any family with kids who love to climb into big tractors, push buttons and pull levers. The Pavilion is always free and features monthly kids craft days, community events, as well as a recently added Kids Discovery Zone that puts the world of John Deere and farming into the hands of their littlest visitors. We have easily been to the John Deere Pavilion half a dozen times and our kids never tire of climbing in the giant Combine or testing out the machine simulators (and honestly, neither do their parents).


Harris Pizza

Jul 20, 2016
Harris Pizza

Harris Pizzais a Quad Cities staple. Started 50 years ago Harris Pizza is known as the original Quad Cities style pizza. There is something oh-so-yummy about their hand tossed pizza and sausage topping (both of which are family recipe secrets). There are several locations around The QC and, as pizza is its own major food group, there is sure to be a little something for everyone on the menu.


Milltown Coffee

Jul 20, 2016
Milltown Coffee

MIlltown Coffee is a new addition to the Quad Cities area having just opened its doors back in the fall of 2014, and I have to say, as a coffee lover, this is such a welcome addition to the area. The spacious, modern, clean feel of Milltown coffee is so inviting, and I love how cool they were with our kids. It's hard to find a coffee shop that doesn't give a big deep sigh when I walk in with my three boys, so having the baristas at Milltown actually talk to my kids and make sure we had everything we needed was a nice change. And the coffee is fantastic! Definitely worth a swing by when you are out and about and in need of a morning or afternoon pick-me-up.



Jul 20, 2016

Lagomarcino's has a lot of sweet things going for it and situated just a few blocks from the John Deere Pavilion and The River House it's a perfect stop after some tractor play and lunch devouring. Lagomarcino's makes their own chocolates, but it is their soda shop that is the highlight for our family. It's situated in the back of their tiny little shop with mahogany booths and decor that harken back to a time long past. Our family has tried a little bit of everything when it comes to their ice cream, and I can safely say the Italian Sundae and the Carmel Crunch are not to be missed. Lagomarcino's is a definite must-do anytime of the year.


The River House Bar and Grill

Jul 20, 2016
The River House Bar and Grill

The River House Bar and Grill has become our family's go to place every time we visit the Quad Cities. Their menu has a little pub food for everyone, but more importantly, it has a great kids menu that allows all three of my picky eaters to find something they like. The fried pickles and the Pork Tenderloin Sandwich are staples at our table when we visit, and there are plenty of yummy adult drinks too! In the summer they have an extensive patio set-up, and you can enjoy free music on Friday and Saturday nights. The River House is right across the street from the John Deere Pavilion, which makes for a perfect outing for our family.


Schwiebert Riverfront Park

Jul 20, 2016
Schwiebert Riverfront Park

Schwiebert Riverfront Park is a beautiful addition to Rock Island, IL and highlights the grand Mississippi River. Featuring a park, a water feature, an observation shelter, an open-air stage and plenty of grounds to walk and bike, Schwiebert Riverfront Park makes for a lovely day of outdoor play. Pack a picnic and enjoy letting the kids run around. Between the playground and the water feature, Schwiebert will wear the kids out and make bedtime a breeze.


Family Museum

Jul 20, 2016
Family Museum

The Family Museum in Bettendorf, IA is all about play with a large dash of learning thrown in. It's a great time, and an excellent way to beat the Midwest heat or Midwest winter. While the museum does say their primary audience is 8 and under, I'd wager that even the 9 or 10-year-old would have a good time here. Their hands on exhibits are inspired by the people of the Quad Cities, so you get a little history lesson while you play!


Quad Cities River Bandits

Jul 20, 2016
Quad Cities River Bandits

The Quad Cities River Bandits is the QC's hometown minor league team. With bleacher seats starting at just $7 this is a great way to enjoy a ballgame with the whole family and not break the bank.


Black Hawk State Historic Site

Jul 20, 2016
Black Hawk State Historic Site

With numerous hiking and walking trails Black Hawk State Historic Site offers you plenty of opportunities to get outside and enjoy nature, but it's their Watch Tower Lodge that is the highlight of the visit. Made of native limestone and large timbers the building looks and feels solid. Inside you'll find a large banquet hall with two massive fireplaces and the John Hauberg Museum showcasing the history of Native Americans in the area. The museum is free, and it was an easy stroll through with the kids. I highly recommend visiting Black Hawk State Park in the fall when all the leaves offer a burst of color all around.


Have you visited the Quad Cities? Got something you’d add to this list? Keep the conversation going, leave a comment and let us know what else is out there!

Categories: Destinations

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Coffee drinker, skoolie owner, partner, roadschooler, and parent. Along with Jason, Abby is the co-host of the RV Miles Podcast and America's National Parks Podcast. When not talking National Parks and RV living, you can find Abby talking theater as the managing editor Of PerformInk. Find her on Twitter @abigailtrabue or search Our Wandering Family across all social media.


Barbara Gutierrez · July 21, 2016 at 6:25 pm

What about the famous maid rite just under the bridge? We always hit that place plus Tony’s Mexican store in Silvas makes homemade tortillas, tamales, and enchiladas! I never leave for home without them.?

    Jason Epperson · July 22, 2016 at 12:39 am

    Oh man, if it were me, Maid Rite would certainly be on the list. I don’t think Abby “gets it” though 🙂

Joe · August 1, 2016 at 11:50 am

You should check out ComedySportz in Rock Island. They have all ages shows every Friday and Saturday night.

Lisa · August 1, 2016 at 12:40 pm

Being in Milan, you should have taken advantage of Meatheads Meat Market. We are a Quad Cities Original since 2004! A local phenom! We have 70 kinds of giant HOMEMADE/ HANDMADE brats and 40 smoked items. It is like no other meat market! 100s of rubs and spices, biggest sprinkles collection and gummy collection in the Quads. Also, we do a Cookout 6 days a week. Great people to help you out too. We’re at the Freight House Farmers’ Market on Sat and Sundays. 250 vendors and no one like Meatheads! Check us out or check out our website and Facebook. MeatheadsMeatMarket.com and Facebook at Milan Meatheads Meat Market.

Pablo · August 1, 2016 at 1:09 pm

Happy Joe’s and Whitey’s are Top 10!

    Carol · August 2, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    Those were the two I was just about to enter! Especially Whitey’s! I believe there is at least one in each of the 5 “Quad” cities. We live three blocks from one in Moline, and we go broke when the CA and AZ grandkids visit! 🙂

Chet DeSmet · August 1, 2016 at 7:07 pm

I honestly dont think a trip to the Quad Cities is complete without some Whiteys. The rest of the list is pretty right on.

Robb McCoy · August 1, 2016 at 7:51 pm

QC Pancake House in Rock Island for breakfast. The best omelets, skillets, fresh breakfast meats, and original specials. Plus blueberry or cinnamon pancakes that are out of this world. Check out Circa 21 across the street for great theater. Including at least one kid-friendly show a year (like Junie B Jones or Strawberry Freckleface). Adults can check out Daytrotter or Analaog Arcade in Davenport for amazing live concerts and a fun night of NBA Jam, Burger Time, Off Road, other classic arcades and about 80 pinball machines.

Jane McChesney · August 1, 2016 at 10:45 pm

Isabel Bloom, Whitey’s, Arsenal Island historic buildings and cemeteries,and Augustana College’s beautiful campus.

Sarah · August 2, 2016 at 11:53 am

I agree with milltown! Great with kids! We went when they first opened with our then under 2 year old and asked if they had high chairs. They said, “no, but that is a great idea!” We came back a week later and they had gotten them in already! It is a weekly must do with my husband and now 2 boys.

mike roesner · August 2, 2016 at 6:32 pm

You guys forgot, Maid Rites, Whiteys ice cream,, Frank pizza, an Vander rubinsk

Jim Kelley · August 2, 2016 at 7:32 pm

Putnum Museum and Giant Screen theater in Davenport. Exhibits, hands on exhibits, traveling exhibits and National Geographic documentaries on Giant Screen.

Jim Schneider · August 3, 2016 at 9:30 am

Great additions to the list…. Pretty sure there are SEVERAL other coffee shops worthy of mention (Dunn Brothers?), also several other pubs/bars (Barrel House)… My list would certainly include Whitey’s, Happy Joe’s, Putnam Museum, Naibi.. etc., etc., etc… Let’s face it, there are MANY excellent outings here in the QC!

Linda Bousson ( Edgeworth ) · August 5, 2016 at 9:40 pm

Hungry Hobo and Country Style chocolate marshmallow malt.

Lynne Verdun · September 15, 2016 at 7:51 pm

Franks Pizza! It has been in Silvis for more than 50 years and should be considered the original QC pizza! Whitey’s and Maid Rites (although, Maid Rites originated in Muscatine, IA.).

Emily M. · May 29, 2017 at 10:39 pm

I grew up in the Quad Cities and went to high school with Jason. 😉

1. Whitey’a Ice Cream
2. Olde Town Bakery (Moline)
3. Channel Cat
4. Bettendorf/Davenport bike trail
5. Jim’s Ribs
6. Davenport Farmer’s Market
7. Botanical Center
8. Isabell Bloom
9. Maid Rite
10. Putnam Museum
11. Niabi Zoo

Unique Events:
1. Ride the River
2. Bix Race and Arts Fest
3. Bald Eagle Days
4. Beaux Arts Fest
5. John Deere Classic
6. Tug Fest
7. Festival of Trees

    Emily M. · May 29, 2017 at 10:45 pm

    And I knew I would forget a few…
    12. Happy Joe’s Pizza
    13. Rick Island Aresonal and National Cemetary (even has a confederate cemetery)
    14. Lock and Dam (tours out into the first lock and dam on the Mississippi) & watch the railroad bridge rotate.
    15. Frank’s Pizza
    16. Circa 21
    17. Comedy Sportz
    18. The Machine Shed

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