It feels to us like summer just started. But alas, the Fourth of July has come and gone, and the Labor Day sales are alerting us to the fact that this happy season is about to come to a close.
Take advantage of the few weeks we have before pumpkin spice lattes start showing up everywhere and engage in the fun, warm-weather activities Council Bluffs has to offer. From farmers markets to hiking trails, there are so many things to do around town while the sun is still high. We’ve gathered up some of our favorites here, so without further ado, here’s our Council Bluffs end-of-summer bucket list. Have fun out there!
Go to the Farmers Market
Photo courtesy of the 712 Initiative
The Farmers Market Council Bluffs pops up in Bayliss Park every Thursday evening between May and September. This lively summertime community tradition features fresh produce, baked goods and talented artists. It is a wonderful place to wind down at the end of the day, grab some last-minute farm-fresh ingredients for dinner, and support local businesses all the while. Click here to read their COVID-19 policies.
Scream for Ice Cream
We couldn’t make this end of summer checklist without including at least one of the incredible ice cream shops in the Council Bluffs area! Original owners Art and Jeanne opened Christy Creme in their front yard in 1954. Throughout its history, the shop has changed hands, but stayed in the family—one of the owners even became mayor of Council Bluffs! While they do serve food, the stars of the show are their desserts. They have everything you could possibly want from an old school ice cream shop—including our favorite, the banana split.
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Lake Manawa State Park in Council Bluffs is a popular destination for swimmers and sunbathers of all ages. The modern beach facility at Lake Manawa is a wonderful clean location to enjoy the lake — both underwater or alongside the water. There are plenty of picnic/shelter areas, trails, and other lake activity options (such as boating and fishing) in this park, so there is plenty to do during your visit! During the pandemic, officials encourage lake visitors to social distance and leave if there are too many people at the lake at one time.
Uncover Council Bluffs’ History
Council Bluffs is a town steeped in rich history. So it’s no surprise that we’re home to our fair share of monuments! On the southwest part of the city, you’ll find the Golden Spike Monument, a 56-foot golden concrete spike erected in 1930 to pay tribute to the nation’s first transcontinental railroad. There’s also the Lincoln Monument, which was built in 1911 to commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s visit to the site in 1859. And, for a stunning end to the day—head to the Lewis & Clark Monument Scenic Overlook to soak up the incredible sunset views of the Missouri River, Council Bluffs and Omaha.
This historic park features several walking trails, a playground, a plaza, a brand new splash pad and a scenic overlook of the westside of Council Bluffs and the Omaha skyline! Handicap accessible and not too far from the heart of the city, this is the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic, cool off during a hot day, or to take in the sights. Currently, Fairmount Park is open to the public, but social distancing is encouraged.
Play a Round of Disc Golf
Disc golf is a great way to spend the afternoon social distancing—and Council Bluffs has the perfect spot to play. The Treasured Cove Disc Golf Course on the Iowa Western Community College campus offers 18 holes and is accessible near The Arts Center. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, grab your frisbees and get to your nearest course!
… Or Mini Golf!
Photo courtesy of Pirate Putt
Pirate Putt is an exciting experience for all ages. The destination features two 18-hole courses that you can choose from. Each hole has its own unique challenge for you to conquer, such as warped walls, Plinko, ramps and even a spring-loaded cannon that shoots your ball onto the course. This mini-golf course is currently open with extra sanitary precautions and social distancing in place.
Go on a Public Art Scavenger Hunt
Council Bluffs is home to some truly spectacular public art sites, which you can experience on a self-guided tour! Just download the Otocast app to easily locate the Iowa West Public Art Sites and follow the map to Bayliss Park, Big Mo, Circus, the Haymarket Rabbits, Interstate and plenty more inspired art installations around the city. How many can you see before the summer ends?
Try Your Hand at Pickleball
Photo courtesy of Unleash Council Bluffs
If you’re looking to get into a new sport—head to Iowa West Pickleball! This new indoor, six-court facility offers tons of fun for the whole family. Right now, they are only allowing visitors with reservations to play due to the pandemic. To reserve the court for two hours, it’s only $5 per player. They are also implementing a 15-minute window between sessions, to give visitors the chance to vacate the area. They also ask that you bring your own pickleball and paddles.
The new Hoff Family Arts & Culture Center has become the home base for many of Council Bluffs’ beloved arts communities. It is now the permanent home to the Chanticleer Community Theater and the Kanesville Symphony Orchestra. They also have classrooms for arts classes, artist studios, art galleries and more. During the pandemic, they are continuing to put on shows with very limited seating to allow for social distancing. Click here to see their current itinerary. But if you’d rather just explore all of the local exhibits, you can also make a reservation for gallery hours here.
Take a Hike
Photo courtesy of the Hitchcock Nature Center
Council Bluffs is home to stunning sights, trails and parks that are open for you to explore all year long. With Iowa’s prized Loess Hills right in our backyard, we are just steps away from some of the greatest hiking and vistas along the Missouri River. Take advantage of everything Council Bluffs has to offer by taking a hike before summer ends! Head to the Wabash Trace Nature Trail, a 63-mile rail-trail perfect for a quick day hike, or the Hitchcock Nature Center, which offers both easy ridgeline walks and difficult climbs along the rugged terrain.
Enjoy the Rest of the Season!
And try not to be too sad when it’s over. After all, fall in CB is pretty great, too!
What are your favorite things to do in Council Bluffs during the summertime? Let us know in the comments.