116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Think winter along the Mighty Mississippi is time to hibernate? Visit Quad Cities invites you to think again.
The Quad Cities straddling the river offer up plenty of reasons to thaw that attitude, from looking at the sky to crunching on the snow underfoot.
Bald eagles, which I never saw growing up downstream near Burlington, make for a majestic sight in flight or when fishing for their next meal. And yes, we are lucky enough to see eagles along the Cedar River, too, but this weekend marks the Midwest’s largest celebration of this bird that has been swooping in as our national symbol since 1782.
Bald Eagle Days
From Jan. 7 to 9, the QCCA Expo Center, 2621 Fourth Ave., Rock Island, Ill., will serve as headquarters for Bald Eagle Days. Thousands of people reportedly flock here, and this year, they’ll see live eagle programs, live bird of prey demonstrations, more than 100 display booths, and a 20-foot climbing tower.
For outdoor views, free shuttles will take people from the event center to the spotting scopes the Quad City Audubon Society has set up at Rock Island’s Sunset Marina. Up to 2,500 bald eagles winter along the Mississippi near the lock and dams.
For fun facts, prime viewing spots each December through February, eagle etiquette and a link to Bald Eagle Days, go to visitquadcities.com/get-outdoors/bald-eagle-watching
Across the river, chain saws will be flying through the ice at the Freight House, 421 W. River Dr. in Davenport, for the ninth annual, free Icestravaganza from Jan. 14 to 16.
Professional ice sculptors will carve giant, interactive zoo animals out of 24,000 pounds of ice, with their finished creations going on display by 5 p.m. Jan. 14. Viewing has been expanded to three days, to encourage physical distancing, and visitors are asked to wear masks.
Light will dance through the sculptures each night from dusk through 10 p.m. on the boardwalk or through a new feature, a drive-thru display on Beiderbecke Drive in LeClaire Park, across from the Freight House.
Other features include an ice carving demonstration in-person and on Facebook from 11 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m. Jan. 15.
Farmers market vendors will sell their wares from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 15 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 16; local beer and food also will be sold. A warming station with free hot chocolate and a fire pit will fire up on the outdoor patio at the Freight House during the ice carving competition and from 5 to 6:30 p.m. all three viewing days.
Warm yourself from the inside out Jan. 29 during AntiFreeze, an outdoor cocktail party from 2 to 5 p.m. at Mississippi River Distilling Co. in LeClaire.
The event includes hot cocktails, a mac and cheese bar, ice luge shots game, a s’mores roast, set to the polka beat of the Musik Krauts. Dress for the event, and vie for prizes for the best snuggie and winter hat.
Tickets are $30 at mrdistilling.com
Frozen Fat Fondo Fest
Hard-core bikers will find 10 mountain biking trails to test their mettle. Regular mountain bikes will roll across frozen ground, but you’ll need fat tires to improve stability and grip on snow. Find winter biking trail suggestions at visitquadcities.com/plan-your-trip/insiders-blog/winter-biking-in-the-qc.
Friends of Off-Road Cycling will celebrate the season Jan. 29 with the Frozen Fat Fondo Fest on Davenport’s Credit Island. This endurance ride will test solo riders and three-person teams on a challenging circuit through thick lowland forest and chunky river shoreline. Fat bikes must have tires 3.5 inches or wider to prevent ruts in the snowpack. Registration is $20, open until noon Jan. 28 at qcforc.org.
Those who like to keep their feet closer to the ground will find trails groomed for classic- and skate-style cross-country skiing at Crow Creek Park and Palmer Hills Golf Course in Bettendorf. Other golf courses that might have skied-in trails include Duck and Emeis in Davenport and Saukie in Rock Island. Palmer Hills Golf Course in Bettendorf also rents cross-country skis, boots and poles.
Those who prefer to ski off the beaten path can create their own trails at Black Hawk State Historic Site, Loud Thunder Forest Preserve and Scott County Park — popular sites for hiking or snowshoeing, too. Information: Go to visitquadcities.com and search under cross-country skiing.
Snowstar Extreme Sports
Have the need for speed? Head to Snowstar Extreme Sports in Andalusia, Ill., for downhill skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing and ice skating.
This 28-acre site features 15 trails and the Terrain Park freestyle area boasting more than 40 jumps, rails and boxes for all levels. Four ski lifts, two magic carpet tows, and a tow rope will get you back to the top. Cold and hungry? Head to the expanded warming hut and new snack trailer at the tubing hill, or to the eatery and bar.
At the entrance, access the new ticket booth from your car or register online for lift tickets, rentals and waivers. Information: 1- (800) 383-4002 or skisnowstar.com
If sledding is more your speed, find a list of the area’s Top 10 sledding hills at visitquadcities.com/plan-your-trip/insiders-blog/favorite-quad-cities-sledding-hills
Or lace up your skates at the Frozen Landing Family Ice Skating Rink, 2222 Middle Rd., Bettendorf. The facility, suitable for all ages and abilities, is open daily. Admission is $3, and skate rental is $2 for kids and adults. If you work up an appetite, head to the concession stand. Details: bettendorf.org/departments/ and click on the rink’s link.
Comments: (319) 368-8508; firstname.lastname@example.org