Cedar Rapids alone has 97 different parks which cover more than 4,100 acres of land. They include everything from athletic fields and Frisbee golf courses to off-leash dog exercise areas, trails, and playgrounds. If you are up for camping, geocaching, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, or fishing we’ve got spots for that too. There are some 100 miles of trails and more than 7,000 protected acres in all of Linn County. So what are you waiting for? Get outside and check out some of our top parks…
1. Noelridge Park
If it were surrounded by towering skyscrapers, you might consider Noelridge Park to be the Central Park of Cedar Rapids. Located on the northeast side of town, the sprawling park packs a diversity of activities within its confines. Noelridge is home to not only a splash pad, but also one of the city’s five community pools. There’s a brand new pavilion that serves as a great gathering spot as well as a brand new playground, the city’s first all-inclusive playground. Don’t miss out on a tour of the Noelridge greenhouse and gardens either, where you’ll find a variety of annuals, perennials and large tropical plants.
2. Morgan Creek Park
A stop at Morgan Creek State Park, on the west side of Cedar Rapids near Palo, is essential for tree enthusiasts. The park’s arboretum features more than 250 species of trees and shrubs and is particularly picturesque in the spring when the crab apple trees are blooming. Morgan Creek, which is managed by Linn County Conservation, has an extensive trail system and is a great winter park thanks to the groomed cross-country ski trails.
3. Bever Park
If you have kiddos, Bever Park is a must-stop adventure spot. The Bever Park pool is a great spot to cool off in the summer. There are of course several playgrounds for the kids to explore. But Old MacDonald’s Farm is the big draw in this historic wooded park on the city’s southeast side. Here kids — and kids-at-heart — can pet and feed baby goats, pigs, cows and more. And if you’re lucky there will be some cute little ducklings to spot in the pond.
4. Ellis Park
Head down near the river to take in all that Ellis Park has to offer. Located right on the banks of the Cedar, Ellis Park is home to a boat ramp and boathouse harbor. During summer evenings, you’re likely to catch a glimpse of a water ski show. Plus the park also includes one of Cedar Rapids’ city golf courses. Be sure to seek out the unique and formal Shakespeare Garden, a hidden gem in the park featuring a collection of plantings specifics to his famous writings.
5. Prairie Park Fishery
If you’re the early bird that likes to get the worm, stop by Prairie Park Fishery in southeast side Cedar Rapids. This park, featuring a 65 acre lake, is the perfect spot for fishing (or ice fishing), paddle sports and scuba diving. There’s also an ADA accessible 1.7 mile hard surface trail that loops around the lake.
6. K9 Acres Park at Squaw Creek Park
See spot run! If you are looking for an off-leash recreation spot for your pooch, K9 Acres is a popular spot. Located within Squaw Creek Park, on the outskirts of Marion right off Highway 100, K9 Acres offers 11 fenced acres (including a main off-leash yard and a small training yard) for dogs to run and socialize in.
7. Lowe Park
Another great Marion park is Lowe Park. Covering 180 acres, this newly developed green space is a gathering point for the community. The Lowe Park Arts & Environment Center hosts a variety of events and arts activities. The outdoor amphitheater is home to concerts and movie nights. Plus there’s also hard surface trails, a sculpture trail, a community garden, fishing pond and sports fields within the park.
8. Guthridge Park
Hiawatha is host to some great parks as well, including the largest: Guthridge Park. A great spot for sports, the park includes softball diamonds, baseball diamonds, lighted basketball courts, sand volleyball courts, and tennis courts. There’s a skateboard ramp, a mile-long walking trail, playground equipment and a splash pad. There’s also a band shell that plays host to a variety of concerts during the spring, summer, and fall.
9. Wickiup Hill Learning Center
For an environmental immersion, head out to Wickiup Hill Learning Center, just north of Cedar Rapids. You can experience and explore wetlands, woodlands and prairie all within the parks 650 plus acres. Walk the six miles of trails on the property. Then head to the education center to see kid-friendly exhibits on the water cycle, Native American life, and habitats. You might even encounter a live animal or two.
10. Thomas Park
As you are driving on First Avenue into Marion, you can’t miss Thomas Park. The expansive playground front and center in the park is sure to catch the eye of any adventurous kid. The park also offers volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, a bike trail, tennis courts and disc golf. In the winter, it’s a great spot for ice skating and sledding.