by Katie Mills Giorgio
If your summer travel plans have you staying close to home, never fear. The Main Street Districts of Linn County have a whole host of options to keep you feeling relaxed, entertained and perhaps even transported to another place. Check out these awesome stops…
Uptown Marion Main Street District
If you are looking to plan a night on the town, then look no further than Uptown Marion. The glowing light show of art in the Uptown Artway Alley will be the perfect backdrop
for a unique evening. Start with dinner at the famous Zoey’s Pizzeria. Each slice, with an extra-long cheese pull, is delightful, as is the atmosphere at the long-established pizza parlor. You definitely shouldn’t pass up the warm gooey Zookie (skillet chocolate chip cookie topped with ice cream) for dessert. From there, head to Giving Tree Theater to enjoy a one-of-a-kind immersive live theater experience. Local actors will bring a show to life on the stage while you watch from the comforts of cozy, vintage couch seating. After the curtain drops, take a stroll through the dynamic lights of the Uptown Artway Alley to Uptown Snug for drinks. You can opt to sit inside the Historic Memorial Hall or lounge on the patio enjoying the summer breeze while overlooking the art. Either way, you’ll have a distinctly fantastic evening out all without traveling too far from home.
Mount Vernon Main Street District
Antiquing is the name of the game when it comes to visiting Mount Vernon. It’s the kind of town that carries a torch for the past and visitors are regularly astounded at the historic treasures they come across. A variety of antique shops offer the opportunity to pick up unique items from a by-gone era that have been passed down and preserved, and sometimes even upcycled. Stop by Alice’s Wonderland (117 2nd Ave NW) where you’ll find antiques, industrial salvage, vintage décor, mixed media art supplies and a large selection of jewelry components and beads. There’s usually a couple of shop cats wandering around as well. A few blocks away you’ll find Polly Ann’s Vintage Market (103 A Ave SE), another whole house filled with antique treasures, vintage collectibles, repurposed items, and kitchen and home furnishings. Inside The Shops at First Brick, you’ll find some antiques and vintage prints as well as stunning works — many beautiful landscapes — by local artists. Don’t forget to buy a bag of owner Ann Booth’s famous shortbread cookies either. After a long day of shopping, you can kick back and relax in Mount Vernon’s vintage Bijou Theater (123 2nd St SW). With just one screen and 100 seats — which have been upgraded for comfort — you’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time for a good old-fashioned night at the movies.
Czech Village-New Bohemia Main Street District
If you didn’t budget for flights to Europe this summer, don’t fret. You can experience a bit of the Czech Republic without ever leaving Cedar Rapids. Immerse yourself in rich
culture with a tour of the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (1400 Inspiration Pl SW). The permanent and changing exhibitions are world-class and offer an opportunity to step into history and learn about the Czech and Slovak experiences at home and abroad. After touring through the museum, stop into the Czech Cottage to appreciate the beauty of the cut glass and stunning jewelry imported from the Czech Republic. There’s also lots more retail stops to exp
lore both in Czech Village and across the river in NewBo. The Health Hut (83 16th Ave SW) is a shop that is newer to Czech Village, despite the fact that they’ve been serving customers in Cedar Rapids for 75 years. They offer a variety of vitamins and supplements to keep you feeling like you are in tip-top shape. Over in NewBo, swing by Moss. Located inside the NewBo City Market (1100 3rd St SE), this shop offers an interesting array of plants for sale and is a great spot to gather ideas and supplies for creating your own terrarium. Drop by the Cherry Building (329 10th Ave SE) next and stop in Illuminations Center for Enlightenment. Besides having the opportunity to enjoy a massage, a yoga class or holistic energy work, you can also shop for candles, gems, jewelry, books and other metaphysical products. And don’t miss checking out RAYGUN (1028 3rd ST SE), the self-proclaimed “greatest store in the universe”. Here you’ll find quippy t-shirts, postcards, mugs and more with distinctly Midwestern sayings.
Central City Mainstreet District
Central City is a great weekend getaway spot when you are looking for some outdoor adventures. Set up camp at Pinicon Ridge Park, which is not too far from the heart of the district. You can pitch a tent, bring a camper or rent one of the park’s cabins for the weekend. Of course, the park is full of all sorts of fun activities including fishing, paddle boating and canoeing. A biking/hiking trail leads you along the Wapsipinicon River right into town where you can grab a bite to eat or the kids can play at the local splash pad. You can also get in a quick nine-hole round of golf at the Meadowview Golf Course and Country Club. You’ll feel relaxed and in touch with the great outdoors thanks to all Central City has to offer.