A Guide To The Dubuque Millwork District: The Coolest Area in Dubuque, Iowa USA!

Last Updated on May 26, 2023

There are lots of places in the USA that stand abandoned.  Once upon a time, the Millwork District in Dubuque was one of those places.  The milling factories closed up and left the brick buildings empty and unused, but not anymore!  The Millwork District is now one of my favourite places in Downtown Dubuque Iowa, featuring cute coffee shops, restaurants and taprooms!

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Millwork District Dubuque

renovations & History

Millwork District Dubuque Iowa

The old factory has been completely renovated, yet they have tried to keep as much of the old architecture as possible making it a really cool place to photograph!

As part of the Distinctively Dubuque programme I had the chance to wander around some of the upstairs Millwork District apartments and the hallways are decorated with some of the old artefacts from the factory!

millwork district dubuque shops

The Millwork District aims to create a community atmosphere with the apartments on the upper floors, office space for non profit businesses and an art studio in the basement and the ground floor is home to businesses and places to shop, such as a yoga wear store, The Midwest Girl, a gym, a gallery space (Gallery C) and a bridal shop, as well as restaurants and cafes.  The Millwork Marketplace, is a renovated space in the Millwork District with, a mini grocery store, a cocktail bar, an event centre and a comedy club.

Millwork District Dubuque

Millwork Night Market

The ‘Millwork Night Market’ is similar to the Saturday morning Dubuque Farmers Market but on a Thursday evening once a month and includes live music and local craft beer vendors as well as some of the usual weekend vendors!  They also hold the ‘Merry Millwork Market‘, the Christmas version of the night market, for one weekend at the beginning of December.  They even host their own Oktoberfest, called ‘Blocktoberfest’, where they have live music and BMX and skateboarding competitions!

Dubuque Millwork District IA


Don’t forget to check out ‘Zor Zor Zor’, one of Dubuque’s many murals and this one is located in the heart of the Millwork District!  It was one of the first murals to be completed.

Millwork District Dubuque Mural

Related Reading: 40 Things To Do in Dubuque Iowa

Millwork District Dubuque Restaurants & Bars

Here are some of my top picks of cafes and restaurants in the Dubuque Millwork District!

Wayfarer Coffee

I first discovered the Wayfarer Coffee (previously Inspire Cafe) when I found out about their English Afternoon Teas. The food is awesome and they have a huge range of teas and are always coming up with new flavours for coffee based drinks! They have special evening events throughout the month such as live music, authors and a yoga and wine night!

Inspire Cafe Dubuque

They ‘draw’ fancy designs in the top of the coffees and each is served with a chocolate covered coffee bean.  They also offer free WiFi so you’ll often see people using the Wayfarer Coffee as a work space!

Inspire Cafe Dubuque Iowa

Brazen Open Kitchen & Bar

The focal point of Brazen is that the kitchen is open so you can see the food being prepared!  Behind the scenes, the restaurant actually has no freezers!  They work alongside local farmers to bring the freshest food to the table.  They recently held a special ‘Farm to Table’ event.  They also have their own garden on the edge of Dubuque, where they grow produce to use in the restaurant!  

Sticking with the look and feel of the Millwork District, the inside has lots of exposed brickwork and dark wood furniture! Dishes are on the pricey side but are very tasty and complimentary bread and butter is served.

Brazen Open Kitchen Dubuque
Restaurants in Millwork District: Brazen Open Kitchen and Bar

Related Reading8+ Best Restaurants in Dubuque Iowa (Recommended By A Local)!

7 Hills Brewing Company

The Dubuque Millwork District is still being renovated, one block is completely finished but it’s a project that is expanding into other buildings within the area.  7 Hills Brewing Company is located on the next block along.  What makes this place special is that there’s a working brewery inside the bar and restaurant!  It has a unique ‘cooked beer’ smell and you can see the workers checking on stages of the brewing process!

7 Hills Brewing Company Dubuque Iowa

A lot of the tables are long banquet style so you may be sitting quite close to the party next door (yes I saw you leaning closer trying to listen to my accent…). You can buy a ‘Flight of 4’ beers for $7, allowing you to choose and sample several of their different beers.

They used to serve amazing Pretzel Crust Pizza, the pizza is basically cooked on a giant salted soft pretzel! It was really tasty but very filling (and I had it minus the cheese)! However their menu features more burgers and sandwiches now.

Backpocket Pin & Pixel

Dubuque Iowa Backpocket Beercade

Backpocket Brewing is based out of Coralville Iowa, but they have a Taproom location in the Dubuque Millwork District!  This fun bar now has an Beercade with over 30 vintage arcade games.  Children are allowed in the Beercade up until 9pm (I believe) which is good for families.

It’s actually located on the lower level of the Novelty Ironworks Building and be accessed though either Backpocket on via the staircase in the main building. Many of the machines take 2 quarters (a few take 4, such as the pinball machines) so it’s quite good value for money. They also have Duckpin Bowling, which is a version of bowling but with shorter lanes.

Every Tuesday Backpocket Taproom host a free trivia night (I went to a Sunday Harry Potter special)!  They have a range of craft beer on tap as well as their own root beer.  For those looking for a unique twist, you’ll find beer cocktails on the menu too! Backpack now also serve up food, mostly burgers, tacos and chicken wings.

Backpocket Taproom Trivia Night

Related ReadingA Guide To Dubuque Iowa Breweries

Practical Information for visiting the Millwork District Dubuque

The Millwork District is a little further out of the way from the main Downtown area in Dubuque.  Currently, the main part is located between 9th and 11th Street and Jackson and Washington Street.

Millwork District Dubuque Iowa
(The centre courtyard of the Millwork District Dubuque is pedestrianised)


The streets directly around the main blocks are metred, costing $0.25 for 20 minutes.  However if visiting on a Sunday (all day) or in the evening after 5pm, on street parking is free. If you are prepared to walk, there are some unmetred streets nearby. Please check for signs in case it’s a resident only area etc.

Dubuque Millwork District Novelty Ironworks Iowa USA

There is a parking ramp right opposite the Inspire Cafe (351 E 9th Street) with a flat rate of $1 per hour with a daily maximum of $10.  During special events, it is recommended to use the parking ramp as there is more space there compared to parking on the street.  You’ll also find an outdoor parking lot alongside the main garage (entrance opposite Backpocket), which is free to park in during the evenings and weekends, however it does fill up quite quickly.

Hotels in the Millwork District Dubuque

TownePlace Suites by Marriott Dubuque Downtown

🗺1151 Washington Street, Dubuque, 52001, United States

If you are looking for a hotel in the Millwork District, the TownePlace Suites by Marriott is the closest option. Guests can enjoy free parking, an indoor swimming pool, a fitness centre, a continental breakfast, an external area with a fire pit and grill and more.

Have you visited the Millwork District in Dubuque Iowa? 

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Dubuque Millwork District in Iowa USA

10 thoughts on “A Guide To The Dubuque Millwork District: The Coolest Area in Dubuque, Iowa USA!

  1. I guess your accent must really stand out in Iowa! I found the same in Missouri and Illinois, and in south Texas (when I can get them to stop trying to speak to me in Spanish, that is!). When in Chicago, people always seemed to think I was Australian, which was bizarre! But in New York I think they see so many Brits that nobody seemed to notice my accent.

    It looks like they have done a really good job regenerating this historic part of Dubuque – good to see the people getting into conservation in America rather than tearing historic things down and just building big box stores and strip malls in their place.

    1. I get asked if I’m Australian ALL the time! (Which doesn’t bother me so much, I love Australia!). I agree though, it’s weird because to us Australian’s have a really strong accent that sounds so different!

      Yeah, I really like it, maybe because it’s not just chain after chain after chain, it has some uniqueness to it!

    1. Just in the year that I’ve been living here I can see such a change already! They are definitely trying hard to breathe some new life into the area!

  2. This is great! I’ve done a walking tour of downtown, but didn’t get into the Millwork District. Will have to visit next time I go to Dubuque.

  3. I love that the city was able to renovate a building that was abandoned into such a beautiful and useful space. More towns need to follow their example.

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