Because of geographical location of Dubuque Iowa, there are plenty of opportunities to get ‘up high’ and experience some of Dubuque’s vantage points! Sitting along the banks of the Mississippi River, it is possible to see 3 States (Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin) at once from the majority of these viewpoints!
Mines of Spain
My favourite trail is the Horseshoe Bluff but if you’re looking for one with great views, you should head for the Julien Dubuque Trail to see the Julien Dubuque Monument! There’s a car park just a short walk from the monument or you can park in the lower car park and take a longer trail up through the woods.
Looking in this direction you are greeted with views across the Mississippi River and over Illinois! With your back to the monument, looking back up the river, you can see the spread of Downtown Dubuque! This trail is popular for a good reason!
Eagle Point Park
Another river side view point is from Eagle Point Park. This park is located on top of the bluff at Lock and Dam 11 and got its name for being a good spot to watch eagles during their migration! There are several ‘levels’ of parking spaces throughout the park, however for the best views head to the large parking area next to the Riverfront Pavilion (this pavilion was constructed in 1910)! The riverwalk was created in the 1950s and is popular amongst visitors. The Mines of Spain is more of a ‘wild’ natural/hiking space, whereas Eagle Point Park is more like a garden with mowed grass and flower beds.
It’s a place where you can hang out, have picnics and enjoy the views. For younger visitors, there are plenty of play areas to let off some steam!
As strange as it sounds. I knew Linwood Cemetery would have great views…even though my first visit was at night! I went on a haunted history walk around the cemetery and just had to return in the daytime because in the pitch black I could just sense that it would be an impressive sight to see!
The cemetery opened in 1870 and the site is so big, they reckon that there’s enough space for over 1000 years more worth of burials. The best view can be found at the far side of the park in at area of cremation plots. It looks out over Downtown Dubuque (even at night all the city lights look pretty!)
It may sound a little morbid but cemeteries are actually really interesting places to visit (I’ve come across a few on my travels!). Linwood is home to a whole range of different headstones and mausoleums. For example, the ‘Woodmen of America’ used to provide headstones to their members ‘free of charge’, during the early 1900’s. These particular headstones are in the shape of tree trunks and stumps and the Linwood Cemetery has a few of these dotted around!
Fenelon Place Elevator (4th Street Elevator)
You can’t talk about Dubuque Iowa and not mention the 4th Street Elevator, it claims to be the shortest, steepest funicular railway in the world! You can drive to the top located on Fenelon Place (where the views are!) but there’s no fun in that! Between April and November I would recommend parking on 4th Street (the Bluff Street end) and spending $3 on a return adult ticket to ride the railway to the top!
From the top you can see 3 States (Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois), the bridge in the image above is the Illinois border!
The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium
It’s not actually advertised on the website, but there’s an observation deck at the Mississippi River Museum! Find the elevator/lift that’s next to the gift shop and there’s a button that says observation deck. The elevator will only take you up so far, there’s then a short staircase to the top. The deck is a square glass room giving you 360 degree views of Downtown Dubuque, the Mississippi River and the harbour alongside the museum. Obviously this is one of the more expensive viewpoints as you will need a ticket to the museum to access it. But that’s no hardship, the River Museum makes for a cool visit! You can read more in my post about my favourite things to see at the River Museum in Dubuque!
Sundown Mountain Resort
Say what?! A mountain? In Iowa? Ok, so it’s not really a mountain but Dubuque does in fact have its own ski resort and the view from the top is pretty nice, especially at sunset! Being a ski resort it is seasonal, so it’s more of a winter viewpoint! I went to Sundown to learn to ski, but they also have live music at the ski lodge on certain nights through the season. In March they hold a Snocross (snowmobile racing) event so it is possible to visit without having to strap on some skis!
Dubuque Hotels with river view rooms
The closest hotel to the Mississippi River is the Grand Harbor Resort and Waterpark. They have both river view rooms and ones that face the Downtown District. The hotel also has an indoor waterpark, making it a huge attraction for families with young kids (or big kids…I’ve been to the waterpark twice and stayed at the hotel once). It’s right next to the Mississippi River Museum, so the views are fairly similar to the ones you can see there.
Another hotel worth noting is the Hotel Julien, it sits slightly further back from the Mississippi on Main Street but still has great views! I stayed in a room on the 7th floor (the top) and this was the view from my room, overlooking the harbour and the William M Black barge (which you can take a tour of at the River Museum).
*Side Note* Not in Dubuque as such, but Timmerman’s Supper Club in East Dubuque in Illinois (just across the bridge in the photo above) has great views! I’ve been for their Sunday Brunch a couple of times!
If you’re after more Mississippi River views further afield (after all the Mississippi is a pretty long river!) you can check out my photo essay of Midwest Mississippi views in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri!
Have you got any others to add to the list?