2020 has proven to be a very uncertain year, especially for vacation planning. You can still enjoy a getaway without traveling far with a short road trip to Council Bluffs! 

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UNcover Our Railroad History & Art Scene

All Aboard! 

Council Bluffs is proud to be 'Mile 0' of the Transcontinental Railroad and home of the "greatest railroad builder of all time," General Grenville M. Dodge. Immerse yourself in all things train by spending a day visiting our railroad museums and monuments. Learn all about the history of the American railroad at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum, learn more about General Dodge at the Historic General Dodge House, see trains up close at RailsWest Railroad Museum, and make a stop at the Golden Spike and Lincoln Monument

Our railroad museums were temporarily closed following health guidelines but are now beginning to reopen for the summer season. The Historic General Dodge House reopens with regular business resuming on July 1. The Union Pacific Railroad Museum and RailsWest Railroad Museum will announce reopening dates soon. 

Public Art

Iowa West Foundation piece Molecule Man outside the Mid-America Center

UNique pieces of art are found throughout Council Bluffs. Visit the Hoff Family Arts and Culture Center, snap a photo with all of our UNsculptures, visit our Eagle of Honor, and check out our newest mural, a photographic collage representing current and historic times in Council Bluffs. Plan out your art tour with a full list of our public art pieces

In addition, the Iowa West Foundation has 12 large-scale works of art in various places in town. Use the Otocast app for a self-guided tour of all the pieces. 

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Take in UNbelievable Sights at the Zoo & on Bob the Bridge

Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge offers gorgeous views day or night.

If you are wanting to cross the Missouri River and visit our Omaha neighbors, start by stopping at the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. This bridge is lovingly known as Bob the Bridge! The 3,000 foot-long and 15 foot-wide bridge connects Council Bluffs and Omaha across the Missouri River. Walk across and enjoy Bob's evening light show. Be sure to go "bobbing" by striking a pose and snapping a photo when you reach the state lines that meet in the middle of the bridge. 

Once you’re in Omaha, visit the world-famous Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium! The zoo reopened with some modifications on June 1. For the time being, the zoo is open as an outdoor walk-through, and reservations must be made in advance. 

Though you'll miss some animal friends that live indoors, all outdoor exhibit animals will still be ready to greet you, including giraffes and elephants, cheetahs and lions, sea lions, and an adorable red panda and his friends in the Asian Highlands exhibit.

After your zoo exploration, check out Omaha's Old Market in downtown for dinner. There you'll find a variety of restaurants, shops, art galleries, and even horse-drawn carriage rides. 

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UNleash Your Appetite at a CB Restaurant

Cheers at 712 eat + drink

Council Bluffs' restaurant scene has boomed in recent years, with fantastic new restaurant and bar openings — many with a focus on scratch-made meals and/or locally sourced ingredients like 712 eat + drink, Caddy's Kitchen & Cocktails, and Lincoln's Pub. You'll want to try local favorites like Barley's, Primo's Mexican RestaurantLegends Cafe, and Pizza King. And be sure to stop by newly opened Full Fledged Brewing Company

For a full taste of Council Bluffs' nightlife, visit the Historic 100 Block where many of these restaurants reside along with fun bars like The BLK Squirrel, themed after Council Bluffs' unique black squirrel population. 

There are so many great dining options, we'd list them all if we could. Check out our full list of restaurants in Council Bluffs and take your pick. You can also visit our blog for more detailed dining ideas. 

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Take a Lap on Our UNbeatable Trails & Join the Taco Ride

One of Hitchcock Nature Center's many trails.

Council Bluffs is home to 41-miles of continuous trails just waiting to be ran, biked, and walked on. Exercising outdoors is a low-risk activity (in regards to coronavirus safety) and a great way to see Council Bluffs. Walk around Lake Manawa or venture just outside of town to Hitchcock Nature Center for some fantastic hiking spots and breathtaking views, especially from Hitchcock's 45-foot tall HawkWatch tower. Check out our blog for things to do at the center throughout the year. 

If you're in town on a Thursday evening, you can join locals on their Thursday Taco Rides on the Wabash Trace Nature Trail. This seasonal (spring to late fall) 20-mile round trip ride winds through the countryside and the Loess Hills, with a single destination in mind before the trek back: tacos at Tobey Jack’s Mineola Steak House. If you aren't here on a Thursday, you can ride on the Wabash any day and enjoy a delicious meal at Tobey Jack's! 

If exercise isn't your thing, you can still enjoy the outdoors with a beautiful drive along the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway. The 220-mile paved highway offers views of a unique land formation, only found elsewhere at its height in China. The hills are uniquely made up of windblown soils with steep, sharp ridges. It's a sight you won't want to miss after so many months of staying indoors. 

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UNleash Your Luck at Our Casinos

Ameristar Casino and Hotel houses their casino games on the largest riverboat in Iowa.

Council Bluffs is home to three casinos: Ameristar, Harrah's, and Horseshoe. All three casinos offer slot games, table games, and now sports betting. 

Due to health guidelines, Ameristar and Horseshoe Casino are currently open but with modifications to their games. Harrah's is temporarily closed but is accepting reservations at their hotel for July. Contact each casino directly for updates on their policies during the dates of your trip. 

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UNreal Hotel Packages!

Save money by booking your trip with one of these UNbeatable hotel packages! We look forward to seeing you in CB soon. 

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This post was originally published on May 30, 2020 on the Unleash Council Bluffs blog.