Gay Cedar Rapids & Iowa City
Only an hour's drive from Des Moines, Iowa’s second largest metropolitan area provides a variety of activities for visitors. This regional center for arts and culture is home to the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, the Paramount Theatre, and the Theatre Cedar Rapids. One of the oldest and most prestigious symphony orchestras west of the Mississippi is to be found here with Orchestra Iowa. See Cultural Corridor for the activities of over one hundred members, representing a spectrum of arts and cultural organizations in the region.
Iowa City + Beyond
This nearby college town (University of Iowa), originally built to be the state capital (the government moved to Des Moines in 1876), has been acclaimed from several perspectives: City of Literature (UNESCO); 3rd Best Small Metropolitan Area in the USA (Forbes Magazine); and it ranked high in a list of "Gayest Cities in America" compiled by the Advocate, in 2010. Iowa City Pride takes place each year in mid-June.
Iowa City also has many cultural offerings, and a strong literary history. The city is home to the Iowa Writers' Workshop, with many prominent graduates; a Non-Fiction Writing Program; Playwrights' Workshop; Summer Writing Festival; and a Nobel Peace Prize-nominated International Writing Program. The 49 authors and playwrights honored by bronze relief panels in the Iowa Avenue Literary Walk, all have ties to Iowa.
Iowa City Summer of the Arts events include a jazz festival, a festival of the arts, open-air movies, and free Friday concerts in the Pedestrian Mall. There have been no recent announcements concerning the Landlocked Film Festival, which had taken place each August at the Englert Theatre, the grandest performing arts venue in downtown Iowa City. See alternative Iowa film festivals at the Travel Iowa website.
The Bijou Theatre is a student-run art house cinema that screens foreign and classic films, many with gay themes, at 123 2nd St SW, in Mount Vernon, IA, the home of Cornell College, east of Cedar Rapids.
In Davenport, an hour to the east, the University of Iowa Figg Museum of Art has one of the leading university art collections in the country. Their diverse collections include: paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, photographs, ceramics, textiles, jade, and silver; European paintings by Braque, de Chirico, Kandinsky, Léger, Marc, Matisse, Picasso, and Vlaminck; significant collections of African art; nearly 6,000 prints spanning the history of Western printmaking; American studio ceramics; Pre-Columbian objects; a significant ancient Chinese collection; ancient Etruscan and Roman art; and Native American ledger drawings. Temporary and traveling exhibitions are hosted at their Black Box Theater at the Iowa City campus IMU.
The University of Iowa Museum of Natural History explores 500 million years of Iowa's geological, cultural, and ecological history, and has an extensive collection of birds, mammals, and Native American artifacts.
Gay Cedar Rapids & Iowa City
The gay community in the two cities is not large, even combined, but it is enthusiastic and well organized. The Cedar Rapids Gay Pride Fest is held the first week of July. See the website of the Cedar Rapids G & L Resource Center for city information. Iowa City Pride takes place each third weekend of June parade and festival, and more events throughout the year.
About 5 miles outside Cedar Rapids, the compact Eastern Iowa Airport, served by five major airlines, has a surprising number of flights, mostly from other Midwest cities. CR Transit bus number 11 operates to downtown every 30-60 minutes between 5:44am and 6:44pm, Monday - Friday; just 9 times on Saturday until 4:39. There is no bus on Sundays. Shuttle services operate from the airport to destinations in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Eastern Iowa points. Finding fellow travelers to form a group for your final destination will spread the cost.
Alternately, you can fly into the much larger Des Moines International Airport and rent a car.
You’ll want a car to get around, especially if you’re visiting other parts of the state, but the website of CR Transit has schedule and route info for the local Cedar Rapids bus company. For Iowa City public tranportation see the Iowa City Transit pages of the City of Iowa City website.
Media & Resources
See Downtown IC for Iowa City listings and events online.
For map locations and website links to the businesses below, and more, see our Cedar Rapids - Iowa City gay listings pages.
Cedar Rapids Nightlife
Belle's Basix (3916 1st Ave NE), entertainment variety, open stage drag shows, karoake, bingo, open daily from 5pm, dancing, undies nights, wet boxer contests, theme party nights.
CLOSED: Club CO2 (616 2nd Avenue SE), LGBT nightclub, TV sports, drag, strippers, karaoke, bingo.
Iowa City Nightlife
Studio 13 (13 South Linn St), Tuesday - Sunday 19+ gay dance club, open stage drag kings and queens shows, karaoke, retro nights, theme parties.
The Java House (211 E Washington St) popular Iowa City gay-friendly cafe and hang-out, with live music several nights of the week.
Iowa City Accommodations
Golden Haug (517 East Washington St; 319-354-4284), the Brown Street Inn (430 Brown St; 319-338-0435), and Bella Vista B&B (2 Bella Vista Pl; 319 338-4129) are three gay-owned or gay-friendly guesthouses in Iowa City.
Adult Shop (5539 Crane Ln NE), the main Cedar Rapids retail store for adult magazines, videos and accessories; arcade, cruising.
Artifacts (331 E Market St; Iowa City) an antique store gem, small but packed with unusual vintage items.
Prairie Lights Books (15 South Dubuque St; Iowa City) three-floor bookstore and coffeehouse; home to the readings series of up-and-coming and well-established authors & poets from around the world, heard on Iowa Public Radio. Archive recordings can be heard at the University of Iowa Library website.
Romantix Adult Boutique (315 Kirkwood Ave; Iowa City) adult toys, oils, lingerie, lotions, and adult XXX DVDs.
Hole in the Wall Men's Club (Galesburg, Illinois) is the closest gay men's sauna to Iowa City, about 110 miles east, across the Mississippi River. Amenities include: Workout room with free weights, second floor play pen, Infrared dry heat saunas, large steam room, relaxation areas and hot tub.