9 Things You Should Know About Where Iowa Started

Travel DubuqueActive, Along the River, Budget Friendly, Cabins + Cottages, Campgrounds, Cross Country Skiing + Snow Shoeing, Events, Explore, Fall, Family Fun, Groups, Heritage, Heritage + History, Hiking + Biking, History, Meetings, Nature + Outdoors, Riverboats, Skiing + Snowboarding, Spring, Wineries, Breweries + Distilleries

Fenelon Place Elevator

From our history, changing seasons, and claims to fame, discover more about Iowa's oldest community.


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1. Dubuque was Founded in 1833

That is 13 years before the state of Iowa! The first permanent settler to the area was a French-Canadian fur trader named Julien Dubuque who befriended the Mesquakie Tribe upon his arrival. Dubuque has a unique past, from the first brewery in Iowa to the first place of worship in Iowa. (Beer lovers, rejoice!)


2. Dubuque is a small big city

57,637 people call Dubuque home. The top 3 employers of Dubuque include the Dubuque Community School District, John Deere Dubuque Works, and Mercy Medical Center.


3. There is a Three State View

Dubuque is located along the Mississippi River bordering Illinois and Wisconsin. See all three states at the world's shortest, steepest, railway, the Fenelon Place Elevator.


4. Spring is the Time to Get Outside

Dubuque comes to life in the spring. Take a hike through the Mines of Spain or watch the thawing river bustle with river traffic at Lock & Dam #11.

Tip: Visit Eagle Point Park for an elevated view of Lock & Dam #11.

Don't miss the Dubuque Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, Crystal Lake Cave, Sky Tours Zipline, or Four Mounds Ropes Course in the spring. 

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5. Summertime = Rivertime

Where can you find us on the weekends? On the Mississippi River. Rent a pontoon from American Marine, pack your towel and catch some rays on the beach at Finley's Landing, or grab a bite to eat at Catfish Charlie's riverside restaurant (complete with outdoor patio.)

Don't miss the American Lady Yacht Cruises, S.W.A.T. River Tours, or National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in the summer. 


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6. Fall is the most colorful time of year

Dubuque is blessed to have limestone bluffs that go on for miles and in the fall, these vistas turn every vibrant shade of autumn imaginable. Peak color usually takes place the weekend closet to October 10. Stroll through Iowa's longest running Farmers' Market, go pumpkin pickin' at local farms, or sip on a pumpkin spice latte. Grab your flannel and get to Dubuque this fall.

Don't miss the Fenelon Place Elevator, Czipar's Apple Orchard, or Dubuque Farmers' Market in the fall.


7. Winter is a time to chill

As the temperature drops, Dubuque's rolling hills will soon become blanketed in snow. That's when you can find us hitting the slopes at Sundown Mountain. Whether you are a novice or an expert, Sundown offers hills suitable for all levels. For activities with less velocity, consider snowshoeing at Swiss Valley Nature Preserve or cross-country skiing at Mines of Spain Recreation Area.

Don't miss the Brewfest on Ice, Sundown Mountain, or Reflections in the Park in the winter


8. Inspiration is everywhere

George R.R. Martin, famous for authoring the books in which HBO's hit series 'Game of Thrones' is base on, was a professor at Clarke University in Dubuque from 1976 to 1979. The Fenelon Place Elevator served as inspiration for some of the author's writings.


9. We've been on the big screen

Dubuque has been featured in films like F.I.S.T., Take This Job and Shove It, and Oscar nominated Field of Dreams, you can still experience the magic of the field today.

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