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Advices for a first-time traveler (Iowa / Chicago)

Aracaju, SE
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Advices for a first-time traveler (Iowa / Chicago)

Hi, everyone.

I intend to visit Iowa City in August and stay there for 3 weeks. In this period, I will drive to Chicago for a 5-day visit and have plans of visiting other places in central or eastern Iowa. Considering this, I would like to see if you can help me.

A) Which is the best way to drive from IC to Chicago? I read that I-88 has toll points. Is it easy to pay for them in cash? (once rental cars companies charges a lot for their toll-free equipments, specially for a 3-week rental).

B) For a weekend, I am considering visiting Dubuque or Davenport, because I would like to know a city that is bordered by Mississipi river. Which of them you would consider better for a 1-day round-trip with family?

C) At Iowa City, I would like to watch a Hawkeyes football game at Kinnick Stadium. I see that a single ticket $50-up in their official website. Is it the real price or I could get it cheaper if I buy it in person?

Thanks for all your help in advance!

USA
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1. Re: Advices for a first-time traveler (Iowa / Chicago)

Welcome to the Iowa forum, fernandospj!

A)There is not much difference between I-88 and I-80, take whichever you want. I-88 is probably a little shorter and quicker with lighter traffic than the I-80 route. It is easy to pay tolls with cash. Toll booths on I-88 will be well marked on the right hand side of I-88. Hand paid tolls are double the automatic I-PASS toll. Exits may have unmanned toll gates, have change ready. The auto rental company will add their own fees to any unpaid tolls.

You might want to consider parking your rental car in Princeton, Illinois and taking an Amtrak train into Chicago. Round trip train fares are $28 adult, $14 children under 12 years of age. Parking is free in Princeton, expensive in Chicago. Unfortunately, bus fares from Iowa City to Chicago were over $100 each for the dates I checked. You might check dates and prices yourself:

Amtrak: http://www.amtrak.com/home

Greyhound bus: https://www.greyhound.com/default.aspx

Megabus: http://us.megabus.com/

B) I live in Davenport, which had plenty to do, but I think that Dubuque is the best tourist city in Iowa, especially if you can afford the steep $15 adult and $10 child admission to the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium. The Fenelon Place elevator is unique and more sensibly priced. I want to arrange to see the Tiffany stained glass window in St. Luke's United Methodist Church on my next visit to Dubuque. tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g37853-Activitie…

C) I am not familiar with football ticket prices. I will try to ask around.

Aracaju, SE
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2. Re: Advices for a first-time traveler (Iowa / Chicago)

Hello, hoogo! Thanks a lot for your help. It means a lot to me.

I am still in doubt about how I'm going to Chicago. I read that, near the hotel I booked, parking fares may reach almost $60-day. That's really expensive!! But I am planning a visit to Premium Outlets at Aurora when returning to Iowa City. And as there will be 4 people on my car, maybe it would be affordable to do the whole travel by car. But it is not defined yet, so it's good to hear about other options.

Your comment gave me an idea: before going to Chicago, we could do a stop at Davenport and have lunch there before taking the I-80. Then, I would return by I-88, do some shopping at Aurora and, finally, would visit Dubuque on the next weekend. This way I would take a look on both highways, know Davenport (even if in a quick visit) and see all Dubuque's unique atractions. What do you think?

I really appreciate your attention. Thanks again!

USA
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3. Re: Advices for a first-time traveler (Iowa / Chicago)

You should definitely use I-88 for the outlets in Aurora. You may also want to post on the Chicago forum to save on parking.

Without knowing your interests, I hate to make recommendations. Some of the best "Davenport" sights are in the neighboring cities of Moline and Rock Island across the Mississippi River in Illinois. Many people like the John Deere Pavilion in Moline.

The Mississippi River Visitors Center gives information about the lock and dam system and a bit about the flora and fauna. Unfortunately it is on Arsenal Island, a US government facility. ID's will be checked, your car might be searched, and access can be denied at the whim of the guard. The nearby Rock Island Arsenal Museum has an incredible firearms collection including Native American rifles from the Battle of the Little Bighorn/Custer's Last Stand.

There are excursion boats operating from both Dubuque and Moline. To really get out on the water you might consider a Blue Heron Eco Cruise. This free cruise operates from Clinton, Iowa, upstream from Davenport. Kids especially like it. mycountyparks.com/county/Clinton/Content/Blu…

Des Moines, Iowa
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4. Re: Advices for a first-time traveler (Iowa / Chicago)

Greetings, fernandospj!

A Hawkeye football game should be very interesting for a visitor to Iowa City. Hopefully, the Hawkeyes will win! Sometimes you can buy a ticket for less than $50, especially if the other team is from far away or does not have a winning record. The Aug. 30 game is against the University of Northern Iowa, which is nearby and usually is a good team, so many people will want tickets for that game and prices may be at or close to $50.

To look for less expensive tickets, try a ticket reseller's web site such as Ebay or StubHub (there are others, too). If that does not work, on game day people sell tickets that they cannot use near the stadium along Melrose Ave. You can negotiate with ticket resellers, so it doesn't hurt to offer the seller a lower price.

If you have extra time for exploring the area, Des Moines is Iowa's capitol. We are located about 2 hours west of Iowa City. We have a wonderful market downtown on Saturday mornings that is worth a visit. We also have Living History Farms, which educates visitors about farming and rural American life during different periods in history.

Whatever you do, please enjoy your trip to Iowa!

Aracaju, SE
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5. Re: Advices for a first-time traveler (Iowa / Chicago)

hoogo,

Wow! I wish I could stay there not only for 3 weeks, but for 3 months. It's really impressive how many things I could do during this trip. I am really considering to spend a good time in Davenport/Moline before going to Chicago. The whole area looks amazing! And definitely a boat cruise is on my plans. I am amazed by Mississipi's history.

Thanks again for all that information. I will discuss them with my partners.

Aracaju, SE
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6. Re: Advices for a first-time traveler (Iowa / Chicago)

Thank you, prairiedog!

Aug. 30 I will be at Chicago, so the match I want to watch is the next one, on Sep. 6, against Ball State. A friend highly recommended going to a college football game, so I set that as a priority. I asked about the prices because my girlfriend is studying at Iowa City and her colleague told her that we could get cheaper tickets than on Hawkeye's official website. I will observe that.

I should also try Des Moines. But I hadn't had time to search better for things to do there. Visiting markets is always nice - I always do that when I travel around Brazil.

Thank you!

Iowa
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7. Re: Advices for a first-time traveler (Iowa / Chicago)

Dubuque, Davenport (Quad Cities), Iowa City, and Des Moines all offer plenty to do. Especially Des Moines, as there are tons of things to do there, as well as a huge amount of fantastic restaurants. Good shopping too. Galena, Illinois is close to Dubuque and is also a very popular tourist town.

Keep in mind Chicago is going to have a lot more to do than all of those other places combined (not to knock Iowa….we have cool stuff too). If you are unable to attend a Hawkeyes game in Iowa City there are universities in the greater Chicago area that may be playing a game. The Chicago Bears might even be playing.

Parking is going to be an issue anywhere in Chicago. People say it’s a great place to visit -- without a car. As you’ve already discovered it can be crazy expensive to park a car. Not to mention driving in Chicago is a nightmare. Traffic congestion, toll roads, construction, weather, etc., all make for some intense driving conditions at times. Fortunately the city has decent public transportation options.

- Mr. Kooz

Aracaju, SE
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8. Re: Advices for a first-time traveler (Iowa / Chicago)

Hello, Mr. Kooz.

Actually, I intend to go to Chicago by car for some reasons: wish for driving in a highway, possibility of shopping in Aurora when returning to Iowa and convenience. But I already planned, once I am there, to visit all the places on foot or by bus/metro, because of all those problems you mentioned. Going by bus still is an option, if we find very cheap tickets, but, by now, car is our choice.

I wanted to watch a Bears match, but they will play away the weekend I will be there. That's why I started to look for information about Hawkeyes, specially because my girlfriend is studying there until the end of 2014.

I will spend 5 days in Chicago and about 15 days in Iowa City, specially because I won't have to pay for a hotel. So I am really taking all advices to plan an unforgettable trip!

Thank you for everything.

Des Moines, Iowa
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9. Re: Advices for a first-time traveler (Iowa / Chicago)

I think it will be easier and less expensive to get a ticket to the Hawkeye football game against Ball State. I will wish good luck and safe travels for you!

10. Re: Advices for a first-time traveler (Iowa / Chicago)

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