Winter Activities in Iowa City for Kids

By Heather Frances J.D.
Children's hockey is available in Iowa City.
Children's hockey is available in Iowa City.

Iowa City, located along Interstate 80 in eastern Iowa, can have harsh winter weather, discouraging outdoor activities. On days when playing outside is not an option, kids can enjoy some of the area’s indoor activities, ranging from museums to special events to physical activities, to work out some of their energy.

Children’s Museum

The Iowa Children’s Museum provides a learning environment designed for families with children up to 12 years old, offering a place for parents and children to spend quality time together. Children may be so busy playing in the museum’s permanent and changing interactive exhibits that they do not realize they are learning while playing. For example, the ABC Forest exhibit, designed for preschoolers, features a 125-foot forest mural where kids can search for objects that begin with all letters of the alphabet, along with a child-sized hole in the trunk of a tree where kids can sit and read favorite books.


Iowa City does not limit pool time to the summer. The Robert A. Lee Community Recreation Center, located in downtown Iowa City, is open year-round, featuring an L-shaped pool with a 25-yard area with depths of 3 to 5 feet, a deep diving well and a wading area for children. The Mercer Park Aquatic Center, also open year-round, offers lap swim and lessons on one side of the pool and public swim, lap swim, exercise programs and lessons on the other side.

Hockey and Skating

Hockey is a popular sport in Iowa, and the Iowa City area has a youth hockey association with programs for beginners and experienced skaters. The Iowa City Coralville Hockey Association’s beginner category, called Mini-Mites, is for skaters aged 7 and under, teaching skating and hockey fundamentals. The association also offers a competitive travel hockey program for kids who want to compete against teams from other hockey associations and a non-travel program for kids who want to compete against local recreational teams. The Hawkeye Skating Club offers skating activities for kids, including coaching, competitions and skating shows.

Holiday Events

In addition to regular wintertime activities, the Iowa City area offers special holiday events. Coralville has an Aisle of Lights weekend in early December, featuring free events throughout the town and 30,000 luminaries. The luminaries, white paper sacks filled with sand and a votive candle, are donated by local businesses and displayed by area residents. The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, located in nearby West Branch, displays Christmas trees representing themes from America’s heartland and hosts the Christmas Past Celebration in early December. This celebration includes horse-drawn carriage rides, entertainment and holiday music.

About the Author

Heather Frances has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been published in law reviews, local newspapers and online. Frances holds a Bachelor of Arts in social studies education from the University of Wyoming and a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School.