Looking for a unique hotel in Dubuque, Iowa that’s different from the rest of the standard hotels? Check out Grand Harbor Resort which sits right on the bank of the Mississippi River.
#1: 25,000 square feet of indoor water park
When my kids were little and we were going to stay overnight at a hotel – the questions were typical, “Is there a pool? How big is the pool? Do they have a hot tub?”
If that describes your kids, then you’ll want to take a look at Dubuque’s Grand Harbor Hotel.
Their expansive waterpark includes:
- Water slides
- tube rides
- lazy river
- numerous water spouts
- two large hot tubs
- Kiddie pools and multi-story tree houses
- 850 gallon bucket that drops every 8 minutes.
Be sure to check out their webpage for hours of operations as the waterparks hours vary each month.
#2 Room with a river view
The rooms at Grand Harbor Resort offer either a view of downtown Dubuque or a view of the Mississippi River – I would request a view of the river. I recently spent three nights at the Grand Harbor Resort and here’s why I loved the river view.
It’s like having a front-row seat to watch the traffic on the river. During my few days at the hotel, I saw a number of barges, riverboats, speed boats, fishing boats, and even jet skis (keep in mind, this was in Oct, I wasn’t expecting that much traffic on the river).
One evening when I returned back to the room late, I noticed a barge moving down the river. I turned the room lights off, moved the chair over to the window and sat in quietness, and watched it slowly slide down the river. As I sat in quietness and watched this, I thought about how much my kids would have loved this – they would have had their noses up to the glass window watching barges at night.
This is the Captain’s Fireplace Suite where I stayed. It included a King bed, a living room with a sleeper sofa, a kitchenette, a bathroom with a Jacuzzi, and a separate shower.
#3 Riverwalk and the Port of Dubuque
The Mississippi Riverwalk is a concrete path that is about a half-mile and takes you directly along the river between the Port of Dubuque north to the Stone Cliff Winery (housed in the old Dubuque Star Brewery building.) In 2021, it was rated as one of the top 10 river walks in the country by USA Today. Along the path, you will enjoy Art on the River, a rotating collection of public art.
Each morning, I would walk along the Riverwalk and each morning there would be a different riverboat at the port. If your kids like watching the boats from the hotel room, they will love it even more when they step out onto the riverwalk to get an up-close view of the boats as well as listen to the calliope play when they signal their upcoming departure.
Here are the riverboats that I was able to see during my morning walks along the riverwalk:
American Countess holds 245 guests who can enjoy an onboard overnight stay
American Melody – a modern riverboat that looks more like a cruise ship. There are 5 different decks and they house 175 guests
Celebration Belle a 750 passenger paddlewheel boat that predominantly does single-day cruises like Narrated Lunch Cruise, Fall Foliage Cruise, Captain’s Dinner and Dance Cruise.
Twilight Riverboat features 1 and 2 days cruises. The typical 2-day cruise is from LeClaire Iowa to Dubuque, staying overnight at the Grand Harbor Resort, then traveling back to LeClaire the next day. In fact, their 2-day package typically includes the cruise, meals, entertainment, overnight at Grand Harbor Resort and passes to the National Mississippi River Museum.
#4 National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium
It’s just a short two-minute walk over to the River Museum and its mixture of aquarium, museum, and science center.
Address: 350 East 3rd Street, Port of Dubuque, Iowa 52001
For kids, it’s typically all about two things: animals and the interactive play spaces.
One of the highlights: get your kisses from the river otters! If you hang out in front of the glass where the otters are held, they typically will follow you.
Check with them about admission costs – but typically, the admission price is valid for two days! And since you are within walking distance, you get to break up the visit into two trips or come back to let the kids redo their favorite parts!
It’s part of the new River of Innovation section of the museum that recently open and features a space where kids can create
In addition to the Museum & Aquarium, there are also other attractions within walking distance of the Grand Harbor Resort: The Diamond Jo Casino, The Cherry Lanes Bowling Center (inside the same building as the casino), the Dubuque Shot Tower, and the Stone Cliff Winery.