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by Jessica Waytenick • September 28, 2010

Contact – Jessica Waytenick, 800-747-7800, ext. 827 or jwaytenick@visitquadcities.com

Quad Cities – From John Deere Combines and Segway tours, to studio production and cell phone tours, the Quad Cities offer an array of guided and self-guided tours that provide visitors with the opportunity to learn more about the region’s history, explore manufacturing, and to get an insider’s view of some of the area’s unique attractions.

Located on the Mississippi River in the Midwest, the Quad Cities is comprised of Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa; Rock Island and Moline/East Moline, Illinois; and surrounding communities. The population of the area is nearly a half-million people.  The Quad Cities is an easy 2½-hour drive west from Chicago, Illinois.

“Tours offer a personalized, informational, and fun way to gain insight into an area’s history, and provide opportunities to learn about little known facts,” said Charlotte Morrison, VP marketing & communications at the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau (QCCVB). 

“The Quad Cities is steeped in history because of its location along the Mississippi River.  Throughout the years, the region has attracted Native American Indians, settlers, and immigrants due to its close proximity to the river.  The contributions of these early residents lead to the development of our bustling riverfront cities, and the stories that will be retold for generations to come.”

Whether you like your tours served up by a guide, or enjoy exploring on your own, the Quad Cities offers a variety of tour opportunities that will enhance your visit and will open new doors to discovery and fun. 

Manufacturing & Production Tours

Manufacturing and production tours are just one of the ways that the story of the Quad Cities is told to residents and visitors alike.  These tours include an Isabel Bloom sculpture tour, John Deere Combine factory tour, Boetje’s Mustard tour, wine-making, and distillery tours.

For more than 50 years the sculptures of Isabel Bloom have found its place in homes and gardens throughout the United States.  Isabel studied under Grant Wood and her artistic subjects range from playful children to friendly creatures of the air, land, and sea.  Cast in concrete and hand-finished to resemble weathered bronze garden sculptures of the Victorian era, the work of Isabel Bloom has made her a Quad Cities’ icon.

Today, the creation of Isabel Bloom sculpture rests in the talented hands of designer Donna Young, Isabel's protégé and artistic collaborator since 1986. She has preserved the unique style that has survived Isabel's passing in May 2001.

The Isabel Bloom Studio Production Tour is a free, one-hour-and-fifteen minute guided tour with behind-the-scenes access to every step in the making of each Isabel Bloom sculpture.  Visitors can even offer opinions on future sculptures, and purchase exclusive sculptures available only to tour guests.

Website: www.ibloom.com

Phone:  Call to schedule tour 563-336-3766 or 800-273-5436

Address:  Production Studio, 736 Federal St. Davenport, Iowa

Hours: Tours Mon.-Thurs. 8:30 am – 4:00 pm by appointment

Admission: Free

See a John Deere Combine manufactured right before your eyes when you take a 1 ½ hour tour of Deere & Company’s largest combine factory and visitor center at John Deere Harvester Works in East Moline, Illinois.  Watch employees assemble these customized, amazing combines from beginning to end.  See them dipped in enormous vats of the iconic green paint, detailed, and rolled onto the production floor to await the turn of the key.  If you are lucky, you might just be there when the owner arrives to start up the engine. 

All guests must wear closed-toe-shoes, and the minimum age requirement is 13 years.  Tours are guided aboard golf cart-style vehicles.  Tours are subject to availability and factory production schedules.

Website: www.johndeereattractions.com

Phone: Call to reserve a spot on a tour 800-765-9588

Address: 1100 13th Ave., East Moline, Ill.

Hours: Tours Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. by appointment

Admission: Free

Available only for groups of 20 or more, the Boetje’s Mustard tour is a short, but very interesting production tour.  The simplicity of this production tour, along with the small staff that keeps things going, will amaze you.  Especially when you consider that this mustard is made, bottled, and delivered across the United States from this small manufacturing facility.  Did you know that Boetje’s Mustard has been created for over 100 years in Rock Island, and that it won the 2008 World Wide Mustard Festival – beating out Grey Poupon?

Website:  www.boetjesmustard.com

Phone: Call to arrange a tour 309-788-4352

Address: 2736 12th St., Rock Island, Ill.

Admission: Free

For a different take on production tours, how about a winery or distillery tour?  Wine lovers will enjoy Lavender Crest Winery.  Just a short drive from the Quad Cities, Lavender Crest was one of the first wineries to open in the Quad Cities region and features wine production, a wine tasting room, winery tours, gift shop, banquet center, an espresso bar, and lunches.  If you are interested in knowing how wine is made, tours are just $5 per person and reservations are required.  Group rates for 10 or more people are also available.

Website: www.lavendercrest.com

Phone: 309-912-4002

Address: 401 US Highway 6, Colona, Ill.

Creekside Vineyards Winery & Inn offers vineyard tours May through October. This is the newest winery to open in the Quad Cities and includes a Bed & Breakfast.  Enjoy the fresh air and sunshine during this outdoor vineyard tour, available May through October.  Vineyard tours are available by appointment.  Winery tours will not be available until Creekside is in full operation.

Website: www.creeksidevineyards.com

Phone:  For reservations at the B&B, call 309-787-6919. For vineyard tours and information, call 309-787-9463

Address: 7505 120th Avenue, Coal Valley, Ill.

Tour the newest addition to the Quad Cities’ tour circuit at the Mississippi River Distillery in LeClaire, Iowa.  The new distillery will give you the exciting opportunity to see vodka, gin, and bourbon whisky made from local grains.  You will also learn about the craftsmanship that goes into each bottle.  Watch how the grain is ground, cooked, fermented and then distilled, blended, and bottled.  From grain to the glass you’ll enjoy this tour which ends in the tasting room! 

Website: www.mrdistilling.com

Phone: 563-484-4342

Address: 303 North Cody Rd., LeClaire, IA

Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun. 12-5 p.m. Tours on the hour every day from 12-4 p.m.

Historic Home Tours

Your next tour begins right at the front door!  Welcome to Butterworth Center & Deere-Wiman House, the beautiful mansions that once belonged to John Deere family descendants.  Located in the historic Overlook District of Moline, Illinois, both homes offer a look into the family-life of the Deere family and the beautiful mansions they called home. 

In 1872, John Deere's son, Charles, built the Deere-Wiman House for his wife, Mary Little Dickinson Deere, and their daughters, Anna and Katherine.  The family named their Swiss Villa-style residence Overlook because of its desirable hilltop location above the growing city of Moline, Illinois, and the family business, the John Deere Plow Works.  In 1892, Charles Deere, built Butterworth Center a block from his own home as a wedding gift for his youngest daughter Katherine and her husband William Butterworth.

Both homes feature beautiful gardens that are open for viewing during daylight hours. Tours of the homes are available by appointment and on Sundays in July and August at 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm, and 4 pm.

Website: www.butterworthcenter.com

Phone: For home tours 309-743-2701

Address: 817 11th Ave. & 1105 8th St., Moline, Ill.

Hours: See website

Admission: Donations appreciated

Another interesting home to visit is the Colonel Davenport House.  Located on the Rock Island Arsenal, this was the home of Colonel George Davenport, one of Davenport, Iowa’s founding fathers.  Built in 1833, guided tours of this furnished home will reveal interesting facts about Quad Cities’ history, the famous people that visited the home, and the tragic ending for Colonel Davenport who was murdered by river bandits.

Website: www.davenporthouse.org

Phone: 309-786-7336

Hours: (Open May – Oct.) Thurs. - Sun. 12-4 p.m.

Admission: Adults $5, seniors/students $3, family $10                                                                                            

You will be amazed by the sights to be seen inside the B.J. and Mabel Palmer mansion in Davenport, Iowa.  This unique property once belonged to the founder of Chiropractics, B.J. Palmer, who traveled around the world.  Situated on the campus of Palmer Chiropractic College, this is a tour you won’t soon forget.  From amazing chess sets, Asian art and artifacts, to a one-of-a-kind organ (still in working order), and rooms that will leave you asking even more questions, this tour is something you will tell your friends and family about for years to come.   

Website: http://www.bjpalmer.com.au/bjp/mansion.html

Phone:  563-884-5714

Address: 808 Brady St., Davenport, Iowa

Hours: Tours by appointment

Admission: $5 per person

History, River Ecology, Bald Eagle Watching

Quad Cities’ history, river ecology, Bald Eagle watching and more are yours to discover!  One of the newest editions to the tour opportunities in the Quad Cities is the Quad City Segway Tour.  Enjoy this 2-hour long tour along the Mississippi River in Davenport as you glide along the scenic riverfront bike trails on a unique self-balancing, battery powered transportation unit that is designed to operate in any environment.  Using gyroscopes and sensors, the Segway is able to use human balance in its transportation methods.  Lean forward, move forward.  Lean back, move back.  Straighten up, stop.  It’s that simple!

Each tour begins with a Segway training session followed by a narrated trip with interesting historical facts and plenty of time to cruise and feel the river breeze brush across your face.  Dresses and heels are not allowed on Segway tours.  If a rider is under the age of 18, parents will need to sign a disclaimer.  A Segway has a minimum weight requirement of 100lbs. and a maximum weight limit of 300lbs.

Website: www.quadcitysegway.com (under construction)

Phone: 563-594-8839, Reservation required

Address: 102 S. Harrison St., Davenport, Iowa

Hours: Available March-October

Admission: $55 per person plus tax (Group discounts and shorter tours are available if schedule permits)

Don’t miss a fun and educational tour of Lock & Dam 15 on the Rock Island Arsenal Island?  This guided walking tour takes you right out on the Lock & Dam, and up close to one of the largest Roller Dams in the world.  You will learn about the lock and dam, the purpose of the Roller Dam, and the history behind the Government Bridge – only one of two bridges in the world whose span turns 360 degrees to allow barges through the lock and dam system.

Tours are held each Sat. & Sun. from Memorial Day through Labor Day at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and are led by representatives from the Army Corp of Engineers.  Reservations are required by calling 309-794-5338 and admission is free.  Find out more at www.missriver.org

From late December through early February, the Quad Cities welcomes an annual visitor to the banks of the mighty river, the Bald Eagle.  While you can see these magnificent eagles soaring through the sky, catching fish, and resting in trees along the riverfront, you can see more and learn more through a Bald Eagle Tour. 

Local naturalist Bob Motz has been hosting bald eagle safaris in the Quad Cities for more than 20 years.  Each tour is 2 to 3 hours in length and run a flat rate of $20.00 per hour whether one, two, three, or four people are on the safari.  You can reserve the tour for family and friends with a maximum group of four people.  Tours take place in the warmth and comfort of a van.  Larger groups in buses can be accommodated for $40.00 per hour.  

During the Eagle Safaris, high-powered spotting scopes, connected to the car window, provide excellent viewing. The spotting scopes are powerful enough to see the gold of the eagle’s eye, the nostrils in its beak, and the black talons extending from its toes.  Eagle sightings are guaranteed or your money back.  To make a reservation for an Eagle Safari, contact Bob Motz at (309) 788-8389 or e-mail him at eaglemotz@aol.com.

To learn more about the river and the region’s ecosystems, try River Action’s Channel Cat & Riverine Walks.  Available only during the summer months, these guided tours offer a variety of educational and environmental tours aboard the Channel Cat Water Taxi and at various parks and locations around the Quad Cities.  For more information, contact River Action at 563-322-2969.  The new tour schedule will be available in the spring at www.riveraction.org

Self-Guided Tours     

If self-guide adventures are more your style, there are many to choose from!  River Action offers eTours that provide a wealth of information about the history of the Mississippi River, the Quad Cities, and important architectural structures.  You can tour while walking or biking along the riverfront trails in Davenport, Bettendorf, Moline and Rock Island.  Simply scan the QR Code or type in the web address and you are linked to the information.

Newly hidden by River Action throughout the trails in the Quad Cities are a number of geocaching containers.  People can spend a few hours or a whole day finding hidden caches and recording their presence in the log book.  It’s typical for geocachers to leave behind small “treasures” that are fun to find so bring something with you to leave in the cache for the next hunter.  Each cache also ties in with the cellphone-based audio tour.  www.riveraction.org/geo

Rock Island History, Architecture and Neighborhood Tours provide you with the opportunity to learn about the City of Rock Island, Illinois, through a variety of self-guided tours in a variety of formats.  Discover the city’s colorful past, the beautiful neighborhoods, and interesting architecture!

The John Looney Legend Tour will intrigue you as you discover the history of the gangster for which the comic strip novel “Road to Perdition” was written and the movie by the same name was produced.  The tour brochure is downloadable at http://www.rigov.org/pdf/CED/brochures/Looneytourbrochure.pdf.

Drive through Rock Island’s historic Broadway District to see beautifully restored homes and to learn about the history of each home and the people that built it.  FREE downloads of .MP3 files for an audio tour is available from the website at http://www.rigov.org/citydepartments/ced/tourarchitectural.html.  Pick up a printed brochure at Rock Island City Hall, 1528 3rd Ave. (open weekdays) or the Rock Island Public Library (401 19th St.).

Rock Island also offers an Augustana College Historical Highlights Walking Tour and City of Rock Island Architectural & Neighborhood Tours.  Explore the rich architectural history of the college campus, and the neighborhood buildings that are steeped in the college’s heritage. Download the tour brochure at http://www.rigov.org/visitors/walkingtour.html

Additionally, you can select from 15 downloadable brochures for a variety of self-guided tours featuring architecture and historic neighborhoods http://www.rigov.org/citydepartments/ced/tourarchitectural.html. You can also get printed copies of these brochures at Rock Island City Hall (1528 3rd Avenue) and the Rock Island Public Library (401 19th St.).

On the Iowa side of the river in Davenport, enjoy a self-guided walking/driving tour through the Gold Coast & Hamburg District. The Hamburg Historic District lies north of downtown Davenport and encompasses over 25 square blocks. A mixture of elegant mansions and simple homes, many of the original owners were first- or second-generation mid-19th century immigrants from Germany and Schleswig-Holstein.  Walking/driving brochures for these neighborhoods are available at www.davenportgoldcoast.org

You can also take a River Pilot Walking Tour through the streets of downtown LeClaire, Iowa.  This brochure guided tour tells the story of the river pilots that maneuvered riverboats and steamboats through the treacherous rapids on the Mississippi and highlights the pilots homes located throughout the historic riverfront town of LeClaire.  Many of these historic homes now house unique shops and restaurants.  Maps are available at the LeClaire Visitor Center, 122 N. Cody Road, or online at www.visitleclaire.com.

For more information on these tour opportunities, please visit the individual websites or call the phone numbers listed in this article.  You can also call the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau at 800-747-7800 or 309-277-0937.  The QCCVB’s website www.visitquadcities.com also offers information on these tours. 

The Quad Cities is located on the Mississippi River and is made up of the riverfront cities of Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa, and Moline, East Moline and Rock Island in Illinois.  The area is just a 2-½ hour drive from Des Moines, Iowa, and Chicago, Illinois.  It is easily accessible via I-80, I-74, I-88 and several major state highways.

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Photos & Media Trips: For High-res photos or for information about media tours, please contact Jessica Waytenick at the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau at 800-747-7800 Ext. 827 or jwaytenick@visitquadcities.com

 

 

 

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