Visit Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Garden by FlowerChick.com

Welcome to our latest “Visiting Midwest Gardens” feature as we spotlight an eastern Iowa destination and visit Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens in Dubuque Iowa!

FlowerChick, Dubuque, Iowa Gardens

Picturesque Dubuque Botanical Gardens & Arboretum

Have you ever been to Dubuque? Whether your answer is “yes” or “no” we hope this feature inspires you to do so. Situated along the great Mississippi River in northeast Iowa, Dubuque is a popular day trip and weekend destination.
Let’s discover why!

This small city of just less than 60,000 offers the best of both worlds … a small town vibe along with larger city conveniences. Add in beautiful scenic sites, family friendly attractions, and a vibrant dining and entertainment scene and it’s easy to see why Dubuque appeals to visitors of all ages …

We’ve been visiting Dubuque every couple of years since the mid 1980’s. Over the last few decades, the city has re-energized and evolved into a destination for visitors and businesses alike. As long time visitors, we share in the city’s pride! And we love to spotlight our many Dubuque favorites … especially when we visit Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens …

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Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens: An Introduction

The Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is a must see when visiting eastern Iowa. This Hawkeye state gardening Zone 5 gem features over 60 types of gardens ranging from roses, hostas, English style, Japanese, herbs and more spread among 56 acres …

The Gardens date back to 1980 and you’ll find them on Dubuque’s northwest side just 10 minutes from downtown. Amazingly, the Gardens are managed entirely by volunteers and admission is free!

Dubuque Botanical Garden by FlowerChick.com

                   Colorful Perennial Gardens Abound

An integral part of the Dubuque community, the Gardens are a popular setting for weddings, special events, and the popular summer “Music In The Gardens” series. This ongoing community event is co-sponsored by the Dubuque Arts Council. The concerts attract visitors from the Tri State area for Sunday evening enjoyment June through August …

When you visit, you’ll notice continual enhancements and improvements each successive year. The Welcome Center and Gift Shop were recently remodeled. Help the Gardens grow with a tax deductible annual membership which includes gift shop discounts and the quarterly “Ground Cover” newsletter …

Visit Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

Visit Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

Hosta Gardens: Dubuque Botanical Gardens

The hosta shade garden contains over 1,200 varieties of this shade loving perennial. It’s one of the largest collections of hostas in one place anywhere! Stroll around and take in their beauty and the entertaining names: Bam Bam Blue, Striptease, Praying Hands and Curly Fries …

Gorgeous Dahlia in Full Bloom

If you are able to visit in the spring, make sure to visit the garden’s seven peony beds. Some of the plants are rare, and many of them are award winning specimens …

In the summer, the roses and dahlias steal the show – you’ll see them blooming in all their glory … I spotted several that I wrote down the names so I could plant in my garden!  They’re beautifully tended as is the entire Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.

This special place has more then twenty-six established perennial gardens maintained each year by volunteers who adopt those gardens. Talk about tender loving care!

In keeping with the mission statement of the arboretum as “a source for information and education,” the gardens are planted to provide interest throughout all growing seasons. In addition, their goal is to continually introduce new perennials into the gardens to foster diversification.

Best Roses For Zone 5 Gardens … Click Here!

10 Can’t Miss Dubuque Favorites

Well, 11 actually counting the Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens!

Anyway … here are 10 of our other favorites in this eclectic Mississippi River city. As you’ll see, this list spotlights a little bit of everything, from a wonderful place to stay in the heart of downtown to Dubuque’s oldest bar. The biggest challenge with this list is limiting it to ten!

Here’s the list – it’s our hope these places soon become some of your Dubuque favorites too. The title of each listing links to their web presence or interesting related article. So in no particular order, here we go:

Betty Jane's Candies Dubuque Iowa by FlowerChick.comBetty Jane Candies: Dating back to 1938, this is Dubuque’s best known purveyor of chocolates, caramels, and candies …

Chosen as Iowa’s top culinary gift by People Magazine, Betty Jane’s is best known for their Chocolate Gremlins. They’re a spectacular combination of chopped pecans, caramel, and chocolate. Once you try them, you’ll be back for more! Assortments, special gift packages, and house made chocolate snack items are also available …

Betty Jane’s is located on Asbury Road just a few minutes west of Loras College. If you stop in near the lunch hour, right across the street is local favorite Denny’s Lux Club. a great spot for lunch or a few casual drinks …

Julien’s Breakfast Blend Medium Roast Coffee – Made In Dubuque – Click Here

Copper Kettle Dubuque FlowerChick.comCopper Kettle: This easy going casual chic restaurant and bar on Dubuque’s north side doesn’t take itself too seriously … and that’s one reason we like it so much …

Comfortable yet lively, Copper Kettle is located on Jackson Street, a block east of north White Street / Route 52 just five minutes from the heart of downtown. The space used to house a long standing north end Dubuque coffee shop / diner and the current owners beautifully retro fitted a stylish front bar and approachable menu. Copper Kettle is now one of the most popular dining choices in the city …

If you’re just in the mood to hang out with a few drinks, Copper Kettle’s front bar is the perfect choice. You’ll overlook the front entrance and an architecturally impressive former brewery structure across the street. The restaurant in fact drew inspiration for its name from the former brewing kettles in the brewery …

Copper Kettle’s menu is inventive and familiar at the same time. Comfort food choices like broasted chicken and bacon wrapped meatloaf tempt along with creative entrees like roasted cauliflower hangar steak and pretzel crusted Iowa pork chop. A full selection of burgers, fresh salads, and home made soup of the day are waiting for you too!


Drinks At The River’s Edge … And A Great Place To Stay Downtown

Dubuque Yardarm FlowerChick.comYardarm Riverfront Bar & Grill: Open seasonally from mid April to late October, this is our favorite casual riverfront bar / grill in Dubuque …

The Yardarm is part of the Dubuque Marina complex just north of downtown along the Mississippi. Just five minutes from downtown, it’s a great place to unwind and relax with a few friends and a few cocktails. A bar and grill menu is served and there’s frequent live entertainment. You’ll never wait long for a drink – there are a couple service bars within the Yardarm to keep things humming along quickly and smoothly …

Yardarm Dubuque by FlowerChick.comBest of all, you get a front row riverfront view seat! You couldn’t pick a better place to drop anchor on a warm sunny summer Dubuque afternoon …

Hotel Julien FlowerChick.comHotel Julien: When you enter Dubuque from Illinois (over the river), you’ll see the impressive Hotel Julien on your right in the heart of downtown. We’ve stayed many nights in Dubuque over the decades, but the Hotel Julien can’t be beat for location, charm, amenities, and value …

You’re steps away from everything downtown at the Hotel Julien. The hotel is walking distance from most attractions. The rooms are spacious, clean, comfortable, and won’t break the bank. The hotel’s ground floor features the acclaimed Caroline’s Restaurant and the Riverboat Lounge, which offers free live music most evenings …

Insider Tip: If you’re hooked into Groupon, keep an eye out for Hotel Julien’s specials. They’re offered a few times a year and feature package deals, discounted rates, and more …


The Oldest Bar In Dubuque

Oldest Bar In Dubuque FlowerChick.com

Oldest Bar In Dubuque: Since 1935

Walnut Tap: This humble bar located just west of downtown Dubuque doesn’t look like much from the outside, but it holds the enviable title of the oldest bar in Dubuque, dating back to 1935 …

While “oldest bar” may be defined in different ways, Flower Chick defines it as the establishment serving adult beverages the longest and most continuously under the same name …

The Walnut Tap is actually a popular college bar, as both Loras College and University of Dubuque are within blocks. Open at 3 pm during the day, it’s a quiet locals place frequented by area workers and the occasional day drinker. Walk in and you’ll immediately begin to soak up the “old tavern” atmosphere …

Insider Tip: The Walnut Tap’s specialty drink is the “Walnut Crush”. It is said thousands and thousands have been served, but the recipe is a tightly locked secret. The best we could tell is a Walnut Crush is a mix of 2-3 different liquors in a fruit juice base. We can also tell you they’re delicious and pack quite a wallop …

A Bit of Dubuque History & More …

Fenelon Place Elevatoru Dubuque IA by FlowerChick.comFenelon Place Elevator: Arguably Dubuque’s most well known attraction, the Fenelon Place Elevator (also known as the 4th Street Elevator) isn’t really an elevator. It’s two cable cars designed to transport you to the top of the 4th Street Bluff from the street down below …

Noted as the world’s shortest and steepest elevator of its kind, the Fenelon Place Elevator travels a distance of 296 feet bottom to top. You’ll be rewarded with a spectacular 3 state view at the top via a wrap around fenced veranda overlooking downtown Dubuque and the Mississippi River …

In addition to Iowa immediately below, you’ll have a clear view of Illinois just across the river and Wisconsin to your left (north). The elevator was established over a century ago by Dubuque residents living atop the bluff who desired a shortcut to get downtown. The two small cable cars are controlled by a mechanized pulley system which you’ll view up close and personal on your ride …

Shot Tower Dubuque FlowerChick.com

Dubuque’s Shot Tower

Shot Tower: This low key historical attraction can only be seen from the outside, but it’s conveniently located on Dubuque’s riverfront, making it easy to pay a visit …


Standing 120 feet tall, the shot tower was used during the Civil War to produce ammunition. As we understand it, lead was heated and dropped through screens with ammunition sized openings. The ammunition, or “shot” then fell a number of feet down to a waiting pool of water, which cooled the lead to its final form …

Dubuque’s Shot Tower is one of only a few left in the country. We’re also told this Dubuque landmark is the only shot tower left standing west of the Mississippi River. The Tower is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is owned and maintained by the City of Dubuque. Just a hundred yards or so away is the Stone Cliff Winery, housed in the historic and picturesque former Dubuque Star Brewery building …

Outside The Lines Dubuque FlowerChick.com

Dubuque Local Art

Outside The Lines Art Gallery: This is Flower Chick’s favorite Dubuque shopping destination! Outside The Lines Gallery is located at 11th and Main. It’s just a few blocks north of downtown in the heart of the revitalized Upper Main District shopping and dining area …

Outside The Lines features local art, jewelry, prints, pottery, home decor, and more. Stop in for an item you never knew you absolutely had to have, or for excellent gift ideas. Visit the gallery and you’ll discover the original works of over 150 area artists, many from Dubuque!

Breakfast On “Sin Street”, Plus Cold Beer & Chili Dogs

Mulgrew's FlowerChick.comMulgrew’s: Actually located across the river from Dubuque in Illinois, Mulgrew’s is a long standing extended hours tavern on the main drag (Sinsinawa Avenue) of tiny East Dubuque, Illinois …

Sinsinawa Avenue and East Dubuque actually have quite an historical reputation. Up until about 15 years ago, the bars in East Dubuque were open very late … 4 or 5 a.m. This made East Dubuque a favored “last call” destination in the Tri State area. Back then, Sinsinawa Avenue was more commonly known by its shortened nickname “Sin Street” …

All that has changed now, as closing time in the village now mirrors that of Dubuque across the river. Happily, Mulgrew’s endures, best known for their foot long chili dogs which once fed ravenous light night revelers. Proudly in business since 1921, we prefer Mulgrew’s for their great diner style breakfasts (and maybe a little day drinking!).


Comfortable, welcoming, cold beer, and great chili dogs … what’s not to like?? We’re very pleased to have Mulgrew’s on our list of Dubuque area favorites … check them out yourself and you’ll see what we mean …

Eagle Point Park FlowerChick.com

Spectacular Views

Eagle Point Park: Without a doubt, Eagle Point Park is one of the most picturesque urban parks in the Midwest. Situated at the top of a steep limestone bluff at the Mississippi River’s edge, this is the place to truly experience Dubuque’s unique topography …

This 160+ acre park is located on Dubuque’s north side, just minutes from Copper Kettle and the Yardarm. The scenery here is spectacular as you peer hundreds of feet down below to the Mississippi River and the lock and dam operations. In the winter, it’s likely you’ll see bald eagles soaring above the lock and dam in search of a meal from the river …

The park dates back to the early 1900’s and offers cool summer breezes in its higher elevations. Eagle Point Park is open from the first Saturday in May through the fourth Sunday in October …

Summing It All Up …

Located only about 10 minutes from downtown, Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is an enjoyable, peaceful respite! You’ll want to add it to your “to do” list while visiting this very fun river city …

Dubuque Botanical Gardens by FlowerChick.com

Be sure to carve out a few hours to visit Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens your next time in Dubuque. It’s a delightful place to visit and learn more about plants! Comments or questions? Reach out to us via our Contact page!

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