Grownup Getaways · Historic US Route 20 · Northeast Iowa

Winter Grownup Getaway: Downtown Cedar Falls & Beyond-Part Two of Two

The McLeod Center had the heaters kicked up with a Panther atmosphere that always brings plenty of energy to keep it going at UNI!

Cedar Falls, IA: Black Hawk County

As you know, Cedar Falls is open to plenty of great ways to keep the whole family entertained, but sometimes mama and papa need to get out and Gallivant with a grownup charge into the fantastic places the Cedar Valley has to offer. You saw Cedar Falls Part One and now it’s time for Part Two in a wintry getaway!


Mid-January brought some very cold temps to all of the Midwest and it did not skip over Cedar Falls. What did the locals of this area say? I didn’t hear an official response, but for many folks I think they said “Bring it on!” Our visit was just a few days before temps dropped during the Polar Vortex and Downtown was busting with activity. One of the best ways to battle the windchill is to hunker down at the Tea Cellar! Hot and aromatic teas from all over the world are freshly prepared to order and you can get a made from scratch bite or two to go with them. Many sips of tea steaming its way from the “choose your own cups” with a soft spinach and feta cheese scone. Bring it on indeed…


Now for a Cedar Falls style breakfast that’s hardy, hot, and coming at you in big portions. The Waffle Stop Grill was at maximum capacity with hungry customers but that wasn’t slowing down the kitchen and service. Creamy sausage gravy clinging to fresh biscuits so hot you can warm your palms over’em. Perfectly crispy hash browns creating the famous Panther Plates at this institution. Green peppers, jalapenos, onions, cheese, meat of your choice and two eggs ready to coat the entire hill of beautiful breakfast splendor. Warm up with hot coffee or apple cider!


Time to get some shopping done and, if this isn’t another Valentines hint, then you’ll never get it. Chocolaterie Stam is located in Downtown Cedar Falls and these pics speak for themselves. Endless chocolate! Excited eye twitching and slight mania are common side effects and accepted when you’re forced to make a decision on what to choose to purchase here. Guess what! Large doses of chocolate are the best cure for those and Stam has the professionals to treat this.


How have I gotten to my 40s and never once experience the sensation of breaded and fried green bell pepper slices? Better now than never and, thanks to Downtown Cedar Falls, we were able to get another memorable and flippin’ great lunch. Wilbo Burgers, Brats, & Beer had the juicy beef patties sizzling onto fresh buns and Chicago style dogs with all the traditional additions that comes with it. I love choose your own adventure books which is probably why I went with the build your own burger direction. Make it a basic or create a monstrous meat loving meal.


The evening was coming and we were honored to represent Historic US Route 20-Iowa as we volunteered with program sales during the Men’s Basketball game at the McLeod Center. Evansville came to town and the Panther nation was ready to give them a warm welcoming, but handed them a loss on the Purple Aces record hence a cold ride home to Southern Indiana. Cedar Falls is a classic Old HWY 20 town with generations of UNI students that have claimed The Hill as their home college town away from home. Thank you so much for hosting us and showing how much of a great experience we can all have at Panther sporting events. I just thought of something…UNI is 2-0 when my wife and I show up including a win against top ten opponent, Wichita State. Let’s keep the streak alive and do this again, Northern Iowa!


Just across the parking lot from the UNI Dome and McLeod Center is another Cedar Falls legend and another way to keep warm. Hot bowls of chili and spicy broccoli-cheese soup at J’s Homestyle Cooking along with their made from scratch pastries and always cheerful waitstaff is why we make it a point to stop by when we’re in town. You’ll want to see their omelets. Trust me on this.

*Our stay at Hilton Garden Inn-Cedar Falls was complimentary and the views expressed are of our own. Now, let’s get back to Gallivanting!


After a long day of basketball watching, touring Cedar Falls with our appetites, sipping tea and Gallivanting like rock stars, we were ready to call it a day and check into our suite at the magnificent Hilton Garden Inn-Cedar Falls. This beautiful hotel is a short distance to everything in Cedar Falls and the Waterloo areas. Our room even had a fireplace that helped warm the living room and our bedroom with a big cozy bed and worked as handy sock warmer before reloading our feet into our cute lil’boots. HGI-CF also has a great menu with delicious food prepared from their talented cooks along with a full bar. The staff made our stay a great one and never let up on the hospitality that HGI is proud to offer everyone. Big plates of pasta, local beers, a big flat screen TV over a roaring fireplace and fresh hot breakfast bar in the morning. Just thinking about all that makes me feel relaxed so just imagine experiencing it for yourself.


-10 degrees in the sunshine…So what! I’m still getting my morning ice coffee and I’m heading back to Downtown Cedar Falls and getting it at Cup of Joe! This coffee shop will bring you back to the vintage days home and restaurant decor from decades past. However, the modern day barista creations accompanied with creative desserts, pastries, baked and more, will give you a caffeinated start, middle, or end to your day. This is always a spot we visit when stay in CF and we’re not breaking this routine.


The weekend was capped off with a Time To Be 20 Again conference hosted by the Cedar Falls Visitors Center. We discussed the history and importance of Historic HWY 20 in Iowa and nationally. A wonderful group of locals and folks traveling from other towns joined in to hear what kind of impact this route still has in Iowa and how much Americana can be experienced on its path. I was happy to lead the meet-up and even happier that Kim Manning of the Cedar Falls Tourism & Visitors Bureau was able to make it all happen. We look forward to exploring more of this wonderful city and showing the world just how much fun you can have here anytime of year. Until we Gallivant again, Cedar Falls!

Hey, Tea Cellar! Is that Iowa native, Cloris Leachman in one of your cups? I pick this one!
Wholly guacamole are we grateful for all that went into our grownup getaway to Cedar Falls. Once again, Kim Manning helped us have an incredible time and we thank her so much. This was one heck of a Gallivant!

2 thoughts on “Winter Grownup Getaway: Downtown Cedar Falls & Beyond-Part Two of Two

  1. I’m having fun reading about your visit here. Went to college nearby in Waverly. On special occasions, we’d all pile into someone’s car and drive to Cedar Falls for a meal. The main street is much different now -although I did spent lots of time at Cuppa Java

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