Trip advisor: True or false?


As a Cedar Falls area native, I’ve never really had to Google things to do around here. However, seeing all the people coming in and out of Cedar Falls because of UNI and different events held here got me thinking about how people see this town from the outside.

So I searched: TripAdvisor Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Then popped up a suggested article titled “THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Cedar Falls – 2022.” So I clicked on it.

This article, though, I found pretty useless. A lot of the attractions on the list were very pointed at a specific season and even included a few restaurants as “things to do.” Maybe it’s just me, but that doesn’t really sound right.

There were, however, a few honorable mentions on the list

Number four of their 15 was the UNI-Dome, and I have to give a big “go cats!” to that one. The Dome is a fantastic place to see a huge variety of things throughout the year. Not only does it host sporting events or marching band competitions, but it also welcomes different groups and organizations throughout the year as well, such as the recent RV and boat show.

The Dome is also one of only nine indoor college football stadiums in the U.S., according to This means that we’re lucky enough to not have to wear sunscreen, raincoats or winter jackets on Saturday afternoons in autumn to watch our Panthers play football. This is also helpful because it allows an even wider variety of events to take place there, despite the weather on any given day.

The number two on the list also deserves its ranking. Boasting 39 shops and 33 restaurants and bars (according to the Cedar Falls Community Main Street website), Main Street Cedar Falls is a great mix of local boutiques, candy shops, specialty stores, restaurants and even a movie theater. I think my favorite stop on Main Street is Cup of Joe, a cute little coffee shop right at the end of the winding path of storefronts. And this isn’t just any old Starbucks – Cup of Joe has unique, delicious coffee drinks and an adorable 50s atmosphere. Not only this, but they also host live music and game nights for their loyal and brand new customers.

No matter what you’re looking for, Main Street Cedar Falls probably has something for you. It’s a nice, upscale street lined with dozens of store windows filled with things pretty much anyone could enjoy. The adorable little shops will draw you in, the smell of gourmet crepes from Tata Yaya will make your mouth water and you won’t be able to resist stopping in to see the retro treats and snacks at Main Street Sweets. This number two pick is definitely deserving of its rank.

As I mentioned earlier, there are also a number of things on the list that are targeted towards a certain group of people: nature lovers. If you’re into hiking, woods, trees and lakes, then I guess Cedar Falls is the right place for you. The top-15 list includes not one, not two, but three different parks and outdoor areas – including taking the number one spot on the list with Big Woods Lake Recreation Area. While this place is a ton of fun if you do it right, it’s also not the best place to be for a good portion of the year while the lake is frozen and it’s too cold to go kayaking in a swimsuit.

One thing that I definitely want to mention that made both TripAdvisor’s list and mine are the two escape rooms in the area. Clocking in at numbers 12 and 13, Escapology and Escape Cedar Valley will bring you the most exhilarating hour of your life. If you haven’t ever been to an escape room, the general idea is this: you are given a backstory as to why you ended up in the scene set before you, then you have an hour to solve a series of puzzles to get you out of what is usually a deadly or similar situation. These rooms are such a great bit of fun for anyone who’s looking for a challenge and I very highly recommend them, whether you’re going out with your friends or trying to come up with something to do when the family visits.

There are a couple places that didn’t specifically make the TripAdvisor hall of fame that I think deserve an honorable mention. Hurling Hatchets, right off of main street, is a newer stop on the trail but definitely deserves some attention. Scratch Cupcakery is a local favorite with the best frosting and flavors you will ever find. I’m sure even I’ve missed some places in the zip code that are definitely worth a stop during your time in this beautiful city, so also don’t be afraid to explore.

Cedar Falls is a great place to be and a great place to visit. TripAdvisor didn’t quite hit the bullseye when it comes to experiencing Cedar Falls, but they didn’t get it completely wrong either. No matter what you choose to do while here in 50613, you’ll have a fantastic time.