11 places to take your child in the Quad Cities before kindergarten

As parents, we are lucky to raise our kids in a wonderful spot with tons of great family-friendly events and activities. And the learning opportunities! We live in a community with museums, parks and natural wonders like the Mississippi River!

But if you are anything like me, you may miss some of the hidden gems in the area because you get in the habit of going to your favorite spots.

Research shows that much of your child’s brain development occurs before age 5. We can help that brain development in lots of ways, but I especially love taking my son to local spots to help him learn and grow before he enters kindergarten. As a bonus, I enjoy these spots, too.


1. Nahant Marsh Education Center

Most kids are nature lovers – and Nahant Marsh is the perfect spot to nurture that love. Hike the trails, look for wildlife, and even have a chance to meet the turtles and snakes inside the visitor’s center. (Hint: We love Toddler Tales – read more about this great learning experience at Nahant Marsh.)


2. Putnam Museum 

The Science Center is such a great resource in our community. And I find that every time we visit, my son is having fun while learning something new.

3. Davenport Skybridge

A great stop for wild kids when cabin fever hits, the skybridge is a wonderful spot to take in the sights of downtown Davenport, burn off some energy, and talk about colors.

Figge Lego Exhibit2

4. Figge Art Museum

If you think your child is too young to appreciate art, you are mistaken. There are loads of great opportunities for the youngest kids at the Figge Art Museum, including a great Family Activity Center for hands-on opportunities. (Read more about the Figge’s Family Activity Center.)

John Deere Pavilion Discovery Zone8

5. John Deere Pavilion

You don’t have to journey far to see the reach of agriculture in the Quad Cities area. Learn about the history of John Deere and give kids hands-on learning opportunities in the kid-friendly Discovery Zone. (Kids truly love this place.)

Niabi Zoo 3

6. Niabi Zoo

Many of us have visited the zoo, but you can never visit too often, in my opinion. Learning about animals and how to protect them is so important for kids at any age. (Read more about what’s to love about Niabi.)

7. Augustana Fryxell Geology Museum

There’s a good chance you didn’t even know this museum existed – and what a shame! Once you visit, you’ll be looking for a time to go back. Discover real dinosaur fossils, learn about the history of the area, and marvel over the unique fluorescent mineral display. (Check out more details and photos about this great resource.)

8. Sunderbruch Park

This beautiful oasis is located in the heart of west Davenport – and it’s a great place to hike, learn about plants, insects and animals, and even learn about dinosaurs in Iowa. It’s a true hidden gem. (Check out more about why kids love Sunderbruch.)

9. Family Museum

The Family Museum is a mecca for children to experience hands-on learning. My favorite part of the space is that it gives kids a peek into different careers – from retail to engineering and from farming to medicine. Plus, it’s just plain fun! (And the new outdoor area is also loads of fun.)

10. Quad City Botanical Center

Did you know that you can get a taste of tropics all year in the Quad Cities? Visit the Quad City Botanical Center all year for great opportunities to learn about plants and habitats. In the winter, kids can visit the indoor gardens, feed the fish and play in a giant sand pile. In the summer, the Botanical Center opens one of the best outdoor water play areas in the Quad Cities. (Find out more about what’s to love about the Botanical Center with kids.)

11. Miss Effie’s Country Flowers and Garden Stuff

There are tons of reasons kids love visiting Miss Effie’s – space to run, picking flowers in the summer, and even spotting barn cats and chickens. And the secret is, they’ll be learning about living on a farm and where our food actually comes from. (Read more about farm fun experiences in the Quad Cities.)


Which of these are your favorites? Which are new to you?


About the author

Kim Woodward Kim Woodward is a wife, mom, and freelance writer living with her husband and son in a barn in rural Geneseo, Illinois. A notorious dabbler and DIYer, she shares her projects and adventures at NewlyWoodwards.com, and contributes to QuadCityMomsBlog.com. A native of the Quad Cities, she loves setting out on local adventures and discovering hidden gems in the area. She’s always on the lookout for the best live music, family-friendly activities, and cup of coffee.

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One comment on “11 places to take your child in the Quad Cities before kindergarten

  1. I know this is an older article, but I still wanted to thank you for creating and sharing this list. We spent the last week in the QC visiting my husband’s family. We haven’t been back to visit since we had our kids (now 2 and 4.) We used your list to get ideas and went to 4 places on the list – all were big hits. We would have gone to more places, but the kids loved the JD pavillion so much that we went 3 times!

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