I know a place where you can enjoy a delicious burger with local beef and fries for dinner, stroll to Dairy Queen for an ice cream treat, and then finish the evening watching the sunset by a visionary stone in a prairie preserve. Where is this nirvana of food and forest, you ask? It’s the east side of Iowa City, and it’s a great place to live!
There is a healthy mix of apartments, condominiums, and single-family homes in the dynamic east side neighborhoods. My family and I have lived on the east side of Iowa City for nearly a decade near the intersection of Scott Boulevard and Rochester Avenue. Our neighborhood borders the 100-acre Harvest Preserve, complete with undeveloped land, a historical barn, and giant sculptures. It’s the quiet side of town, far enough away from the university to avoid the game day traffic and boisterous undergrads, but close enough to hop on one of the city bus lines to get downtown to work or play. The eastside’s proximity to I-80 via the Herbert Hoover Highway is also a plus if you are a commuter.
If you have school-aged littles and are considering a move to Iowa City’s east side, there are nine elementary schools that feed into Southeast Junior High and City High. The Eastside is also home to Regina Catholic Education Center, a pre-K through 12 school off of Rochester Avenue. The Eastside elementary schools include: Lemme, Lincoln (technically zoned to all three junior highs for the immediate future), Longfellow, Lucas, Mann, Hoover, Twain, Grant Wood, and Shimek.
One of my favorite places to play on the Eastside is at the brand-new playground at Mercer Park on the Southeast side (also has an indoor pool). Swing sets not your jam? Check out the walking trails at Hickory Hill, the splash pad at Wetherby Park, or Rita’s Ranch off-leash Dog Park in Scott Park. In all, there are 24 parks on the Eastside! We love riding bikes on the three-mile loop around Scott Boulevard, Rochester, and First Avenue (also passing through the Harvest Preserve).
Eating on the Eastside
While I consider downtown Iowa City a foodie oasis, the Eastside is really where it’s at for family-friendly fare. Here are some of our faves:
- Oyama for sushi
- Jimmy Jacks Rib Shack for Ribs
- Two Dogs Pub for wings with their signature “boom boom” sauce (especially on Monday night…$4/dozen!)
- Shorts Eastside has burgers made with local beef and hand-cut fries. (Next door is an Anytime Fitness if you eat all. the. fries.)
- Shakespeare’s Pub and Grill for a neighborhood tavern vibe
- Heyn’s for hand-dipped, made in-house ice cream (they also have vegan and gluten and dairy-free options)
- Wig and Pen East for Flying Tomato pizza takeout or delivery
- Daylight Donuts for made-fresh-daily treats (get there early for the Hawkeye-themed sprinkles!)
- Blackstone when Mommy needs a Martini
One of my Eastside friends loves the HyVee Drugstore on the corner of First and Rochester for its true “corner store” vibe. It has dry cleaning drop-off, wine sample nights, fresh produce and flowers, and a pharmacy. If you prefer the full-size grocery, there are two HyVee locations on the Eastside: a brand new Dodge Street location just off of I-80, as well as the First Avenue Hy-Vee. Take advantage of Double-Ad Wednesdays at Lucky’s Grocery on the Southeast side–two weeks’ worth of ads in one day! We love Lucky’s “Sip and Shop” carts with cup holders for $2 wine and beer while you shop for a wide selection of organic and better-for-you foods. Let your partner push the cart and it practically counts as a date night!
If you’re looking for a charming, convenient neighborhood with tons of amenities and walkability, Iowa City’s Eastside might just be the perfect fit for you and your family.
Eastsiders shout out! What is your favorite thing about living and raising a family on the east side of Iowa City?