Four Times the Fun

Appears in the February 2023 issue.

Straddle the Mighty Mississippi on a trip to the Quad Cities

Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport
Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport

Like siblings who share a bedroom, adjoining states have a tendency to get on each other’s nerves from time to time. Wisconsinites, for example, occasionally refer to Illinois visitors by an unprintable acronym, while Illinois residents don’t always have the nicest things to say about our Hoosier neighbors to the east. Yet deep down, there’s a geographic kinship among most Midwestern states that endures beyond any petty disagreements or rivalries—a bond that is perhaps best exemplified by the Iowa-Illinois amalgam that is the Quad Cities.

‘100 Things To Do in the Quad Cities Before You Die’ by Jonathan Turner

Situated along both banks of the Mississippi River, Illinois’s Rock Island and Moline and Iowa’s Bettendorf and Davenport exist on one level as four independent towns, but more significantly as one big cross-border community—a collective of more than 400,000 people and hundreds of unique places and experiences. And for Chicago-area residents looking for a quick getaway, longtime journalist and Quad Cities enthusiast Jonathan Turner says there’s plenty to discover just two hours west of Naperville.

“From spectacular riverfront trails to outstanding cuisine, a bountiful live music scene, tremendously varied museums, and a growing, thriving theater community, the Quad Cities has it all, and it won’t break your bank,” says Turner, offering his elevator pitch for the area he calls home. But Turner’s love for the Quad Cities goes beyond mere run-of-the-mill civic pride—his 2022 book 100 Things To Do in the Quad Cities Before You Die is a bucket-list compendium of places to see and experiences for anyone considering a visit. Here are a few of his top picks for a weekend in the QC.

Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse in Rock Island
Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse in Rock Island


In a world of dwindling dinner theater, Turner calls the historic Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse—a grand 100-year-old former movie palace in downtown Rock Island—a glorious throwback to the golden age of the form. Onstage now through mid-March is the Queen jukebox musical We Will Rock You, served with a meal by the performing waitstaff, the Bootleggers. “It may sound cliché, but when you’re at Circa you truly feel like you’re home among family,” Turner says.


At the corner of 11th Street and 8th Avenue in Moline are two magnificent, stately callbacks to the historic influence of John Deere and its founding families on the Quad Cities—the Deere-Wiman House and the Butterworth Center. “Both homes have beautiful gardens, and at Butterworth, be sure to see the library’s 18th-century Italian ceiling painting, originally found in Venice and purchased by the Butterworths,” Turner says.


The Quad Cities boast plenty of great vistas, but Turner believes one of the best river views is seeing the Centennial Bridge (spanning Rock Island to Davenport) from the third-base side (or maybe the 110-foot Ferris wheel) of Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport, home to the minor-league Quad Cities River Bandits. The Kansas City Royals affiliate opens its 2023 season on April 7 against the South Bend Cubs.

For more information on Turner’s book, visit


Photos courtesy of Jonathan Turner (book cover), Sean Flynn (Modern Woodmen Park), and Kimberly Calhoun (Circa ’21)