The CRAM Files: A look at Cedar Rapids’ wide array of renovated amenities

The Cram Files
The new Cedar Rapids Public Library offers technology labs and continuing education classes for adults. — photo by Sarah Driscoll

The city of Cedar Rapids has seen a number of important upgrades over the past couple of years. If it has been a while since your last visit, here are a few key offerings you should definitely make a point of checking out this summer:

The Cherry Building 

The historic Cherry Building is located between the New Bohemia District and Downtown. This former dairy equipment manufacturing plant is now home to around 30 small businesses and studio spaces. It is open to the public and filled with artists, entrepreneurs, performers and healers. It’s a great place to shop, start your small business, have your office, teach your class, take a class, host your event and create your art. My favorites: Illuminations Healing Arts Center, MOvMNT Dance Co., Eco Lips, Ceramics Center and Black Earth Gallery.

Daily farmers’ markets

Throughout the summer, there’s a farmers market in Cedar Rapids every day of the week. The largest is the Saturday morning Downtown Farmers’ Market, with over 200 vendors selling home-grown produce, locally made food, handmade gifts and artwork. The New Bo Market is a year-round foodie’s paradise, with multiple restaurants, artisan food vendors and locally made creations. Nearby, Farmer’s Daughter’s Market in Hiawatha is a fun place to check out as well: It’s a restaurant and market, and she sells her homemade soups, sauces and mixes every day.

The beautiful new Public Library

The Cedar Rapids Public Library’s new facility is worth its own trip. Grab a cappuccino in its coffee shop, Press Cafe, and then go explore the tech labs. Or, sign up for job training, join continuing education class or attend a free kids event.

Performing arts are alive

Cedar Rapids has an immense amount of talent with multiple theatre groups, dance companies, opera, orchestra and the symphony. Here’s a smattering of this month’s highlights: Theatre Cedar Rapids’ production of Les Miserables; Lyle Lovett and Jackson Browne are playing the Paramount Theatre this month. Legion Arts (CSPS) always has the most interesting and intimate musical performances; highlights this month include Caravan of Thieves, Conjunto Chappottín and Suzy Bogguss.

New Bohemia and Czech Village

These two historical districts neighbor each other and offer a variety of culture, art, music, local shops and great food. There are museums, galleries, a bike collective, coffee shops, parks and trails. You could spend an entire weekend exploring this area, but here are some of my top places to check out: African American Museum of Iowa, C.S.P.S. Hall, New Bo Books, CJ’s grill, Mad Modern furnishings and Copper Alligator vintage.

Sarah Driscoll lives in Cedar Rapids with her husband and dog. She is a yoga instructor and a musician performing with The Diplomats of Solid Sound and the Awful Purdies. Sarah put out CRAM (Cedar Rapids Art & Music) magazine from 2002-2006.

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