Council Bluffs Vacations

This city, which played a major role in emigrant trails and railroad expansion, is home to museums, casinos and a diverse countryside.

Council Bluffs, a quaint city on the Missouri River’s east bank, played a key role in the 19th-century emigrant trails and rail transportation across the country. Legalized gambling later became an important factor in the area’s economy and tourism. Delve into Council Bluff’s past and then see the intriguing blend of landscape, including wetlands, savannas and deciduous forest, surrounding the city.

Visit the Union Pacific Railroad Museum for information about the city’s role in the expansion of transportation across the U.S. Learn about the construction of the transcontinental railroad, completed in 1869. Browse the museum’s collection of artifacts, including emigrants’ possessions and photographs. 

The Pottawattamie County Jail and Museum is another institution that informs visitors about the area’s past. Marvel at the 19th-century building’s fascinating “squirrel cage” design. The 10 cells rotated so that only one at a time was accessible to the jailer.

After legalization of gambling, casinos sprang up around the city. Try your luck at the Ameristar Casino Hotel, based in a three-story boat on the Missouri River. Admire the intriguing design of the boat as you play the slot machines or join card games. 

To enjoy the diverse scenery outside the city, drive 15 miles (24.1 kilometers) north to the Hitchcock Nature Center. Explore green sloping fields and prairies in the Loess Hills. The park, which stretches across 1,268 acres (513.1 hectares), preserves the region’s flora and fauna.

Try typical Iowan cuisine, such as the pork tenderloin sandwich and the “Walking Taco,” a blend of crushed chips and a taco-seasoned hamburger. 

The area has extreme variations in temperature from summer to winter. The city is quite hot between June and August and freezing cold with snow from November through March.

The larger city of Omaha, Nebraska sits just on the other side of the Missouri River. The nearest large transportation hub is Des Moines International Airport, 130 miles (209.2 kilometers) east of the city.

Intriguing emigrant history, diverse scenery and casinos lure travelers to Council Bluffs on the Missouri River.

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