Welcome to the Quad Cities, where the Mississippi River flows from east to west—to get from Iowa to Illinois you have to go south! The Quad Cities consist of the Iowa cities of Davenport and Bettendorf and the Illinois cities of Rock Island, Moline, and East Moline. Yes, around here “Quad” actually means five. The Quad Cities metro area also includes several smaller river towns, including the villages of Pleasant Valley and Riverdale in Iowa and Hampton, Illinois. And that’s just within the ring formed by Interstates 80 and 280, my choice as the artificial boundary for the region. Sorry LeClaire and Muscatine.

The Mississippi River cuts through the heart of the region—actually, it is the heart of the region. The cities stretch from the river’s banks up and over the bluffs that the Mississippi River excavated thousands of years ago. In the Quad Cities, downtown is literally the part of town that is down the hill. The Mississippi River is the reason that settlers put down their stakes here in the 1830s, and people still flock to its banks to fish, to walk, to gamble, or just to sit and enjoy the view. The Mississippi River unites these disparate cities into a cohesive region.

There are plenty of quality ways to pass the time and the people are among the friendliest you will meet anywhere. I know every guide makes that claim, but I genuinely mean it. So come on down. Explore the cities. Check out a festival or two. Learn about the region’s fascinating history and related stories of American expansion, industrialization, and the shifting economies that continually make and remake cities.

When you’re done browsing the information in this post, don’t forget to check out the Quad Cities photo gallery.

Information for Visitors

Tourist information centers are plentiful in the Quad Cities although hours outside of the summer season are limited. You can call for information (563.322.3911), surf to the Quad Cities CVB website, or visit one of the visitors centers. The primary location is the Visitor Center in Moline (Bass Street Landing, 1601 River Dr., Suite 110), but there’s also one open seasonally at Union Station on the Davenport Riverfront (102 South Harrison St.).

The Centennial Bridge Visitor Center (Rock Island: 201 15th St.; 309.277.0937) also has a photo display about the impressive bridge.

If you arrive in the area on eastbound Interstate 80, there is an Illinois Welcome Center just after the exit for Illinois Highway 84 (800.452.4368) that has information on the Quad Cities plus a decent overlook of the Mississippi Valley.

**The Quad Cities Region is covered in Road Tripping Along the Great River Road, Vol. 1. Click the link above for more. Disclosure: This website may be compensated for linking to other sites or for sales of products we link to.