The Quad Cities of Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa, and Rock Island and Moline/East Moline, Ill., is a charming area about 2.5 hours west of Chicago. And there are plenty of fun and free things to do during a family vacation.
1. John Deere Pavilion. Home to one of the most comprehensive agricultural exhibits in the world along with a really big tractor for kids to climb and computers that left them genetically engineer their own fruits and vegetables. 1400 River Dr., Moline. (309) 765-1000
2. Rock Island Arsenal Museum. Tells the history of the island in exhibits and photos. Rock Island Arsenal Island. Best for ages 8 and older. (309) 782-5021
3. Mississippi River Visitor Center. Learn about the river while you watch barges move through Lock & Dam 15 and see the world’s largest Roller Dam. Best for ages 6 and older. Rock Island Arsenal Island. (309) 794-5338.
4. Backwater Gamblers Water Ski Show. Each summer, the Mississippi River backwaters on the Rock River become a performance area for the Backwater Gamblers. 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Sundays, Memorial Day-Labor Day. 44th Street and Rock River, Rock Island. (309) 786-8987.
5. Fryxell Geology Museum. One of the largest collections of rocks, minerals and fossils in the Midwest.
Augustana College, 639 38th St., Rock Island. Best for ages 7 and older. Closed July-mid-August.(309) 794-7318.
6. Nahant Marsh. 513 acres of upper Mississippi wetlands with nearly 400 wildlife species and a boardwalk walkway to the water’s edge. West Davenport. (563) 322-2969.
7. Ice Skating at Vander Veer Botanical Park. Winter, weather permitting. Vander Veer Botanical Park, 215 W.Central Park, Davenport. (563) 326-7818.
8. Biking/hiking on Riverfront Bike Trails. Over 150 miles of trails to ride in the Quad Cities.