The sixth largest city in Iowa, Waterloo is the county seat of Black Hawk County, but its beginnings were more modest. The community was originally established along the Cedar River in 1845 as Prairie Rapids Crossing. After the town petitioned for a post office, it was dubbed Waterloo, and the name stuck. The community grew rapidly between 1895 and 1915, helping establish the city we now know.
Today, Waterloo is home to a number of attractions that make it a desirable place to live, work, and visit. Regardless of your reasons for visiting Waterloo, it's important to find the right hotel that allows you to enjoy everything this wonderful city has to offer.
Best Time to Visit Waterloo, IA
Summer is the most popular time to visit Waterloo, but it can also be the most expensive. Not only are hotel rates high, but local children are out of school, resulting in longer lines at attractions. Still, if you don't mind the crowds, Waterloo offers warm, pleasant summer temperatures topping out in the mid-80s. Summer is also a great time to experience local events, including the Black Hawk County 4-H and FFA Fair.
Tourist season tapers off in the fall along with the temperatures. Average highs remain in the mid-70s in September, but temps drop drastically in October with average lows skirting the 30s. As long as you pack a few layers, you'll enjoy a beautiful season with plenty of money-saving hotel deals to spare.
Winter in Iowa is frigid, with Waterloo itself experiencing an average snowfall of 33 inches. If you're willing to brave the winter season, you'll be rewarded with rock-bottom hotel rates. Just be sure to avoid holiday weeks as rates tend to climb back up.
Like fall, spring is another great season to visit Waterloo. With the local children still in school, Waterloo's many attractions are more conducive to quiet exploration. Temperatures are back in the 60s by April, and the 70s by May, providing the perfect opportunity to experience the city's outdoor parks.
Below is a chart of the current pricing seasonality of hotels and motels in Waterloo, IA:
Waterloo by Star Rating
Below are 3 charts demonstrating mean rate trends by star rating class in Waterloo, IA. You can use these charts to determine the best time period to stay in Waterloo for any future trips.
Luxury Hotel Options in Waterloo, IA
4 Star Average Prices: $119.50
If you prefer upscale accommodations in Waterloo, the city offers a few options. Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo is located just 5.4 miles from downtown. On-site amenities include an indoor pool with whirlpool tub, three restaurants, a fitness center, and a casino with 950 slot machines, live poker, and table games. Guest rooms are well appointed and feature plush bedding, flat-screen cable TV, free Wi-Fi, and coffee makers. Upgraded suites add in-room whirlpool tubs.
A homier option is Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Cedar Falls, IA. Located across from the University of Northern Iowa, this hotel serves up a free hot breakfast buffet every morning in a casual dining room. There's also a fitness center, a library, a heated indoor pool, and laundry facilities on-site. Guest rooms feature flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, minifridges, and microwaves. Suites add sofa beds in separate sitting areas, separate living rooms, kitchenettes, or in-room whirlpool tubs.
Hilton Garden Inn Cedar Falls is a classic accommodation close to downtown Cedar Falls. Its chic guest rooms boast custom-designed beds, free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs with premium cable channels, microwaves, and mini fridges. Suites add fireplaces and separate living areas with pullout sofas. Some even throw in whirlpool tubs. The Hilton Garden Inn Cedar Falls also offers a freshly made breakfast, an on-site restaurant, an outdoor patio, a bar, a convenience store, an indoor pool, a fitness center, free parking, multiple meeting rooms, and a business center.
Affordable Hotel Options in Waterloo, IA
3 Star Average Prices: $100.13
Finding an affordable hotel in Waterloo is easier than you might think. Days Inn Cedar Falls — University Plaza is a basic roadside hotel within walking distance of College Square Mall. The straightforward guestrooms offer free Wi-Fi internet access, cable TVs, mini fridges, microwaves, and coffee makers, plus children 17 and under stay free. Enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast, free parking, guest laundry facilities, and an available airport shuttle service.
Located next to Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, Quality Inn & Suites provides easy access to many of Waterloo's most popular attractions, including Lost Island water park. Guest rooms feature free Wi-Fi, premium cable television, minifridges, coffee makers, and microwaves. Suites add additional living spaces, pullout sofas, and whirlpool tubs. Additional amenities include guest laundry facilities, free indoor and outdoor parking, a meeting room, all-day coffee in the lobby, and a free continental breakfast.
Motel 6 is another great budget option near Lost Island, making it a great option for families. Rooms feature free Wi-Fi access, expanded cable TV, and minifridges. Children also stay free with a paying adult, and there's an indoor heated pool, free parking, free morning coffee, and a coin laundry.
2 Star Average Prices: $86.07
Where are the real discounts in Waterloo
If you plan ahead, you can find money-saving deals to help you keep your budget in check during your trip to Waterloo. Most area hotels, including Comfort Suites in Cedar Falls, provide reduced rates to military families, government employees, seniors, AARP members, AAA/CAA members, and rewards members. Qualifying for these special rates can help you save as much as 20 percent off the cost of your stay.
Higher end properties like Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo frequently offer special packages, which tend to change seasonally. Booking one of these packages entitles you to special perks while staying at the hotel, including free dining or casino credits.
Best Value Options in Waterloo, IA
Waterloo also offers several midrange hotel options that give you the best bang for your buck.
Ramada Waterloo Hotel and Convention Center is a straightforward conference hotel offering modern guest rooms, two on-site restaurants, meeting spaces, a gym, an indoor pool, and an airport shuttle service. Guest rooms feature work desks with ergonomic chairs, coffee makers, free high-speed internet, and flat-screen TVs. Rooms with kitchenettes, hot tubs, and two-bedroom suites are also available.
Set 2.6 miles from the Grout Museum District, Hampton Inn Waterloo is a modern hotel offering a free on-site breakfast, weekday breakfast bags to go, an indoor pool, a whirlpool, an exercise room, two meeting rooms, a business center, and free parking. Guest rooms include custom-designed beds, flat-screen TVs with high-definition channels, minifridges, microwaves, coffee makers, work desks, and lap desks for working on the bed.
Fairfield Inn & Suites Waterloo Cedar Falls is a laidback lodging 3 miles from the Waterloo Center for the Arts. Guests can enjoy a free hot breakfast, free parking, an indoor pool, a fitness center, a 24-hour convenience store, a business center, and laundry facilities. Rooms are modern with free Wi-Fi access, work desks with ergonomic chairs, coffee makers, and flat-screen TVs with premium cable. Upgraded studio rooms add pullout sofa beds.
Located within the Cedar Falls Industrial & Technology Park, Comfort Inn is a modest all-suite hotel less than 10 miles from Lost Island water park. Guest rooms feature free Wi-Fi access, flat-screen TVs, coffee makers, minifridges, microwaves, pillowtop mattresses, and pullout sofas. Additional amenities include a free hot breakfast, free parking, an indoor pool with hot tub, a fitness room, and guest laundry facilities. Pets are also welcome for a fee.
Top Museums in Waterloo, IA
With so many attractions in Waterloo, you may be wondering where to begin. The city's broad range of museums is a good place to start.
Bluedorn Science Imaginarium is an interactive science center that's fun for the whole family. Offering hands-on exhibits, this facility demonstrates how science affects our everyday lives, complete with educational science demonstrations.
To learn more about Iowa's history, head to the Grout Museum of History & Science. Visitors can discover what life was like as a pioneer during the state's earliest settlements, learn about the local flora and fauna, and experience the region's only public planetarium. As with any facility in the Grout Museum District, guided and self-guided tours are available to help guests make the most of their visit.
The Ice House Museum in Cedar Falls is dedicated to telling the story of Cedar River's ice harvesting history. Built in 1921, the circular ice house once stored the ice that locals cut from the river, and it now stands as a cherished museum harkening back to the city's earlier days. There's no place better to experience and appreciate the impact the Cedar River has had on the community's growth and continued success.
Between the interactive museums, performance venues, nightclubs, theme parks, unique shops, and world-class dining options, there's plenty to experience in Waterloo for every member of the family. Whether you're looking for a budget-friendly roadside property or an upscale offering suited to corporate travelers, you can find the perfect accommodation in Waterloo that meets you needs and budget.