Nicole’s Guide to Dubuque: MIDWest Conference Edition

Nicole BumphreyI am Nicole Bumphrey, Enrollment Solutions Consultant at Capture Higher Ed, and I have called Dubuque, Iowa, my home for more than 13 years. So I was thrilled when I learned the MIDWest Conference was heading my way this year!

As Iowa’s oldest city, Dubuque has a rich history and is full of fantastic breakfast spots, dinner venues, happy hour joints, and places to grab local sweets, or simply unwind to enjoy some downtime. If you’re Iowa bound for the conference, May 19 – 21, allow me and my Capture teammates to serve as your local tour guide.

Breakfast |

Jumble Coffee – Established in Dubuque in 2010 with three convenient drive-thru locations in the area, Jumble Coffee earned the title of “Best Place for A Cup of Coffee” at the 2024 BestFest. 

Sunshine Family Restaurant – With over two decades of establishment in Dubuque, it’s no wonder Sunshine Family Restaurant secured the title of “Best Place for Breakfast” at this year’s BestFest. 

Big Apple Bagels – At this year’s BestFest, Big Apple Bagels clinched the title of “Best Place for a Bagel,” thanks to its premium, made-from-scratch baked goods including bagels, muffins and more! 

Dinner |

Courtesy of Brazen

Brazen – With an Open Scratch Kitchen fueled by fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, Brazen Open Kitchen swiftly emerged as the destination for elevated dining, artistic cocktails and a relaxing ambiance. 

L May – For over a decade, L May has been a cornerstone of historic downtown Dubuque, offering gourmet comfort food suitable for any occasion. 

Copper Kettle – Indulge in elevated pub fare and a selection of craft beers at this historic bar and grill, catering to your every craving from appetizers to entrees. 

1st & Main

Courtesy of 1st & Main

1st & Main – With a blend of gourmet dishes showcasing local flavors and refreshing beverages, this restaurant exudes the historic charm of Dubuque. 

Yardarm Bar & Grill – Located on the waterfront, this restaurant offers a delightful combination of guilty pleasure bar food and delectable cocktails, all served with a picturesque view! 

Happy Hour |

Dimensional Brewing Company – Dimensional Brewing’s relaxed, easygoing atmosphere and extensive selection of beers ranging from classics to hazys, sours, and stouts secured their victory as the “Best Local Brewery.” 

Dimension Brewing Company

Courtesy of Dimension Brewing Company

Stone Cliff Winery – Nestled in the Port of Dubuque, Stone Cliff Winery occupies the charming old Star Brewing Building, providing a picturesque riverfront setting and the most delectable wines, earning them the title of “Best Winery” at this year’s BestFest. 

Backpocket Pin & Pixel – Unleash your inner child during Happy Hour at Backpocket, where you can relish their local brews and delectable bites while indulging in vintage video games at their arcade! 

Sweets/Desserts |  
Betty Jane's Candies

Courtesy of Betty Janes Candies

Candle Ready Cakes – Crowned as the “Best Place to Buy a Cake,” Candle Ready Cakes tantalizes taste buds with eight different daily flavors of cupcakes and cake pops showcased in their fresh cases! 

Betty Jane Candies – Since 1938, Betty Jane Candies has been celebrated for its homemade chocolates and candies. With accolades from “People” magazine and “Taste of Home,” as well as recognition at BestFest, they’re a true institution in sweet indulgence. Get. The. Gremlin. You won’t regret it! 

Things To Do |  

Mississippi Riverwalk – Ideal for a walk or run, the Mississippi Riverwalk provides breathtaking views of the Mississippi River and its scenic bluffs along the Illinois side of the river. 

Fenelon Place Elevator – Ranked among Dubuque’s top attractions, this historic cable car is renowned as the world’s steepest and shortest scenic railway. Spanning 296 feet, it shuttles passengers from Fourth Street to Fenelon Place, offering magnificent views of downtown, the Mississippi River, and three states (WI, IL, IA). 

Mines of Spain – Covering 1,432 acres, the Mines of Spain is a state park with extensive trails for leisurely nature walks or hiking adventures. 

Dubuque Arboretum & Botanical Garden – Spread across 56 acres, Dubuque Arboretum & Botanical Gardens showcases an impressive array of over 60 garden varieties! 

National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium – Combining elements of a museum, an aquarium, and a science center, the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium invites visitors to engage with and explore life within and around America’s riverways. 

Field of Dreams Movie Site – Situated 26 miles west of Dubuque, the Field of Dreams Movie Site is a must-visit destination for movie buffs and sports enthusiasts alike! 

MIDWest Conference

By Nicole Bumphrey, Enrollment Solutions Consultant, Capture Higher Ed