Iowa is home to lots of historic music venues! Here are some of the amazing places across the state where you can still check out a concert in 2024:

Surf Ballroom, Clear Lake

The Surf Ballroom isn't just one of the most iconic music venues in Iowa, but in the entire U.S.! The original was built back in 1933, but ended up being destroyed by fire in 1947. The ballroom was then rebuilt in 1948, right across the street from the original. It's best known as the last venue that Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson played at before their fateful plane crash. The official website reads:

"On January 27, 2009, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum (Cleveland, Ohio) dedicated the Surf Ballroom as a historic rock and roll landmark as part of the Museum's ongoing Landmark Series, which identifies locations in America that are significant to the origins and development of rock and roll."

Surf Ballroom is still going strong, with lots of shows on the schedule for 2024.

Adler Theatre, Davenport

In 1931, the RKO Orpheum Theatre officially opened its doors in Davenport. The venue's official website says that, at the time, it was Iowa’s largest movie house! By 1973, the theatre was only being used sporadically, so it was sold off and donated. After a major fundraiser in 1984, the RKO Orpheum was "restored to its Art Deco glory and renamed the Adler Theatre." It continues to host a wide variety of live shows.

Hoyt Sherman Place, Des Moines

Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines was built in 1877 as a home for Hoyt Sherman and his family. Wikipedia reports that the original theater was built in 1923, with a major restoration taking place in 2004. The legendary mansion is listed on The National Register of Historic Places, and still hosts concerts, comedy shows, plays, and other performances.

Paramount Theatre, Cedar Rapids

The iconic Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids first opened as the Capitol Theatre in September of 1928. According to the city's website, "it was renamed the Paramount in 1929 as presentations shifted from vaudeville to motion pictures and became affiliated with Paramount Studios." The building has undergone several renovations over the years, but it is still a very popular venue for concerts, Broadway shows, and more.


Val Air Ballroom, West Des Moines

The Val Air Ballroom first opened its doors in 1918 after the closure of The Wilson Rubber Factory. The West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce reports that "initially it was an open-air dance hall, meaning it was almost completely open to the elements." Aside from some canopies and a small building, the venue was entirely outdoors. Then in 1954, some major renovations were made and the hall was enclosed. It still hosts concerts and shows today.

Val Air Ballroom, Facebook
Val Air Ballroom, Facebook

Capitol Theatre, Davenport

Davenport's Capitol Theatre is located inside the 10-story Kahl Building, which was constructed in 1920. The 2,500-seat venue opened its doors on Christmas Day of that year. According to Wikipedia, "by 2023 it had been 14 years since the theater had been used for any performance." That year, a $24 million renovation/restoration was completed, and it started hosting concerts again in late September.

Englert Theatre, Iowa City

Iowa City's Englert Theatre first opened its doors in 1912 thanks to William & Etta Englert. The theatre officially closed in 1999, but was reopened in 2004 "with its first live performance in over 40 years," according to the website! Today, the Englert has a full calendar of speakers, comedians, musicians, and more!

Five Flags Theater, Dubuque

Although the Five Flags Theater didn't get its current name until 1976, the building has a long history! The official website says:

"The building at 4th and Main was reconstructed as the Majestic Theater in 1910 after a fire destroyed the original structure."

After the theatre fell into a state of disrepair, it was scheduled to be demolished in 1969. Citizens started a fundraiser to save the theatre, and it was a success! The Five Flags Theatre is now part of the Five Flags Center, which also has an arena for larger events.

Other historic venues in Iowa that still host concerts include:

Looking for a list of concerts happening in Iowa in 2024? Check one out HERE!

The Elkader Jail House Inn

Did you know that Eastern Iowa is home to an inn that used to be a jail? Take a peek inside the Elkader Jail House Inn!

Gallery Credit: Courtlin

The Highlander Hotel

2525 Highlander Plaza in Iowa City is home to The Highlander Hotel, a retro hotel with a unique history. After undergoing extensive renovations over the past several years, here's a peek at what it looks like now!

Gallery Credit: Courtlin

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