Explore Muscatine, Iowa

It’s so easy to get where you want to go in Downtown Muscatine; everywhere is just a short, flat walk from The Merrill Hotel. Shops, sites, the riverfront, restaurants, and nightlife are all within an easy six-block stroll. If you’re up for a bit of a hike up a hill, head West up 3rd Street into the Historic West Hill District. You’ll be amazed at the variety of 19th & 20th Century homes found there. Then head back down 2nd Street to find a cool drink or bite to eat.

Come experience life in Muscatine.

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Things to Do in Muscatine

Whether you're looking for a bite to eat, a refreshing beverage, or an experience in nature, it's within walking distance from The Merrill Hotel. Head a half-mile toward the Mississippi River, where you can stroll through Riverside Park. Or enjoy a jog or bike ride on the Running River Bike & Pedestrian Rail System. If it's food and drink you're after, stop in the Contrary Brewing Company where you can enjoy more than 20 local brews on tap. Get a taste of history at the National Pearl Button Museum. View renowned artworks from Chagall, Picasso, Renoir, and O'Keefe at the Muscatine Art Center or grab your favorite book from Musser Public Library. It's all within six miles of the hotel.

The History of Muscatine

Credited with the settlement of Muscatine in 1834, Benjamin Nye came to the county and founded a store and three mills. His Pine Creek Grist Mill still stands today in Wildcat Den State Park. As settlers started populating the area, one by the name of Colonel George Davenport brought stock and established a trading post. Growth continued with settlers establishing towns around Muscatine which was then known as Bloomington. Because of the confusion of receiving mail, much of it going to Bloomington, IL or Bloomington, IN, the settlers needed to choose a name for the town. Historians claim the name was taken from the Mascoutin Indians who had lived in the area, or the Indian name for Muscatine Island. In 1850, the new name of Muscatine was adopted for both the town and county.

In the early days of Muscatine, businessmen created industries like lumbering, saw and planing mills, sash and door factories, and other forms of woodworking. But as the industry grew, the nearby forests shrank forcing them to make use of the established railways and forests up the Mississippi. Industries grew as John Fred Boepple and Nicholas Barry settled in Muscatine. Boepple’s trade was button making from animal horns, but he soon discovered that freshwater mussel shells made for better buttons. With the help of Barry’s invention of the button machine, Muscatine became the world’s largest pearl button manufacturer, and is often referred to as "The Pearl of the Mississippi."

Muscatine grew in industry with companies like Heinz, HON Corporation, and Bandag, giving it the need for an established government. A mayor-council government was formed to run the day-to-day operations of the city. We remain proud of our heritage and the strong industrial base present today. Mark Twain, who lived in Muscatine in 1854, once wrote, "I remember Muscatine for its summer sunsets. I have never seen any on either side of the ocean that equaled them." Today, Muscatine is the thriving city you see just outside our hotel. And The Merrill Hotel & Conference Center is poised to anticipate and support community growth for years to come.

For more about the Muscatine area and things to do, check out Visit Muscatine.

For more information about the surrounding Quad Cities, check out Visit Quad Cities.