Greater Burlington is a colorful community on the Mississippi River that is a center for the region's jobs, healthcare, recreation, shopping, and education. Having been a river port since the early 1800s, the Port of Burlington has a rich commercial and cultural heritage.
The Port of Burlington has a humid continental climate that has large temperature differences between seasons. Summers are warm and humid, and winters can be severely cold. Temperatures range from an average high of almost 30°C (85°F) in July to an average low of -10°C (13°F) in January. The Port of Burlington gets about 37 inches of precipitation during the year with April through September as the wettest months.
One of the Port of Burlington's oldest neighborhoods is the Heritage Hill National Historic District. Visitors will find about 150 homes that are historically or architecturally significant. Built in the late 19th Century, architectural styles include Victorian, Queen Anne, Georgian, Greek Revival. The Port of Burlington Visitors Bureau has maps for self-guided tours of the District.
Within the Historic District is Snake Alley, a local landmark that was constructed in 1894 to make it easier to get from Heritage Hill to the business district. Dropping 18 meters (58 feet) the 84-meter (275-foot) road contains five turns and two curves that made it easier for horse-drawn carriages to get up and down the street. Cobblestone Alley was constructed in 1878, and it is the only surviving alley made of limestone block in the Port of Burlington.
Buildings of interest in the Port of Burlington's Heritage Hill National Historic District include the Garrett-Phelps House. Built in 1851, the home was remodeled in 1870. In 1974, the Des Moines County Historical Society purchased the home from the Phelps family and opened it to the public as a Victorian house museum. The Winter-Rand House was built in the 1850s, and the Bartholomeus Gauer House was built in the 1860s. The Fordney House was built in 1845 by Port of Burlington architect William Fordney. Today, it is a museum and gift shop. Other homes of interest in the Port of Burlington are the Bouquet House and the Peter Maul House.
The Port of Burlington's Big Hollow is the biggest park in Des Moines County. This 768-acre park has a trail system that moves through prairies and woods and loops around ponds. In addition to hiking, residents and visitors enjoy horseback riding, camping, hunting, and cross-country skiing in Big Hollow. The 178-acre lake is stocked and popular with fishermen. The beach is great for swimmers and sun-lovers. Operated by the Southeastern Iowa Astronomy Club, the John H. Witte Observatory is open to the public on the first and third Fridays.
Bangert Gardens in the Port of Burlington contains more than 200 different trees and a wide range of flowers. Visitors enjoy the moss garden, half-acre pond, and cactus garden. There are also several antique tractors and equipment on the grounds.
The Catfish Bend Casino in the Port of Burlington is a new entertainment venue with more than one thousand games that include slot machines, video poker, and high-paying progressive games. Part of the Port of Burlington's PZAZZ! entertainment complex, the Casino is located conveniently close to the Event and Convention Center and FunCity.