Downtown Rock Island

The District is a downtown neighborhood located along the banks of the Mississippi River in Rock Island, Illinois. Beautiful historic buildings, modern residential living, outstanding art galleries, vibrant nightlife, innovative dining options, and a jam-packed festival calendar have made The District synonymous with fun.

Downtown’s renaissance started in 1992, when a new casino was coming to town. At that time, there was a live music club, a dinner theatre, and an arts center. It only made sense to create a new identity for Downtown Rock Island – one based on arts & entertainment. The goal was to encourage people to come Downtown, to have fun, to visit the businesses, and to return for some more fun. The first festival produced by The District was Ya Maka My Weekend, held in the summer of 1992 with only six weeks of planning.

Since then, vacant store fronts have been filled, long dormant upper floors have been transformed into loft apartments, and new businesses have opened. The renaissance is still not complete and plans are well underway to continue to improve Downtown.

Look at these pages to learn more about our arts, entertainment, dining, riverfront, and event options.

Download a map of downtown businesses.




Nightclubs and live music clubs, martini bar and coffee house, sports bars and neighborhood pubs, brew pub and daiquiri bar. They’re all in The District. Over a dozen night spots all within walking distance. It’s a party just waiting for you. Any given weekend in the summer you’ll find great live music outside. Visit The District website:




Whether you’re looking for a quick bite to eat or a five-course dinner, you can find it in The District. Varieties include: Thai, French, Chinese, Italian, and American. Soups and sandwiches to gourmet dinners, casual to formal, but one thing is consistent – it’s all scrumptious. There are enough options to fill up your entire week. During the warmer months, many restaurants provide outdoor dining. For a list of District member restaurants click here.



Local Events

The Downtown Rock Island Arts & Entertainment District (The District) hosts a series of festivals and events each year in Downtown Rock Island.

Gallery Hop! – Galleries, shops, clubs and restaurants offer a variety of music, visual & performing arts. Presented in conjunction with Midcoast Fine Arts.

Gumbo Ya Ya -Cajun, Zydeco, Jazz and Blues on two outdoor stages. New Orleans style food, crawfish eating contest, trip give-away, street performers, vendors and beads!

Red, White & Boom – Food, activities for children, spectacular fireworks display over Mississippi River.

Ya Maka My Weekend – Caribbean festival with reggae music, steel drums, Caribbean food, open air marketplace, island activities for children and sand, sand, sand!

Rock Island Grand Prix – Labor Day Weekend, – Professional karts racing event through downtown streets. Food and beverage vendors, children activities, and top notch racing action!

Fright Night – October- Children’s costume contest, treasure hunt, ghost stories, magicians, and make-and-take activities.

Gallery Hop! – December – Galleries, shops, clubs and restaurants offer a variety of music, visual, and performing arts. Great gift ideas! Presented in conjunction with Midcoast Fine Arts.

For more information, visit The District’s event calendar.




Schwiebert Riverfront Park, named after former mayor, Mark Schwiebert, for his tireless efforts to promote public use of the riverfront. The downtown park offers spectacular views of the Mississippi River, and includes an open-air stage, digital playground areas, interactive fountain, observation shelter, waterfront promenade, bike trail, and beautifully landscaped grounds.

For more information on the park visit: Riverfront Park

To View Pictures from the Grand Opening Celebration Click Here.



Downtown Tour

Take a tour through downtown! The Rock Island Preservation Commission’s “History and Architecture Downtown Rock Island” is the source. Photos taken in 2004 by Dick Oberg. Download the downtour historic tour guide here.

The Loop is new in 2010! Three new, 1950s-style retro busses will snake along the Mississippi Riverfront taking passengers to all the Quad Cities’ downtowns. The Loop will operate Thursday – Sunday and busses will run approximately ever 20 minutes. Visit for more information.



Downtown Magazine

Click here to see our latest Downtown magazine