The Quad Cities of Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa, and Rock Island and Moline/East Moline, Ill., are among my family's favorite low-cost weekend destinations.
It's partly because so much there is free and partly because the stuff that isn't free is downright cheap.
No. 1 on our list is the free John Deere Pavilion in Moline. The kids love climbing on the gigantic farm machinery, hubby liked learning about the history of Deere, and I was just happy to be out of the car.
This spring, Deere added a children's corner to keep little ones busy.
In the center of the Mississippi River is Arsenal Island, home to the free Rock Island Arsenal Museum, which tells the history of the U.S. Army base, and the Mississippi River Visitor Center, where kids can learn about the world's largest Roller Dam.
When the Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau recently invited me for a visit, it was to check out a side of the small towns I never knew: their arts and culture.
Turns out the Quad Cities has a world-class art museum, the Figge in Davenport.
This museum opened in 2005 in a cutting-edge glass and steel structure overlooking the Mississippi River.
It features a breathtaking exhibit of Jackson Pollock works. There's a section where kids can make their own art. Admission is just $7 adults; $6 seniors and students; $4 age 4-12.
Next trip we plan to check out some of the 150 miles of riverfront bike trails that line both sides of the mighty Mississippi River.
We may bring our bikes or rent them from the Quad Cities Visitor Center for $7 per hour or $28 for the day. Rentals are available through Nov. 1.
Cindy Richards is the mom of two who gets her muse from traveling the world, usually with kids in tow. She also writes for TravelingMom.com, where she also serves as editor.
See more of Cindy's stories here.