Iowa September 09, 2017
10 Places You Must Stop During a Border to Border Road Trip Across Iowa
The Avenue of the Saints connects St. Paul, Minnesota to St. Louis, Missouri. It also makes an excellent road trip from Iowa’s northern border to its southern border in the eastern half of the state. You can do this trip in a day, but there’s so much to see that you may want to take your sweet time.
In Iowa, the Avenue of the Saints is 282 miles long. It starts in Worth County at the Minnesota state line, and ends in Lee County where Route 27 takes you into Missouri over the Des Moines River.
This four-lane highway is an easy drive, but if you don’t know where to stop, it’s just a fast way to get from one Iowa border to the other. Here are some options for things to do along the way.
1. The town of Clear Lake offers what you’d think…
Before you dismiss swimming in favor of Pumpkin Spice Everything, let’s take a moment to acknowledge that there are a few days left to lounge on the beach and soak up the last of summer’s delicious rays of sun.
Check out Clear Lake’s beautiful beach at 205 Main Ave.
2. If you get hungry in Mason City, you are in luck.
Try the Suzie-Q Café to get you in the mood for a real throwback to the 1950s. This is one of only 52 "Valentine-style" restaurants in the US. It opened in 1948. The food is great and the ambiance is divine. The Suzie-Q Café is located at 14 2nd St. NW in Mason City. It’s tiny, so plan to sit outside, or take your food on the road with you.
3. Fans of Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs should stop by the Historic Park Inn Hotel in downtown Mason City at 15 W. State Street and the adjacent City National Bank.
Both are Wright’s designs. He was the architect on six hotel projects in the world, and this one in Mason City is the only building of its kind still standing.
4. After traveling the somewhat desolate stretch of the Avenue of the Saints between Mason City and the Cedar Falls/Waterloo area, you’ll be ready to stretch your legs a bit.
At Palmers Family Fun, you can nurture your inner kid with a spirited game of laser tag, miniature golf or archery tag. Spend some quality time in the batting cages or discharge excess energy on the giant jumping pillow.
You’ll find this wonderland at 1666 West Airline Highway in Waterloo.
5. By the time you get to Cedar Rapids, you’ll probably be hungry.
Head to the New Bo area for some great options. For a locally sourced dining experience with excellent cocktails and a fun atmosphere, Pig and Porter is an excellent choice. Bonus; Iowa-based RAYGUN has all the road trip souvenirs you need, and it is right next door. You’ll find them at 1028 3rd St. SE, Cedar Rapids.
6. You’ll want to spend some time in the Coralville and Iowa City area.
Lake Macbride State Park at 3525 Highway 382 NE, Solon, is Iowa’s largest state park at 2180 acres. Go for a walk through the beautiful woods on one of the many trails, visit the beach on the north side of the park, or rent a boat and enjoy a beautiful view of the park from the water.
7. If you’d rather spend time shopping, check out the quaint Ped Mall area in Iowa City.
People watch from the outside seating area of the Bread Garden, take a stroll down the street to the Iowa Artisan’s Gallery, and be sure to check out the lobby of the beautiful Hotel Vetro.
8. Further south, you’ll get the chance to spend some time in Amish country. The
The town of Kalona has unique shopping opportunities, including the Amish-owned Stringtown Grocery. They are closed on Sundays, and only accept cash as payment. This bulk food store has everything you might need in the way of road snacks for the last portion of the trip. It’s at 2208 540th St., SW Kalona.
9. Before you get to Mount Pleasant, you’ll pass Riverside.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is the future birthplace of James T. Kirk. It’s at 51 IA-22, Riverside.
10. In Mount Pleasant, it’s very important that you eat Thai food.
This probably seems like a strange suggestion. Pad Thai at 119 N Main St., Mount Pleasant has a 4.5-star rating and 52 reviews on Yelp. It’s the highest and most frequently rated restaurant in town.
Have you visited any of these places?