We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Le Claire
Le Claire is a charming small town of 3,765 people that was put on the map by the popular TV show, “American Pickers.” The show’s hosts set up their shop, Antique Archaeology in Le Claire. When you visit, make sure to check out the shop, as well as the Cody Road Historic District (shown above). You’ll also want to check out the Buffalo Bill Museum and sample the "Iowish Whiskey" at the Mississippi River Distilling Company.
Decorah, also known as Iowa’s “little Norway,” has a population 8,127 and is located amongst the scenic bluffs of Northeastern Iowa. Decorah is home to the amazing Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, named one of 15 Best Small-Town Museums in the U.S. by Fodor’s. Other notable places to visit include Dunning’s Springs, the Ice Cave, and Seed Savers, a beautiful farm dedicated to preserving America’s endangered seeds and plants.
3. St. Donatus
St. Donatus is an authentic Luxembourger village, right here in Iowa. With only a population of 135, it may be small, but it’s big on charm. The town is surrounded by incredible natural beauty and is filled with historic architecture and Luxembourg heritage. Make sure to sample some Luxembourg dishes at Kalmes Restaurant while you’re there, and pay a visit to the St. Donatus Catholic Church.
Pella, population 10,344, is incredibly quaint and charming, with its Dutch heritage and architecture. While you’re there, make sure to pay a visit to the Vermeer Windmill, and visit the Dutch town square, featuring the Molengracht Canal. The town’s main event is the annual Tulip Festival, a must see.
5. Mount Vernon
Mount Vernon is a beautiful little college town of around 4,506 people. Mount Vernon is home to Cornell College, the only college in the country with its entire campus listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While you’re there, make sure to peruse the charming shops along Main Street, and stop in for some coffee at Fuel or some delicious wood-fired pizza and a glass of wine at the Lincoln Wine Bar.
6. The Amana Colonies
The total population for the Amana Colonies is around 1,200, although the colonies are made up of seven villages: Amana (or Main Amana), East Amana, High Amana, Middle Amana, South Amana, West Amana, and Homestead. There’s plenty to explore in these charming villages, from the General Store, to a variety of shops featuring local, handcrafted items, to the Woolen Mill. For some authentic German fare, make sure to stop in at the Ox Yoke Inn.
Bentonsport is one of the Villages of VanBuren and is home to about 500 people. It is full of amazing shops and local charm. Make sure to check out the Greef General Store, take an Amish buggy ride, and sample some homemade fudge at Forever Sweet Creations. If you’re staying overnight, make sure to book your stay at the historic Mason House Inn, a famously haunted Iowa spot.
Winterset, population 5,190, has many charms, most famously of course, are the covered bridges of Madison County. You’ll also want to check out the city park, with its hedge maze and the amazing overlook at Clark Tower. Make sure to visit John Wayne's birthplace, as well.
McGregor has about 870 people and incredible scenery, as it’s situated between the Northeast Iowa bluffs and the Mississippi River. Nearby attractions that are a must see are Pikes Peak State Park and Spook Cave. Also, just wander around the town and explore the shops, take in the scenery, and marvel at the interesting buildings.
10. Elk Horn
Elk Horn is a tiny Danish town, population 650. On your visit, make sure to see the only working Danish windmill outside of Denmark, as well as the Museum of Danish America. Elk Horn is also home to Morning Star Chapel, a miniature chapel that seats four.
Dyersville has a population 4,100 and is most well known for being the home of the “Field Of Dreams” movie site. Other must-visit spots in Dyersville include the St. Francis Basilica and the National Farm Toy Museum.