Downtown Hampton: Unique Shops in a Rural Iowa Setting

Downtown Hampton: Unique Shops in a Rural Iowa Setting

Exploring downtown areas is one of my favorite things to do in a small town. This past fall, while we were on the Franklin County, Iowa, Harvest Tour, we had an opportunity to check out downtown Hampton, the Franklin County seat. Hampton’s town square, anchored by a stately old courthouse, is surrounded by small, independent shops and cafes, where you are often greeted by the shop owners themselves. Read more

Exploring the Bentonsport Historic District

Exploring the Bentonsport Historic District

The last stop on our tour of the Villages of Van Buren was the Bentonsport historic district, first developed by Mormon craftsmen as they migrated west along the Mormon trail in the mid-1800s. Steamboats no longer ply the nearby Des Moines River, but the historic district is still bustling. Refurbished buildings are now home to galleries, a candy shop, and a haunted bed and breakfast. Read more

Dutchman’s Store: Old-Fashioned Shop in Amish Community

Dutchman’s Store: Old-Fashioned Shop in Amish Community

In 1985 Clair Zimmerman and his wife, Virginia, opened a small general store in Cantril, Iowa, a town that serves the surrounding Amish community. They expanded…and expanded…and expanded. Today Dutchman’s Store occupies an entire block on Cantril’s main street, and it’s as much a tourist attraction as it is a grocery store…or a fabric shop…or a gift shop. Read more

Milton Creamery: Award-Winning Artisan Cheese

Milton Creamery: Award-Winning Artisan Cheese

At only 17-years-old, Galen Musser received his first U.S. Cheese Championship award for his Prairie BreezeTM cheddar. That’s just one year after he started his cheese making career. Milton Creamery cheeses have won many awards since then, including one in England.

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REA Power Plant Museum: The Beginning of Rural Electricity

REA Power Plant Museum: The Beginning of Rural Electricity

Microwave ovens, hair dryers, computers and air conditioning. Can you imagine living without the conveniences we take for granted? Yet, while towns in the United States were electrified by 1930, some parts of rural America were still in the dark in the 1950s. Thanks to the Rural Electric Administration (REA), though, farmer-owned electric co-ops began bringing electricity to farms in the mid-1930s. We recently toured the first power plant that received a grant under the REA bill, the Reeve Electric Association Plant, now the REA Power Plant Museum, in Franklin County, Iowa. Read more

Tasting Fall at Ruby’s Restaurant

Tasting Fall at Ruby’s Restaurant

When you begin breakfast with an appetizer of big, fluffy fresh-made cinnamon rolls dripping with sweet white icing and gooey-sweet caramel pecan rolls, you think you hit the highlight of the meal, but the delectable tastes don’t end with Ronnie’s World Famous Rolls at Ruby’s Restaurant in Decorah, Iowa. Read more

Pzazz!: Family Entertainment or Adults Only—You Decide

Pzazz!: Family Entertainment or Adults Only—You Decide

Fun City’s family-friendly water park, arcade, go karts and bowling alley, together with bunkbed rooms in the Pzazz Hotel…or Catfish Bend Casino gaming, spa treatment and a boutique adults-only hotel. These two completely different concepts coexist in the Burlington, Iowa, Pzazz! Complex, though you’d never know when visiting one that the other is only a walkway away. Read more

Pinter’s Gardens & Pumpkins: Garden Center, Restaurant and Fall Fun

Pinter’s Gardens & Pumpkins: Garden Center, Restaurant and Fall Fun

Come fall, Midwest garden centers bloom with mums, asters and ornamental kale. Farms open to the public for pumpkin picking, hayrides and corn maze navigation. It’s rare to find both combined and with a restaurant on the premises, to boot, which is what you get at Pinter’s Gardens & Pumpkins in Decorah, Iowa. “…with the restaurant and the garden center and the pumpkin patch, the closest would probably be Chicago, that has all what I have,” said Elisa Pinter, who co-owns Pinter’s Gardens & Pumpkins with her husband Shane. Read more