11 Delectable Midwest Chocolate Treats

11 Delectable Midwest Chocolate Treats

Dark chocolate—it’s one treat I can’t pass up. A few years ago on a press trip we were tasting chocolate at a chocolate shop.  I was skipping the milk chocolate and going right for the dark. One of my fellow travel writers said, “Even if I never meet you again, I will always connect you with dark chocolate.” Yep, that’s me.  I’ve tasted a lot of Midwest chocolate over the past few years, and am sharing with you 11 of my favorites, in no particular order, plus two from beyond the Midwest. Read more

Bed and Breakfasts: 10 Etiquette Questions Answered

Bed and Breakfasts: 10 Etiquette Questions Answered

I used to avoid staying in bed and breakfasts. The pictures I saw of them were lovely, but I wasn’t sure of the etiquette. Do I knock when I get there? How about every time we come and go? Will coming in late at night be a problem? Will we have to share a bathroom with other guests? (Please—no!)

Then I went on a press trip, and they assigned us to a bed and breakfast. Oh no! What to do? Everything worked out just fine that weekend. The beautifully decorated Victorian mansion included a Jacuzzi tub in every room, and we were the only guests staying there that night. Since then, bed and breakfasts have become one of our favorite types of accommodation, and we stay in them often.

If you have yet to stay at a B&B for any of the fears I had, fear no more. Here are answers to 10 questions you may have about staying in a bed and breakfast. Read more

New Year’s Eve in the Midwest for $25 or Less

New Year’s Eve in the Midwest for $25 or Less

You don’t have to spend a fortune to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Here are 12 events throughout the Midwest that won’t break the budget before the New Year even begins. (Updated for New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2017.) Read more

Nina and Pinta Replicas Sail the Mississippi, Dock for Tours

Nina and Pinta Replicas Sail the Mississippi, Dock for Tours

We first wrote about the Nina and Pinta replicas in 2013, when we stumbled across the ships in Clinton, Iowa. The Nina and Pinta, replicas of two Columbus’ ships, offer tours to the public. A couple of weeks ago we visited Peoria, Illinois. As we walked down to the Illinois River to board the Spirit of Peoria for a moonlight cruise, we noticed the Nina and Pinta replicas docked there.  Checking the schedule, we found the ships were in Peoria through September 24, 2017. Their next stop was Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where they’ll be from September 29 through October 8. Read further for our original experience and descriptions of the Nina and Pinta replicas.  Read more

Apple Time at Peake Orchards

Apple Time at Peake Orchards

As I toured Peake Orchards in Waukon, Iowa, I bit into a Honeycrisp apple. As fruit goes, apples have never been one of my favorites. But that Honeycrisp was true to its name—a crisp crunch followed by sweet flavor. I’d find out later why the apple tasted so good, but at the moment I was learning about all the work that goes into raising apples. Read more

National Czech and Slovak Museum: Stories of Real People

National Czech and Slovak Museum: Stories of Real People

When visiting someplace I haven’t been before, I often tour a historical museum to learn the history and culture of the area. While the general history of an area is interesting, what I find most intriguing are stories of individuals. Hearing stories of real people, especially everyday people, makes the history of a place come alive for me. I was fascinated by several of those stories when I visited the National Czech and Slovak Museum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Read more

11 Midwest Popcorn Shops You Must Try

11 Midwest Popcorn Shops You Must Try

I’ve mentioned here before that if  I could have only one snack food for the rest of my life, it would be cheese popcorn. But not just any cheese popcorn. The supermarket stuff won’t do. It must be super cheesy, the kind you can only find in a gourmet popcorn shop. So every time I stumble upon a popcorn shop in my travels, I must go in and buy some.  Here are 11 Midwest popcorn shops I’ve come across in the past few years that offer rich gourmet cheese popcorn—and caramel corn in lots of flavors if you prefer your popcorn sweet. Read more

Midwest Wanderer 2016 Top 10 Posts

Midwest Wanderer 2016 Top 10 Posts

At Midwest Wanderer we write about a variety of article topics. We like to include a mix of restaurants, attractions, festivals, and accommodations. So I was pleasantly surprised when I ran the list of the Midwest Wanderer 2016 Top 10 (most viewed) posts and the top four were a bakery, an attraction, a hotel, and a festival. Apparently you, our readers, like a variety of topics, too. Here is the list of Midwest Wanderer 2016 Top 10 posts: Read more

Webster City: Exploring Rural Life – Day 3

Webster City: Exploring Rural Life – Day 3

This summer we spent a weekend in Webster City, an agricultural community in North Central Iowa. On Day 1 and Day 2 of our visit, folks from the community chatted with us about farming past and present. The third day of our visit highlighted local community entertainment, as well as a stop at a local grocer that emphasizes locally produced foods. Read more

Webster City: Exploring Rural Life – Day 2

Webster City: Exploring Rural Life – Day 2

I mentioned in my post covering Day 1 of our visit to Webster City, Iowa, that one of my favorite things about my job as a travel writer is learning about a myriad of subjects. Another thing I love is meeting people from different walks of life and hearing their stories. On Day 2 of our visit to this rural community, I met shop owners, artists, farmers, and a student working on his doctoral degree. Every one of them had an interesting story to tell. Read more