Book Review: Detour Nebraska

Book Review: Detour Nebraska

If you love history and enjoy traveling the Midwest, be sure to read Detour Nebraska (The History Press, 2017). Part history lesson and part historic attraction guide, author Gretchen M. Garrison guides you through Nebraska region by region. She explains the history of a city or attraction and shares details of what the attraction offers today. Read more

Shop ‘Made in Iowa’ for Unique Gift Ideas

Shop ‘Made in Iowa’ for Unique Gift Ideas

When it comes to gift giving, some people are just plain impossible to buy for. When you ask for a wish list, they tell you they don’t need a thing. Or maybe you don’t feel comfortable asking for a wish list. We have someone like that in our family. For a while we were exchanging gift cards, which seemed silly. Then one year as we were traveling in early December, browsing through gift shops, I had an idea. Why not fill a basket with goodies produced in the state we were visiting? So that year we gave this person a basket filled with locally-made wines, cheeses, honey and other edible treats. It was a big hit. Since then, I’ve been on the lookout for unique gift ideas whenever I travel. Read more

Exploring Washington Square: Side Trip from Peoria

Exploring Washington Square: Side Trip from Peoria

Washington’s square was once the bustling hub of this Illinois city’s commerce. However, as Washington grew, its services and main shopping areas moved elsewhere. Although no longer the city center, Washington Square thrives today with antiques and specialty shops, restaurants, and a newly renovated seven-room inn. Read more

Follow the Wayne County, Indiana, Chocolate Trail

Follow the Wayne County, Indiana, Chocolate Trail

Chocolate? An entire trail of chocolate? Absolutely I must do that. And so it was. During our trip to Richmond, Indiana, we indulged in not only chocolate candy, but also chocolate gelato, chocolate cake, even chocolate cheese! The Chocolate Trail includes twelve stops throughout Wayne County, each offering a chocolate sample.  And the best thing about it? It’s free! Another four stops offer a complimentary sample with purchase. With Chocolate Trail passports in hand, we made it to eight trail stops during our three days in Richmond. Read more

Ohio River Scenic Byway: A Day in Historic Newburgh

Ohio River Scenic Byway: A Day in Historic Newburgh

In the mid-1800s Newburgh, Indiana, flourished. Steamboat traffic and coal mining were big industries. Warehouses lined Water Street. Mills and small factories contributed to the town’s success. Today, the steamboats, mills and warehouses are gone. A walking trail parallels the Ohio River, with benches on which you can sit for a while and watch barges that still ply the glistening waters. Restaurants and shops attract visitors. The atmosphere is casual, resort-like. However, the town embraces its historic roots, combining the old with the new, as we discovered during our visit to Newburgh during our road trip last fall along Indiana’s Ohio River Scenic Byway. 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

Exploring NewBo: Trendy Cedar Rapids Neighborhood

Exploring NewBo: Trendy Cedar Rapids Neighborhood

When devastation strikes, it’s difficult to imagine good coming from it, but that’s what happened in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, New Bohemia neighborhood, referred to as NewBo, following the great Cedar River flood of 2008. Most buildings in the already declining New Bohemia neighborhood filled eight feet or more with floodwaters. Sadly, some historic buildings were torn down rather than repaired. However, with federal and state funds, as well as insurance money, a building resurgence occurred. Today NewBo is booming with new shops, restaurants, and pubs.

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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