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

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

Relics Antique Mall and Tea Room: Largest Antique Mall in Missouri

Relics Antique Mall and Tea Room: Largest Antique Mall in Missouri

Row upon row of French and English antique china cabinets, dining tables and beds…booths stacked with nostalgic toys that bring back childhood memories…fashion jewelry just right to complete your outfit…the perfect statue or painting to add pizazz to your newly decorated room. Over 500 vendors in 90,000 square feet of space make Relics Antique Mall in Springfield, Missouri, the state’s largest store of its kind. In fact, Relics is so large that it’s a destination in itself, complete with a tea room so you don’t even have to leave for lunch. Read more