The Register’s-Annual-Great-Bicycle-Ride-Across-Iowa (RAGBRAI) has spoken! The 2015 route has been announced and The Iowa Gallivant will be scouting all 8 overnight stops. We begin with the 7th overnight locale that’s conveniently close to our headquarters in Hills- Iowa River Landing in Coralville, one of Johnson County’s premiere destinations for dining, shopping, festivals, and lodging. And this July, the spandex nation of hardcore cyclists will descend on to Coralville before they make their final charge to the Mississippi. IRL (Iowa River Landing) provides entertaining opportunities for the whole family. But, on this day we say adios to 3/5’s of Team Goodvin and take advantage of a night out between JayJay and Monie. There will be no juice boxes, animal crackers, or teddy bears packed on this trip. Instead we prepare ourselves for a “spirit” filled, gastro-tour gallivant through IRL with a few pleasant diversions along the way. Here we go…..Bring it IRL!
We parked our car in the ramp near our hotel, where it didn’t move for 24 hours, and made our way to the museum center of IRL, the Antique Car Museum of Iowa and the Johnson County Historical Society Museum. As you’ll see in this article, IRL is a great place for entertainment and strives to provide a great cultural experience with this Johnson County gem and a wide array of public art.
We love a great meal and a tall drink, but we are also history buffs above anything else. The IRL museums are loaded with a great variety of both vehicles and the history of this great area. They were a “must see” to start out our RAGBRAI scouting.
Local historical museums are some of my favorite places to visit when traveling anywhere. Not only do they supply a wealth of great artifacts and history of the local areas, but they also supply an ample amount of ideas for our future journeys across Iowa.
We’re hungry and extremely thirsty. Combing through old Cadillac’s and 19th century history will do that to a person. We break stride and head directly across the street to Vesta!
One of our rules, when traveling for the Iowa Gallivant, is to seek delicious meals and satisfying beverages inspired by local producers. Vesta nailed it!
The day is young and we have A LOT more to do at IRL. A short walk uphill from Vesta is a concentrated block of restaurants and shopping. We’ve started with a dose of red meats, hops, and barley, so it’s time for grapes, caffeine, and pastries. We venture on to the deeps of IRL…………
Time to pace ourselves and the neighbors across the street have our stomachs and sweet tooth covered. Beer, wine and now…..cupcakes. Because arm wrestling challengers weren’t available, ok!
Time for the best energy boost that IRL has to offer. Right next to the sweet shop is a supplier of red-eyes, espresso shots, fine teas, and anybody’s favorite coffee drinks. Time to recharge at Waterstreet Coffee Bar!
It’s late in the afternoon and that means it’s time to check into our hotel room for the night. Who needs to drive home when you have the Coraville Marriott anchoring IRL! The Marriott staff was welcoming, helpful, and ready to direct us to their favorite spots and delicious meals.
Did we mention how kick-ass the Marriott staff was? Well, they are! About 10 seconds after reaching our room, we heard a knock on our door. Welcoming us into the IRL was Natasha and delivery from room service.
Unpacked, clothes changed, and plans made to meet some companions that will join our IRL adventure. Ryan, from the front desk, prepares the Marriott shuttle and zips us up to 30hop. Home to a huge variety of craft beers from Iowa and abroad. The 30hop dinner bell is calling the Iowa Gallivant!
Time to take a walk down hill and get the evening warmed up. We take on another craft beer haven and mosey in to the Backpocket Brewing…..where there’s beer.
The night’s end is in sight. But, there will be no sleeping until we get some sushi. I think that’s a rule somewhere in the bylaws of the local board of tourism. And if it’s not, it should be. Lucky for Team Goodvin, IRL was way ahead of us. Konomi Grill, please.
Belly…..full. Head…..swimming a little. The nice soft bed at the Marriott…..awaiting. IRL showed us a great day. We had 12 hours to go. Time to spend a good chuck of that time remaining snoring from the top floor. We still had some ground to cover in the morning. Until sunup IRL……….Hold on! We need a book. Good thing that the Marriott has the Iowa Writer’s Workshop Library on it’s first floor with plenty of books to check out during your stay.
We’re up and ready to tackle our last few hours at IRL. And as they say, the breakfast buffet is the most important part of the day. The Coralville Marriott has a great place just for that request. Breakfast at the Edgewater Grille!
After breakfast, we toured around the Marriott property and through IRL and enjoyed the great artwork by local artists. The perfect way to wrap up our afternoon on a much needed second day of 40 degree weather. It’s like having a 75 degree day in Phoenix. Nice but keep a coat close by.
The time has come to make our way back to Hills. RAGBRAI will be at IRL in July and the whole place is still buzzing about the recent announcement. Their preparations have begun, our scouting of overnight #7 has concluded, and we have had the IRL experience. Have fun in July and here’s to a great future ahead!
And now a few very special thank you’s from the entire Iowa Gallivant team……
And to all the owners, workers, and employees that keep these great IRL businesses running for the locals and legions of tourists to come. See you all again very soon!