Coralville, North Liberty & Swisher, IA: Johnson County
Iowa City Area: 1988-My mom and I move to Goosetown (Northside Iowa City) from our home in Marion, IA. Back in 1988, there didn’t seem to be many reasons to head off to Coralville, North Liberty, or Swisher. Why would you venture off to Coralville? Well, there’s a “strip” there with a few good restaurants and a little shopping with a few carnival rides in the Hy-Vee parking lot. What do you need in North Liberty? We hear there “might” be some brand new developments going up with some affordable homes being built. It’s kinda on our way to the lake too. Could be a place we’re interested in, but we don’t know if the local elementary school is going to make it. Better stay put where a school is nearby. Why go to Swisher? Because The Mavericks are playing at Dance-Mor and I just learned how to chew Kodiak without barfing and I’m totally going to dip when I get there!
The Corridor: 2015-Three kids in the back needing to be entertained in the middle of summer break and none of us want to venture far from our home in Hills, IA. Take the Interstate 80-East exit from HWY 218-North and shimmy on over to the Coralville ramp and left on to what was once the lonely stretch of HWY 965. What we called the “scenic” route or “long” way to Cedar Rapids. What’s the motivation to travel to Coralville, these days? The Strip is still there, with more shopping, eating and recreation than anyone could have ever imagined 30 years ago. Now the entire north end of Coralville is crawling with locals, out-of-towners, and tourists looking to spend their income in one of the economic centers of Eastern Iowa. From big box retailers to plazas, malls and centers to locally owned businesses, hotels and dozens of restaurants, Coraville’s HWY 965 territory is producing good times, restful overnights, banquet/meeting/party facilities and plenty of full bellies.
A very brief stretch of farmland separates the city limits of Coralville as we head further north on HWY 965 into it’s neighbor of North Liberty. The local elementary school made it to the 90’s and since then one of Iowa’s fastest growing communities sprang up with now 4 elementary schools (Penn, Van Alllen, Garner and North Bend), a middle school (North Central MS) and soon a brand new high school (Liberty High). Long gone is the iconic Penn Way Park , where the areas softball leagues played. Penn Way was once the only reason why myself, and many others, would make the “drive” to North Liberty, along with Quail Creek Golf Course. Then some dirt started to move. A LOT of it. Now business is booming on their stake of HWY 965 and in every sprawling corner of North Liberty. Like it’s southern companion to the south, NL’s 965 is showing the state of Iowa how you get things done! It showcases new restaurants, retail, and industry growth as well as some of the best recreational destinations in Johnson County. We are talking about golf, indoor track, swimming, marinas, fishing, biking and walking/jogging paths! It’s safe to say that you’re more than welcome to work up a sweat on NL’s 965 and not just from eating a huge steak. Which you can find there as well.
Long ago are the days when I thought passing around a plastic pop bottle to spit tobaccy juice into with my friends. I think the sight of it would possibly make me faint in my elder years. Or make me think about the time when my friend, Chris accidentally drank from one of those bottles. There were a lot of fond memories my friends and I had at the old dance hall called Dance-Mor. Now up for sale, it awaits an eager owner to spruce it up and make it into a premiere Johnson County live music venue once again. However, Swisher is currently home to another HWY 956 destination and anchors the northern outskirts of JoCo. Our final destination is Cedar Ridge Vineyards, Winery and Distillery. Not only is this jewel of Swisher making some of the states finest wines and spirits, they’re also serving up Team Goodvin’s favorite Sunday brunch the area has to offer.
The Creative Corridor’s growth spurt can be noticed in many zones that lay claim to the area. HWY 965 has had some obvious changes since I was a kid. But, there’s still room to grow. The landscape will continue to change and the families are still primed to gobble up everything The Corridor has to offer. We love our day trips, but it’s nice to know that an entire weekend can be adventurously spent just up the way on ole 965.
Read about our last get-away with our friend, Chad…….
Please take to visit…….