2015 marks the first full year of The Iowa Gallivant and we couldn’t be more proud to call the Hawkeye Sate home. We hope you enjoy our 2015 top 20 list and reading about some of our adventures in Iowa throughout the past 12 months. We’re able to write every blog with ease due to all the fun we have traveling. However, coming up with a top 20 list has proven to be amazingly difficult. A pleasant anguish to have if you ask me. On behalf of everyone in Team Goodvin, we thank all of you that we have met and shared our lives with in 2015. Our blog doesn’t excel without the hard work of others that assist with our efforts, both directly and indirectly. We can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store for us. Here’s your top 20, Iowa!
-JayJay, Monie, Charlie, Leah & Gigi
20. Miller’s Honor Near Parnell (Iowa County)
Not only does Miller Farms produce some of the best sweet corn in the state, they depend on you to abide by their not so strict method of payment. With summer chores needing to be accomplished they must trust their customers by using the honor code for when it comes to paying. Just drop your money in the container and walk away with your corn. It’s that simple!
19. The Instructors of Skydive Iowa Near Brooklyn (Poweshiek County)
My friend, Tex, received the birthday present of a lifetime from his dear wife. His first jump from 1000’s of feet above Iowa farmland. The instructors at Skydive Iowa were professional, thorough, confident, and supplied some much needed humor to the jumpers. You needed all of these qualities when tumbling out of plane strapped to another man.
18. Cutting Our Ties in LeClaire (Scott County)
We heard of this tradition before visiting LeClaire and thought we’d wear our finest tie for the impending snipping. Sneaky Pete’s has hundreds of neckties decorating the restaurant from customers who were “lucky” enough to dare enter with this common fashion accessory. The staff was very gentle and quick when it came to the removal.
17. Re-Purposing in Downtown Fort Dodge (Webster County)
We seek locally owned businesses everywhere we go. One of our favorite places we visited was Lily Grace on Central. The Fort Dodge authority in re-purposed merchandise. The crew was fun and welcoming and clearly beyond talented.
16. Northside Oktoberfest in Iowa City (Johnson County)
Beer! Do I need to elaborate? The annual Northside Oktoberfest is one Iowa City’s best collection of brews, party goers, and all around good time. The historic Northside neighborhood blocks off their streets to allow dozens of vendors to showcase their beers while the thirsty aficionados mill around and sample the afternoon away.
15. A Little Bohemian Rhapsody in Davenport (Scott County)
You can’t have a great meal without a friendly staff. Rock’s Anchor Grill has that part covered along with having fun at the same time. We ate our breakfast while enjoying a moment to sing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody with our server as it came on the radio. Rock’s also had great food and received The Iowa Gallivant’s award for our Favorite Plate of Biscuits & Gravy in the State of Iowa. Mama mia let me go!
14. Lunch with Ray in Storm Lake (Buena Vista County)
A cross pollination of the ages. The Forgotten Iowa Historical Society meets The Iowa Gallivant! While visiting Storm Lake, we caught up with Ray and devoured a great meal at La Juanita. One of the BEST Mexican restaurants in the state.
13. Farmer’s Daughter’s Market in Hiawatha (Linn County)
How about a place that you can shop for gifts, plants and supplies for your home and garden, local art, local wine, and have a wonderful meal that utilizes locally sourced ingredients. Farmer’s Daughter’s Market has all of that covered!
12. The Cevapi Sandwich in Waterloo (Black Hawk County)
How far would you travel for a mouthwatering sandwich? Team Goodvin is willing to go very far to follow any legendary dish. And Waterloo has proven to be home to such a legend. A classic Bosnian sandwich with juicy country steak between home baked bread that’s dipped into a stock of veal bones and toasted on a flat top grill. Why aren’t you going to Waterloo right now?
11. Wildcat Den State Park Near Muscatine (Muscatine County)
We have a goal to visit as many state parks as we can. We know that one of the most memorable parks will always be Wildcat Den. A perfect blend of recreation, leisure, and important Iowa history all in one park.
10. America’s History in Colo (Story County)
The proud expansion of America’s highway system, of the early to mid 20th century, can be experienced in the small town of Colo. A corner where two historic routes cross and the story of the great American road trip can be told.
9. Finding the Grave of Chief Black Hawk Near Selma (Van Buren County)
We love history and it would be impossible to accurately tell the story of Iowa without illustrating the impact Chief Black Hawk had on our state. My oldest daughter, Leah, has been independently studying Native American culture and wasn’t letting us leave Van Buren County without finding Black Hawk. We all left a cigar behind and then let Leah have a few minutes to herself. She wept as we walked back to our car.
8. Sledding the Streets of Mount Vernon (Linn County)
Right between downtown Mount Vernon and the campus of Cornell College is a unique sledding experience. The city blocks off one of its steepest hills to traffic for winter recreation. Both children and parents can be seen enjoying the snow all the while being a snowball’s throw away from unique local shopping and restaurants.
7. Tubing with Rock-n-Row Adventures in Eldora (Hardin County)
Summer time in Iowa yields many opportunities to stretch your legs. Sometimes its nice to kick them up for a few hours. Floating down the historic Iowa River gives you just that chance. And Rock-n-Row Adventures has all you need. Campsites, live music, and all the tubing gear you’ll need.
6. Iowa River Landing in Coralville (Johnson County)
We spent 24 hours inside Coralville’s premiere destination for entertainment, restaurants, shopping, and lodging. From the moment we arrived to our room at the Marriott, through our wine tasting, our flight of craft beers, the jaunt around the grounds searching for public art…..
5. Jon-Jon’s Fandom in Cedar Rapids (Linn County)
Longtime Kernels bat boy and living legend of the team he works for. Jon Teig had his own bobble head promotion that was along time coming for the local baseball team. We discovered that he had a whole fan base devoted to him. One of the most important blogs we’ve done and it kicked-off our Iowa Icons series that we’re anxiously ready to expand.
4. Ladora’s Culinary Gem (Iowa County)
Nestled in the rural heart of historic US HWY 6 is an old abandoned bank turned into one of Iowa’s best restaurants. Ladora Bank Bistro has a talented executive chef devoted to sourcing his menu from local farmers. The decor makes you wonder when the Rat Pack will be strolling in while simultaneously reminding you that you’re still in small town Iowa.
3. An Amish Family Meal Near Bonaparte (Van Buren County)
The appreciation our family had for this meal and family who prepared it cannot be measured. The Sunrise Bakery prepares a buffet of some of the most delicious comfort food you can find in Iowa. And much of it is grown and raised right on their family farm.
2. Independence Day Weekend in Hills (Johnson County)
Not only does Hills traditionally have one of the best fireworks displays in the area, they have several other activities that keeps families entertained all weekend long. We moved to the little southern Johnson County town just over a year ago and we’re proud to call Hills our home base for The Iowa Gallivant.
1. The Civic Pride of Downtown Cedar Falls (Black Hawk County)
Everywhere we went, during our visit to Downtown Cedar Falls, we found a host of citizens that couldn’t more proud to a part of this city. Not only did we find a host of volunteers that assisted with their historical society, we met a number of people who worked hard at local businesses for “the fun of it.” Downtown CF exuded so much enthusiasm for their fair city, they earned and deserved our number one ranking.
Thank you for taking the time to read over our 2015 Top 20. We love traveling and hope that you can visit some of the places on this list and other great destinations we’ve had the honor to blog about. See you in 2016!
Thanks for reading! -Team Goodvin