#RAGBRAI · Roadside Iowa · South Central Iowa

Scouting RAGBRAI 2016-The City of Bridges and 10,000 Tacos: Ottumwa Gears Up

Chief Wapello and Ottumwa will see another round of RAGBRAI very soon!

Ottumwa, IA: Wapello County (Our 31st County!)

RAGBRAI is quickly approaching and the excitement is building all over southern Iowa. Overnight #6 is in Ottumwa and the town is anticipating a very successful celebration. It takes a lot blood, sweat, and spandex to pull off a RAGBRAI bash and Ottumwa has the ambassadors to make it happen. And we found one in about a twelfth of a second upon checking into the historic Hotel Ottumwa!

*Our stay here was complimentary. The opinions expressed on this blog post are of our own.

Located in downtown, the family operated Hotel Ottumwa has been lodging Wapello County’s visitors for decades. Sara was the main contact and was working the front desk when we arrived. She made Team Goodvin feel right at home and knew an incredible amount when it came to Ottumwa and the surrounding area. We followed her every step and it yielded a very fun and memorable day for us. The historic Sara Gerot trail through Ottumwa starts right across the street from our hotel. The one, the only, the legendary Canteen Lunch in the Ally. The birthplace of Iowa’s loose meat sandwich!

When it comes to America’s important restaurant landmarks, Canteen is on the list for a must visit. I heard folks say that everybody should stop in and have a sandwich if you’re passing through. I totally agree. However, a trip to the Canteen can be the spark to get your road trip going all in its self. Americana is beckoning everyone and Ottumwa is home to one of it’s greatest classics. The RAGBRAI nation needs get themselves a Canteen. And make it a dozen.

And save some room for a taqueria, or two, or a third one, and the tenth, and so on…..Yes, that’s right. Ottumwa is jam packed with AMAZING Mexican food. The hardest part is picking which one to go to. Hey, you’re on a bike. Go to as many as you want. Here is just some of them. And I do mean some. Our stop was at Sara’s favorite spot Mimi’s Taqueria & Bakery. By the way….I have a hunch that Mimi’s will be showing up on a future post of ours. Stay tuned….

Let’s get active and work off our Canteens and tacos. A short bike ride from downtown and across one of Ottumwa’s 978 bridges (maybe not that many, but they’re called City of Bridges for a reason) was the aquatic center known as The Beach! They’ll be open during RAGBRAI and will be free to the public all day long on July 28th. Water slides, wave pool, and plenty of activities to go around. I challenge anyone to find a better way to cool off in Ottumwa.

After you cooled off, you may want to locate your campsite. Ottumwa has a lot of public land devoted to their park system and much of it is very close to restaurants, bars, grocery stores, and plenty of shade.

It’s going to be a long day so JayJay is going to need to be coffee’d up! Like right now! Where is it! Seriously stop messing….Loooook. There’s Mia and Lexi with a giant glass of ice coffee with a double shot of espresso at the Vine Coffee House & Eatery. That will do. Thank you. I’m sorry-not-sorry about my behavior.


Close to one of Ottumwa’s parks was our dinner choice for the night. We know RAGBRAI’ers love their pasta and we happen to stumble upon a place that knows what they’re doing when it comes to this selection. Among other things too. O’Toole’s Pizzeria & Pub!

Two huge bowls filled with tender Penne! Pasta-Alfredo and Pasta-Marinara, grilled chicken, and meatballs. We also destroyed a cheesy Italian grinder loaded with O’Toole’s homemade sausage. Of course I want fries with that!

After the carb frenzy we walked up and down some of Ottumwa’s proud bridges. A perfect way to spend a summer evening after gastro-touring another great Iowa town.


Sara read up on our blog and knew right where we’d want to direct the RAGBRAI thirsty. Cold drinks of any kind will be getting served at rapid speed. And we know that Iowa craft beer will be at the top of the list for many. On the bottom floor of the Hotel Ottumwa is Tom-Tom’s Tap! Not only does Tom-Tom’s have plenty of cold Iowa craft beer, they also have one of the very first black light murals ever made.

We awoke in the morning after a relaxing night. Beds were comfortable and we had no problems crashing in to dream land. We ate our breakfast of pancakes, cinnamon rolls, and lots of bacon at the 2nd Street Cafe, another fine establishment at the Hotel Ottumwa. We took our time with breakfast because we had a lot to talk about. Like figuring out when we’re coming back to Ottumwa. And the short trip to the American Gothic House just minutes from where we were sitting. Wait! That’s another post we can do…Great idea, Sara! She works at the Hotel Ottumwa. Did we mention that? We think she’s neat-o. Have good times, Ottumwa! We know RAGBRAI will!

Be sure to look at our RAGBRAI-2016 trips to Leon, Washington, Shenandoah  and Glenwood!

Now some very HUGE thank yous..

To Abby Kisling of the Ottumwa CVB and everyone working everyday preparing Ottumwa for RAGBRAI and all their events. Our day in Ottumwa went great, Abby, and Team Goodvin can’t thank you enough for all you did for us. See you next time!
To Sara and Tim at the Hotel Ottumwa. Tim provided Team Goodvin with a great room while Sara and the rest of the crew did a wonderful job welcoming us to Ottumwa.

Please take time to visit….

rag 2016

Thanks for reading! -Team Goodvin

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