Exploring the Mud Belt along the mighty Mississippi and soaking in all of its culture is one of our favorite pastimes. The history of this region draws us in more than anything, but over the past few years, we’ve also been drawn to what’s new on Iowa’s eastern banks.
You’re probably wondering what you should do this upcoming Labor day weekend. You may be looking up breweries you haven’t been to yet, but you also want to hit up some sweet boating opportunities before the leaves start to turn. We have your heading and the compass is pointed to Southeast Iowa. Time take on Keokuk!
The fever pitch of a new brewery is one we can pick up on very quickly. Our first stop in Keokuk is V’s Restaurant & Brewpub!
Breweries are sprouting up like crazy in Iowa and Keokuk now has its own craft brew to pour for the masses. V’s not only has some well crafted house beers, they also have a full bar and a full menu for you to settle up with. Please tell me another way that could start a Keokuk trip any better! We loved the craft beer, but there was a mission put in order for the day. The amphibious tour of Lee County by our two very talented hosts was up next!
Shelley and Jeremy welcomed us on their boat and proceeded to show us what the river had to offer between Keokuk and Montrose. The Mississippi is very wide in this area and is more reminiscent of a lake rather than a river, which makes for perfect boating conditions. The historic Grand Avenue homes of Keokuk overlooked the banks as we skimmed past them going up river. We also received an up close look of Lock and Dam #19 and the historic hydraulic plant that towers over everything that coasts by it. Keokuk is one of the Mississippi’s most infamous towns and this was our first look at it from the river. The rich history can be felt all over Keokuk and the perspective you get as you float past it is no different. The boat and barge traffic was light on this afternoon but I couldn’t help but imagine what the same waterway looked like on same day 120 years ago. As we unloaded, Shelley took us to another Keokuk landmark that was sure to very busy in the glory days of the railroad era. The newly renovated Keokuk Union Depot!
An absolute blast from the past right when pull up and walk in to the classic depot. Stunning woodwork inside the brick facade and period furniture and decor still in use and on display at the Union Depot. The main terminal can be used for parties, banquets, and meetings, while the rest of the depot is still in the progress of being restored. Soon their will be rooms for visitors to enjoy and stay in as the overlook the rail yard and passing river. This is a future must experience for anyone who loves the history of the era Keokuk is bringing back to life.
Our day was coming to an end, in Keokuk, but we weren’t leaving on an empty stomach. On the way to our next destination is a place that lured us in with what we noticed in their appetizer selections. How about some chicken livers and water chestnuts wrapped in bacon, battered and deep-fried to golden brown. Sounds like Rumaki at the Hawkeye Restaurant!
Rumaki isn’t something you find on the menu everyday in Iowa so we had to order it. A strict policy of The Iowa Gallivant. We also enjoyed some hand breaded shrimp, a wonderful chicken cor don blue on fettuccine, broccoli cheddar soup, and a generous trip to the salad bar. The Hawkeye took care of the grumbly in my tumbly pretty quickly.
Do you love hunting for unique and stunning architecture? Have you ever wanted to experience the regions that Mark Twain wrote and loved? Are you a history buff that searches for classic Americana? Does the very rumor of an interesting restaurant or brewery give you the motivation needed for another road trip? Then let’s get to Lee County and explore Keokuk. There’s always room for another group of river-drifters here.
Thanks for reading! -Team Goodvin