Decorah, IA: Winneshiek County
Day 2 brought us a day in the low 30’s which made for perfect snowball and fort construction conditions. Our weekend Christmas home at Whitetail Cabin had a great hill for sledding and timber for the kids to go exploring. Yet another perk to this beautiful property just 1 mile outside Decorah. The kids worked up an appetite and we knew it wouldn’t take long to locate a great place for breakfast.
The action never stopped while we were at Ruby’s Restaurant. It was Christmas Eve and orders were flooding in and it wasn’t just from the customers at the tables. Folks were picking up orders of Ruby’s infamous baked goods that countless regulars have been enjoying for many years. Even with all the usual holiday madness, the owner was able to come out talk to us about the history of her proud restaurant and her baking expertise, even sending over some of her homemade caramel popcorn balls to gift us. Family members from all over her tree team-up with loyal employees to prepare traditional Norwegian pastries, huge pecan rolls, cinnamon rolls, and pies that include their world famous raisin sour cream pie that has become a must-have for local families during the holidays.
If there’s anything that I want to do more after having a big ‘ol breakfast, it is going out and shopping small and shopping local. Decorah has more than enough places to scratch this important itch and we were able to get some much needed last minute Christmas shopping accomplished. We found some treasures at Agora Arts, a cool shop that specializes in selling merchandise from American artists, with many of them from Iowa. A few doors down is Ace Kitchen Place with countless supplies for any cook. Our daughter, Gigi, has been on a hardworking cooking binge lately, and she found her fantasy land at AKP.
Weaving in and out of Decorah’s many shops gives you the urge to fuel up. Just off the main drag is Impact Coffee Bar & Roasters with their state of the art coffee drafts and brewed to order cups of gourmet grounds dripping away into cups all day long. Impact was packed with customers and still keeping up with professional speed. Monie ordered the Chai Leche while I got my go to cold brew with espresso added to it. Because I like the feeling of being able to twirl a bowling ball on my finger if I wanted to. I’ll do it someday, just watch!
We hit the road and drove a little outside of town and found our way to wonderful winery less than 20 minutes away. Yet another family run institution in the Decorah area with a stunning facility. Winneshiek Wildberry Winery is all you would imagine when it comes to a countryside winery in Iowa and more. There was a unique story behind every varietal of WWW’s wine. Great humor is essential with anything and it happens to be one of their main ingredients. We left with a bottle of their Rhubarb Crisp and Cranberry Crush. Those made it home and not in anybody’s stocking. Ole and Lena would have wanted us to keep them for ourselves.
Lunchtime was upon us and I knew I wasn’t getting out of Decorah without picking up one of the best pizza pies in Iowa. I dropped off the kids and wife at the cabin to run into town to Mabe’s Pizza, which has been serving up the circular miracle feast of tomato sauce and cheese for generations. I ordered up a large cheese and medium deluxe loaded with sausage, pepperoni, onion, green bell peppers, and mushrooms. We weren’t the only one in Decorah with same idea. The tables at Mabe’s were full, the phone was ringing off the hook and that meant their was an obvious wait during one of their busiest days of the year. And I couldn’t have been happier to hear that. Time to get in more exploring! Just up the block is T-Bock’s Sports Bar & Grill. I had so much in common with everyone there too. We all loved beer! The regulars told stories of their town and directed me to places all over the area. Mostly fishing stories on this day and we embellished our best catches using balls of Velveeta cheese. I recommend biting the head off the trout immediately after catching it. You’ll get the great flavor of processed cheese at the end. Delicious! I think it’s time to get back to the cabin with the pizza…..
We picked up some supplies at Quillin’s grocery store for the evening at the cabin. Local summer sausage from Polashek’s Locker and pickled herring for a little surf and turf NE-Iowa style. Above to the left is reaction #1 to the appetizer and reaction #2 is to the right. I ate every bite of the pickled herring with pure joy. We also stayed up late playing Yahtzee, Scattergories, and more Uno. We had the radio turned up while we laughed for hours and danced in the kitchen of the cabin. Cookies were consumed, hot chocolate slurped up, and the Team Goodvin version of a lip sync battle to tunes playing on the local FM station. This was truly one of the happiest Christmas Eve’s we ever had.
Christmas morning came quickly as the kids ran up stairs one-by-one to see if we could open presents. Gigi left out cookies and chocolate milk and was relieved that Santa Claus found our us even though we were out of town this year. We opened our gifts at the cabin and took our time straightening up. We were in no rush what-so-ever to leave Decorah. We had the Christmas time of our lives and I am very genuine when I say that it was indeed the greatest of all-time for us. We packed in more yuletide memories in 2.5 days than we could have possibly expected. So many of the local were excited to hear that we came up to Decorah for the holidays and welcomed us as if we have been visiting for years. We can’t thank you enough, Winneshiek County. We have made so many memories here and we hope to see all of you more often. Christmas well done, Decorah. We loved every minute of it!
And now for some HUGE thank yous…..
Be sure to read about more of our Decorah Christmas adventures in Day One!
Thanks for reading! -Team Goodvin
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