The route is on! Or announced that is. And that means The Iowa Gallivant is starting our 3rd season of scouting RAGBRAI! (Register’s-Annual-Great-Bike-Ride-Across-Iowa) There’s 8 exciting overnights to scout out and our first stop is #3 on the path of the world greatest bike tour. Algona is prepping do be this year’s premier oasis and we’re here to show the RAGBRAI nation just how Algona’s gonna rock this leg of the 2017 journey. Now would be the time to start getting a gastro-game plan ready and, thanks to Algona, your wine parties coordinated.
Pinkies up! And don’t even think that this will be the only time I make this pose while in Algona. Plum Creek Winery welcomed us in with smiles that only wine makers have. The kind of smile that says, “Oh, you say you’re here to talk about RAGBRAI? Here, let’s have another glass and talk about RAGBRAI.” Or something very close to that. This family-owned and operated winery with enough wine for the sweaty, weary and thirsty shared their wine and their history with us. We picked up some wine for home, you know, to remember them by. Now, after that delicious wine… who’s hungry?
It was getting a little dark and that meant the Algona dinner bell was ringing. Our first meal in overnight #3 was at Billie Jo’s Bar & Grill where you can have a bite of Independence Day anytime of year. Seriously! Pictured in the middle is Brie and she’ll have the beers ready while you dive into their 4th of July burger. A big beefy cheeseburger with a grilled hot dog topped with BBQ baked beans and potato chips. Everything you need for a huge bite of July which makes it perfect for RAGBRAI! This was quite the meal but we needed to soldier on and see more of Algona before we called it a day.
Just down the street was an establishment that you would expect to find in Manhattan and I’m not talking Kansas. A true Iowa oasis is The Perky Parrot with their world of cocktails poured by their professional mixologists. The owner of The Perky Parrot, Brian, was one of guides during our stay and we met him at his fine establishment. They were a brand new business the last time RAGBRAI zipped through Algona and they are more than excited to pour drinks for anyone in spandex and fancy helmet. We watched them mix and pour the night away then made our way to a brand spank’n new Algona hotel.
Crash fest was officially ready to start, for us, and the Brookstone Lodge & Suites supplied a perfect room for that sort of activity. And let me tell you this…There’s nothing better than that fresh new hotel feel and we enjoyed as much of it as we could. Including the rock solid slumber we dove into. We needed this rest because we had another big Algona day ahead. And for the first time in all of our RAGBRAI scouting the day would pick up where we left off from the night before.
It was back to The Perky Parrot for morning coffee. Like a 1920’s speakeasy, it went from a cocktail party to a very busy coffeehouse. Awesome coffee and specialty coffee drinks along with breakfast/lunch and great pastries helped wake us up, as did the conversation with locals. We asked for a more little culture and good ol’ fashion downtown Algona hospitality, which the locals provided easily.
We headed down the street with Scott, a local Algonian who is also a proud expert of the building that houses the Algona Chamber of Commerce. Louis Sullivan was one of America’s most talented architects of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and one of his works is right on Algona’s main drag. Some local residents of Algona banded together to find the components to restore this building and you can see their dedication both inside and out! This building, along with Algona’s POW museum, draws in history buffs, architecture enthusiasts, students, and Sullivan fans who trickle into town all year long just to experience historic Algona. And for chocolate! Whoa that was a little random. But chocolate!
It’s always the right time of year for homemade chocolaty treats at The Chocolate Season. We tackled the candy case with the precision sniper and ate them up like a nervous kid on Halloween. Wait a second! We did all this field work and almost skipped the most important part of any RAGBRAI trip. Breakfast and a lot of it! Hey, Algona…Egg me!
Chrome Country Inn cooks for countless locals and travelers everyday and they have a team ready to flip giant omelets, butter your toast, and smother anything you want in thick homemade sausage gravy and A LOT of it. And back too that omelet. That would be called the Chrome Deluxe. Diced ham, cheddar cheese, onions, green peppers, hashbrowns and covered with melted cheese. That will get you well on your way with the protein punch you need, my dear readers and riders. But before you leave you should have another glass of wine.
Train Wreck Winery is getting their grapes in row for the big day in July and we made sure to sample our through the old train depot. Your campsite could go to class things up for one night and Algona is just the overnight to make that happen. I pinkie swear. That’s funny and that has been officially noted, thank you very much. The good times didn’t stop here. We had souvenirs to buy for one of the most important member of our family. Back to State Street!
You guessed it! Our beautiful Australian Cattle Dog who goes by Tippy Lou was first on our shopping list while in Algona. And say this with me, “Will you ship this for me?” Algona is a veteran when it comes to hosting RAGBRAI and just about every retailer will ship for riders but it won’t hurt to ask all week long. And we know you have furry family at home and why not send them a gift from one of Iowa’s greatest pet store destinations. Pet Kingdom will truly be one of the most memorable retailers you’ll find during RAGBRAI with an endless supply of everything you need to pamper your pet. Make this stop happen! It’s a great way to cool off and so are these places below.
State Street has 5 screens that will pumping in air conditioning. A soft chair, large popcorn, tall drink, and maybe blockbuster or two. And what’s that on the right? Young man, there’s a place you can go….I said young man! (Thank you Village People) Now that I have the YMCA song in your head you might as well checkout one of Iowa’s best YMCA’s and shower up and cool down. You can get yourself clean…I said young man! (And woman…I’m just quoting the song) Hold on! I forgot to pack something very important that I know I’ll desperately need and so will RAGBRAI’ers. Algona has this covered so I can be covered.
Sweet mother of RAGBRAI pie was this a great start to our annual scouting trips. Algona is hitting the tires running and overnight #3 is in some of the best hands in Kossuth County. We found tons to do, see, and eat. And you just stay tuned to our Best Between Bread series to see what else Algona has to fill our bellies!
Be sure to read about our visits to Overnight #1 in Orange City, Overnight #2 in Spencer, Overnight #3 in Algona, Overnight #4 in Clear Lake, Overnight #5 in Charles City, Overnight #6 in Cresco, Overnight #7 in Waukon, Overnight #8 in Lansing and the bonus coverage of Scenic Allamakee County!
And now some giant thank yous to….