#RAGBRAI · Family Adventures · Museums and History · North Central Iowa · Outdoors All Year

Scouting RAGBRAI-2017: Charles City’s Pizza Powerhouse, Breakfast Boss, & Camping on the Endless Riverfront

Our official trip sponsor! Click on Charles City Challenge & Whitewater Weekend on June 22nd, 2019! Keep up with information on this exciting Iowa whitewater experience in America’s hometown of Charles City! (Photo from the Whitewater Weekend Facebook page)
America’s hometown can be called a RAGBRAI hometown this year. If you lose weight during the first few days of your ride, you’re gaining it back during Overnight #5!

Charles City, IA: Floyd County (Our 57th County!)

How does one get through a beautiful spring weekend in North Central Iowa? How about like a RAGBRAI’er by camping, making nice with the locals, and finding unforgettable food! And I just realized that I’ve been doing that my whole adult life so this scouting mission is a piece of cake. Wait….Piece of pizza. Like, several pieces of pizza. You clicked on this Charles City-RAGBRAI post for a reason and I need to get to the point…..

“Making nice with the locals….” That can be interpreted in many ways and Cedar River Pizza Company knows just how to local things up day after day. This was our first stop and you can see why. Joel, pizza master and owner of this establishment had some amazing ingredients ready to go for their made from scratch dough. Locally raised eggs and fresh asparagus from the farmer’s market that morning found its way onto the first of our oven baked moments of heaven. A combo that worked perfectly with the ever precious egg staying intact until our teeth got a hold of it. Pizza two was Cedar River’s take on the bacon cheeseburger. If you love your burger with the works than you will LOVE this pie. Joel will have Chuck Town’s only official pizza ovens cranking order out during the last hump before the hills and selling by the slice. Not to put any pressure on the spandex nation, but Gigi, our nine year old daughter, put down a whole cheese pizza from Cedar River by herself. No lie! And the witnesses to this gallivanting destroyer was one of our Charles City ambassadors below. Let’s coffee up!

Aromas fresh brewed miracle beans will be plenty roasted and don’t forget the cool drinks you can get here too. Yea, we managed to get down a vanilla frappe. And my iced coffee with two shots go-to. Cory Mutch, ambassador for Charles City, got our bellies full and fueled us at the same time. We need a loooooong walk. And this river town is one of Iowa’s best for a riverfront stroll….Bike ride…Jog…skipping contest…And white water adventures! What?

That’s right! When you’re not taking your bike to Charles City, take your kayak or rent one! Charles City Whitewater is one of America’s premiere destinations for kayak enthusiasts and professionals. You heard that right. Iowa is home to this treasure and the popularity of this whitewater course is soaring with every passing season. Kayaks won’t be the only sight you’ll experience on this beautiful riverfront. Keep your eyes open for disc golfers, plenty of pavilions, and the proud cable-stayed bridge. Another Iowa landmark on the rise. And check out that little theater right on the banks! I’m thinking your RAGBRAI proposal to that special someone needs to happen right there on overnight #5. And you’ll also want some opportunities to stay cool when you get here. We have a great idea….

There’s no shame in capturing a little A/C when you get a chance. And why not take in a little local culture and support Iowa’s largest county museum. The Floyd County Historical Museum goes on and on with some amazing collections from vintage tractors, Native American artifacts, and a full sized pioneer cabin and a period drugstore stocked with everything you’d need in the 1800’s and early 20th century. Billi and Barbra were there to give us a lesson and that made us hungry. And that’s not hard to do. You can say we “struck out” with the next place.

Another way you can beat the heat in Charles City is by pedaling into the Comet Bowl. Either start tossing some large spheres down the wooden ally or just grab a large beverage and a great meal. They have all the classic selections like quesadillas, French dips, and that tantalizing breaded pork tenderloin. And take a look at the Iowa brew from Coralville is getting poured into a frosty pint- their featured lap on tap is the Slingshot Dunkel from Backpocket Brewery. While taking down all this, and bowling a solid 110 (thank you bowling bumpers), We needed to look for a souvenir that you may only be able to find in Charles City during RAGBRAI.

The Rustic Corner will have their laser powered engraving doo-hickey running non-stop for all things you need etched during RAGBRAI. And why not! That blue shoe on the bottom isn’t include by the way. They have plenty of options to make your ride to Charles City even more memorable and don’t forget to ask about shipping. There’s all the handheld merch you can take with you but there most certainly could be a must-have here which is why you should wander in. Guess what? We shopped annnnnd we’re ready for another meal. You knew this was coming.

We’re back to the riverfront and The Pub on the Cedar has the space, atmosphere, beverages, and food to keep plenty of thirsty, hungry and fun-loving RAGBRAI’ers happy. It features a huge dining room with a lot of TVs, a deck overlooking the river with its own bar, and many delicious items from the menu. There’s another amazing pork tenderloin (Hey! Its Iowa!), juicy burgers and a Buffalo chicken dip you won’t be able to push away. And why would you? Another fine meal and we had just enough daylight to get the campsite set up. Charles City provided a perfect spot for The Iowa Gallivant. Ooooops! We didn’t get all our camping supplies. That’s okay because Charles City has plenty of ways to get all the supplies you need. And here’s one of them!

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

We found the place for our camping gear and theses ladies at Ace Hardware weren’t going to let us leave until we were properly prepared for tent camp’n. Let the support team captains know that they are ready for anyone needing a helpful hand to finish the journey ahead. Now back to that campsite on the mighty Cedar.


Sundown on the Cedar at R Campground is very hard to beat for any camping trip in Iowa. Geese floated by and our campfire crackled for hours on the river. As you can see we had enough room for smores and we know you will, too. It was a long day and we needed our sleep and we had no problem accomplishing that. The evening air was cool as we slept through the Floyd County night with another plan for the morning.

Waverly Hill Park….Small public park with public bathrooms, lots of shade, picnic tables and a pavilion. My kind of place to set up camp on RAGBRAI and more importantly just down the hill from Dave’s Restaurant! This place has been cooking great food in Charles City for over 25 years and has plenty of RAGBRAI experience. One look at that breakfast buffet and you can say that we ate like a mother! Because it was Mothers Day. Local Mommies and Team Goodvin had a great time at Dave’s and this was also a prequel for late July. You can carb up, coffee up, protein up, and up-up all you want at Dave’s during the breakfast hours on RAGBRAI. Bananas in the syrup? That’s a veteran move, RAGBRAI! Donuts, pecan rolls, and a side of freshly made Belgium waffles? Yup, they know how to take care of you. Omelet station, carved ham, bacon, sausage and two kinds of hashbrown casserole? Ummmm, yea! Tons of fresh fruit, salad, cold juice…Make plans for Dave’s already! And don’t leave without smashing some of their HOMEMADE biscuits and graaaaavvvvyyy… We know that breakfast is important to all of RAGBRAI and that’s why we loved our last stop in Charles City so much. Dave and his whole family welcomed us om a very busy day with amazing kindness. This was the theme throughout the whole visit to Charles City. They are all ready for RAGBRAI and you’ll see for yourself when Iowa’s whitewater welcomes you.

Be sure to read about our visits to Overnight #1 in Orange City, Overnight #2 in SpencerOvernight #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 very huge thank yous to….

To Randy and his crew at R Campground! They provided a great campsite that made our stay very memorable. We’ll see you again!

To Ginger Williams and everyone on the Charles City RAGBRAI committee. You went above and beyond to show us a great time!
Please visit RAGBRAI-2017‘s website for all updates, info, and all that is amazing about this ride!