#RAGBRAI · Central Iowa · Roadside Iowa

Scouting RAGBRAI-2018: The Smiles of Jefferson Are Towering Over the Route

This mural and plenty of others are going to get a lot of attention during overnight #3 on this year’s RAGBRAI trek through Central Iowa!

Jefferson, IAGreene County (Our 74th County!)

Highway to Bells is the theme here for RAGBRAI-Jefferson and you’ll see why and hear why from miles away. The town’s most noticeable landmark will be front and center all day and night, and the view of RAGBRAI may never be better.

I can see RAGBRAI from here!

The Mahanay Bell Tower will show you a view, 120 feet up, of Jefferson and we can already imagine the sight of thousands of RAGBRAI’ers rolling in and out of town from the tower. Want to get a glimpse of the next ride-through town? See it from here!

Lincoln marks the spot here in Jefferson!


Let’s energize those happy-sweaty RAGBRAI bodies up with Jefferson’s carbo-load delights! As if you had any worry about the carb supply……

Peony Chinese restaurant charged right into a theme we’ve experienced on our travels. We love you too, metro areas, but you have nothing on small town Iowa when it comes to the state’s best Chinese food. And I’m open to anyone for changing my mind. However, Jefferson made our claim even more true. They will have easy-to-order pricing and a special menu just for the big day. They are veterans when it comes to RAGBRAI and they know how to handle the rush so enjoy every beautiful bite here! P.S. Come back to Jefferson someday and experience their full menu. Wanna’know something…..The tofu was out of this world and that is not something you’ll see me type often!

Uptown Cafe has all the fuel one needs for RAGBRAI. Giant bowls of hot oatmeal, huge cinnamon and pecan rolls, pies and cakes, breakfast favs and possibly the tastiest, biggest Belgium waffle on the route!

The staple on any trip through Iowa whether you’re on a bike or on a gallivant. The local donut shop! Bunkers Dunkers has the nutty, chocolaty, sugary, jellied and cream-filled pick-me-ups needed for your stop in Jefferson!

This is a sign you’ll see in many Iowa towns and great people of this state have grown up eating and loving Breadeaux Pizza! And, yes….The crust is amazing so don’t pass it up. Or give it to me. I may not know you, but I don’t care, just gimme!


Roasting for RAGBRAI in Jefferson! Green Bean Coffee are already huge fans of this incredible bike tour and they have the coffee shop to show it. From your usual hot cups of Joe to a full line of specialties from the baristas, like the frozen Hot Chocolate and their Nitro Cold Brew. It’s refreshing and has the frothy texture of a cold Guinness! They also support local artists with incredible works all over the walls.


Let’s stretch, get a nap in or just soak-up the Iowa summertime breeze. The Thomas Jefferson Gardens can provide some outdoor respite and be an easy meeting place as you pedal in. I recommend playing a tune on the instruments to signal the rest of the team.

Chautauqua Park has PLENTY of shade and where I would pick to setup camp. It’s right next to the Jefferson Swimming Pool, which will be open for a fresh shower or a much needed dip in the clear water.

*Our stay here at the Mason House was complimentary and the opinions expressed about this hotel are of our own. We can’t thank the Foster family enough for this authentic Lincoln Highway experience!

You guessed right. This historic property is already booked for RAGBRAI. Let’s start making your plans for a return trip! Each room here is decorated in its own uniqueness and they have a full kitchen and dining area with plenty of comfortable beds. The Mason House is right on the historic Lincoln Highway and positioned near the Raccoon River Valley Trail so remember that bike of yours! Call the Foster’s at 515-370-1952 or email them at masonhouseonlincolnhighway@gmail.com to get that reservation in!

Cool Down

Twiins Shoppe is very hard to miss so don’t miss it! What better way to cool down than ordering copious amounts of ice cream that the locals love. We had their blackberry malt and I’m telling that it’s a must have here in Jefferson!

You don’t know when you’ll be in Jefferson, Iowa next so you may want to partake in the air conditioned venue of RvP-1875. This is the “world’s leading historical furniture shop and museum” and one of Iowa’s biggest gems. People come from all corners of country and planet to see what the master wood crafter is making. They also host plays and will have their show going for RAGBRAI. And they encourage you to BYOB! You cooling down yet?

This is the one time you want to make a trip to the courthouse because Greene County’s will be opened, air conditioned and it’s an absolute architectural masterpiece here in rural Iowa. Take a stroll through all levels and see painstaking detail it took create one of the most beautiful courthouse’s you’ll ever see.


Just before you get to town, you may want to take a slight detour into Deal’s Orchard and fill up on their many flavors of hard cider. That sounds perfect on a hot RAGBRAI day and you know you’re going to see plenty of beer options so get cracking on some really refreshing local cider for grown-ups!

Are you starting to see why we added “smiles” in the title? Casa De Oro has great Mexican food and is served by a whole team of friendly hardworking and fast moving folks that are ready to show you where one of the most memorable stops on RAGBRAI will be. This is also home to some of THE BEST Sangria you will ever have. So great, that the owner is the only one who knows the recipe and you are never getting it out of him. Stop here for a nightcap, because their patio will have a front row view of a beautiful Iowa sunset. Sangria and a sunset….I like the sound of that nightly special.

Just wait until you see it yourself from Casa De Oro

The whole town is awaiting Iowa’s late July band of bicycles and we know that Jefferson will put on a great show. Our scouting trip showed us a lot, but I’m telling you that there’s so much more here. Overnight #3 has been officially scouted and now it just needs the mid-summer RAGBRAI legion to experience these miles of Jefferson smiles.

Whooooooooa! Do not leave town without saying hello to the crew at All Ability Cycles. They are experts in some of the most state of the art sets of wheels you can find on the route and the owner is also supplying another RAGBRAI necessity. He grows rhubarb and a lot of it. That means…….Local PIE!!!!!!!!

Thank you to everyone in Jefferson especially to Toni Wetrich and her whole family! They know just how to gallivant and we had a great time exploring the greatness of Greene County! Have fun Jefferson-RAGBRAI!
Go to the RAGBRAI website to see all the information on the worlds greatest bike tour! Like the RAGBRAI Facebook page to keep up on all the updates.

Be sure to read about our trip to Overnight #8 in Davenport!