School is coming early this year, thanks to RAGBRAI, and thousands on this year’s route are saying bring it on! Our eighth trip, for 2018, is Overnight #4 and we found one legend after another and you will too in just days. Every craving can be quenched in Ames from sun up to the next sun up. You know what else is great about college towns? Tons of coffee houses! Let’s tour Historic Downtown Ames…
We know one thing for sure. A lot of folks on RAGBRAI love taps! Before you get to the suds get the nitro at Morning Bell and watch the coffee flow. The expert behind the coffee bar recommended the slightly sweet Big Easy with the hints of chicory. A little taste of New Orleans to get your Ames party started!
Embrace Ames like I embraced my favorite Sir Rod Stewart album. If you prefer your coffee to freshly drip it’s way into your cup then listen out for the Vinyl Cafe and browse the records that changed your life forever. You’ll wish you had a coffee shop in your basement all those years after you have a few freaking hot sips here.
Look at that grin! Cafe Diem sees plenty of those everyday because they know how to make a great cup of “I just got done cycling for 6 hours and I’m hot, sweaty, tired and I still want to party but I can’t nap now so what do have?” Yup…That’s on special I think.
We told you there were legends in Ames and this is one of the biggest. And busiest. And most popular. And down right tasty! Hickory Park is one of Iowa’s most well known restaurants and for obvious reasons. A HUGE menu for a HUGE restaurant awaits RAGBRAI and don’t think for a moment that this place doesn’t know how to handle a crowd. We put down the house made Polish Sausage, juicy sliced ham, smoked chicken, tons of hearty sides and a giant basket of cheese balls. Hickory Park is so big they have their own candy store. We loved everything here, but their was a little thing called Zotz. Let’s just say Gigi and Nicole got a little “sour” with me…
Sorry not sorry, ladies. Lucky for all those involved that Hickory Park has dozens of other candy varieties including some of the best ice cream creations in town!
You want some of Iowa’s best and award winning pancakes? Great! And who wouldn’t? The locals and decades of ISU students have made The Grove Cafe their breakfast home away from home or just made this institution their home all together. You’ll want to become a regular too when you’ve had the Grove’s homemade pancakes topped with a sweet raspberry-rhubarb sauce and a charming whip cream smile. That’s not the last smile you’re going to see. Say cheese, RAGBRAI…
You ever have Denver style pizza? You will in Ames! Great Plains Sauce & Dough Company is another Ames giant and they have the mozzarella to back it up. I love any pizza joint that makes me look forward to the crust and they have some of the best we’ve ever had on The Iowa Gallivant. And it’s always better with plenty of honey!
Just off of winning Iowa’s Best Burger award is the very popular Brazilian restaurant known as Cafe Beaudelair and you will find the juicy all beef masterpieces here. They’ve also been known to mix some of the best Long Island Iced Tea’s you’ll ever have.
You don’t get on a baking show without cracking a few eggs from time to time. Good thing the owner of Ali Cakes has done that thousands of times, because you can grab handfuls of her delicious cupcakes when in Ames and watch what they’re up to on Sugar Rush when surfing through Netflix! Stream it before you go and experience it when you’re in town!
We love tacos. That was the easiest and truest statement I’ve ever written. I love tacos all day and especially late night. Are you the last person to zip up the tent on RAGBRAI? No prob because Abelardo’s is open laaaaaaaaaaate. The marinated pork tacos were amazing and we can’t tell you how much..um..um…..Holy guacamole look at those Super Fries! Keep naming ingredients because they are more than likely on it! That bottom right pic is how I what you all to remember me.
There are plenty of places to party-up in college towns and one place in Ames you don’t want to pass up is Olde Main Brewing Company with all their craft beers that riders have come to love. They also have some of the best wings on the route and sweet shirts you’ll want to save up for!
Rest-Up & Cool Down
Bandshell Park is right next to the Downtown area and this is where I would catch that very important rest under a tall Iowa tree. I don’t want to be too far from the action so this would be the preferred spot for some quick zzzzzzzzz’z. Don’t want to leave downtown? That’s okay because you can lose yourself in plenty of Ames’ carefully painted benches. I lost the staring contest with that bench, by the way.
Gelato is a more than great way to cool down. Might as well do that with endless chocolate at Chocolaterie Stam and it’s one of a kind ambiance. I officially want a piano player near me at all times when eating sweets after visiting this view into my imagination come true.
*Our stay at the Gateway was complimentary and the opinions expressed are of our own. Now, let’s keep gallivanting!
Another great way to rest up and cool down is with a nightcap at the Gateway Hotel & Conference Center before crawling into that big, beautiful and comfy bed in a spacious room. We checked in while being greeted with a very friendly staff and that top notch Ames hospitality kept going all weekend long at Gateway. We meet a lot of people during our travels and on this night we met a couple big fans from Denison, Iowa, who love our crazy travel blog. Thanks for Gallivanting you two!
The Iowa Stater is located at the Gateway Hotel and you don’t have to be staying here to be their guest. That tantalizing breakfast buffet is just the start anyone on RAGBRAI needs. Freshly made omelets, bacon, sausage patties, waffles, potatoes and more. And don’t forget those vitamins with the fresh fruit and yogurt because….well we need to do that from time to time, alright. Finish that fruit with an Iowa pecan roll while your’re at it.
We saw some of what makes Ames famous, and I’m here to tell you that there is so much more and RAGBRAI is going to bring out one heck of a Cyclone party. We left many stones unturned here and it’s up for the thousands riding into Story County to discover more. I’m going to say it. Seriously, I’m going to do it. They “Ames” to please! Ha!!! I couldn’t wait to write that!
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