Central Iowa · Family Adventures · Iowa Food · Museums and History

Dutch Goodies, Biscuits & Santa’s Train: Boone For the Holidays Part 1 of 2

Iowa’s historic Dragoon Trail goes through the heart of the Des Moines River valley and into the heart of Central Iowa known as Boone County.  Get ready for a Boone County holiday weekend!

Boone, IA: Boone County (Our 79th County!)

If there is anything I’ve learned in our Midwest travels it is that communities know how to make a family feel at home without even trying. Boone, Iowa, is no exception and we had the feeling of being home for the holidays all weekend long. As you know, we don’t start any visit on an empty stomach. Time to warm-up at one of Iowa’s best counters.

Talk about a train wreck! It’s okay to call it that because the folks at the Whistle Stop Cafe named it that themselves. A hot plate with crumbled sausage, fried potatoes, bell peppers, onions, melted cheese and the ever important over easy egg. Next up was one of the best plates of biscuits and gravy we’ve ever had. Fluffy, buttery and fresh homemade biscuits topped with rich and peppery sausage gravy and there’s that egg again! Just watch the video below to see how majestic this plate was.

Whistle Stop Cafe was highly recommended by the Boone locals and we found out why right away. That was one very happy guy in that video and there were plenty of other in this classic restaurant enjoying their meals including some of the biggest pancakes you’l have in Iowa. This wasn’t the only historic stop we made in Boone…

Down the street from the epic helpings of breakfast delights is an old Masonic Lodge turned into the Boone Historic Center and the local uniqueness we always look for when we gallivant. Support these organizations, folks, and you’ll open yourself to a world of education that you can only get in these precious county museums. We enjoyed seeing stories and artifacts from Boone’s own Kate Shelley, the heroine that saved hundreds of live and risking her own at only the age of 15. The 1881 summer brought flooding to Boone and Kate knew the ins and outs of the local rail and her incredible bravery kept over 400 people on an incoming train from heading engine first into the raging Des Moines river in Boone. Her story is even more amazing when you hear the volunteers tell it at the Boone Historic Center. They spoke so animatedly about Boone- from the prehistoric history found in the geology of the region, to coal mining past of the town, to it’s status as the birthplace of Mamie Eisenhower, to the military history of it citizens…to the future of their own Historic Center. We need volunteers like these everywhere to keep the history preserved and alive and I will always be happy to include them into our adventures whenever possible. They are my heroes and always will be. Now, lets get a snack in!

Van Hemert’s Dutch Oven Bakery is the wonderland that this community is very lucky to have and visitors like us charge into so we can conquer the sweet tooth that knew this place was coming. The list goes on and on for what this place has baked fresh and ready to be presented to that big ‘ole grin you have. They know how this holiday season works here and they have the favorites beautifully prepared for the most deserving stockings and jolly bellies. Coffee-up here and often with their talented baristas because those Dutch letters taste better with a hot cup of Joe. Do the Dutch say “Joe”? We’ll check on that. Please standby….

You know what Boone has plenty of? Shopping options which is what my family took advantage of… and I needed the break from the hard morning I had earlier of museum touring, runny eggs and sleeping in. Boone Valley Brewing Company supplied their seasonal craft beer of Russian Imperial Stout to make a quick pit stop a smooth one. Comfortable and cushy chairs, flat screen TV and plenty of beer in a relaxing brewery atmosphere is the best shopping experience this guy could ever ask for. Now if only I was in my pajamas….

The headliner to this trip was chugging right along and its the engine that brought us to Boone. The Santa Express at the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad was packed with Christmas goers including Team Goodvin. This would turn out to be everything we could ask for and as advertised. An easy going pace through the beautiful river valley that has made Boone what it is today… a scenic and vibrant town full of ways to keep visitors like us entertained and producing holiday memories we’ll never forget. The train cars had sing-a-longs of famous Christmas carols, hot cocoa, cookies with Mr and Mrs Claus checking in on the passengers. The depot station’s museum and gift shop gives you even more opportunities to get your shopping list complete which could include tickets to this train ride for friends and family who need to make this Boone trip happen. The local volunteers that make up this yuletide tradition work hard to make sure this continues to be the pajama-wearing, family-friendly party for years to come. How did we end this day?

*Our stay at the Boulders Inn & Suites-Boone was complimentary. The opinions expressed are of our own. Now, let’s keep gallivanting!

We made it to Boulders Inn & Suites and as you can see from Gigi, right in the nick of time. The roomy couch was just fine for her in our suite and the rest of us enjoyed the comfortable beds that the exceptional housekeeping staff had ready for us. We drifted off to sleep easily here knowing full well we had another beautiful Boone County day ahead. of us. This Christmas trip ain’t done yet so stay tuned for part two!

Thank you to Kris Blocker for helping us have another great Iowa Christmas weekend! Click here to like the Boone County Chamber and CVB Facebook page and see all the wonderful events happening in this great community!

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