Family Adventures · South Central Iowa

The Christmas Return to Ottumwa-Part 2 of 2

How’s this for a historical landmark! If you like gaming tournaments then you have Ottumwa, IA to thank for starting this culture.

Ottumwa, IA: Wapello County

The yuletide season was just getting warmed up on our visit, and we had a lot of memorable moments ahead including another round of tasty meals. Breakfast on the ground floor of Hotel Ottumwa was up to bat!


2nd Street Cafe has the all the butter, syrup, pancakes, sausage, and cinnamon rolls the size of a head on a Mardi Gras float. Officially starting the day in fine Gallivant fashion.


One place we visit whenever we’re in the area is near the small town of Agency. Iowa’s history cannot be told without the importance of this site. Chief Wapello’s grave site is also next to General Street’s family plot, and it was at the Chief’s request to be placed here. The expansion into central and western Iowa was granted here and is now an interpretive site & a perfect stop for roadside Americana. We place cigars out of respect for Chief Wapello and the Sac & Fox people he led. The Greater Ottumwa area is steeped in history and we want to see it all. Including the business districts that make up the downtown area.


I love to eat my presents and I prefer that they be delicious. Super Mercado is grocery store that has amazing Hispanic fare from baked good, pastries, fresh meat and….Look at that cactus! To eat! Don’t pass on the cream cheese and jalapeno stuffed bread, my friends. And the cakes, and the donuts, and the elote, and tamales….


Just down the street from our last stop is one of Ottumwa’s newest treasures when it comes to large portions of made from scratch ethnic food. Red Sea’s flavors from East Africa are prepared by a proud family that just wants to see you smile, and you will if you get to meet some of their kids who were the best little hosts we ever met.


The twins showed me how to eat the Ethiopian food the right way and that is to tear off the bread and plunge it into the exotic and flavorful beef and  slow sauteed onions, and smile the whole time doing it. Mission accomplished little ones!

And now a little break…

Let’s be honest…A whole weekend of shopping, Christmas lights, fantastic local food, history telling, and searching for beautiful pieces of public art can leave a papa bear needing a few minutes of R&R. Tom-Tom Tap is another fine establishment on the ground floor of Hotel Ottumwa. It’s also home to one of the greatest black light artworks in the world. That’s a perfect backdrop to a cold pint glass of local Iowa craft beer.

Thank you to historic Hotel Ottumwa for another complimentary night of lodging to Team Goodvin. We appreciate everything you’ve done for us!
Thanks again to Andy Wartenberg of the Greater Ottumwa CVB for taking the time to show us how great this town is. We’ll see you again, Ottumwa!

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