#RAGBRAI · Southeast Iowa · The Mud Belt-Traveling the Mississippi

Scouting RAGBRAI-2019: The Power of Keokuk’s Party-Part 1 of 2

RAGBRAI is back in one of Iowa’s most historic cities! Keokuk is the last overnight and they are ready to be “The Biggest Dam Dip on the Mississip!”

Keokuk, IA: Lee County

The long road of RAGBRAI has got to come to an end but that doesn’t mean the great times on your ride have to. You will be experiencing a town that is steeped in Iowa history with a long Main Street, beautiful riverside scenery, and did I mention that historic part? Get ready all you rock hounds, architecture aficionados, food lovin’, good timin’ riders. Keokuk has the power to make Overnight #8 a memorable one for another party on the Great River!


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The Lost Canvas has the hot drinka, and especially the cold drinks, needed for the last day of your blacktopped exploration of Iowa. Iced coffee cubes for your icy beverages. The first person to ever do this was an absolute genius and this coffeehouse is doing it right. Homemade energy balls, cookies, bars, and more to get that Keokuk jump you might need!



Legendary hash browns. This in it’s own right could get a lot of folks sprinting to the finish, but I’ll elaborate. Do you sprint on a bike? Percy’s 4th Street Cafe does the house-made, scratch prepared, while served hot and plentiful like the true Great River pros that they are. And you can get cracker battered fried chicken with your breakfast! That is a major plus, my friends.

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I know what I want after biking from river to river. Something meaty, saucy, tender, smoky and a lot of it! Fort Worth BBQ Cafe sits just up the hill from Main Street and its where you’ll find the locals. They said to make sure we came back for the brisket and burnt ends, but I wasn’t leaving until I devoured the Aporkalypse! Watch the video below to see what we’re talking about….




Sausage stuffed with more sausage. That is a concept that I know many RAGBRAI’ers can find interest in.


The Hawkeye has been a Keokuk go-to for many years and they are known for some great food and a very popular appetizer. First of all, you’ll be greeted with a very fresh and plentiful salad bar and you need your veggies, RAGBRAI! Even if it comes with a side of jello and marshmallows and covered in Ranch dressing. Plenty of pasta choices like creamy fettuccine Alfredo and topped with homemade Chicken Cordon Bleu stuffed with ham and melted American and Swiss cheeses. A little breaded shrimp coming at you, too! Let’s get back to that app, shall we. The Hawkeye’s beloved Rumaki will capture your trip to Keokuk right in the liver. That’s because they take bacon wrapped chicken livers with water chestnuts breaded by hand and deep fried to the golden appetizer gods that they are.


There will be plenty of public areas to grab some complimentary air conditioning or just provide some shade with a view.

The Historic Grand Theater is tucked into the downtown district and could light up your time when you’re beating the heat.
After you’ve dipped your tire and challenge the Mississippi for a return trip the next year, stop by the George M. Verity Museum inside this authentic steamboat. You will find some of the most incredible history of the river, Keokuk, Iowa, and of the historic homes all over town.
You know the good’ole Keokuk Public Library and Art Center will have the cooling atmosphere we could all use. Grab a cushy seat, a computer and catch up on emails, a few magazines, and prepare for the upcoming evening.


You know what’s crazy? Keokuk Crazy Days. You know what’s crazier? Keokuk Crazy Days during RAGBRAI! If you’ve saving some moolah for Iowa souvenirs, new clothes, or even some clean clothes, comfy shoes, and all around great merch, than give the local of Keokuk a chance to make that happen. Don’t have room? Ask to ship your gift!

You don’t have to wait until RAGBRAI to snag one of these shirts! I’m looking you, Keokuk fans. You can get these now at Unity Point Hospital, Hy-Vee, Chamber of Commerce office, and the Visitors Center. You’ll look great, believe me when I say this.


You know what’s in. This boutique has the vintage with the thrift and the upscale to casual inventory that can make your last day of the big ride a fashionable one. You got this, ladies. And they got a few selections for the dudes too. Let me know if they get anything tweed in, because that would be how to rock out your bike on Main Street!


Callie-Co Geodes & More is located at 714 Main Street and up the stairs in another one of Keokuk’s historic buildings. The hall winds around the upper level and with another room full of niche shopping. They have the beautiful geodes that Southeast Iowa is known for along with a selection of other crystals, rocks, minerals and handcrafted made jewelry. You’ll want to see collectibles and the “holy crap, no way you have that! I have’t seen that since the Wall album came out”, and equipment to fulfill your musical side. Jeans, leather, and the tee-shirts for your suns-out/guns-out summer days. Worried that you won’t find this place? You might just want to look for the store front below….


You know this won’t be a hard thing to accomplish and by Overnight #8, you’ll be able to sniff out a happy-happy, joy-joy time within moments of your little peddles getting across the city limits. Howsoever, we got a few places you may want to wander into.


That’s not sweat in the pic above. But no one would judge you here at Joystix if you came in glistening! We know that you’ll experience some great parties, concerts, taverns, and the typical RAGBRAI round of coldies throughout the week. Just bring your game when you get to Keokuk and become a legend with some of the most popular and rarest arcade/pinball games of your youth.


We know that a big population of RAGBRAI beer lovers look for the suds on the craft side of the spectrum and Keokuk has just that magical venue for all of that. V’s Restaurant and Brewpub has a large selection that their expert beer makers work hard to pump out. They’ll have a special RAGBRAI tap ready to go for all you riders too! By the way…Breaded and fried portabella mushrooms. That is just an app so imagine the rest of the menu!

That was just part one of our day! We’ll need a place to crash just like all sleepy RAGBRAI’ers need to. Our stay came in the form of a Victorian home and you’ll want to make a return trip to Keokuk just for this place!

*Our stay at the General Samuel Curtis House was complimentary and the views expressed are of our own. Now, let’s get back to gallivanting!


One of President Lincoln’s most trusted general was Gen. Samuel Curtis and his hometown was right here in Keokuk. Airbnb can produce a lot of amazing lodging options and it includes this beautiful home. From the front steps, to the front porch, to the front parlor, you will walk into a time machine. Richard was our host and he was a walking taking historian and ambassador for Keokuk and this precious landmark.

You’ll want to stay tuned to see more of the Curtis House, another round of great restaurants, local taps, and our favorite place in Keokuk to take a nap in part two!

Like the Keokuk-RAGBRAI Facebook page to see info and updates for overnight #8!
Like the RAGBRAI Facebook page and stay up to date with this year’s amazing tour through Southern Iowa!
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Thank you to Shelley Oltmans and Kira Kruszynski of the Keokuk Area Chamber of Commerce for providing some great ideas to make our trip another memorable one to Southeast Iowa. And a big shout-out to Kirk Brandenberger of the Keokuk Area Tourism Bureau for showing us around town and where to hunt for amazing geodes. There’s another teaser for part two!

Be sure to click here to see all our scouting missions on this year’s route!

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