*Thank you to Oskaloosa Main Street and Mahaska Chamber and Development Group for showing a couple gallivanters how great your community is. Our visit here was hosted and some of the meals and products were complimentary. The views expressed are always of our own. Let’s gallivant!
Oskaloosa, Iowa: Mahaska County
The county seat of Mahaska has two nicknames. “Osky” is what I’ve heard my whole life and just about every local we talked to while here shortened Oskaloosa down to that. What I learned from the folks in the clubhouse at Oskaloosa Public Golf is that folks sometimes refer to this area as “Golf Town.” I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’s because folks around here really love golf. That’s probably because there’s three courses in Osky alone and one in nearby New Sharon. I know what some of you might be saying… “My hometown has at least that many in the area.” You might be right. However, the population of the Osky area is less than 12,000 and that’s A LOT of putting greens to go around for this dedicated base sports fans. Before this guy hits the links, for the first time in over 10 years, we better get a burrito going on.
I need a big breakfast before I have a day of muttering to myself and coming up with harsh nicknames for aggravating water hazards on the golf course. Hey! I’m human! The Brickhouse Café is very much appreciated for their variety of coffee drinks with a host many other beverages that are neatly written on their chalkboards. These chalkboards are the equivalent to one of those math wizards coming up with the theory of relativity. It’s coffee. It all leads to coffee. I just closed the case. The universe also leads to burritos and Brickhouse loads theirs in a big’ol flour tortilla with scrambled eggs, hash browns, cheese and your choice of sausage or bacon. Or….You can “make it a mega”! It’s bigger and they add bacon with a beautiful addition of sausage gravy. Make that breakfast a mega and pour on the salsa! Now we can go golfing….
Oskaloosa Public Golf was primed and ready for an early morning tee-time for anyone. Even some dude from Iowa City that should never be unattended when words like clubs, irons, tree lines, fore, and the classic, “never drive the golf cart on that.” That Iowa City kid is me. Lucky for me I had course volunteer, Jon Hoffmann, with me. That was a good coaching decision on behalf of the rest of the crew at Oskaloosa Public Golf.
Jon was the perfect companion to show me around the very well kept course and its best views. He, and a host of other locals, volunteer their service to Oskaloosa Public Golf. His humor, matched with his knowledge of the game was just what I needed after a very long lull from my last real swing. I love devotion to community and civic pride. That’s what I sensed here from the get-go and that means this is just my type of golf course. Thanks for laughing WITH me, Jon! I need a beer….
The legions of Iowa craft beer lovers should get to know Aaron Ostrem, and the rest of the crew at NoCoast Beer Co, and pronto! They open their brewery and tasting room by appointment and we got the tour of their state of the art facility. A facility so great they actually can beverages for other businesses including breweries!
Not only do you get a taste of the beer, but you get a little something that gives you the depth of your NoCoast day at this Osky happy land. The bottom right of the pic isn’t from the nearest health foods store’s bulk section. You actually get to crank the wheel and get a sample of what your beer is before it’s brewed! Just a little between the cheek gum… Actually just chew it a little. Aaron wants you to get those enzymes activated. He told me that last part. But I’m totally dropping that knowledge at the next brewery I go to.
Beer cans and art. Both on the walls and cans themselves. Beers from NoCoast will always standout on the shelves and, most of all, when you are enjoying the craft pouring out of them. They’ve also entered into the hard seltzer spectrum and are making it happen in their own NoCoast ways. Refreshing and a great way to cleanse thy pallet before I check out another course!
I don’t know about you, but most golfers I know love a good story about their game. We all have our favorite courses. However, why not break the routine a little and start getting more stories at a different course and head to Osky! Generations of Mahaska County locals have adored Edmundson and they know visitors to the area will come to love this course, too. Look at that fairway!
This town takes its golfing and beer seriously. And their burritos, too! But they also have a lot of fun with their specialties. You think this is all Osky has to offer? No way, dude! Cuz we need lunch!
Mi Ranchito was loaded with locals which is always great sign for any restaurant. Positioned just inside the Penn Station Mall and stone’s throw from the historic town square are all your Mexican food favorites on pipping hot plates. Why is it I always want to touch those even though I what’s going to happen? That steak juicy and the sauce was more rich than spicy which means it didn’t cloud the beefy flavor at all. We even scored a combo plate off the vegetarian section because those beans aren’t going to order themselves onto the plate! It’s time for a long walk around the square and to think about our next meal.
A long and enlightening stroll around the town square pushed to check-in time at one of Osky’s great hotels. Golf, a little beer, and a lot of Mexican food can make anyone wanting a little chill-time. But, first I need head to the local train depot!
Rock Island Tap has that home bar away from home bar sorta feel. That made sense to me so we’re going with it! A lot of craft beers available which is always something I’m on the look out for when getting away for the weekend. There’s been plenty of times I’ve seen a classic train depot that time had forgotten and it always make me wonder why it couldn’t have been saved. Osky is lucky to have this landmark and even luckier to have it flowing with drinks! I’m already thinking of a return trip for a day of much needed football games on those HD flat screens. Now, let’s take a long break in a very comfortable setting…
Oskaloosa’s Fairfield Inn & Suites is less than a year old and sparkling with modern decor and all the great perks you expect from Marriott’s family of hotels. And it was an easy drive from all over Osky.
The hotels are seeing travelers come roaring back and this Fairfield Inn & Suites was ready for a busy weekend in Osky. The staff had us in and out of the line very quickly and enjoying our room right away upon checking in. Snacks and beverages fully stocked and not one part of the room was scuffed, unkempt, or unorganized. The staff did a fantastic job and we’re not done singing this hotel’s praises. Stay tuned to The Iowa Gallivant as we have more to show you from this new Fairfield Inn & Suites! Let’s go out for dinner shall we?
An appetizer of breaded pork tenderloins that they call pig toes…I’m all in! The entire time spent dunking them into the homemade mustard sauce I wondered which one was going to go wee-wee-wee on the way home. Large bowls of al dente pasta coming this way and they were the truth. Grilled chicken Alfredo with a more than generous portion of rich creamy sauce was in order. The Creole Cavatappi was bringing some easy heat with its juicy Andouille sausage. Jon, I said I’d come back to Oskaloosa Public Golf to hang out with you, but…well. Pasta. Pasta is good times, too. Cisco was a premium server and he took care of every table with his big North Carolina smile the whole time. The chef and the whole kitchen crew nailed it at the Wood Iron Grille! Did I mention that this place won best burger in Iowa back in 2019? Let’s call it night and head back to our Osky-HQ at the Fairfield….And wow! Is it morning already?
Folks in the area suggested Smokey Row for the quick coffee fix and we were glad they did. It was another round of NoCoast and this time I was knocking back their nitro cold brew. Smooth with that bite of richness I love in my ice coffees of all varieties. And that frothy top is the caffeine kicker to the beverage that I loved the most. It was a long drive coming so why not get two!
That Gallivant to Osky was impressive and it felt like a recon mission for a return trip due to all the great places and sites we couldn’t stop at. The Osky locals are proud of their community at every turn and that’s a genuine statement. Change up your routine a little. Take a drive and drive the golf ball from a course you haven’t played and stay awhile when you’re in town. Try Osky for a football weekend away from the regular setting you’re at. Sip that craft beer you may have never had and dive into a restaurant scene you haven’t experienced yet. Osky has the small-town feel, with a youthful college town vibe, and is just big enough to have a variety in so much. Give that neighbor kid a chance with mowing your lawn and get that car loaded for the weekend or a mid-week escape from all that run-of-the-mill stuff. Oskaloosa’s ready for all our gallivants.
Like Mahaska County Chamber and Development Group on Facebook
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Book your stay at Fairfield Inn & Suites-Oskaloosa on their website
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