2021 T-Bone Trail · Family Adventures · Northwest Iowa · Roadside Iowa

Cookout At the World’s Largest Grotto: Two Rounds of West Bend, Iowa

*Iowa is home to some world record holders and one of them is in the small town of West Bend. We arrived to this community in the middle of our Western Iowa T-Bone Trail travels and we were ready for a peaceful stay in Palo Alto County. Our trip to West Bend was sponsored by the Shrine Grotto of the Redemption and Western Iowa Tourism. Some of the goods, meals, and services were complimentary. The views expressed in this blog post are of our own. Now, let’s Gallivant!

We can’t go all the way to this area and not get another family picture at the Mallard, Iowa mallard!

West Bend, Iowa: Palo Alto County

Streams of visitors flow into this NW-Iowa community every year to see the wonder that is the Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption. Yes, they get thousands of visitors that practice Catholicism, but that isn’t the only reason folks come here. The rock hounds, geologists, roadside attraction seekers, tourists, lovers of architecture, history buffs, and travelers of all backgrounds flock to West Bend and all who respect this amazing grotto are welcomed to see it. And during all hours of the day. The grotto is open to the public 24 hour a day, and that was one of the reasons why we looked forward to spending a night here in town. It was my fourth visit to the grotto and I was eager to see it in a way I have never been able to until this recent trip. All day and night in West Bend!

Check-In

Park View Inn & Suites is at the north end of town and nearby everything in West Bend, Iowa! 13 4th Street NE 515-887-3611

To me there is nothing better than checking into a room and not driving anywhere for the rest of the visit. The grotto, picnic area, ice cream, meat locker, restaurant, convenience store, saloon, shops, boutique, grocery store, and more are all within walking distance of the Park View Inn & Suites. We unloaded our luggage, rested for a few minutes, and went right into our West Bend, Iowa getaway!

Tacos at the grotto! Now, that has a ring to it!

I have several obscure goals I want completed on my ever-growing bucket list. One of them was to have a cookout with the worlds largest grotto in the background. The picnic area and the grotto’s grounds can be seen from the front door of the Park View Inn & Suites. We picked up some ground beef, tortillas, beans, and all the taco trimmings for an afternoon lunch at the grotto. Just look at what we enjoyed during our first hour in West Bend, Iowa in the video below!

That was a very happy afternoon for us, and it was truly an honor to prepare a meal for my family at the grotto.

After lunch it was time to roam all around the grotto under the warm NW-Iowa sun that we got a lot of during our daily summertime road trips. We’ve been here before, but the Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption has a way getting you to see it in a new way every time you visit.

Stones, gems, shells, petrified wood, crystals, and endless imagination all over the Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption.
You’ll see the statue of the man who started it all. Father Dobberstien began building his dream in 1912 and this grotto has been growing ever since.
My favorite vantage point here. The detail in this scene is unbelievable.
Colorful walks through the grotto on every square inch. I’ve always imagined the grotto being brought up from a coral reef like Atlantis rising. It has the feeling of being ancient due to the age of all the natural items that have been secured to the structures.
A look over the grounds from the very top of the grotto.

Let’s Take a Stroll

The small-town lure is a strong one with me. After the grotto we walked further into West Bend and onto Broadway which serves as their main business district. As you can see, the short shower we had produced a beautiful horizon during our walk and over my favorite style of skyscrapers.

What’s at the end of the rainbow? West Bend, Iowa is.

One of the storefronts that got my attention was Ellie’s on Main/The Beehive. These two stores are combined and you can find many gifts and get a lot of ideas for things you want in your own cupboards, closets, dressers, walls, and kitchen!

Yup, you’re going to find something from West Bend to take back with you.

Iowa’s small-town communities have some incredible businesses for shoppers everywhere. We just need to make our way into these areas more often. This is shopping small and shopping local at its essence. Plus, you never know who you’re going to run into. Click on the video and meet the person behind a product that thousands know so very well…

That was an unplanned interview and she did it like a true professional!

The Butter Braids we all know and love were created right here in West Bend and are still being made here everyday. One of the biggest employers in the area and they ship to all sorts of places throughout the country. They have helped countless fundraisers and we have this family to thank for starting the Butter Braid craze so many years ago. I can’t wait to get another round ordered to our home this year and I’ll be thinking of West Bend the entire I eat them! I may even share mine this time. Maybe.

Let’s Eat Steak

Folks from all over this area of NW-Iowa were telling us to give this place a shot for years. We finally made it to the Wagon Wheel Café and they became our Palo Alto County stop on The T-Bone Trail! 123 South Broadway Avenue-West Bend

My steak supper was just a short walk away from the grotto at the Wagon Wheel Cafe! I won’t ever get tired of hearing that. And wow was this place humming with customers! Another thing I love about small towns is the way you can bump into folks you met or interacted with earlier in the day. Two different tables had locals that chatted with me while exploring West Bend and now we were having supper at the same time. We visited with each other again and picked up right where we left off. Then we all got extremely focused on the meals at our tables….

Fresh side salads were as common as the steaks on the T-Bone Trail. Wagon Wheel’s was just as tasty and refreshing as I thought it would be.

A true family restaurant with tables filled with families and a local family operating the Wagon Wheel Café at the same time. The regulars all asked how the owners were doing and laughed with them and the kids as the evening went on. My God, that is always something I enjoy seeing. The feeling of community was strong in West Bend on this day.

The sizzle plate topped with a sizzling Ribeye!

It’s been a long time coming, but it was the Wagon Wheel’s debut on TIG. Comments from their fans have been showing up on our social media posts, when it comes to featuring great restaurants, for a few years. I heard that this was a popular restaurant and one visit here I could see why. Every chair had a customer and the atmosphere was buzzing like the beginning of local WB-Mallard football game. Laughter, conversations, greeting one another, sounds from the kitchen, and pops from the Ribeye! What? You read that right. Through all the busyness of the restaurant, I could hear my steak arriving to my table. Sitting on a hot sizzle plate was my juicy Ribeye and it was literally popping with flavor. Click here and watch our video from Wagon Wheel Café in West Bend, Iowa!

Are you still hungry? Back to the grotto for a couple ideas. Sometimes you get hungry when you’re experiencing a world record setting religious symbol in NW-Iowa!

You know who loves having an ice cream shop close to the hotel? This girl does, and it’s right by the grotto!
Keep your eye open for this food truck by Double M Concessions and Catering over at the grotto. Known for some killer breaded pork tenderloins!

That’s plenty of ways to enjoy taking a constitutional or two around West Bend with all that beauty of the grotto in the middle of it all. Another full day on the T-Bone Trail and we were ready to relax the night away in our suite at the Park View.

Let’s Get Some rest

The Park View Inn & Suites has some themed rooms and we landed in one of the fireplace lodges. A few miles on foot and I was more than ready to cool off. Gave that fireplace a day off though.

For all you rainbow trout lovers out there!
Spacious area for us to enjoy and I immediately started wondering when I could come back and get that fireplace revved up in the fall or winter months of gallivanting.
Another room with another TV and also equipped with a microwave and refrigerator. Just try to tell me you don’t want to play some checkers on that table!
Some traditions live on with every road trip we take. Goody faces right on cue with these two! They learned this from their mother. Clean rooms, nice bathroom, and warm sheets to keep us comfy in West Bend!
Just one quick round of cards because I don’t like losing and it’s impossible not to with this one! I’m way better at Uno.
The next morning arrived and so did the complimentary breakfast in the lobby. Very well done, West Bend and Park View! Great day from check-in to check-out!

That was exactly what I needed during this leg of the T-Bone Trail in Palo Alto County. Relaxing while keeping active for much of the day. We all clunked out and slept just fine at the Park View. It was another memorable day at the grotto and we were able to see so much more of West Bend compared to past Gallivants to this area. How much did we like it here? So much that we returned to the same place two weeks later!

Return Trip to West Bend

Back to the Park View, back to West Bend’s main drag, back to another cookout at the grotto!

There’s an untold amount of people from all over the world that have thought about the day they could finally make it to the grotto. West Bend was exactly where my wife’s mother wanted to go during her recent trip to Iowa and we made the drive again. Fifth time at the grotto and second this summer!

Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church is another beautiful site at the grotto.
The rock collection isn’t limited to everything outside. Saints Peter & Paul is home to the Christmas Chapel and the world’s largest purple amethyst. There is also a button you can push and hear the history of the parish.
Back to the place where I proposed to my wife for the second time! I’m trying to re-propose to her in all of Iowa’s 99 counties and the grotto was where I started this project a few years ago. Just 90 more counties to go!

The grotto naturally sees many busy mornings, afternoons and evenings. What a lot of people don’t know is that its open 24 hours a day. For me, there is no better way to see this fascinating place than during the night.

You’ll see the grotto for the first time all over again when you walk the grounds after sundown. Stars and moon in the sky and the lights illuminating this wonderous beauty of West Bend.
Many rooms with depictions of Christ’s crucifixion are intensified at night. It is very interesting how still it is in everyone of these rooms even though you’re outdoors.
There are so many moments like this around every corner of the grotto.

Two trips to West Bend in two weeks and I would make it three this summer if I could. And that’s no joke when I say that. I’ve now made five trips to West Bend and discovered a little more each time. Picnics with the grotto in the background was as amazing and entertaining as I imagined it. The walks back and forth from the hotel to all the West Bend businesses added a relaxing benefit to the way we travel in some communities. Sometimes your car needs a rest too. Let’s do it again and again, West Bend. Steak, ice cream, and the Butter Braids empire in one town with a giant grotto! Wait…..There’s another place we love here!

Welcome back to TIG for the third time, Skoglund Meats! From Iowa’s Wurst Road Trip to Western Iowa’s T-Bone Trail. Another great West Bend establishment just steps from our hotel.
Be sure to like the T-Bone Trail-Western Iowa on Facebook!

Make your reservation at the Park View Inn & Suites & Conference Center on their website.

Like Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption on Facebook.

Like Western Iowa Tourism Region on Facebook.

Like the Iowa Beef Council on Facebook and keep up with info, updates, events, and promotions!

See everything we’ve covered on The Iowa Gallivant in the Northwest Region of Iowa!

This visit to the Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption was dedicated to everyone who was with us in spirit on this day and everyday.

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