*Southwest Iowa hosted us all over its region and that included an area that features some beautiful ways to just kick back and let Mother Nature take it from there with amazing public art. State and county parks are some of Iowa’s greatest features and Union County has many acres of beautiful public lands that everyone can enjoy all year long. Our visit here was sponsored by Creston/Union County Tourism. Some of the services, meals, and goods were complimentary. The views expressed in this blog post are of our own. Now, let’s Gallivant!
I love it when I can check off another one of Iowa’s public parks from my great outdoors checklist. Green Valley State Park made it on our summer to-do list and I was elated to finally visit this treasure of Union County. I say all of that with a little bit of embarrassment. You see, I’ve been traveling to SW-Iowa my entire life, and that includes many trips to Creston, but not once did I ever set foot inside this beautiful state park. Well, better WAY late than never, so here we are!
Green Valley State Park had plenty of fishing spots, swimming areas, campsites, picnic grounds, and hiking trails, in a very unique atmosphere. The park was vibrant and it showed us how much we need to keep seeking out these parks. Very peaceful and positioned in a rural area of Union County, but close enough to Creston and all the options it has to supply up for the campsite and the coolers!
We wandered into Create Creston in the late afternoon for what I thought would be a tour of a few public murals. I noticed three of them before walking through the front door. The artistic floodgates opened just minutes later….
This blew my mind. No joke. The murals and public art of Creston, Iowa never seemed to stop. All it takes to see these magical pieces is the willingness to go at your own pace through the Uptown district. It’s a few blocks of very historic buildings with many of them getting facelifts and renovations in this historic railroad town. The beauty of public art is so very necessary and the people who have embraced this project have seen some amazing yields. Guess what…The pictures you saw above aren’t even all the murals you can observe in Uptown-Creston! Take an afternoon and try to see them all yourself and enjoy the local businesses you find on its path!
Let’s Eat Steak
Spencer’s Chophouse & Tavern wasn’t just hosting us on this night. Just about every booth, table, and chair was occupied by a hungry crowd. A very busy restaurant on a Thursday night is always a good sign! I asked the locals what we should order and most of them directed me to the same thing. Interesting thing happened, too. I told folks in other counties that we were going to Spencer’s and they told me what I should get here as well! That’s another great sign. Let’s start this Spencer’s Chophouse adventure!
That thick-cut slice of slow cooked Prime Rib is what all those fans of Spencer’s were talking about. The seasoning on the outer crust went beautifully with the tender and very juicy bites of this beefy masterpiece. Rich au jus, creamy mashed potatoes, and a lot of great company went with this meal as well. Click on the video below and see what we were loving at Spencer’s Chophouse & Tavern in Creston, Iowa!
Check-In & Get Active Again
3 Mile Lake & Rec Area is near Afton, Iowa and it provided my scenic stay in Union County. We started this Gallivant in a state park and I would be waking up in a county park the next day. This rec area was created in the 1990s and it’s been gaining a nice fan base ever since.
That’s a lot of what’s great about 3 Mile Lake. But, there’s a cabin to get acquainted with! County parks all over Iowa have amazing facilities for campers that love the cabin feel to their travels and I am exactly that kind of Dude myself. Here’s what was waiting for my night at 3-Mile Lake!
I told myself I was going to turn-in early. 11:00pm showed up and I was still staring at the lake from my patio. Earlier that night I could smell the hot dogs cooking on a grill a few cabins down while the nighttime wildlife started their anthems. The evening air was very cool even though we had a hot day. 3-Mile Lake was a great ending to another entertaining adventure on Western Iowa’s T-Bone Trail. Utilize these county parks often, my friends. And make sure you experience the splendor you can feel in Union County’s beauty.
We’ve met a lot of beef producers on the T-Bone Trail, but Chad was the first to own a radio station on top of farming. And when he’s not at KSIB or helping out with chores around the farm, he’s getting some of his prized cattle ready for show!
That was quites the spectrum of talent coming out of one Union County farm! From homegrown Iowa Beef that’s hitting our grills to a tour of an awesome area of the farm that produces champions at events around the map. There wasn’t a better name than Champion Steaks!
Mario’s Sports Bar & Grill made it to our best between bread series a few years ago with thier delicious and cheesy Nacho Burger. I was back to clean up another burger and get some bonus beef in Creston!
There is nothing better than the feeling of seeing an area for the first time even though you’ve seen it so many times in years past. That was the emotion that Ellen, with the Creston Chamber of Commerce, was looking to get out of me when she showcased Union County on this day. And she did a great job of that! Uptown Creston was the definition of a pleasant “eye popping” experience. Creston is truly one of the public art leaders in Iowa and I encourage all of you to walk it’s streets and discover the power and energy in these creations. You’ll find a brewery, restaurants, shops, a huge and very historic train depot, and beautiful architecture while you’re strolling through this district as well. Then drive off and see the rural horizons in Union County’s parks for another self guided stroll through their natural beauty. That’s a wide range of ways that you can enjoy Union County through some very inspiring and wondrous moments in SW-Iowa. All that with some local steaks and burgers you can enjoy there or on your own grill!
Book your stay at 3 Mile Lake on the My County Parks website.
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