*The southern border of Iowa features many great communities and important state history. The southwestern area is full of hilly drives and a lot of rural settings you’ll never forget. There’s also some really wonderful towns that feature great restaurants, museums, business districts, and modern hotels. Our visit was sponsored by the Clarinda Chamber of Commerce. Some of the goods, services, and meals were complimentary. The views expressed in this blog post are of our own. Now, let’s Gallivant!
Bring me to SW-Iowa anytime of year and especially when the sun is shining in the amazing skies of this region of the Midwest. This area of Iowa is one of the most winding, rolling, uniquely scenic and loaded with up and down blacktop’ed county roads that callout for exploration. What’s great about these wide open rural adventures is that you’re sure to find yourself driving into wonderful hubs like Clarinda, Iowa. That’s exactly how I traveled Page County and that’s one of my favorite styles of road tripping!
Garrison House is on the town square of Clarinda and knows how to keep the mornings refreshing and their biscuits and gravy served oh-so hot. I love it when a big plate of biscuits topped with creamy sausage gravy hits the table. That’s distinct sound that I can hear from a mile away. What’s this square have for lunch? Let’s fast forward!
J’s Pizza & Steak House is another town square-Clarinda establishment that the locals love, and they keep steering visitors to it every year. A classic family operated restaurant and featuring some of the best pizza I’ve had in my travels with The Iowa Gallivant. That cheese loves to get some stretching in before you work out those jaws while enjoying it! You know what….We’re already on the square so lets walk a couple blocks down and see one of Clarinda’s beautiful museums!
Museums & History
Clarinda Carnegie Art Museum is an impressive example of how you can repurpose a historic building and make it as beautiful and relevant as ever. Make time for a visit here when you find yourself in SW-Iowa! Just watch the video below and see one of the interactive pieces of artwork that Clarinda had showcased on this day!
Indian painters, sculptors, photographers, and artists of many styles had their work presented to the public in SW-Iowa during our Gallivant to Page County. Every piece of artwork has a story to tell and these traveled over oceans to get onto the walls and hardwood floors of Clarinda Carnegie Art Museum.
Local history and it’s wonders is a lure that pulls me in during countless road trips we’ve taken throughout my life. There is no way you’re getting out of Clarinda and not seeing, or hearing a Glenn Miller reference. One of America’s most iconic figures, in the Big Band era, and he was born right here in Clarinda, Iowa.
Glenn Miller Birthplace Museum is within a Clarinda neighborhood which gives it a perfect setting. This was Miller’s hometown and the grounds gives you that “right at home” feeling. You get a sense of how the atmosphere might have been like in those early days and how a future master musician may have been getting his first memories here in Clarinda.
There’s a lot of stories of superstars, in all fields, who stepped-up and entered the service during WWII. Glenn Miller was on top of the charts and could have easily stayed stateside and continued his life in the studios and venues of America during wartime. No one would have faulted him for that at all. He was in his 40s and at the top of his career. Instead he suited up and did what he could for the war effort. And he did what he could do best. Organizing shows for the troops and keep spirits up whenever he performed and recorded. In person, on the radio waves, and on the record players. Somewhere in the English Channel, still during the war years, is where a plane went down that had Glenn Miller as a passenger, and the Big Band era lost one of its most important figures. He died honoring his commitment to his country in an unfortunate accident that shocked everyone who saw the news come in. He had decades of energy left in him, but he was a soldier. Not one who was firing off a rifle in close contact with the enemy. His sidearm was a trombone and a platoon of talent that kept the souls of our troops refilled with hope when their music and singing could be heard.
Page County and the surrounding area has TONS of history. A sprawling Clarinda facility houses a lot of it and you can spend a major chunk of your day viewing the local history at the Nodaway Valley Historical Museum!
I will jump onto the county blacktops for just about any reason. Especially when there’s a story behind an off the beaten path cemetery. Near the town of College Springs, and up the hill from a gravel road, is Grove Cemetery and the only resting place for a Revolutionary War veteran in Iowa.
It was at the Nodaway Valley Historical Museum when I was told of this cemetery. I was all in at that moment. Honoring the veterans of this country can happen in several ways. The huge monuments in Washington, DC that attract millions of visitors every year. The local memorials all over the country that stand tall in front of courthouses and inside parks. Bubba’s Freedom Rocks all over Iowa. And then the gravesites of prairie cemeteries that are miles from town and tell a story of revaluation. I can’t tell you how happy I was to find the Dow family plot in rural Page County. I spent about an hour here before I went back to town for more history….
The Clarinda A’s have been hosting summertime baseball talent for decades and there has been an amazing amount of talent that has rounded the bases at Clarinda Municipal Stadium. You don’t have to turn on the TV to see historic stadiums. Baseball’s roots stretch throughout countless communities in America and Clarinda is one of those unforgettable baseball towns that players and fans have loved for many years.
Let’s Eat Steak!
I’ve always loved the town square set up. Laps and laps around, you’ll always find something to enjoy and Clarinda is no different! Our Page County stop on the Western Iowa T-Bone Trail was J Bruner’s and we had another beefy and fantastic meal coming our way!
J Bruner’s is a BEAUTIFUL restaurant. The ambiance hits you right away when you open the front door and its one that makes you feel like an unforgettable meal is just minutes away.
Another family operated restaurant and I mean that to the letter of its definition. I loved the salad course concept and the family style of passing it around to your supper companions. Fresh greens, veggies, rich dressings, and a bowl of crispy bacon! And did you see those onion rings? Those were some of the best in Iowa and you need to come to Clarinda and order a pyramid of your own! Oh, yea…..Then there’s the steak! The juicy Bleu cheesy steak! J Bruner’s features this KC Strip and it was an incredible one. Click on the video below and see what my friend, Chef Max has to say about J Bruner’s!
If you’ve been reading past blog posts of ours, you’ll know that we really like it when things are just steps away from our hotel room. The Clarinda Cobblestone Inn & Suites has that covered! Let’s get a nightcap….
Cobblestone Inn & Suites-Clarinda was another welcoming experience for me at their properties. I loved the location and was very grateful for the hardworking staff. My room was great, the flat screen TV remote got a nice workout from the comfort of my own bed, and the hot breakfast did it’s morning job it was supposed to. And that’s getting me out of bed and energized! Each stay at a Cobblestone has made me looking forward to the next one and that was no different here in Clarinda. Thank for another wonderful night in Page County, Cobblestone!
We met another family of Iowa’s beef producers here in Page County, and I was given the ATV tour I can’t enough of in Western Iowa. The Wellhausens have been farming in the area for a long time and they had some great looking cattle that were getting ready for market when I showed up. Click on the video below and meet one of Iowa’s ambassadors of this beefy business!
There’s so many ways to see SW-Iowa and Page County brings a unique way to enjoy their proud communities, history, and those open rural roads we love in an Iowa getaway behind the wheel. A birthplace of a musical legend, a city that hosts future MLB stars, an impressive museum keeping the Carnegie name alive and well, precious and important 4H roots, and Max making it a memorable night for a great steak supper! That’s a host of legends and it’s all in Page County!
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