2021 T-Bone Trail · Family Adventures · Iowa Food · Museums and History · Northwest Iowa · Outdoors All Year · Roadside Iowa

The Meteoric Impact of an Estherville, Iowa Getaway

*We cruised back and forth along NW-Iowa’s upper reaches where the counties run parallel with the Minnesota border. Theses areas have a lot to show all of us and we were glad that they made it on the inaugural Western Iowa T-Bone Trail! Our visit was sponsored by the Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation. Some of the meals, service, and goods were complimentary. The views expressed in this blog post are of our own. Now, let’s Gallivant!

It’s not everyday that you can find the resting place for someone who inspired the naming of a town. Ms. Esther Ridley, the town of Estherville was a pleasure to see.

Emmet County, Iowa (Our 85th Iowa County)

NW-Iowa was a constant and entertaining region for us this year. We spent more time on its roads, in its communities, and through its scenery than any other swath of land in Iowa during the course of the summer. Now, we’re seeing fall come into picture and this area is only going to start looking more beautiful as the weeks drift by. The weather is ideal for more road tripping and Emmet County has what it takes for a fun and very memorable getaway all year long!

Roadside America & History

Imagine sitting around with your buddies or loved ones during a nice picnic when something very mysterious arrives to your community. It’s a bright orb, dangerous looking, moving at a very high speed, and sucking up every cloud it comes past in the surrounding atmosphere. That was Emmet County on May 10th, 1879. It would go down in history as the largest meteorite impact ever witnessed and still has that record today. Guess what! Estherville has a little museum that houses very important history of this Iowa event that shocked a nation.

Head to American Family Insurance and ask to step inside! 816 East Central Ave.

The list of why I love small town America is very long. On that list is local museums and especially the ones that need someone to come by and unlock it for you. There’s something about giving a local a holler so they can turn the lock to give you a peak at some of their most precious history on display. Robert Jensen was that guy and he popped up from his desk and let us into the Estherville Meteorite Center!

A great landmark that will let you know when you’re in the right area of town where the Meteorite Center is located.
705 lbs of absolute amazement screeching through the NW-Iowa skies. Amazement and some anxiety to go along with the entire event.
A slice of the most witnessed meteorite impact in recorded human history.
Newspapers had their headline in May of 1879. Word would spread quickly because this is not something anyone sees everyday. Btw…Not only is Estherville known for this 705 lbs chunk of space rock, but the local media also coined the phrase “blizzard” when it comes to winter snowstorms. Estherville didn’t invent them, they just gave them an interesting name.
And where was that impact? Just north of town and you can go see the historical landmark that describes that day in 1879-Estherville. Tell those falling rocks to stay out of the corn!

Science enthusiasts and scholars can mingle with roadside attraction hunters here in Emmet County. This is one of those historical landmarks that can call to many types of travers and road troopers. Watch the video below and see what we’re talking about!

Falling orbs from our galaxy isn’t the only piece of roadside-America that you’ll find in Estherville. Let’s just say that I would gladly take on a meteorite than cross something you’ll see below….

Let’s get one thing out there that I need to admit. I’m terrified of swinging bridges and I don’t look forward to crossing them. However, I know a lot of folks love them and I know how much communities can cherish these structures. (Sigh) My kids can’t get enough of these swinging sensations. They love running across these bridges while their old man slowly shimmies over each hovering plank. Gotta keep Gallivanting because Estherville’s bridge has a beautiful view over the Des Moines River.

Those are two kids that can’t wait to see their dad attempt a swinging bridge in Estherville.
The Des Moines has been my favorite of Iowa’s interior rivers for years. It’s origins are in southern Minnesota and Emmet County is where it flows into Iowa.

Mickelson Park runs along the banks of the Des Moines River and provides some beautiful scenes along its banks in Estherville. One of its most popular places to take a break during your exploring is at the peaceful setting of the park’s rock garden.

Hello up there, Gigi! This community rock garden has been a part of Estherville for many years and the locals do a great job of maintaining it.
Zoom in, if you need to, and read some of the truest words ever chiseled into stone.
The Emmet County skies were a powerful source of positive energy all day long.
Tranquil and relaxing. These are more moments we need to look for in every road road trip.

To see the Des Moines River from Estherville was a big goal of mine. It was here when I could finally say that I’ve seen it’s banks from every county it flows through. From Emmet County to Lee County where it confluences with the Mississippi. Next up is to visit every community it passes by in Iowa! Watch the video below and see, and most importantly, hear the mighty Des Moines in Emmet County….

Let’s Eat Steak

Mother knows best in Estherville! Steak night at Mother Nature’s! 1027 East Central Ave

Mother Nature’s provided a very hearty and delicious meal for our Emmet County Gallivant on the Western Iowa T-Bone trail, and it had a staff that was very proud of this establishment. Being a former longtime cook has given me a lifelong appreciation for this industry, and I’ll never turn down a chance to meet the back of the house. It’s not often you can fist-bump with the people that put together a terrific steak supper. And the beefy punch wasn’t all we experienced at Mother Nature’s!

A big bowl of rich shrimp linguine Alfredo! They do not skimp on the portions at Mother Nature’s, and you’ll come away with a satisfied feeling after this pasta meal. And look at those big slices of Parmesan cheese!
Another way to surf and turf at Mother Natures! Shrimp Alfredo and a Tri-Tip Sirloin!
The Tri-Tip cooked to a stunning perfection. Lean and very juicy!

The Tri-Tip made its Western Iowa T-Bone Trail debut in Estherville and we would end up having one of the best Sirloins of the summer. A nice blend of seasonings matched with professionals who know how to cook a steak. I ordered the homemade potato salad, as my side, and came away with the feeling that we might have found some of the best of its kind in the state. Then I got to meet the wonderful woman who made it! It was the Mother Nature’s mother herself! Great job to everyone who helped get this steak and pasta supper out to our table. Now, watch the video and see why we love it here!

Stay Active

State parks got a lot of our attention this year and I’m looking to make this more of a trend in our future travels. We hit the Fort Defiance trails and put in some Emmet County mileage on our feet!

A plush and forested NW-Iowa state park. Now imagine Fort Defiance this fall!
Get out and take in Iowa’s state parks whenever you can, and get up to Estherville and see this beauty! I’m talking about Fort Defiance. But, hey look at my smile too! And Gigi’s….and Charlie’s…
From a sun soaked trail to the thick and shaded trail in Fort Defiance State Park.
Do you like to have some antioxidants while you’re hiking? We found snack time in Fort Defiance!

Check-In

The furthest rural outskirts of Estherville brought us to Little Swan Lake Winery. And it wasn’t just the wine that was showcased here! 1350 320th Ave

Little Swan Lake Winery is a short drive from Estherville and just a rock skip from the town of Superior. If you’re looking for a quiet countryside getaway then you found it right here. Park the car, buy some wine, check into your B&B room, and just take in the rural NW-Iowa environment around you.

A renovated and repurposed barn that now hosts guests that find themselves in a relaxing setting.
Plenty of selections of wine to choose from when you arrive to Little Swan Lake Winery.
The convenience of this winery immediately made this B&B a winner in my book. These are the places I imagine myself returning to and not going anywhere else during my stay.
Upstairs is the room and bed that couldn’t wait to see me. At least that’s what I thought it said. I like to talk to my rooms like I’m watering plants. They have feelings too!
My favorite room on the entire property of Little Swan Lake Winery. You’ll find it up the staircase and on the very top of the barn. I can see hours of card playing happening in this very cozy den.
Little Swan Lake Winery hosts live bands and special dinners as well. See what I mean about checking in and not leaving!
Another area that invites folks to kickback. Watch one of their old-school DVDs on the flat screen TV!
Winery, B&B, and raising bison in one gorgeous Estherville destination.
A slice of hilly Iowa majesty. This is your vantage point from the porch on the upper level of the barn. It’s very easy to find a relaxing spot at this beautiful winery.
Sunrise came and I thought I should visit the top of the barn one more time. Still one of the best views of the year.
We knew breakfast time would come the next morning. A fluffy egg bake was the delicious sendoff we received from Little Swan Lake Winery. Great bed and great breakfast!

At night I sipped a glass of wine from the top of the barn while I watched fireflies swarm the bison heard below. This is just one of the lasting memories of Little Swan Lake Winery I’ll always have. It was one of the most amazing evening scenes I’ve ever witnessed in Iowa and I have this trip to Estherville to thank for it. I rested well that night and thought about all we explored at Little Swan Lake Winery and Emmet County. I will forever be grateful for this stay we had here. I can’t think of another place that I could have witnessed such a uniquely beautiful moment than what I soaked in during the night before. Keep an eye out on TIG because this isn’t the last of Little Swan Lake Winery we have to show you!

Time to Picnic

We are always on the lookout for small-town Chinese restaurants. Estherville had that tasty delight ready for us to enjoy!
Chicken Lo Mein from China Garden! Great egg rolls to go with these flavorful noodles under the Emmet County sun. This was just the first course for lunch….

Find some local eats and locate a park to picnic in! And why settle for just one restaurant. We’re in Estherville for the first time and that means we want a taste of the town!

Don Jose was up next for this Estherville take-out party.
Cheese enchiladas for the second course! This is how you picnic in Emmet County!

Bonus Beef

We were told by some locals that Central Perk Coffee House had a beefy selection that we might be interested in. That’s what I like to see out of a coffee house!
Pot roast grilled cheese for Papa Bear’s lunch at the park! That’s a fine way to beef up your coffee order!

Well, the folks in 1879 gave me the idea for an Estherville picnic. No meteorite zipped through the horizon while we dined outdoors on our Chinese, Mexican, and pot roast filled lunch. However, we had a very memorable and entertaining inaugural Gallivant to Estherville. Local specialties leaping off the menus and into our traveling souls with satisfying memories of how wonderful they were. Local history that intertwined with its scenery that created an evening on a little lake that I can’t stop thinking about. Thank you so much, Estherville. Never lose that meteoric spirit!

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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!

Goodnight from Estherville….

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