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