2022 T-Bone Trail · Family Adventures · Iowa Food · Northwest Iowa · Outdoors All Year

The “Cheesiest” Trip to Estherville & Stunning Emmet County, Iowa Countryside

*Wide open spaces and a county seat with everything we need on the Minnesota border in NW-Iowa! Our visit to Emmet County was funded and sponsored by the Western Iowa Tourism Region. Some of the services, meals and goods were complimentary. The views expressed in this blog post are of our own. Now, let’s Gallivant!

The famous swinging bridge over the Des Moines River in Estherville is where you’ll usually find visitors like us. Gigi sprints across this thing while Dad finds it terrifying. Still a must-see when you’re in Estherville no matter how brave or skittish you are! A big thanks to the 1937 WPA workers that built this bridge that’s been entertaining generations of visitors and locals.

Emmet County, Iowa

Northwest Iowa’s furthest reaches have a lot to offer when it comes to scenery, restaurants, roadside attractions and plenty of ways to stay active. We were hungry for another helping of Estherville and we received exactly what we wanted!


Central Perk is where you need to go for delicious cup of your favorite coffee creation in Estherville! Wake up, Emmett County!

Stay Active

Trails, trails and more trails at Fort Defiance State Park! This beautiful patch of Iowa can keep you active anytime of year.
You can take advantage of the view when you’re on break from hiking at Fort Defiance. One of the most scenic opportunities to enjoy an easy going swing in Western Iowa.
The woods are dense and full of wildlife that you can hear everywhere you step at Fort Defiance. It’s scary how much I love wandering through this state park….
Like, literally scary! The annual Fright Hike is this October and I’m going back to Estherville on the 29th to join-in on the Halloween screams!
Near the little town of Dolliver is Tuttle Lake Rec Area with a quiet and rural vibe.
The lake at Tuttle is peaceful and comes with those endless Western Iowa horizons.
Of course I want to take a Tuttle selfie! Thanks for asking, Geeg!
Have a picnic in the grain bin when you’re at Tuttle Lake Rec Area!

As you can see, there’s oodles of ways to take a scenic and memorable hike in Emmet County. You can do this while you’re inside the city limits of Estherville as well!

You saw the swinging bridge over the Des Moines River so keep going down stream to Mickelson Park and view the riverfront from the historic Rock Garden. A place we will always revisit when we’re in Estherville with its seasonal flowers and plants livening up the garden.

360th Avenue

Sometimes it’s what’s not on your schedule that can create the most unforgettable moments of a road trip. That was the case during our day in Estherville when I discovered the beauty of Emmet County’s countryside on 360th Avenue.

You’ll notice this sign on the west side of Estherville and I highly recommend you take a little drive down the gravel road to all three of these public lands. This is where you’ll discover stunning Northwest Iowa pastures and prairies.
Anderson State Prairie Preserve was the first stop for me on this wondrous gravel road.
Unbelievable prairie scenes like this at the preserve. Iowa’s pioneering past seems to be swirling in the breeze in this grassy sprawl. Click on the video below and hear what else I have to say about this road and it’s scenery near Estherville.
I can’t wait to see this all again and again…
Ringham Habitat Area is another wide open natural wonder on 360th Avenue. Wander down the trail through the tall grass and prairie wildlife accompanying your leisurely hike.
At trail’s end of Ringham. Your peaceful afternoon in NW-Iowa can be absorbed at this shelter and lawn. Miles and miles of Emmet County in all directions and nothing but rural majesty wherever you look.
Four mile Wildlife Management Area supplies another remarkable hike into Emmet County’s rural landscape. Just outside of Estherville near the golf course. Wow, We’re putting on some miles in these public areas.


We deserve some big meals after some beautiful exploring throughout Emmet County. Let’s dive into hot plates of wonderful Mexican Food at Don Jose in Estherville for some bonus beef on this Gallivant!
Chile Beef Colorado Burrito! The Don Jose kitchen crew presented a heavy plate of delicious cooking in Estherville. Slow cooked beef in a rich red chili sauce that can’t wait to be paired with refried beans and fluffy Mexican rice in every bite.
You’re going to see why Estherville is so cheesy and it starts here at Do. Jose. Look at these beefy nachos covered in melted cheese! Click on the video below to to see how much we loved this meal at Don Jose….
This might go without saying, but we were pretty full after this meal!
It was time for me to meet the family at Don Jose. A great group of Estherville folks that run a fantastic restaurant!


Oh yea, we got a nice room in Estherville! Not far at all from all of the wonderful areas we’ve already shown you and the ones we’re about to. It’s no secret that I love small towns and the convenience they provide on a road trip. Let’s check into our abode in Emmet County!

Get that luggage unloaded and unpacked at Estherville Hotel & Suites! 2008 Central Ave 712-362-5522
I like it when a hotel lobby can double as a studio apartment!
Our suite in Estherville! Modern, welcoming and full of comfort!
Take advantage of this office space when you’re at Estherville Hotel & Suites!
The poolside feature in Estherville that’s available all yearlong! This hotel can come in mighty handy during those long stretches of cabin fever this winter!
A much needed soak after prairie hopping in Emmet County! I give this hot tub two thumbs up and 10 out of 10 little piggies!
The complimentary breakfast was hot and ready in Estherville! Be sure to coffee-up early and often at the Estherville Hotel & Suites.
I think I’m going to get a biscuits and gravy tattoo someday.
Stop your waffling! Or should I stay, keep waffling?

Another great stay in NW-Iowa! The folks at Estherville Hotel & Suites did a bang up job with our fantastic suite and they made sure we had a great morning with a hot breakfast. I think it’s obvious that I enjoyed the hot tub the most!

Night Out

A night out means it’s pizza time where I come from. Woody’s Pizza made sure we continued the “cheesiest” trip to Estherville we’ve ever had!
Always make sure you do your stretches before the main course arrives. Woody’s has the goods on fried mozzarella sticks to start this evening properly.
A beefy pizza with mushrooms and onions was the headliner! Hot and cheesy like you would expect during a trip like this!
You don’t have to wait until Christmas to see this courthouse lit up in Estherville! A truly illuminating drive around the block.
And you don’t have to wait until daylight to see some roadside attractions while you’re in the area. Make a stop and see a piece of the famous Estherville Meteorite that spooked the locals in the 1879. It’s still the most witnessed meteorite to hit Earth in history!
The local Dairy Queen was still open and I couldn’t say no to Gigi….Cuz it was actually my idea to get ice cream!

Let’s Eat Steak

The Estherville Golf Course is where we were making our Emmet County steak stop on the Western Iowa T-Bone Trail! Look at these beautiful fairways!
What a cheeseball! No, not Geeg! It’s another crispy and cheesy way to love Estherville!
How about some creamy cheese and veggie soup to keep this dairy filled gallivant going!
And now it was time for what makes Estherville juicy. A thick-cut Sirloin with a view of the course while you devour it. Hey, there’s tater tots here, too!
Bacon cheeseburger with BBQ sauce and their signature chips adding the crunch to our lunch!
I mean look at this house made potato chip! That could go for a dip in some ranch if you ask me. Click on the video below and see what you can order when you hit the links at the Estherville Golf Course!
Let’s put in 18 holes and a steak! That could get me to start playing more golf…

Northwest Iowa gets a lot of our attention on The Iowa Gallivant and you can see why. Estherville is a great area to get on your radar because there’s a lot to offer everybody who’s needing a memorable road trip. We stayed active, ate some great meals, relaxed and did a lot of goofing around. I think we all need that, and Estherville can make it happen for you!

Make your reservations for Estherville Hotel & Suites on their website.

Be sure to like the T-Bone Trail-Western Iowa on Facebook!
One more drive into the stunning countryside of Emmet County.

3 thoughts on “The “Cheesiest” Trip to Estherville & Stunning Emmet County, Iowa Countryside

  1. I’m a native! I’m an Estherville Midget😀 thank you for sharing this! I live in AZ now but go ‘Home’ every summer for Corn Days.

  2. Thanks for the pictures of Tuttle Lake. Haven’t been there for years! We get to Estherville every year, but it is nice seeing through your eyes! It is a great place. Don’t forget the great chance to take a kayak down the river!

Leave a Reply