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One Fine Day In Iowa City, Iowa: Featuring Guest Blogger Kylie Neuhaus

Iowa City, Iowa

Iowa City, home of the Iowa Hawkeyes and the famous ‘Kinnick Wave’ (where the whole football stadium turns around and waves at patients on the 12th floor of the Iowa City Children’s Hospital next door) and listed as one of a handful of cites in the world to be recognised as a UNESCO City of Literature! There are plenty of things to keep you busy during a visit!

Keeping with the football theme, any Hawkeye fan would love a stop at the University of Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame and Museum!  It celebrates some of their greatest athletes and achievements.  I particularly enjoyed seeing the progression of the sports through the years and seeing how the uniforms have changed!

Iowa Athletic Museum

Some of them look so impractical for physical exercise!

For those that are interested in history, the Old Capitol Museum is located in Iowa’s first state capitol building that was in use in the mid 1800’s.  Some are the rooms are set up to look like how the did during this time!  The building is now part of the University of Iowa’s college campus.

Iowa City, Iowa

 

It wouldn’t be a city guide without the mention of food!  The Vue Rooftop Bar and Restaurant is on the top floor of the Hilton Garden Inn hotel.  It has loads of cool technology features (some behind the scenes) as well as an awesome outside seating area with views across the city and amazing food for very reasonable prices!

The Hamburg Inn is famous for being a stopping point for former presidents during their visits to Iowa City.  This cozy retro restaurant with a large menu pack with comfort food dishes, great prices and great ‘pie shakes’, hosts the ‘Coffee Bean Caucus’ during elections.  There are plans to open a 3rd ‘Hamburg Inn’ location in Iowa City and then potentially stretch as far away internationally as Asia!

Other places worth mentioning are ‘Scratch Cupcakes’ because who doesn’t love cake?! And Scratch Cupcakes do them brilliantly well! The Wig and Pen is a British themed pub and the Clinton Street Social Club is a cute hidden little ‘speakeasy’!  Iowa City has so many bars and restaurants to pick from, it’d be impossible to mention them all, I haven’t even touched on their live music scene!

Kylie blogs at Between England and Iowa. She resides in Dubuque, Iowa and has a passion for travel and adventure. Visit her blog and connect with her through social media, as she’s always traveling somewhere that will spark your interest.

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An Insider’s Guide for Savoring Iowa’s Hidden History

Pop quiz—where in Iowa you can dine at a James Beard award-winning steakhouse? Any idea where to find Iowa’s own distinctive style of potato chips, which might be the world’s best chips? What if you want to step back in time and enjoy a slice of homemade pie at an Iowa icon that first opened in 1852?

You’ll pass the test with flying colors—and impress your friends—when you discover Iowa’s hidden history. Okay, it’s not really hidden, if you know where to look. If you have an appetite for adventure, you can’t do better than Iowa when it comes to history, culture, and one-of-kind culinary experiences. And yes, contrary to popular belief, Iowa does have distinctive food traditions, as revealed in my new book, “A Culinary History of Iowa: Sweet Corn, Pork Tenderloins, Maid-Rites and More.”

(In case you’re wondering, the steakhouse is Archie’s Waeside in LeMars—see page 56; the chips are Sterzing’s from Burlington—page 144 has the scoop; and the 1852 restaurant is Breitbach’s Country Dining in Balltown near the Mississippi River, page 92).

Relish the tantalizing tidbits you missed in history class.
This hunger for all things Iowa started decades ago. For nearly 20 years, I’ve been a “Roads Scholar,” with my work as a freelance ag writer and marketing specialist taking me across Iowa’s back roads year-round. As a lifelong history buff and food aficionado, I’ve made it a point to visit every mom-and-pop café, museum, and food festival I encounter in my travels.

I also love sharing what’s great about Iowa and often post stories, photos, and recipes form my adventures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and my blog. I’m old-school, though, and still love printed books. After working with Arcadia Publishing in 2015 on my first book, Calhoun County, which tells the story of small-town and rural Iowa through the eyes of those who lived it, I was hooked.

I was thrilled when The History Press offered me a contract the day before Thanksgiving 2015 to write “A Culinary History of Iowa” I freaked out, though, when my editor wanted a draft of this 190-page book by late February 2016. Had I bitten off more than I could chew?

From Al Capone to Jell-O
Never one to back down from a challenge, I channeled my inner “Roads Scholar” again and headed across Iowa. First stop? The historic Hotel Julien Dubuque, where I dined on incredible Banana Bread French Toast at Caroline’s Restaurant (named in honor of one of Iowa’s first female entrepreneurs) and heard tales of infamous gangster Al Capone and his ties to the hotel. (Want the whole story—and maybe stay in the luxurious Capone Suite? Check out page 120.)

Amana.kitchen.210.51.018.low res

All this whet my appetite for more. Iowa’s delectable cuisine is quintessentially Midwestern, grounded in its rich farming heritage and spiced with diverse ethnic influences. Then there so many tantalizing Iowa originals, like the world-famous Iowa State Fair, where a dizzying array of food on a stick commands a nationwide cult following. You can’t forget Maid-Rites, the moveable feast known as RAGBRAI, Steak de Burgo, strawberry-rhubarb pie from the Amana Colonies and other Iowa classics.

And then there’s Iowans’ mystifying love affair with Jell-O. (See page 45 for the surprising story.) Want to spark a heated debate? Ask an Iowan to decide whether Strawberry Pretzel Squares with Jell-O on page 46 is a salad or a dessert.

Pretzel Jello dessert (2)
Feel like raising a few eyebrows? Ask Iowans (and non-Iowans) what they think about serving chili with cinnamon rolls. As a friend fromMinnesota told me (with an air of disgust), “Chili and cinnamon rolls—together? That makes about as much sense as birthday cake and scrambled eggs!” Only to the uninitiated, my friend.

Chili cinnamon roll low res
Don’t miss the world’s best cinnamon roll recipe (which can also be adapted to make the world’s best caramel rolls) on page 154. I can vouch for the awesomeness of Mom’s Favorite Cinnamon Rolls from my friend Jerry Schleisman, who farms near Lake City. Jerry’s mom, Loraine, was a school cook when I was growing up, and I still remember how fabulous her homemade caramel rolls were. I promise you—no one skipped school lunch when it was chili and caramel roll day!

I invite you to dig in Iowa’s tastiest traditions through “A Culinary History of Iowa” and make time to explore my home state, from our small towns to the cities. You’ll relish the tantalizing tidbits you missed in history class!

Our Iowa Maulsby1.Nov.2015-001Darcy Dougherty Maulsby grew up on a Century Farm near Lake City, Iowa, and still lives in this area, where she runs a marketing/communications company and is working on her next book. Learn more at www.darcymaulsby.com, where you can visit her online store to order “A Culinary History of Iowa” and “Calhoun County.” Darcy’s books are also available on Amazon.com.

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Here’s How To Do South Haven Along Michigan’s Sunset Coast

One of my favorite beach towns along Michigan’s Sunset Coast is South Haven. I love this town so much that we got married there, atop a bluff, with the sounds of Lake Michigan’s waves for accompaniment. But there’s more to do in South Haven than get married (whew!). It’s a quintessential Michigan beach town, with plenty of shopping, good eats, great coffee shops, the National Blueberry Festival, the Michigan Maritime Museum, and two wide, expansive, and clean sandy beaches.

South Haven revolves around the water, being right on Lake Michigan, and flanking both sides of the Black River. On the north side, you have the Michigan Maritime Museum and its tall ship, Friends Good Will, which goes out at sunset every night, as well as for other lake cruises. On the south side, there’s a boardwalk that goes from downtown to the beach, as well as shopping and restaurants.

Tall ship south haven at sunset. From Here's How To Do South Haven Along Michigan's Sunset Coast

 

Here’s how to do South Haven…

First: ice cream (of course!). Just west of the highway is Sherman’s Dairy Bar, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this summer. It will be difficult to choose a flavor, because there are so many great ones. Such hardship…now you’re fortified!

rooftop cows, shermans dairy, south haven. From Here's How To Do South Haven Along Michigan's Sunset Coast

Then head up the road to downtown, park, and explore – there are restaurants and shops galore. You can stock up on beach toys, Lake Michigan-themed clothes and gifts, fudge, wine, blueberry items at the blueberry store, and more.

beach shack snacks. From Here's How To Do South Haven Along Michigan's Sunset Coast

Once you’ve eaten and shopped to your heart’s content, head to either beach for some swimming and a gorgeous sunset. On both north and south beach, there are small snack shacks with restrooms to change in. They will close around 9-9:30pm in the summer, before sunset has finished. If you want to change back out of your swimsuit before you leave, be sure to do so while they are still open. If you still have energy after sunset, check out showtimes at the historic movie theater downtown.

Heading into downtown, on the way to the beach. From Here's How To Do South Haven Along Michigan's Sunset Coast
Heading into downtown South Haven

Hit the Beach(es)

North Beach:

This beach is longer than South Beach, and has a locals’ only vibe. There is a setup for volleyball, but most people swim, picnic, and hang out here. The water is slightly warmer than on South Beach. If you like to walk, this is the beach to do so. It’s very long, and the coastline curves pleasingly. Further north, there are two city beaches, about a block apart, and 4-5 blocks north of North Beach.

South Beach:

Most people go to South Beach, for several reasons. There’s the boardwalk from downtown, of course. You can fish from the pier, and swim in the lee of the pier – the sandbar is quite near to the shore. Your kids will love the play structure, and there are a few picnic tables and a roofed pavilion near the bathrooms. But perhaps the highlight of South Beach is the ability to walk the pier. The lighthouse at the end is a gathering point for people, boat, and wave watching. When the sun sets and the pier lights come on, make your way back to shore, along with the many boats coming in from a day on the big lake. If you’re an early morning person, there is yoga on the beach here.

south beach. From Here's How To Do South Haven Along Michigan's Sunset Coast
Pier & lighthouse at South Beach

 

Places to eat downtown include:

 

Clementine's, South Haven
Clementine’s
Idler Riverboat at Old Harbor Village. From Here's How To Do South Haven Along Michigan's Sunset Coast
Idler Riverboat at Old Harbor Village

Coffeeshops:

 

For more information about South Haven:

http://www.michiganmaritimemuseum.org/

http://www.southhaven.org/

https://www.instagram.com/visitsouthhaven/

 

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Here's How To Do South Haven Along Michigan's Sunset Coast

 

Jessie Voigts has a PhD in International Education, has lived and worked in Japan and London, and traveled around the world. She’s published six books about travel and intercultural learning, with more on the way. Jessie is constantly looking for ways to increase intercultural understanding, and is passionate sharing the world through her site, Wandering Educators. She founded and directs the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program, teaching teens all around the world. She is based in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

 

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Wandering Educators