Sometimes Iowa gets a bad rap.
But the cornfields, open spaces and winding roads are quite serene to my husband and me; Carl has biked them for years on the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI).
The landscape is equally lovely with a blanket of snow on a sunny November afternoon that fades to dusk, lending itself to silhouetted cattle and barns along the horizon.
Our destination was Dubuque. When I later told a friend we’d enjoyed a short getaway to the “birthplace of Iowa,” she looked puzzled and essentially asked, “Why?”
The answer was easy.
Located along the Mississippi River, Dubuque is host to a wide variety of attractions.
The first is the abundance of interesting architecture. Shortly into our urban hike, we meandered into the Redstone Inn & Suites. Later we would wander into the Richards House Bed & Breakfast, where host Michelle gave us a tour of what has been described as “one of the finest and most original Victorian homes” in the city. The “wow” factor was off the charts.
We sipped hot beverages in the Millwork District; a friendly gentleman lead us to the expansive warehouses and spoke with pride of successful efforts to revitalize the once thriving riverfront.
We learned that Dubuque is the home of four colleges and universities. And we learned it is home to the Fenelon Place Elevator, the “world’s steepest, shortest scenic railway.” We climbed into the cable cars and enjoyed a thrilling but short ride to the top, where a photo-worthy view of the business district awaited.
Carl sampled beer in a hip brewery or two. And we admired the colorful and expansive murals that decorated downtown. We received affection from a darling dog at All Paws Salon & Spaw. And we were in awe of the stained glass windows at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church.
Finally, we hiked extensively at the Mines of Spain State Recreation Area, where the Julien Dubuque Monument draws visitors.
Aren’t you glad she essentially asked “why?”
Photos and text by Elizabeth Nida Obert