Why Iowa City?

For the past three years I’ve been asked “Why Iowa?”, “Why Iowa City?”, “Oh, that’s the potato state right?”. And for three years I’ve been patiently explaining, answering, and reassuring people that no, it’s not the potato state.

Truthfully I moved to Iowa for love. And in the spirit of being completely honest, on a whim. It was one of the easiest and hardest things I have ever done. Although Matt and I are quickly outgrowing the first place we mutually called ‘home’, it will forever be a special place in our heart.

Iowa City is a gem of a city. It’s home to the Iowa City Yoga Festival, there is a huge local and organic food movement, and people enjoy art and culture. There’s a major university, a raging river, and trails to bike, walk, and run on. And amongst it’s small city flare there even remains some Midwest charm.

I could chronicle my favorite everything of Iowa City, but a list that specific might takes days. Instead I decided to highlight the best things about this city in Iowa.

New Pioneer Co-op


I’d argue that Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods can’t compete with a locally owned and operated food cooperative. And I know a lot of my Iowa City friends would agree. Fresh, local, homemade food that makes eating fun? Sign me up!

The Englert

A 100 plus year old theatre that housed famous actors and actresses in the 50’s survived a brutal fire and now plays reruns of Rocky Horror Picture Show and packs the house full at Kate Nash concerts? Well that sounds like a cool place.

Hawkeye Football Game


Unless you’ve grown up in the Midwest or gone to a Big Ten University, you just don’t understand – the importance of football that is. Iowa City becomes the second biggest city in Iowa on the Saturdays of home football games and most activities seize to exist. Beer drinking and tailgating obviously aren’t among those activities.

Prairie Lights

Amongst the downtown restaurants, bars, and shops you’ll come across a local favorite: Prairie Lights Bookstore. It’s no surprise that in a community where the average person has a Master’s degree level education that we love our books.

The Farmer’s Market


Held in an emptied out parking lot, the Iowa City Farmer’s Market is a mecca of people of all kinds. Food lovers, cheese makers, bakers and gardeners gather to buy and sell quality food. It’s no wonder it was voted #10 on America’s list of favorite Farmer’s Markets.

Gay Marriage

It’s pretty neat when you live in a small, liberal city that happens to be in the Midwest. And it’s even cooler when you are reminded that not 0nly is the city pretty liberal, but the state happens to be one of the only ones in the nation to allow gay marriage.

Yoga Scene


Small town and city dwelling yogis can only dream of the yogic possibilities that are present in Iowa City. Blame the university, or the liberal way of life, but a dozen studios in a town of 60,000 is reality in this namaste loving town.

Summer of the Arts

Last summer I missed out on some of the best events that take place in Iowa City all year long. From art walks, to food fairs, to sandcastle building contests, during the summer when the college students return home the families come out to play and celebrate the arts.

Wilson’s Orchard


Located off of Dingleberry Road, Wilson’s Orchard is made up of rolling hills lined with apple trees and pumpkin patches. The orchard is serious about fresh fruit and brings in crates of cherries, peaches, and other seasonal fruit all summer and fall long. And don’t even get me started on the donuts.

The People

People of all walks of life find their way to little old Iowa City and the University of Iowa, the nationally acclaimed Writer’s Workshop, and it’s proximity to Chicago can all take credit. The culture that is created is paramount for a small, Midwest college town and most of us are reminded of that.

What do you love about where you live?



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13 responses to “Why Iowa City?

  1. Oh how I miss Iowa City….especially the Co-op! Love, love, looooovvvveeee that town! Luckily, Des Moines has some of those same charms, but it’s just not the same. I’ll always say my Hawkeye soul needs to be in Iowa City!

  2. Nora

    Your post made me tear up. Miss me some Iowa City.

  3. I feel lucky to have grown up where I did, but I’m ready to leave!

    My grandmother is from Iowa, but I’ve never been before. I would love to visit!

  4. runyogarepeat

    Awesome! I don’t have Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods in my state at all, but there’s a ton of great co-ops that are probably just as good or better cause they have tons of local foods.

  5. Kate, what a great post. I’m glad an east coast girl can appreciate how great Iowa (and Iowa City!) are! You posted some things I hadn’t even heard of and I’m from Iowa!
    My good friend and I just ate at Mondo’s Saloon in the Ped Mall on Friday night and it was great! Also visited the Bread Basket and resisted buying tons!

  6. haha…Dingleberry Road. Once I was driving back from Solon with my friends and we had to bail out of the car to take a picture with that sign. I haven’t been to that orchard though. Iowa City is a great place. How long are you going to stick around there?

    • Haha! I heard on the radio a few months ago that that is the most commonly stolen sign in the area. Theyve tried to prevent theifery but putting the pole in cement! Were planning to move before the end of the year, but well see what happens!

  7. Pingback: Life List | What Kate Ate

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