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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?