Plan a Craft Beverage-Inspired Family Vacation This Summer!

By Alyssa L. Ochs

The kids are out of school, the parents could use a break, and everyone is craving a change of scenery. Summer is the most popular time of the year for travel in Iowa, and you can plan many different types of trips throughout our state’s distinct regions. Many people think of wine and craft beer trails as adult-only adventures, which is mainly true. However, you can still embrace your love for locally made beer, wine and spirits if you have kids and as part of a family vacation in Iowa this summer.

Here are some ideas for summer family fun in Iowa, with a few highly recommended and kid-friendly craft beverage stops along the way.

Iowa Summer Fun for Families

  Outdoor recreation opportunities are abundant in Iowa and wonderfully paired with craft beverages for some refreshment after a day out in the wilderness. For boating and water sports, head to the Iowa Great Lakes around the town of Okoboji.

  You can rent a family cabin at Lake Icaria, hike along the lake at Lake Macbride and find some peace and quiet at Briggs Wood Park. Some of the best kid-friendly hikes that are a mile or less but still scenic and adventurous are the Wildcat Cave Trail in the Wildcat Cave Wildlife Area, Table Rock Loop in Ledges State Park and Bridal Veil Trail at Pikes Peak State Park.

  Fishing is a favorite pastime among Iowa families, with the top fishing spots of Green Valley Lake in southwest Iowa, Lake Ahquabi in central Iowa and Black Hawk Lake in northwest Iowa. It’s also fun to play a round of mini-golf with the kids at an Iowa mini-golf course, such as Lost Island in Waterloo, Pirate’s Point in Storm Lake or Derby Grange in Dubuque.

  If it feels too hot, humid or rainy to be outside, there are still plenty of opportunities for fun with your family in Iowa. You can visit some of the many fascinating museums throughout the state, such as the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs (southwest region), the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque (northeast region) or the Science Center of Iowa in Des Moines (central region). There’s also the option of riding on the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad, which offers fantastic train rides in the summer months in central Iowa. In addition to taking a ride, your kids can learn more about trains at the James H. Andrew Railroad Museum in Boone.

  Many families choose to make one of the following Iowa cities their home base to explore the broader areas.

  These destinations have an abundance of attractions that travelers of all ages can enjoy:

•   Sioux City

•   Dubuque

•   Burlington

•   Des Moines

•   Cedar Rapids

•   Iowa City

•   Pella

Family-Friendly Breweries, Wineries & Distilleries in Iowa

  One of the latest and greatest trends in the craft beverage industry lately is the move towards family-friendly and inclusive environments that are community gathering spaces just as much as local watering holes. However, some beverage businesses don’t allow kids at all or at least aren’t very welcoming to little travelers or family pets.

  We’ve rounded up a list of breweries, wineries and distilleries that are known for being family-friendly and would make fun stops along the way of your next Iowa vacation.

•   Big Grove Brewery, Iowa City: Large open space for families, dogs allowed on the patio, street-food style menu.

•   Firetrucker Brewery, Ankeny: Kids are welcome, the staff is friendly, great patio, family-friendly games on the event calendar. (Featured Advertiser – page 20)

•   Kinship Brewing, Waukee: Welcomes kids and dogs, off-leash dog park onsite, space for stroller parking, perfect for an afternoon out .

•   Gezellig Brewing, Newton: Cozy environment, pet-friendly patio, coloring books and games provided to entertain kids.

•   Crawford Brew Works, Quad Cities: Kid-friendly until 10 pm, dog-friendly patio with a fire pit, seating available for larger groups, rotating food trucks.

•   The Hall, West Des Moines: Family-friendly Monday night bingo, multiple food options to choose from, many games available, indoor and outdoor spaces. (Featured Advertiser – page 23)

•   Iowa Grape Vines Winery, Maquoketa: Welcomes kids, offers root beer and ice cream for kids, onsite vineyard tours available.  (Featured Advertiser – page 15)

•   Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery, Swisher: Kids are welcome, delicious pizza on the menu, patio and lawn spaces, live music onsite.

Tips for Visiting Craft Beverage Businesses with Kids

  Even in family-friendly craft beverage establishments, there are still rules to adhere to and etiquette to follow. Remember these tips during your travels to have the best vacation experience and support local businesses respectfully and responsibly.

•   Choose conveniently located beverage stops in areas with family-friendly attractions.

•   Call ahead to confirm that kids and dogs are allowed.

•   Choose outdoor seating areas with games to play and space to move around.

•   Pick places that serve food or have food trucks.

•   Don’t treat the business like a playground and only stay for a limited time.

•   Clean up toys and games before you leave.

More Iowa Summer Ideas and Inspiration

  If you love trying local drinks but want to plan a well-rounded trip that the whole family will enjoy, consider basing your travel route around a craft beverage trail in a particular region of Iowa. The I-80 Wine Trail, Scenic River Wine Trail, Central Iowa Beer Trail and Western Iowa Beer Trail are just a few examples of trails that allow you to visit multiple businesses and find plenty of fun, non-beverage-related stops along the way. There are some excellent kid-friendly resorts in Iowa that are perfect for summer vacations and will provide you with all the comforts of home, plus amenities like outdoor pools, free breakfasts and games.

  If you plan to stop at breweries, wineries and distilleries during your family vacation, it is paramount to sip samples in moderation or take turns sampling and driving for everyone’s safety. But the big takeaway is that it is definitely possible (and a lot of fun!) to have the best of both worlds with a summer vacation in Iowa and find local things to do that everyone can appreciate together.

  For more travel tips and inspiration about all things Iowa, visit our website at

What Are Craft Beverage Trails and Why They’re Worth Checking Out    

by Alyssa L. Ochs

Here at IOWA Trails & Tales travel guide, a significant part of our mission is to connect tourists to craft beverage trails that highlight a region’s unique approach to making wine, beer and spirits. Craft beverage trails have been around for many years, but they haven’t gotten a lot of attention or been actively promoted in many parts of the country. This has led to misunderstandings and misconceptions about what these trails really are and how they enhance the travel experience. And no, a winery, brewery or distillery trail is not just walking on a random hiking path in the woods with a beverage in hand!

  To clear things up, here’s what craft beverage trails really are, why they’re worth checking out and how they can help you get more out of travel.

Background on Craft Beverage Trails

  Craft beverage trails are somewhat similar to a bar crawl in that both concepts involve visiting multiple businesses selling alcohol to try what each has to offer. Bar crawls usually invite participants to walk, bike or ride a bus from one place to the next, all of which are located relatively close together.

  In contrast, a craft beverage trail has stops that are often farther apart and involve driving to various breweries, wineries or distilleries in a region. Trails are more geared towards tourism rather than a wild party scene for St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween or other festive holidays that lend themselves well to partaking in a few drinks.

Why Try a Craft Beverage Trail?

  If you love to travel and enjoy locally produced alcoholic beverages, a craft beverage trail perfectly combines these interests. Beverage producers are in tune with the overall vibe of a region and can offer tourists an excellent way to get to know the local scene in an authentic way.

  Think of craft beer, wine, and spirits trails as niche tours or drinkable “bucket lists” that promote small businesses and encourage non-standard, outside-the-box travel. Every beverage-producing region has something distinctive to offer, just as all individual travelers do when they cater their daily itineraries around homegrown beer, wine, cider, seltzers or spirits.

Goals and Benefits of Trails

  One of the main goals of setting up a craft beverage trail is to draw business to craft beverage establishments and introduce out-of-towners to places they might otherwise not come across in their trip research. Meanwhile, residents living near the trail stops can get more involved with businesses in their area and support the local economy, while getting out more and perhaps making new friends too. 

  Craft beverage trails are fun for weekend day dates with someone special and bachelor and bachelorette parties with groups of friends. With energized marketing efforts behind them and community support, they promote experiential tourism and immersion into different cultural scenes. Trails can also encourage producers to focus on local ingredients and eco-friendly methods to attract sustainable-minded consumers to their places of business, plus other activities and sights to see nearby.

Examples of Fun Beverage Trails

  There are craft beer, wine and spirits trails scattered all across the country in big cities, rural areas and broader regions with small towns. You can experience numerous craft beverage trails right here in Iowa that highlight offerings in specific areas of the state. To help you narrow down the options, you can even search for trails by Beverage Type and Region on the IOWA Trails & Tales website

  Here are some examples that you might want to check out for yourself when you are traveling the state:

•    Amana Colonies Wineries

•    Heart of Iowa Wine Trail

•    Cedar Falls Beer Trail

•    Central Iowa Beer Trail

•    Iowa Distillery Passport

•    Iowa Craft Beer Passport

•    Iowa Wine Trail

•    Northeast Iowa Beer Trail

•    Quad City Ale Trail

•    Pub Pass Des Moines

•    Western Iowa Beer Trail

How to Have the Best Trail Experience

  First and foremost, to have the best and safest experience on a craft beverage trail, it is a good idea to have a designated driver so that you aren’t putting yourself at risk on the road.

  You’ll also want to do some research, study a map, plan your route and consider the weather. It’s also a wise idea to choose the right people to travel the trail with so that you will have fun but still be responsible and continuously learning new things along the way.

Beverage Trails and Technology

  One of the best ways to keep consumers engaged with a beverage trail is to link it to modern technology. For instance, some brewery, winery, and distillery trails have their own mobile apps available for download.

  Trail directors and managers boost engagement by running competitions based on social media postings, sharing photos online and including hashtags. They also make it easy for customers to find their favorite beverages after the trail experience is over by utilizing scannable QR codes and sending follow-up marketing messages to customers via email or text. To promote a well-rounded travel experience, craft beverage trail apps may include suggestions for non-drinking activities nearby to check out before, between and after trail stops.

Explore Trails in Iowa and Beyond

  With a better understanding of what craft beverage trails are, we hope you’re feeling inspired to check out a few in Iowa and elsewhere around the country during your travels. As you make stops at breweries, wineries and distilleries, take what you’ve learned here and strike up conversations with producers about what you’d like to see offered on the trail. A few examples of potential offerings are merchandise discounts, educational opportunities, prizes, punch cards and VIP access to onsite events.

  To be part of this exciting movement and the next big thing for the craft beverage industry, stick with us at Trails and Tales for highlights, updates, and travel inspiration to sip your way through Iowa and beyond.

 For more information, fun trip ideas and inspiration, visit our website

Iowa’s Winter Craft Beverage Festivals & Tastings

Dubuque, Iowa on Ice

by Alyssa L. Ochs

It’s no secret that Iowa winters can be brutally harsh, with temperatures averaging from the teens to 20s and accumulating approximately 20 to 40 inches of snow per season. This might lead you to assume that the craft beverage industry in the state more or less shuts down so that residents can hibernate in their homes and travelers can go elsewhere in search of warmth and sunshine.

  However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth because winter is an exciting time to be in Iowa if you love craft beer, spirits, and wine! Whether you’ve lived in Iowa all your life or are just visiting for the first time, here are some highly anticipated craft beverage events to look forward to this winter season.

Amana Colonies Winter Events

  If you want to experience the craft beverage scene in Iowa this winter but need help figuring out where to start, make your way to Amana Colonies in eastern Iowa. Located only about 30 minutes from both Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, Amana Colonies is a historic communal society and collection of seven villages celebrating German culture and traditions. Some of those traditions involve handcrafted and locally produced wine and beer in a place that transports visitors back to a simpler time with unmatched hospitality.

  Many events are taking place during the winter season in Amana Colonies this year, including the Tannenbaum Forest on Fridays through Sundays from November 25 to December 18.

  “Tannenbaum Forest is a beautiful homage to the traditional Christmas tree,” Stacey Colledge, the executive director of the Amana Colonies Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACCVB), told Trails and Tales. “With 80+ beautifully decorated trees lining our Festhalle barn, this is an event to see!”

  This event is free to visit but welcomes donations, which benefit the nearby University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. Colledge said that the Prelude to Christmas weekend during Tannenbaum Forest is fun for the whole family with Santa, games and tasty treats. Prelude to Christmas is scheduled for December 2 to 4 at Amana Colonies and coincides with some unique winery events.

  For example, the Nutcracker Scavenger Hunt at Ackerman Winery runs from November 25 to December 26 and encourages visitors to search for up to 24 traditional Nutcrackers hidden around its store. Prelude to Christmas at Ackerman Winery during the festival weekend includes wine pairing flights for $10, a decadent wine cocktail special, Christmas cookies, classic holiday movies and shopping deals.

  “In Amana, we have several amazing craft beverage businesses that make delightful seasonal blends and cocktails!” said Colledge of ACCVB. “This includes the award-winning Ackerman Winery, the oldest operating winery in Iowa, White Cross Cellars, Fireside Winery and Village Winery. Or visit Millstream Brau Haus for a local beer in a traditional-style, German beer hall environment.”

  Yet even after the holidays have come and gone, the winter fun keeps going at Amana Colonies. Set for January 21, 2023, Winterfest encourages visitors to embrace the season with winter games, a wine walk and a “Wine and Dine” event that pairs each course of traditional cuisine with delicious local wines. There’s even a Best Beard Competition, ice sculptor, local chainsaw artist and open-fire chili from the volunteer fire department to warm you up with a glass of delicious wine or beer in hand.

  “Amana has a long history with locally crafted wine,” said Colledge. “It’s worth a stop at the Heritage Society Museum to learn more about how the colonists would brew, share and enjoy their wines with each other. It’s just one of many interesting customs in this communal society.”

BrrrFest 2023

Meanwhile, craft beer enthusiasts are marking their calendars for Saturday, January 28 because this is when BrrrFest 2023 takes place in Coralville, Iowa. BrrrFest is a celebration of the winter craft beers and the brewers who make them. This will be the event’s 11th year, with proceeds supporting Coralville’s annual 4th of July celebration and the Iowa Brewer’s Guild.

  “BrrrFest started in 2011 as the first specifically winter beer tasting event in Iowa,” Noreen Otto, the executive director of the Iowa Brewers Guild, told Trails and Tales. “There will be more than 50 Iowa breweries at the event again this year, each bringing two to four winter-style craft beers to taste. It is a great way to try brews from around the whole state!”

  This is an interesting craft beer festival because of the niche focus on winter brews, such as stouts, porters and other classic “big brews” with a seasonal twist.

  “Iowa craft breweries products reflect the seasons,” Otto said. “This is a great time to try some of the bolder winter beers you might miss if you’re only sampling during the heat of summer. This event happens in the Iowa River Landing in Coralville with shops and restaurants to visit. At the neighboring Xtream Arena, the Iowa Heartlanders ECHL hockey team will be playing, so you can make a whole weekend out of visiting the area!”

  Otto acknowledged that, yes, winter weather in Iowa can be cold, but this is a fun indoor event at the Hyatt Regency Coralville Hotel & Conference Center where people can still get together with friends and help raise money for great causes. Some proceeds support local youth scouting organizations too. BrrrFest sells out nearly every year, and Brewmaster VIP tickets sell out very quickly. Tickets go on sale Monday, November 28, and you can follow Coralville BrrrFest on Facebook for additional updates and information.

More to Sip and Enjoy in Iowa This Winter

  Even during Iowa’s long winters (perhaps especially at this time!), craft beer, wine and spirits have a way of bringing people together, and these events are excellent examples of Iowans’ hardy resilience, unwavering sense of community and dedication to supporting local businesses. Of course, there are plenty of spring, summer and fall craft beverage festivals and tasting events scattered throughout the state. Yet winter is a unique and magical time in Iowa where traditions are celebrated, everyone is welcome and cozy vibes are felt everywhere you go.

  This winter, we are also looking forward to events taking place at individual beverage producers’ establishments, such as Confluence Brewing Company’s Cabin Fever Day in January and Firkin Fest in February. There’s also the 11th annual Dubuque on Ice Brewfest on February 25 at the Grand River Center in Dubuque, Iowa, with both general admission and VIP options available.

  Learn about more local events and craft beverage-themed happenings on IOWA Trails & Tales event calendar. If you are a craft beverage producer and planning to host a winter event in the upcoming months, please share the details with us so that we can help get the word out and encourage Iowans to have the best winter ever!

  For more information on Iowa Travel & Events, check out the official Travel Iowa website or browse our guide Iowa Trails & Tales for fun trip ideas and inspiration or visit our website

Awaken Your Senses in Southwest Iowa    

by Gerald Dlubala

Introduction to Southwest Iowa

Featuring a unique topographic layout that offers vast prairies and beautiful savannas in the Loess Hills, with contrasting wetlands and deciduous forests positioned along the Missouri River, Southwest Iowa offers some of the most diverse outdoor experiences and unmatched scenic backdrops for all your planned activities.

  After those activities, you’ll want to visit the region’s craft beverage producers to relax and recount the fun you’ve had, and in genuinely welcoming fashion, they’ll be ready for your visit. 

Southwest Region Details

  The start of many emigration trails can be traced to the Southwest Iowa region and, more specifically, to the Council Bluffs area in Pottawattamie County. Previously known as Hart’s Bluff, Miller’s Hollow, and then Kanesville until around 1853, Council Bluffs is the most populous city in Southwestern Iowa. It became advantageous for emigration purposes because of its easy accessibility to steam-powered ferries that carried goods and groups of people back and forth across the Missouri River.

  The first transcontinental railroad, sprawling westward to California, was connected in Council Bluffs to the existing U.S. railroad network in 1869. Abraham Lincoln named Council Bluffs the transcontinental railroad’s official starting point, with the official “Mile 0” marker located at 21st Street and 9th Avenue. The landmark is represented to this day by a gold railroad spike.

  Farming and agriculture have always been an important part of the Iowa lifestyle, and this region is no different. The landscape is built for mechanized agriculture due to its loess-derived soil. Made up of silt-sized grains loosely held together to remain highly porous, it features exceptional aeration characteristics, an abundance of available water and nutrients, and can be easily cultivated. You’ll no doubt be in awe of the beautiful vistas and unmatched scenery that you’ll encounter as you travel through the region.

  When exploring Southwest Iowa, you’ll experience life in these counties:




















Why Visit Southwest Iowa?

  Travelers through the region can expect to experience golden, natural hills that only time can form, elegant savannas and prairies that seemingly go on forever, and the beauty of the forests and wetlands that lead you towards the Missouri River on Iowa’s western border. The beauty of the Southwest region’s parks and naturally terraced hills surround visitor-friendly cities and towns that feature unique shopping, local dining, and fun-filled activities.

  Take things at your pace. There’s no rush in these parts. Southwest Iowa will fill your itinerary as it touches upon all your senses while displaying the advantages of a long-forgotten, straightforward, and slower-paced lifestyle.

Top Craft Beverage Destinations

 Keg Creek Brewing Company:  

  Located in Glenwood, it is as authentic of a craft brewery as you’ll find. Started by homebrewers that decided to try and make beer they enjoyed, it wasn’t long before they discovered that other beer drinkers liked their products as much as they did.

  A couple of national awards later, Keg Creek Brewing Company offers more than 30 varieties of hop goodness, occasionally rounded out with a selection of local wines and ciders, all within the welcoming, small-town hospitality of their patio and taproom. Food can be brought in or enjoyed from food trucks.

  In 2016, Keg Creek Brewing Company moved to a new 15-barrel location south of Glenwood that has allowed them to increase production dramatically. Keg Creek Brewing Company currently distributes eight canned beer varieties in more than 100 outlets throughout the Midwest!

  In 2017, the Brewers Association named Keg Creek Brewing Company #18 among the 50 fastest-growing small and independent craft breweries in the United States.

  In 2020, Keg Creek Brewing Company participated in the U.S. Open Beer Championship for the first time and two of their eight submissions were awarded Bronze medals in their respective categories. The Bronze finishers were Deviant of the Depths in the Rum Barrel-Aged Beer category and Old Marathon in the Barrel-Aged Barley Wine category.

Nearby Local Attractions

Southwest Iowa continues to offer big city excitement with a small-town feel. Whether visitors are searching for the freedom of outdoor activities or the focus of a true crime detective, Iowa’s Southwest region will fill your days with enjoyment and put a smile on your face.

Glenwood, IA

•   Mills County Historical Museum, Earth Lodge, Davies Amphitheater:   American Indian Earth Lodge and collection of artifacts from the Earth Lodge People, who lived in the area between 800 and 1200 A.D. Museum features a hall of antique agricultural equipment, one-room country school, restored century barn, military display and two-cell brick jail. Glenwood Lake Park features the Davies Outdoor Amphitheater, with family entertainment offered June-August.

Council Bluffs, IA

•   Horseshoe Council Bluffs:  Provides a Casino that features sports betting, over 1,600 slot machines, game tables, and more, offering a place for gambling and gaming entertainment in Council Bluffs, Iowa. There is a World Series of Poker poker room and approximately 68,000 square feet of gaming space. The casino is open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. They also include three different restaurants, providing visitors with a choice of upscale, casual, or buffet dining!

•   Mid-America Center:  Consists of exhibit and convention space, as well as an arena, for conventions, sporting events, concerts, and more. With almost 64,000 square feet of space, the Center features a 30,000-square-foot arena with two party rooms and twelve luxury suites, an Exhibition Hall, Convention Center, meeting rooms, and other space for events. The  Center regularly provides entertainment and special events such as community events, USHL hockey games, family shows, rock shows, and concerts by the music industry’s top names among many other events.

•   Union Pacific Railroad Museum: Located in the downtown of Council Bluffs, explore 150 years of railroad history through informative and interactive digital displays, photographs, unique artifacts, and more. Exhibits range from the origins of the first Transcontinental Railroad in the United States back in 1862, Abraham Lincoln and the more advanced technology of the railroading industry of modern day.

Missouri Valley, IA

•   Harrison County Historical Village & Iowa Welcome Center:  Featuring Lincoln Highway/Loess Hills Interpretive Center with films, road demonstration area with Smartphone interpretation, trail and scenic overlook; five-building historical complex including an original log cabin and one-room school; transportation-themed playground, and more! Check out the Iowa-themed gift shop while enjoying a sample of cherry drink that’s been mixed and bottled at the facility since the 1930’s.

•   Wilson Island State Recreation Area: Covers 544 acres of cottonwood stands along the Missouri River. The park provides a quiet retreat with campsites, hiking trails and picnicking areas. The open spaces welcome wildlife, and visitors may see deer grazing in the fields, flocks of geese, or even Bald Eagles perched on the cottonwoods. Early American history shows that Lewis and Clark camped on this area of the river in 1804.

  To learn more about things to do and where to stay in Southeast Iowa or elsewhere in the state, check out the official Travel Iowa website and browse our guide Iowa Trails & Tales for fun trip ideas and inspiration or visit our website

Getting to Know Northwest Iowa’s Craft Beverage Scene  

by Alyssa L. Ochs

Introduction to Northwest Iowa

Water sports enthusiasts flock to Northwest Iowa every summer for boating, sailing, jet skiing and endless family fun. This part of the state is home to Iowa’s Great Lakes and a place where there are over 13,000 acres of water and 86 combined miles of lakeside shoreline.

  But something that travelers might not yet know is that Northwest Iowa also has a growing craft beverage scene with excellent wineries, breweries and distilleries that are worth visiting. These friendly and welcoming businesses provide a perfect way to relax, unwind and get to know the area from a local perspective. It’s easy to live the good life along the lake and with your favorite beverage in hand when you travel to Northwest Iowa!

Northwest Region Details

  Northwest Iowa is filled with gently rolling plains, many small towns and rural farming communities. Compared to the rest of the state, Northwest Iowa has the highest elevation and is colder and drier – much like the climate across the border in nearby North and South Dakotas. You’ll find much of the land cultivated for row crops, used for pastureland and preserved as natural prairie with abundant flora and fauna.

  All of these factors affect how craft beverage producers source their ingredients, create unique products and market them to the local population and tourists. For example, vineyards in Northwest Iowa have learned to adapt to and embrace the bitterly cold winters and scorching hot summers of the region to grow their grapes.

  The emergence of Iowa hop farms has also been on the rise in recent years, an effort that is supporting the local brewing industry and impacting the regional economy. Meanwhile, many craft distilleries are adopting a grain-to-glass mentality and sourcing their corn and grains from Iowa farms just a few miles down the road from their distilling operations.

  To help familiarize yourself with the geography of this vast region, here are counties that make up Northwest Iowa:

•   Lyon

•   Sioux

•   Plymouth

•   Woodbury

•   Monona

•   Osceola

•   O’Brien

•   Cherokee

•   Ida

•   Crawford

•   Dickinson

•   Clay

•   Buena Vista

•   Sac

•   Carroll

•   Emmet

•   Palo Alto

•   Pocahontas

•   Calhoun

•   Kossuth

•   Humboldt

•   Webster

•   Winnebago

•   Hancock

•   Wright

•   Hamilton

Why Visit Northwest Iowa?

  Each craft beverage region in the state of Iowa and across the country is unique, and Northwest Iowa is undoubtedly no exception. Homegrown Northwest Iowa wine stands out because it comes from grapevines propagated to survive extreme hot and cold temperatures. LaCrescent, Edelweiss, St. Croix, Lacrosse and Frontenac are some of the most common varietals in Northwest Iowa.

  Something else that is unique about craft wineries, breweries and distilleries in this region is the locations of their operations. You can sip locally produced beverages in renovated school buildings, new construction developments, family farms and everywhere in between.

  Northwest Iowa does not have a huge population center, but some towns with notable craft beverage scenes are Sioux City , Fort Dodge and Humbold. Yet this is actually an advantage of traveling through the region since the journey from one craft beverage business to the next will involve peaceful, scenic drives and no shortage of enticing stops along the way.

Top Craft Beverage Destinations

  With numerous craft beverage establishments scattered across the region, where should a first-time visitor to Northwest Iowa begin? Here are a few highly recommended destinations:

Plum Creek Winery:  Located seven miles from Algona, Iowa, is a family-owned business with about two acres of grapes planted. It has been part of the local wine scene since 2012 and offers fun “Paint and Pour” nights to help you tap into your creative side, as well as a brand-new outdoor wedding venue.

River Valley Orchards Winery &

Distillery:  Located four miles from Humboldt, Iowa and along Highway 3. The history of this family farm dates back to 1998, and it has since expanded to offer 19 excellent wines – most of which are made exclusively from fruit grown right here on the farm.

Rustic Rivery Winery & Vineyard:

A family owned winery & vineyard located in rural Lake View is a true family affair.  What began as a fully operating farm has diversified into offering a full selection of  medal winning wines.  The Winery makes the perfect venue for an intimate wedding, baby shower, wedding shower, birthday party, family/friend gathering, or simply just a relaxing spot to unwind on the weekends. Their 4 acre corn maze is designed with the idea that everyone can navigate their way through the unique pattern! Check out their haunted maze every October.

S&B Farms Distillery: Located in Bancroft, Iowa is a first-generation, seed-to-spirit distillery that uses grains grown from its very own farm. It has won numerous awards for its spirits and promises a genuinely smooth taste in every bottle.

Shiny Top Brewing:  Nate & Todd McCubbin brought Shiny Top Brewing  to Fort Dodge, Iowa, along with great beer, a friendly atmosphere and a showcase of local talent. Not only can you enjoy a tasty brew here, but also weekly pizza specials, live music and displays from local artists.

TractorLift Brewery:  Is a nano-brewery in Humboldt, Iowa that adopted an old post office building as its taproom location. Larry Beilke, the owner of TractorLift, welcomes beer-lovers to bring in their own food and enjoy one of the many tasty beers on tap.

Wise I Brewing Company:  Inspired by Iowan history and a love for delicious craft beverages, Wise I Brewing Company is located in Le Mars and offers a variety of flagship and seasonal/rotational brews. Wise I tries to tie everything back to its Iowa roots in some way, and every beer created here has its own unique story.

Nearby Local Attractions

  However, sipping delicious wines, beers and spirits is just one of the many things you can do on a trip to Northwest Iowa. Here are a few examples of other local attractions to add to your travel itinerary:

Fort Dodge Attractions

•   Fort Frenzy: the largest and most popular family entertainment center in Fort Dodge. Featuring dozens of indoor and outdoor activities, there’s something for everyone including go karts, bowling, bumper boats and arcade games. Get competitive on the miniature golf course or stop by for special events and concerts.

•   Fort Museum & Frontier Village: Replica town & Fort that offers a look at 1850’s life. The Fort Museum houses thousands of historical and military artifacts, including Native American and pioneer items.

Spencer Attractions

•   Spencer’s Historic District:  Take a walking tour of Spencer’s Historic Grand Avenue Commercial District!  Tour booklets are available at the Spencer Main Street Office and Clay County CVB Office. 

West Bend Attractions

•   Grotto of the Redemption:  The largest man-made Grotto in the world. The Grotto stands as a testimony in stone, a treasured work of art. Covering a city block, the Grotto represents the largest collection of precious and semi-precious rocks, minerals, fossils and petrifactions concentrated in any one spot in the world.

•   Smoldering Cigar: Down the road in Livermore with a great selection of cigars and accessories.

  To learn more about things to do and where to stay in Northwest Iowa, check out the official Travel Iowa website and browse our guide Iowa Trails & Tales for fun trip ideas and inspiration or visit our website

Raising a Glass To All That Central Iowa Offers 

by Gerald Dlubala

Introduction to Central Iowa

Iowa remains a state comprised of more small towns than large cities, and visitors can expect to experience the best of both worlds with a trip to Central Iowa. After experiencing modern city amenities mixed with eclectic college town vibes and scenic natural wonders, your day will be complete by sampling a locally made craft beverage or glass of wine from one of the many options in the region. With terrain and climate that provide exceptional conditions for quality ingredients and grape growing, your time will be well-spent visiting one of the many local craft beverage producers in this region. Let’s all raise a glass to your Central Iowa travels!

Central Region Details

  Central Iowa offers a four-season climate, with the January winter temperatures averaging just 14° Fahrenheit in the northwest to the lower 20s in the southwestern areas. Most of central Iowa is covered by drift plains, a sedimentary combination of clay, sand, gravel, and rock left over from ice age glaciers that is ideal for agriculture. Iowa’s central region sits cradled between the Des Moines and Iowa Rivers, in between the famous Loess Hills. This region lays claim to a distinctively formed landscape that produces a unique micro-climate with exceptional drainage capability. Protected by the Des Moines River bluffs, this corridor is sheltered from the most extreme heat and cold conditions, consequently forming an excellent area for growing grapes. Just another reason for you to stop into the region’s local craft beverage producers to see what they have to offer.

  When exploring Central Iowa, you’ll be experiencing life in these counties:

•  Greene

•  Boone

•  Story

•  Marshall

•  Tama

•  Guthrie

•  Dallas

•  Polk

•  Jasper

•  Adair

•  Madison

•  Warren

•  Marion

•  Mahaska

•  Poweshiek

Why Visit Central Iowa?

  From the smell of burning rubber at the speedway to the educational ambiance of a recognized Museum of Natural History, this region delivers on making your day memorable. When it’s time to kick back and relax, this region offers award-winning craft beverages from local artisans for your enjoyment. Wines from Central Iowa are made primarily from Vitis Riparia, or the Frost Grape, a University of Minnesota developed grape varietal specifically developed to withstand the local climate conditions and accompanying weather extremes.  This region produces popular wines with the Boule de Poils (similar to Sauvignon Blanc), the Marechal Foch, and the Frontenac grape varietals.

Top Craft Beverage Destinations

  Should you decide to check in on some of the great craft beverage artisans in Central Iowa, the following is a diverse list of top participating producers to get you started:

Van Wijk Winery: Located in Sully offers visitors a chance to celebrate their day, or just life in general, in a stone castle setting complete with a cottage garden, courtyard, and patio to match your mood. Choose from over 40 wines, craft beer options, Italian sodas, or specialty coffees. Can’t decide? A complimentary tasting may help.

Confluence Brewing Company:  Is a must stop destination in Des Moines to taste the beer that Des Moines calls it’s own. There’s no better place to enjoy great beer, beautiful times, and good friends with a spacious taproom and patio. In addition, visitors can bring in their own food, buy something from on-site food trucks, or order delivery from one of the nearby local restaurants.

The Hall:  Also in Des Moines, this is your destination if you just can’t decide what you’re in the mood for or if you have a large group to satisfy. The Hall is the modern version of a food court, a spacious hall offering over 50 options for beer and wine on tap, and a rotating lineup of local gourmet food trucks to fill your belly. The Hall believes that food and drink should be a shared community experience with the opportunity for conversation. That is easy to do with a lineup of the best offerings in the area.

 Firetrucker Brewery:  Get a dose of art with your craft beer by checking into Firetrucker Brewery in Ankeny. Firetrucker’s constant rotation of new and exciting beers and infusions is complimented by their use of artistic labels on their can. Customers can expect to see creative labels developed in-house and in collaboration with art houses to promote artists, local events, and community happenings. As all craft beer enthusiasts know, beer is art. At Firetrucker, they take that slogan seriously and promote it deliciously.

Nearby Local Attractions

  The combination of food, drink, and conversation is always a good time, but central Iowa offers many great attractions. Below are some popular options to get you started on your Central Iowa journey.

Des Moines, IA

•   Capitol Building:  Tour the Iowa State Capitol building, the only U.S. Statehouse with five domes.

•   Iowa State Fairgrounds: Each August, it’s a fairground, but for the other 354 days of the year, it is the home to auto shows, livestock exhibitions, flea markets, antique shows, concerts, trade shows and more. See what’s happening at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

•   Adventureland Park:  More than 100 rides, shows, and attractions, including the new family spinning roller coaster, The Phoenix! Rides for all ages are available from mild to wet-and-wild. Shows throughout the park feature a variety of family entertainment. Don’t miss Iowa’s newest water park, Adventure Bay. Water park admission is included with admission to Adventureland Park. Please see for Park and Water Park operation dates.

•   Prairie Meadows Casino Racetrack & Hotel:  With more than 2,000 slot machines, game tables, live horse racing from April through October, award-winning restaurants, big-name entertainment, and a contemporary hotel, it’s no secret that Prairie Meadows has it all. Also featured is the Prairie Meadows Events and Conference Center, making Prairie Meadows the perfect place to hold your next conference or event. Open 24 hours a day.

•   Blank Park Zoo:  Blank Park Zoo is “Iowa’s Wildest Adventure!” Experience the wonders of nature found in the tropical rainforests, Australian Outback and Africa. The zoo offers educational classes, tours and rental facilities.

Pella, IA

•   Nederlanders Tap & Golf:

     Nederlanders offers 70+ virtual golf courses, a wide array of driving ranges, target games, and mini games for all skill levels!

     Not a golfer? Not a problem! Nederlanders is still a great spot to meet up with family, friends, and colleagues. Book your tee time or drop in for one of our gourmet hot dogs, domestic or craft beers, or delicious cocktails.

•   Lake Red Rock: Iowa’s largest reservoir. Enjoy boating, hiking, camping, biking, fishing, birdwatching, and more!

•   Pella Historical Village & Vermeer Mill: Step back in time to early Pella! Log cabin, general store, Dutch costume displays, and much more. Tour the Vermeer Windmill, one of the tallest working windmills in North America. The Wyatt Earp Experience explores the life of the famous western lawman who grew up in Pella.

•   Molengracht Plaza: The Molengracht Plaza, located in Pella’s central business district, was built to replicate an authentic Dutch canal and is over 100,000 square feet. The better of two worlds, the Molengracht complex combines a 21st century entrepreneurial spirit with Old World Charm.

•   Frisian Farms Cheese House: Small farm producing artisan Gouda Cheese, tours by appointment.

•   Cordova Observation Tower: Tallest observation tower in a public park in the Midwest: 106 feet tall, 170 steps to the top!

Indianola, IA

•   National Balloon Museum:  This national nonprofit is dedicated to educating the public on its ballooning history through collections and exhibitions. More than 10,000 visitors attend the museum every year to comb through over 200 years of ballooning archives. The National Balloon Museum calls Indianola home because of the area’s prime flying conditions. Indianola also played host to the Balloon Federation of America’s National Hot Air Balloon Championships before it took on its current nine-day national event, the National Balloon Classic. The museum is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and guided tours are available to those who call ahead.

Ames, IA

•   Reiman Gardens: Take in the stunning beauty of the 17 acre Reiman Gardens, located on the campus of the University of Iowa. The year-round botanical garden offers events, programs, lectures, and a butterfly wing that houses over 800 butterflies.

•   McFarland Park:  Hit the outdoors at McFarland Park, a 200 acre paradise offering views of a variety of habitats, including prairies and woodlands. Picnic, fish, camp, hike, bike, and trail walk to your heart’s content against one of the area’s most beautiful backdrops.

•   Octagon Center for the Arts:  Get a close look at local artists’ contributions at the Octagon Center for the Arts, a not-for-profit organization that promotes and supports Iowa’s local artists. Exhibits are evolving throughout the year and offer the viewers a chance to own original clothing, textiles, pottery, paintings, and photography from Iowa’s local art community.

Boone, IA

•   Boone Scenic Valley Raiload: Take a ride on the rails to experience the scenery of Central Iowa. Riders can enjoy beautiful views of the Des Moines River Valley, where it is not uncommon to see a convocation of bald eagles. Take the Dinner Train in historic 1950’s passenger cars.

•   Seven Oaks Recreation:  Visit this family-owned and operated venue that offers year-round outdoor recreation in central Iowa. Seasonal activities include canoeing, kayaking, river tubing, paintball, skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing. They also provide a VERY nice facility that can be rented for wedding receptions, family reunions, class reunions, summer/winter retreats, birthday parties, corporate meetings/retreats, team building and other activities.

•   Boone Speedway:  A third mile high bank dirt race track and home to the IMCA Super Nationals each September. Boone Speedway races Saturday nights! Hot Laps at 6:45pm and Racing at 7:30pm. Modifieds, Stock Cars, Hobby Stock, Sport Mods and Dwarf Cars.

 To learn more about things to do and where to stay in Central Iowa or elsewhere in the state, check out the official Travel Iowa website and browse our guide Iowa Trails & Tales for fun trip ideas and inspiration or visit our website

Cheers To the Easy Living of Southeast Iowa  

By: Gerald Dlubala

Introduction to Southeast Iowa

There’s a wealth of military landmarks, historically significant locations, and outdoor activities to indulge in when traveling in Southeast Iowa. Other parts, with meandering hillsides, local boutiques, and homegrown treats, will transport you back to small-town America, when the living was easy, and the days were spent among friends and family. Days like those often ended with a local, well-crafted beverage in hand, and that is just what you can do by visiting one of the region’s local craft beverage producers to sample their products and learn their stories.

Southeast Region Details

  Southeast Iowa provides the recognizable drift plains with rolling hills and sloping fields that are so prevalent in America’s heartland. The far-reaching vistas of the higher peaks easily dissolve into lazy, sloping hillsides like ice cream melting down the side of the scoop. The mesmerizing views are almost hypnotic while driving through rural areas, small towns, and welcoming communities.

  The southeast region holds claim to the location of the first state Capitol of Iowa. It also begins a geographical bridge connecting the woodlands of the east with the grasslands and high prairie plains of the west. Iowa is the only U.S. state with two parallel and navigable rivers defining its borders.

  The Mississippi River forms Iowa’s eastern border. In contrast, the western boundary is formed by the Missouri River and its tributary, the Big Sioux. The southeast region is also the location of Iowa’s lowest point, located within the city of Keokuk, where the Des Moines River enters the Mississippi, measuring just 480 feet above sea level. With a wide range of available terrain and many nearby state parks, Southeast Iowa offers hikers a diverse number of trails in all difficulty levels and lengths to appeal to hiking and outdoor enthusiasts.

  When exploring Southeast Iowa, you’ll experience life in these counties:


•Des Moines

•Van Buren














Why Visit Southeast Iowa?

  History, hometown, friendliness, and authenticity are ingrained into this region. Those qualities can’t help but shine through when interacting with locals. And combined with the ideal agricultural conditions that formed back into the Ice Age, local craft producers are assured quality, local and sustainable ingredients for use in their products. Local farms are abundant, and their products can be found displayed in this region’s exceptional local craft beverages. While taking in the sites and enjoying your newfound tranquility and peace of mind, stop in for a visit and learn a little about Southeast Iowa’s participating producers.

Top Craft Beverage Destinations

 Cedar Valley Winery:  Located in Batavia, Iowa and traces its origins back to a 1.5 acre family vineyard. With early success, the Miller family expanded their vineyard to include seven different varieties of grapes. As a result, you can now conveniently visit their tasting room and sample their farm-to-glass wines while traveling to or from other regional tourist attractions.

Crane Winery:  Known as “The Sweetest Little Winery In Southeast Iowa” and located in historic Van Buren County. Offering a quaint place to sit and sip their wines while relaxing in a charming, perfectly decorated setting that assures you that you are among friends.

  Buchanan House Winery:  Uses grapes and fruits from its own vineyard to offer red, white, fruit, and sparkling wines to please even the pickiest of palates. Their fresh tasting offerings are made from high-quality Brianna, Frontenac, Marquette, and St Pepin grape varietals with the flavors of homegrown blackberries, currants, and apples. Enjoy your favorite on the grounds of the accompanying Colonial Revival Garden, displaying traditional brick and gravel pathways that wind through 19th-century appropriate plants and ornamental flowers.

Walker Homestead Farm and Winery:  Provides visitors a total experience in agricultural stewardship. A farm-to-table format allows diners an intimate insight into where our food comes from. Their commitment to farm stewardship teaches sustainability by using environmentally friendly techniques and shows visitors how to lead a more healthy and sustainable life. The Walker Homestead Farm and Winery is also an event space and wedding venue to compliment those special moments.

Front Street Brewery:  Everything you would expect from a river town brewpub. Their first beer was brewed in the basement of their current building, over a century old and stoically positioned along the banks of the Mississippi River in downtown Davenport.

Green Frog Distillery: Has become known as “both the newest and oldest distillery” in Southeastern Iowa. Nestled in a rural setting as all good distilleries are, their varied line of flavored corn liquors offers something for every taste profile.

Bridge House Cider:  All natural ingredients, minimal preservatives, and a simple process form the basis for Bridge House Cider’s appeal. Hand-picked straight from the orchard, apples are ground with a traditional rack and cloth press, then fermented with high-quality yeast and left to mature before blending, carbonating, and bottling for your consumption. Simple, pure, and refreshing is the way it’s done.

Nearby Local Attractions

  Southeast Iowa is a destination for locals, families, and friends alike. There is always something to do in this part of the state.

Amana Colonies, IA

•  AMANA COLONIES VISITORS CENTER:  The Amana Colonies Visitors Center is located in the village of Amana, in a restored corn crib. The Visitors Center is your first stop for information about the Amana Colonies, providing Visitors Guides, maps and brochures for area businesses. Menus for all Amana Colonies restaurants are also provided.

•  MILLSTREAM BRAU HAUS:  The name “Brau Haus” simply means “Brewing House!” For years the Millstream Brewery owners had said that it would be wonderful to add an authentic German Bierhalle to the Amana Colonies. In August 2016, the Millstream Brau Haus was born! Adding the Brau Haus gave the Millstream Brewery the opportunity to make more ‘one of a kind’ brews and specialty beers only to be sold in the Brau Haus!

•  WHITE CROSS CELLARS:  Located in the historic village of Amana, Iowa, White Cross Cellars is a new approach to the Amana Colonies wine industry. While the Amanas have long been famous for fruit wines, White Cross Cellars delivers a more traditional approach to the wines of the Amanas. They feature Award-winning wines from classic wine grapes as well as Midwestern varieties; producing wine in the European or California style. Specialties are white wines reminiscent of the traditional German and French styles, along with red dinner wines designed for beef and Italian dishes.

•  AMANA MEAT SHOP AND SMOKEHOUSE:  The tradition of the Amana Meat Shop & Smokehouse began when the seven villages were a communal settlement and families enjoyed meals together in kitchen houses. Each village had its own meat shop and smokehouse where ham, bacon, and sausage were cured the old-world way with long-held recipes and a commitment to quality. Today the tradition of quality continues, sample their products, send gifts through the catalog, and take home the flavors of another century.  

Iowa City, IA

•  Downtown Iowa City: One of Iowa City’s big strong points is its downtown area, with scores of independent shops, restaurants and bars, as well as top-notch entertainment venues, hotels and offices. One unique feature downtown is the Pedestrian Mall, which was laid out during the city’s urban renewal project in 1979.

•  University of Iowa: With more than 30,000 students and a 1,900-acre campus that mingles with downtown, daily life in Iowa City revolves around the University of Iowa.

    The 75-minute guided tour is aimed mainly at prospective students, but still gives an insight into the history and day-to-day of this esteemed institution. Visit the Old Capitol and the new Stanley Museum of Art, while game day at Kinnick Stadium is an experience no sports fan will want to miss.

Davenport, IA

•  Rhythm City Casino Resort:  Over 32,000 square feet of gaming space with 1,000 slot machines, 25 game tables, the Elite Sports Book, a hotel, 3 restaurants, a full service spa and an event center.  It is adjacent to the intersection of I-80 and I-74.

•  Iowa 80 – The World’s Largest Truckstop:  Located along Interstate 80 off exit 284 in Walcott, Iowa. It sits on a 220-acre plot of land, three times larger than an average 75 acres truckstop, and it receives 5,000 visitors daily. Iowa 80 features a 67,000 sq ft main building, parking for 900 trucks, 15 diesel fuel pumps, and also has a dedicated pump for dispensing bulk diesel exhaust fluid.

Fort Madison, IA

•  Old Fort Madison: Is a replica of the first U.S. military fort in the upper Mississippi region. It is the site of the first battle of Chief Black Hawk and his warriors against the U.S. troops in 1812. The fort stands along the river and has replicas of significant buildings near the actual site of the historic fort. Located in Riverview Park, Old Fort Madison is a living history demonstration.

•  Kingsley Inn:  If you are in need of a place to stay for the night, check out Kingsley Inn in downtown Fort Madison, a 19 room property with serene river views, comfortable beds and impressive attention to detail.

•  Tri-State Rodeo:  The 2022 Tri-State Rodeo is set for action September 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th. For years this premiere community event brings fast paced Rodeo action and top-name entertainment to Fort Madison.

Keokuk, IA

•  The George M. Verity River Museum:  Located in Victory Park on the riverfront. The paddle boat was built in Dubuque, Iowa by the U.S. Government in 1927 to revive river transportation and move barges from St Louis to St. Paul. It was then known as the S.S. Thorpe. Armco Steel Corporation bought the boat in 1940 and put it into service on the Ohio River, renaming it after the founder of their company, George M. Verity. The George M. Verity was donated to the City of Keokuk in 1961 after being retired from service.

  To learn more about things to do and where to stay in Southeast Iowa or elsewhere in the state, check out the official Travel Iowa website and browse our guide Iowa Trails & Tales for fun trip ideas and inspiration or visit our website

Sip and Enjoy the Scenery in Northeast Iowa  

Introduction to Northeast Iowa

With some of the best outdoor recreation opportunities in the entire Midwest, Northeast Iowa is a beautiful place to visit, with landscapes ranging from wooded hills to cold-water streams, caves and views of the Upper Mississippi River. After relaxing days filled with exercise and the great outdoors, it’s fun to kick back and relax with a refreshing beverage hand-crafted by a local brewery or winery.

  There are quite a few craft beverage establishments worth visiting in this region of Iowa, which perfectly complement the small town vibes that you’ll discover on a road trip stop, weekend getaway or weeklong vacation. Let’s go exploring!

Northeast Region Details

  Northeast Iowa is a mostly rural area of the state that extends to where the Mississippi River Valley meets up with the borders of Wisconsin & Illinois. It is a region with unique natural landscapes that are ideal for fishing, kayaking, hiking, biking, camping, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. But these landscapes also have an impact on how wine grapes are grown and how craft beer ingredients are sourced.

  There are over 40 different types of cold-hearty grapes grown in Iowa, but new grape varieties have emerged and been especially thriving in the eastern part of the state. Frontenac and La Crescent are commonly grown in Northeast Iowa and produce wines that are high-quality but often have a more fruity or tart taste compared to wines from grapes grown in California.

  Meanwhile, an increasing number of farmers are growing hops in the eastern part of the state to tap into the popular craft beer industry. Hops grow well in the rich soil of the region, although the humidity levels can create breeding grounds for downy mildew without proper fungicide application.

  Hops are also helping local farmers diversify their crops and ensure long-term sustainability. Yet they are a labor-intensive crop that requires substantial pruning and a harvesting process that involves separating hop cones from the bines after cutting them down and putting them in a stationary combine. To help familiarize yourself with the geography of this vast region, here are counties that make up Northeast Iowa:

•   Worth

•   Mitchell

•   Howard

•   Winneshiek

•   Allamakee

•   Cerro Gordo

•   Floyd

•   Chickasaw

•   Fayette

•   Clayton

•   Franklin

•   Butler

•   Bremer

•   Hardin

•   Grundy

•   Black Hawk

•   Buchanan

•   Delaware

•   Dubuque

•   Benton

•   Linn

•   Jones

•   Jackson

Why Visit Northeast Iowa?

  Many of the wineries, breweries and distilleries in Northeast Iowa have a very family-run and friendly vibe that is low-key and welcoming. There is a manageable number of homegrown wine, beer and spirits establishments in the region, which makes it very possible to check out at least a majority of them on an extended trip.

  When you visit the local wineries, you’ll often have an opportunity to talk directly with the owners and learn about their craft and passion for the industry. These small businesses are unpretentious and focus on quality while paying attention to even the smallest details, which keeps local residents coming back again and again. Some are even child-friendly and pet-friendly, so you can easily spend an afternoon with everyone you love in a beautiful outdoor space while admiring the gentle rolling hills and quiet countryside.

  On the beer side of things, the homebrewing movement is strong in Northeast Iowa, leading many successful entrepreneurs to open up their own commercial breweries. These new establishments are driving the local economy and adding diversity to an already-thriving craft beverage scene that is bringing both locals and tourists together.

Top Craft Beverage Destinations

  Northeast Iowa is home to some excellent breweries, wineries and even a campground with its own bar! Here are a few of our favorite places to grab a drink, relax and live like a local in this region:

  Many Iowans go camping regularly, but very few can say they have been to a campground with a bar on site! The Bluffton Campground and Bar is located about 15 miles from Decorah and has a bar open on Tuesdays through Sundays. Kayak and canoe rentals are also available.

PromiseLand Winery is a family-run winery owned by Pat and Cindy Wachendorf. Located in Guttenberg, the winery also hosts seasonal live music in the back courtyard on Sundays and freshly baked pizzas if you get hungry.

Inside the winery, you will find a spacious tasting room, an event room that can be used for small to medium-sized parties, and six boutiques that will fulfill your shopping needs! Feel free to take a walk or drive up to our vineyard to see where our award-winning wines began. Enjoy some music in the back courtyard when the weather is nice or warm up by a cozy fire when it’s too cold to be outside! Whatever the occasion, PromiseLand Winery is a unique and gorgeous destination!

Winneshiek Wildberry Winery:  Is a family-owned and operated winery specializing in fruit and Midwestern grape wines, which are best enjoyed while taking in the view from the winery’s patio. Located on a 150-year family farm, Winneshiek Wildberry Winery also offers a food menu and wine-themed gifts.

Toppling Goliath Brewing Company:  Is a Decorah brewery that has been on the local scene since 2009. It is well-known for its IPAs and barrel stouts but serves over 40 rotating beers throughout the year in its friendly taproom.

Nearby Local Attractions

  As you are exploring Northeast Iowa and checking these highly rated beverage destinations off your itinerary, make sure to visit some of these popular local attractions as well:

Cedar Falls, IA

•   Cedar Falls Beer Trail: The Cedar Falls Beer Trail showcases local craft breweries and taprooms in Cedar Falls and celebrates the safe use of its extensive, 100-mile trail system. Pick up a passport at one of the seven participating breweries/taprooms or print a passport at home from Each passport may be used by one person age 21 or older.

Decorah, IA

•   Trout Streams:  Northeast Iowa is known to have some of the most pristine streams in the entire state, perhaps the upper Midwest.

•   Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum & Folk Art School:  Learn about Norwegian-American history at Vesterheim.

•   Upper Iowa River:  Is perhaps the most widely-recognized river in Iowa and one of the first in the nation to be nominated as a national Wild and Scenic River in the 1960s.

Guttenberg, IA

•   Lock and Dam NO. 10:  There is a beautiful park all along the Mississippi River on both sides of the Lock and Dam with an observation deck at the lock where you can view ships going through the lock. Interesting for the whole family. Be sure to visit the Lockmaster’s Museum too!

•   Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge:   is a 240,000-acre, 261-mile long National Wildlife Refuge located in and along the Upper Mississippi River. It runs from Wabasha, Minnesota in the north to Rock Island, Illinois in the south. In its northern portion, it is in the Driftless Area, a region of North America that remained free from ice during the last ice age.

Dubuque, IA

•   National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium: The animals, culture and history of Iowa’s rivers come to life through dynamic exhibits, aquariums, animal encounters, a 3D/4D theater, William M. Black dredge boat and more on this 10-acre campus.

  No matter the destination, supporting local businesses while connecting with people who share your interests is always rewarding. We hope you enjoy these craft beverage hot spots and local attractions along the way of whatever journey you’re taking.

  To learn more about things to do and where to stay in Northeast Iowa, check out the official Travel Iowa website and browse our guide Iowa Trails & Tales for fun trip ideas and inspiration or visit our website