Thrifty is Nifty: Driftless Thrifting!

By Aryn Henning Nichols

Sleuthing, antiquing, thrifting – it has many names. It’s been trendy, it’s been frugal, and it’s been just good sense. Why wouldn’t you reuse a perfectly good piece of clothing, furniture, household item, accessory, lawn tool…? You get the idea.

Second hand shopping has been a favorite activity of mine for years. I love the thrill of the hunt. Sure, it takes a little longer and you might have to sift through mountains of bad lime green sweaters and dented bunt pans, but when you find IT, that one thing you really NEEDED (of course), AND you got it for a great deal, it’s so worth it.

But wait! (Cue infomercial voice.) It gets better!

Second hand shopping is – gasp – a form of recycling. So it’s good for the environment (happy birthday, Earth Day), and it’s also often good for your community. When you donate or consign items, you’re not only saving things from the landfill, but it allows someone to get something they might not normally be able to afford. Plus – many second hand stores, like Goodwill, the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, or locally The Depot Outlet, donate proceeds from their sales to good causes and programs within your communities and states.

So for this Inspire(d), we hunted down a few favorite and a few new (or new to us) second hand stores in the Driftless Region. Next time you’re in town, check ‘em out. And if you know of any great ones we missed, let us know. For future stories. Of course…

Decorah, Iowa

Rien de Nouveau (that’s French for ‘Nothing is New’ – fancy, huh?)
411 West Water Street
www.fancypantsonwater.com (or find Rien de Nouveau on Facebook)

“We thought – if you can’t beat the economy, join it!” say owners Deb Paulson and Sharon Huber. They’ve taken on an expansion of Fancy Pants, their boutique-style clothing and “awesome crap” shop in Downtown Decorah. Fancy Pant’s little sister, Rien de Nouveau, still focuses on top-quality fashion, but of the consignment kind – shoes, clothing, accessories and more for both women and men. They’ve only been open a short while, but they’ve already had items that were worn by Meredith Vieria from the Today Show and Katie Couric, labels like Marc Jacobs and Yves Saint Laurent, and things ranging from wedding and prom dresses to a parking meter lamp. These ladies are fun and so is their store.

The Depot Outlet
510 Montgomery St.
depotoutlet.org

The Depot Outlet began in 1973 by a bunch of church ladies in the old train depot (hence the name). After two different locations, change and growth, and 37 years, the Depot is still going strong. The large store is filled with clothing and shoes (women, men, kids ranging from just $.75 to $2), household decorations and items, occasional furniture, books and more. And they put out new items twice a day! Director Stacy Merrill says they’ve received everything from motorcycles to stereos to diamond rings. “We have the most generous community,” Merrill says. In response to that generosity, the Depot grants funding to community organizations that might need a little help. Last year (2009) they donated $66,000 to a huge variety of great groups in Winneshiek County (funding applications can be found online). “The Depot is such a great place with such a great cause,” Merrill says. We agree!

Some others in Decorah:
Goodwill, 915 Short Street, Centrum Plaza
Yesterday and Todays, 109 West Water Street
Spectrum Thrift Store, the corner of Broadway and Washington St.

Rochester, Minnesota

Kismet
600 Block, North Broadway, Rochester, Minnesota
kismetconsignment.blogspot.com

Spanning an entire city block in Rochester, the brightly colored Kismet Shops are hard to miss. Part fashion, part furniture, part antiques – the consignment stores are full of great pieces styled in fun vignettes throughout the sprawling stores. Inventory changes weekly and new items arrive daily for both furniture and clothing. Owner Penny Braken is friendly and helpful and shoppers happily flow amongst the fun finds. We loved the variety of furniture there – from Mission-style tables to old-fashioned vanities – and the tin ceilings above the great selection of women’s clothing.

Refashion
321 South Broadway
www.refashion.org

Refashion has been on the second hand store scene for nearly 15 years. Sisters Kristie Moore and Cindy Hughes opened the store originally as a clothing consignment shop, then segued into including a furniture side of the business, and have expanded to occupy one large 5300 square foot – as they say – “superstore.” The store is cute – exposed brick wall, great window displays and lots of clothing consigned by more than 50 area women (sorry guys). And owners Kristie and Cindy have been featured twice on HGTV’s Decorating Cents!

Some others in Rochester:
The Salvation Army, 201 9th St. SE
Savers, 1201 South Broadway
All in Vogue, 32 17th Avenue NW

La Crosse, Wisconsin

Vintage Vogue
115 Fifth Avenue South

This place is aptly named. If you love to dress in period clothing, Vintage Vogue is the store for you. Everything is organized by decade. It’s the perfect place to find a costume for Halloween or that truly “vintage” item to add to your wardrobe. The store is full of hats, shoes, dresses, coats, accessories – even wigs (!) – for both men and women, and is located just off the main drag in downtown La Crosse.

Habitat for Humanity ReStore
434 Third Street South ?(between King & Cass Streets)
www.habitatlacrosse.org/restore

A store after my own heart, Habitat ReStore in La Crosse is full of all things house!
According to their website, the mission of the ReStore is: to raise money for the building of Habitat houses, to sell usable merchandise at reasonable prices, to recycle building materials, keeping them out of our landfills and in circulation where they can benefit the La Crosse area, and to promote awareness of Habitat for Humanity-La Crosse Area and it’s goal of eliminating poverty housing in the La Crosse area. The have rows and rows of doors, trim, fans, vanities, light fixtures, flooring, countertops and more! Bring a vehicle with cargo space, ‘cause you very well might need it.

Some others in La Crosse:
The Second Showing, 1400 W. Ave S.
Elite Repeat, 1601 Jackson Street
Treasures on Main, 722 Main

Aryn Henning Nichols likes to look around her house and see how many things are second hand. She prides herself on her “frugal high life”.

Bike-Minded: Driftless Region Biking

By Sam Wiles

When people commonly think “Iowa,” they think corn, farms and uninterrupted flat land. Maybe even the well-known statewide road ride, Ragbrai. But mountain biking? Come on.

We’ll tell you a secret though. There’s a unique spot in the Midwest called the Driftless Region, and for mountain biking, it’s ideal. Fast rising bluffs and thick wooded areas provide a place for trails that challenge even the most expert of mountain bikers, and the flowing rivers and streams provide the perfect backdrop for a great ride.

Mountain biking began in a more conventional location: California. During the 1970s mountain biking founding fathers such as Joe Breeze, Gary Fisher, Charlie Kelly, Charlie Cunningham, Keith Bontrager, and Tom Ritchey converted cruisers and balloon-tire bicycles into human-powered machines that could traverse all sorts of terrain. Mount Tamalpais, better known as Mt. Tam, is where they conducted their experimental downhill riding. They would have the bike delivered to top of the mountain, then would race to the bottom.

Things have evolved a fair amount since then, and the trend has spread. It took awhile for it to trickle in from the coasts though, let alone to the Midwest. Yet somehow, tiny Decorah in Northeast Iowa was at the head of the pack, even though not everyone around “got it.”

“I had literally one of the first mountain bikes in the state of Iowa,” says Richard ‘Deke’ Gosen, owner of Oneota River Cycles bike shop in Decorah. “There was a misconception among not only city officials but people who owned them at first. Remember those mountain dew commercials where those guys were ‘doing the dew’ and tearing everything up? People in the community thought that’s what we were doing.”

So mountain biking was banned from the Decorah parks system. Many people thought it meant motorized dirt bikes producing air and noise pollution. When the ban was lifted in 1990, it was for the first Decorah Time Trials, and riders could only ride within a three-day span, one day on either side of the Time Trials race day. Gradually local mountain biking enthusiasts began to earn the trust of the community, and in 1993 the ban was lifted and preliminary construction on the singletrack trails began.

“[That year] it became okay to bike on the Decorah trails. It taught us something: that we had to become valuable enough to the community. We have done that through a lot of activities, starting with building the trails and promoting mountain biking,” says Gosen.

The pioneering race was the first and is now the longest-running in the state of Iowa. This year marks the 20th anniversary, and fittingly, 2010’s time trials will be featured in the Iowa Mountain Bike Racing Series for the first time, helping to put Decorah on the map for more mountain bikers and leading to wider publicity in general for the race.

The annual race is grueling one, winding through Decorah’s challenging singletrack. Racers do the route in laps, and how many laps depends on the biker’s skill level. It’s different from other mountain biking races because rather than starting in a pack (which would be impossible on the narrow trails) racers are released in intervals, the timer being the only gauge on the competition. Finally, the route is kept a secret until the day of the race.

“There’s a lot of speculation, and that’s part of the fun,” says Gosen, who picks the course each year.

And to make things even more unpredictable, Time Trials happen rain or shine. Historically, it’s been the former.

“The weather has always been bad. I’d be hard pressed to remember when the weather wasn’t terrible,” says Gosen. “But we ride no matter what.”

The trails are muddy this time of year, making the ride more difficult yet. Tires can get stuck in thick, black mud bogs or slide off of what’s already often tricky terrain.

Decorah mountain biking has truly come a long way in the past two decades. In the spring of 2003 – with the help of Gosen and fellow mountain bikers Jesse Reyerson, Jeff O’Gara, Ben Shockey, and a handful of others, Decorah Human Powered Trails (DHPT) was formed. Now a division of the Decorah Parks’ system, DHPT has built and continues to maintain over 17 miles of trails in the Van Peenen, Palisades, Ice Cave and Dunning’s Spring park systems.

“It came out of the need to consolidate a variety of user groups that were all involved with (off-road) trail development, and that included runners, walkers, and hikers. We were all kind of working together but not organized, and by all moving together and working on the same projects, it also gave us a little credibility with the community and the city,” says Gosen.

And no one in Decorah confuses dirt bikes with mountain bikes any more.

“I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how special Decorah is, but I think there are a lot of special people who live in Decorah,” says Jesse Reyerson, DHPT president. “It is probably pretty rare to have a town of 8,000 people support two bike shops anywhere else in the state.”

But even so, Decorah isn’t plastered all over MountainBike.com or Cycling Magazine. In spite of 500 acres of park and more than 17 miles of off-road trails, it isn’t rated as one of the 100 best cities for mountain biking by cycling site Singletrack.com.

That might be the best part.

“You can do any kind of cycling you want. It’s not just a road cycling community; it’s not just a mountain biking community. And it’s fantastic mountain biking that no one seems to know about so there’s virtually no traffic,” says Travis Greentree, owner of Decorah Bicycles – the second of the two bike shops in Decorah. “Five minutes away from town you can completely get away. Plus there’s enough mileage out there to keep finding new things to do, new places to ride, new obstacles.”

But don’t think any obstacle on the trail was a lack in maintenance. It is most likely there for a reason.

“If a log falls in the path, we just leave it. It makes for a new challenge,” said Decorah biker Ben Shockey. The challenge is all part of the enjoyment for mountain bikers. They revel in constant tests of unexplored terrain and natural surprises.

“There’s also not a one way direction on any trail so you can ride them any way you want. They’re so intertwined out there; you could never ride the same one twice and never run into the same person,” says Greentree.

This labyrinth of twists requires a means of navigation for the newcomer (and sometimes even the frequent rider). Gosen is at the helm of the DHPT team that helps map Decorah’s mountain bike trails. He had used aerial photography in the past and gradually segued to more sophisticated GPS systems to make particularly detailed sets of maps. He has also been behind a move to give up paper maps, as new trails are created often. The e-maps are available online at www.ExploreDecorah.com.

“Our maps are useful for trail users but we’ve also helped the city define their borders, with planning bike routes and community centers. Plus our races and non-competitive events bring in thousands of people every year. We’ve given away 5500 trail maps. Someone is clearly using them,” Gosen says.

And some of those people are also clearly not from around here. The fact that biking draws tourists is no secret. Decorah plays host to not only Time Trials annually, but also The Summer Sizzler, The Night Shift Night Race, and summer mountain bike festivals such as Big Wheel Ballyhoo and The Dirt Burger.

Locally it has garnered some great traditions too. Several area mountain bikers partake in Tuesday’s ‘Night Rides.’ Each ride lasts for an hour and a half, and allows for mountain bikers to get some time on the trails in the midst of busy schedules.

“Night riding is a lot of fun and a different kind of ride than hitting the trails during the day time,” Ryerson says. “It is easier to focus on exactly where you are placing your front wheel, because it is about the only thing you can see.”

The members of DHPT always emphasize that the mountain biking community is a social one. Each Tuesday night ride ends in a celebratory beer. The Spring Time Trials end in an award ceremony at T-Bock’s Bar and Grill on Water St.

“The social aspect of each race is awesome,” says Decorah biker Ben Shockey. “We’re pretty tightly knit. You get to know a lot of the same people.”

Shockey has organized the most physically demanding of cycling experiences, ‘Spring Training in Decorah.’ The event consists of a two-day ride throughout gravel and off-road trails of Northeast Iowa. This year from March 11 to March 13, Shockey and four others rode 203 miles in 48 hours, with 18 hours of actual ride time – a grueling stretch by any measure, especially over rough terrain. The group suffered through cramping, back spasms, and dehydration, all common with this type of endurance riding.

Shockey documents the event on his blog, SpringTraininginDecorah.blogspot.com with photos and daily updates during the ride. He is one of many in the biking community to utilize the online medium to talk about biking. Reyerson operates BikeDecorah.com, a sight with links to other biking sites, biking blogs, and maps of area trails. The BikeDecorah blog, operated by a number of local mountain bike enthusiasts, including Reyerson and Shockey, documents the activities of DHPT. The viral aspect of DHPT also helps connect the group to other parts of the Driftless Region – Northeast Iowa, Southwest Wisconsin and Southeast Minnesota – that is primed for biking.

Marty Larson operates The Prairie Peddler blog that highlights trails in Southwest Wisconsin.

“From a purely physical perspective, the terrain in the Driftless Region is fantastic for riding. Frequent scenic vistas, tough rock sections, smooth flowy tracks. We’ve got it all here,” says long-time biker Larson. “I’ve long maintained that the riding – both road and mountain – we have here in [our region] is some of the best in the country.”

Whether they consider it a sport, an activity or a pastime, for many, biking is more than pedals and handlebars and helmets. It’s about personal challenges, physical wellbeing and communal existence. It’s much more to people like Marty Larson.

“For me, cycling makes LIFE enjoyable. It gives me purpose; it drives me to be better at everything I do, from fatherhood, to being a better husband,” he says. “I want to improve cycling opportunities for everyone around so they can maybe get that feeling that I do. That euphoric joy of being in the moment on the bike.”

Sam Wiles had a great time talking to the bikers of Decorah and the region, and even did some firsthand research on his own bike. He’s thinking his next article will be titled, ‘The Joys of Gold-Bond Medicated Powder.’

Get on the Trail!

In Decorah:  Over 17 miles of single track trails! Beginner/Intermediate: River Trail & Twin Springs. Intermediate/Advanced: Van Peenan,  Ice Cave, Palisades. There are also endless miles of gravel roads to ride in the region, and some nice mid-distance rides to scenic destinations & watering holes including Bluffton, Ridgeway, Sattre, etc. Organized rides most Tuesday evenings for those with some experience, call Oneota River Cycles for more information. Beginners & beyond ride meets every Sunday afternoon at Decorah Bicycles (next to the Whippy Dip!).
www.bikedecorah.com, http://decorahbicycles.com/, http://www.exploredecorah.com/

In Prairie du Chien: La Riviere Park has roughly 8 miles of trail. Difficulty varies from wide, grassy trails that flow around the south edge of the park to horse and hiking singletrack. Some good climbs, sandy sections, and rocky areas. http://theprairiepeddler.blogspot.com/
Pikes Peak State Park above Mc Gregor has a single trail there from the lower upper parking lot down to Point Anne and down to the lower parking lot. Not terribly lengthy, but a scenic ride, especially in the spring.

Harpers Ferry: 8000 acres of the Yellow River State Forest. 20+ miles of trails with lots of ‘double track’. Lots of climbs and beautiful views.

Wyalusing State Park just to the south of Prairie du Chien has beginner trails. New intermediate trails being built this summer on Maple Ridge.

La Crosse: Lots of great single track and well built trails. Check out www.humanpoweredtrails.com!

Iowa City: Sugar Bottom, more info at www.icorrmtb.org

Going Stir Crazy? Get Away to Decorah!

By Aryn Henning Nichols

We Midwesterners are a hearty lot, but when you live in a place that has winter for nearly half the year, it’s easy to go a little stir crazy. Somehow those last two months stretch out like warm Laffy Taffy on a hot summer day. Wait. Sorry. I’m wishfully mixing my seasonal similes.

The point is, when it seems like the cold, snow, and ice will never end, people are desperately searching for something fun to do. Many lucky folks head south to an exotic locale with palm trees and temperatures above 30, but we’ve got something a little closer and a little nicer on the pocketbook in mind: Decorah.
It’s no secret that we’re inspire(d) by our hometown; we loooove Decorah. With all our great hotels, cuisine, concerts and productions, museums, recreation and activities, we think you will too. So whether you live an hour away or just two blocks, we wanted to share our ideas on how to “getaway” for some late-winter fun and to fall in love with Decorah for the first time or all over again.

Looking to book a romantic weekend as a Valentine’s Day gift? Do you say “weather be damned” and want to get outside for some active fun? Maybe you’re hoping to shop, relax, and hang out with friends. We’ve put together a list of must-do activities for a variety of travelers – mix and match or do ‘em all, and most importantly, enjoy yourself.

Read on to get the inside scoop on how to fly the late winter coop.

Romancing the (Lime)Stone
Valentine’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries – there are lots of romantic excuses to come to Decorah, but you don’t really even need a holiday to enjoy your time here.

1. Head downtown to Magpie Coffeehouse, 118 Winnebago, and try some local, award-winning Kickapoo Coffee and a delicious toad-in-the-hole or tasty sandwich. Dine in and read the latest Inspire(d) and play a round of Scrabble. Or take it to go and leisurely enjoy your hotel room while you get ready for your day.
2. Hold hands and take a romantic walk up Broadway Street through the Historic District or walk down Water Street, stopping in at the many great shops. On the west end of town, go to the Decorah Hatchery to buy his and hers Quality Chick t-shirts (For him: “I love Quality Chicks.” For her: “I’m a Quality Chick.”). On the east end pop into Agora Arts to check out regional artists’ wares or pick out a print by StoryPeople, the quirky, world-renowned artwork full of poignant and often funny messages. FYI: StoryPeople is headquartered right here in Decorah!
3. Take the short drive north of town to Winneshiek Wildberry Winery, 1966 337th Street, to check out their 140-year-old family farm and try some of their tasty local wines – favorite quirky wine names: “Horny Heifer” and “How Ole Made Lena Blush.” The winery is open Wednesday through Sunday. www.wwwinery.com

Decorah Explora’
Do you like to get a little fresh air while you’re on vacation, even if it is a little cold outside? Get your gear on, ‘cause there’s outdoor fun to be had.

1. Decorah is known for its great mountain bike trails and the paved Trout Run Trail – but perhaps you didn’t know many of those trails are groomed in the winter for cross country skiing. And of course, if there’s snow somewhere, you can snowshoe there.
Groomed trails and difficulty levels:
Dug Road, from the campground end of the trail all the way to the Decorah Trout Hatchery and beyond. (Beginner)
Palisades Park, complete loop (Moderate)
Van Peenan Park (Moderate to Advanced)
City Prairie behind Aase Haugen Home (Beginner)
Luther College cross country course and large lower practice field (Moderate)
Need the equipment and maps? Decorah Bicycles, 101 College Drive, rents skis and snowshoes for just $10/day and they’re full of helpful information.
2. Are trails not your bag? There are few winter activities sweeter or more enjoyable than ice skating. Head across the Upper Iowa River on College Drive to the Carl Selland Wayside Park. Decorah Bicycles rents ice skates for just $5 a day.
3. Disc golf has grown in popularity in Decorah, largely through Decorah resident Dan Bellrichard, founder of discgolfdan.com. The course at Luther College has nine holes that wind over the hills and through the woods (but not to grandmother’s house). The baskets are up year-round and the course is open to the public. At Bob’s Standard Gas Station, 208 College Drive, you can rent up to six discs for just $5/day. You can even play at night with an LED light, also available at Bob’s Standard. Visit www.discgolfdan.com for more information.

Live Culture is Good for You
Decorah, like yogurt, is full of good culture, but more the museums, classes, artifacts sort of culture. Make it a “better yourself” trip, and learn a little about what makes Decorah tick.

1. Vesterheim, meaning “western home” in Norwegian, is surprisingly larger than it would seem from the outside, and is one of the best Norwegian museums in the country. It houses a small sailboat, an amazing silver collection, and rotating exhibits that make you forget you’re in a town of just 10,000 people. The 16 historic buildings in its main complex occupy most of a square block in downtown, and it has more than 24,000 artifacts! It’s no boring museum…I suggest you check it out. Bonus: admission is free on Thursdays thanks to Decorah Bank and Trust!
And don’t forget to check back in the spring when Seed Savers Heritage Farm and the Porter House and Laura Ingalls Wilder Museums are open.
2. Are you looking for the perfect souvenir from your culture-rich trip? Just down Water Street from Vesterheim, you can stop by Vanberia to pick out a Scandinavian goody or some Uff Da stickers, or head down the street a little farther and pop into Donlon’s to pick out your favorite Nisse – these “household spirits,” usually under four feet tall with a red cap, are said to be responsible for the care and prosperity of a farm. Just stay on his good side, if you know what I mean.
3. Feed your brain and your stomach at the Oneota Community Co-op, where you can watch Co-op employees make fresh mozzarella. Bocconcini and ovalini (small, semi-soft balls of mozzarella) are made nearly every day. The marinated bocconcini is amazing with the sourdough bread made by local Waving Grains Bakery, available fresh Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. Check out www.oneotacoop.com for more information.

Best Friends Forever, for Guys and Gals
No matter what you like to do, there’s no need to feel boxed-in in Decorah. Maybe you and your friends like to do your nails then go shoot skeet. Or perhaps you want to grab a beer after you’ve shopped ‘til you’ve dropped. Whatever your style, we’ve got it covered.

1. Shopping on Water Street…
For her: Looking for fun clothes, purses, accessories, shoes or souvenirs? Try Modish, The Good Foot, Fancy Pants, KD Rae, Margaret’s, Happiness Is, or Elaines. For him: Amundson’s Clothing carries awesome lines of men’s clothing… isn’t it time you invested in a suit? Or perhaps you’re a little more casual – check out your favorite team’s gear at The Sport Shop.
2. Relaxing in Decorah. Get a rejuvenating soak and massage at Day Spring Spa or a manicure and pedicure at Eclips Salon or Riah or Appearances. Or grab a booth and one of the 36 tap beers at Rubaiyat., and while you’re in the beer mood, make sure to head down to the Courtyard and Cellar too!
3. Or playing in Decorah. Chase the Adventure, just south of town 1838 Middle Calmar Road, has skeet and trap shooting year-round! Call ahead, 563-532-9821, or go to www.chasetheadventure.com for details.

Restaurants
The Angry Pickle – The Angry Pickle has a great selection of deli sandwiches designed by Chef Mark. Try the Craisin Chicken Salad on focaccia! www.edesgourmet.com
Family Table – Their motto, “Nothing fancy, just good food,” says it all. Open daily until only 8 pm, they serve yummy breakfast all day and make a mean piece of pie. www.familytabledecorah.com
Java John’s – Life slows down at Java John’s. Grab a coffee (they even make coffee ice cubes for their iced coffees!) and a piece of Mary’s delicious chocolate cake and enjoy the company.
La Rana Bistro
– If you’re looking for an intimate lunch or dinner setting, look no further. Watch the chef prepare your meal in the open kitchen. The mojitos are amazing, and so is the chicken salad at lunch and the salmon and risotto at dinner.
Magpie Coffeehouse – We talked about breakfast (mmm… Kickapoo Coffee and Little Maggies), but Magpie does lunch too. Their deli-style and pre-made sandwiches satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.
McCaffrey’s Dolce Vita, out by Twin Springs Park off Highway 52, has great views and beautiful brick oven. Try the Thai Kickin’ Chicken Pizza – it’ll make you want to slather the nutty, sweet and spicy peanut butter sauce on everything you eat. www.mcdolcevita.com
Oaks Steakhouse – The locals rave about the Oak’s half-baked cookie sundae dessert. Order it after you get your own personal bacon-topped meatloaf or the Angry Salad with house-made bleu cheese dressing and blackened sirloin. www.oakssteakhouse.com
Oneota Community Co-op – A big reason the Decorah community is so amazing is our fantastic food cooperative. Bright and cheery, the Co-op has different themes – like Brazilian, Indian, or Mexican – for their daily hot bar specials and offerings. And their caprese panino: delicious. www.oneotacoop.com
Restauration – Situated in the Hotel Winneshiek, right in the middle of town, Restauration provides great people watching out its floor-to-ceiling windows. Check out whatever Chef Tom has on special. www.hotelwinn.com
Rubaiyat – An anchor to downtown, Rubaiyat Restaurant has cozy booths and a fun bar. It’s hard to pick a favorite thing: the capon, brie, red onion and lingonberry pizza is a tasty treat, but so is the Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar at Sunday brunch. www.rubaiyatrestaurant.com

Pizza is my favorite food. Lucky for me, there are lots of amazing options in Decorah.
Happy Joe’s Pizza, an endearing old-fashioned pizza parlous, hands down has the best Taco Pizza in the state. Maybe the country. www.happyjoes.com
Mabe’s Pizza is famous in Decorah – thin crusted and cut in squares, the regular has been my all-time favorite. A secret: did you know you can order it double-crusted? It’s a whole different animal…
Pizza Ranch is an Iowa chain that does it all – pizza, chicken, salad, ice cream, potato wedges, green beans. But we usually order the thin crust Sweet Swine (Canadian bacon and pineapple). It’s sooooo good. www.decorahpizzaranch.com

Accommodations
We’ve got a lot of great options for lodging in Decorah – from historic B&Bs to a lovingly-restored landmark like the Hotel Winneshiek, we’re sure you’ll be able to find a place to stay that suits your needs.

Decorah B&B/Hotels in Three (or so) Words

Bed and Breakfast-Style Stays

B&B on Broadway, 305 West Broadway, www.bandbonbroadway.com – royal, antique, lavishly-restored
The Loft on Water Street, 106 East Water Street Suite 203, www.agoraarts.com/loft – contemporary, convenient, luxurious
Decorah Guesthouse, 202 St. Lawrence Street, decorahguesthouse.com – comfortable, cozy, cottage-style
Dug Road Inn, 601 West Main Street, www.dugroadinn.com – classic, Zen-like, elegant
Palisades Inn, 2566 Ice Cave Road, just on the outskirts of town near Palisades Park, www.palisadesinn.com – private, relaxing, scenic

More Traditional-Style Hotels

Hotel Winneshiek Downtown, 104 East Water Street, www.hotelwinn.com – turn-of-the-century restored, Decorah landmark, charming
Country Inn and Suites, 1202 Highway 9 West, www.countryinns.com/decorahia – country-style, indoor pool, spacious rooms
Heartland Inn, 705 Commerce Drive, www.heartlandinns.com – indoor pool, casual, clean
Super 8 Motel, 810 Highway 9 East, www.super8.com – affordable, simple, standard rooms
Bluffs Inn, 1101 Highway 9 West, www.bluffs-inn.com – affordable, attached bar/restaurant, retro-style

Maps and information about Decorah are available at the Winneshiek County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, 507 West Water Street, or online at www.decoraharea.com.

Aryn Henning Nichols truly does love Decorah, and doesn’t mind winter all that much when there’s this much fun to be had.

For this Decorah destination guide, we joined forces with the Winneshiek County Convention & Visitors Bureau. The name’s a mouthful (try WCCVB instead!), but we really think you should know about these guys. They’re a local non-profit organization that’s marketing efforts (radio, print, billboards, web, travel shows and more) drive visitors to this gem of a place we call home. All businesses featured here are current CVB members. If you’d like to become a member and be part of their Midwest tourism campaign, contact them to sign up! Contact WCCVB Director, Brenda Balk for membership information:
wctc@alpinecom.net
507 W. Water St., Decorah
800-463-4692
www.decoraharea.com