Top Things to Do in Decorah
Despite an elevation below 900 feet, Decorah feels like a mountain town, a nook hiding more than an hour from any interstate. Limestone cliffs and clear streams dodged the last glaciers. (Northeast Iowa is part of the Driftless Area, rolling hills that also ripple into Minnesota and Wisconsin.)
Here, visitors will find refined paddling strokes, fly-tying, radical conservation efforts and brewing (with precision that has birthed beers voted No. 1 in the world). You can also explore the town's heritage through Nordic festivals and events at Vesterheim. Then there's Luther College, a liberal arts school founded 150 years ago by Norwegian immigrants.
Try outfitters like Upper Iowa Resort for tubes, canoes and kayaks for floats on the Upper Iowa River.
For pretty waterfalls, follow short hiking trails to see Dunning's Springs and Malanaphy Falls. At Phelps Park, bluffs surround hiking trails and playgrounds. parks.decorahia.org
Seed Savers Exchange
Pick up gardening tips, seeds or gifts, and roam the grounds at the 890-acre heritage farm, the nation's largest nongovernment seed bank. seedsavers.org
Immerse yourself in Decorah's local arts scene and Norwegian roots by exploring downtown along Water Street. You'll find everything from traditional rosemaled (decorated) wooden plates to T-shirts reading "Hanging with my gnomies."
Trout Run Trail
The 11-mile paved biking-walking route circles the city limits, crisscrossing streams. parks.decorahia.org/trail-maps
Trace Decorah's Norwegian heritage through 33,000-plus artifacts, a folk art school, a library and 12 historic buildings. vesterheim.org
Eat and Drink
Chewy, thin- crust pies from this 66-year-old staple have drawn national attention. Try the Chicken Cordon Bleu pizza. mabespizza.com
Oneota Community Food Co-op
Dig into local ingredients at the hot food bar, which might be serving roast pork, turkey tenderloins or Moroccan meatballs. oneotacoop.com
More than200 wine varieties and 40 beers on tap complement dishes such as seared scallops with a lingonberry maple drizzle. rubaiyatrestaurant.com
T-Bocks Sports Bar and Grill
The bar is known for its peanut butter cheeseburgers, but you'll find plenty of other options, too. tbocks.com
Toppling Goliath Tap Room
The mission: Make big beers in small batches. Try the King Sue Double IPA, voted one of the top 50 beers in the world by website RateBeer. tgbrews.com
B&B on Broadway
The 1910 home's five guest rooms come with luxe baths. The location in Decorah's historic district is near shopping, restaurants and other attractions. bandbonbroadway.com
The lobby's terrazzo floors, marble walls and cherry woodwork set the tone for the elegantly restored 1905 hotel, which has 34 rooms and suites in the heart of downtown. hotelwinn.com
For more information: visitdecorah.com