Monday, November 14, 2011

Visiting Iowa City

This past weekend my husband and I went with some tailgate friends to Iowa City, Iowa for the  Michigan State/Iowa game. For the first time in a long time (Chicago last weekend excluded) I didn't run while we were on a trip. Unfortunately I'm still on surgery restrictions for a few more days. I brought running clothes and considered breaking doctor's orders, but in the end I held strong and drowned my non-running sorrows in bloody marys. Oh and wine.

Iowa City is an interesting little town. Their downtown is cute - it's walkable, with lots of local shops and eateries, and a cool pedestrian mall right through the middle of downtown.  It's a small town (less than 70,000 people), and it's got a great college town vibe. Iowa City does a great job of leveraging its largest anchor institution, the University of Iowa. Like a lot of college towns (my beloved Morgantown, WV included) there's not a whole lot else there. The university is king.

Pedestrian mall in downtown Iowa City
Playground on the pedestrian mall - it's even kid friendly!
Iowa City was more quaint than I thought it would be. There were tons of local places to eat and drink at college prices. We had small pitchers filled with beer and mixed drinks for $3. As much as I love Chicago, you won't find a $3 drink in any places I've been.  On game day there were also tons of food trucks outside the stadium. It had almost a carnival like atmosphere. I'm not sure if there are food trucks in Iowa City other than on game day, but I sure hope so.

A food tent on the way into the stadium
One of several food trucks
Iowa City is, above all else, all about the Iowa Hawkeyes. We had a great experience with friendly Iowa fans. They welcomed us to their tailgate and shared their town with us. It was really a fantastic experience.
Tailgating in Iowa City
A friendly rivalry
Our Iowa City visit was pretty contained to downtown and campus, but it was a nice, quick weekend. I would definitely go back and check out more of the downtown establishments. It's fun to feel like you're in college every once in a while. Plus my husband's Spartans won the game, so that made for a much more pleasant trip. Next time we go to Iowa City, however, I will be lacing up my running shoes to run the hills on campus. Who's afraid of a few hills? Not this Mountaineer.

Kinnick Stadium at the University of Iowa

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