RAGBRAI usually just zips through Iowa City, but not this year. After rolling past some of the iconic sites of Iowa City such as Historic Kinnick Stadium and the Old Capitol Museum, riders will be ready for a fresh, tasty breakfast including locally roasted coffee, fresh produce and dairy from local farms and farm-to-tortilla breakfast burritos and tacos!
Iowa City’s theme is Rise and Shine and stopping there for an early breakfast would be a great way to do that. They will have several vendors set up downtown along Dubuque St., most will be a partnership between local restaurants and Farmer’s Market vendors who will be selling locally grown food. There are plenty of restaurants and bars downtown, including the Hamburg Inn, Bluebird Diner and Pullman Barr & Diner.
Iowa City is unique in the fact that it has the college-town vibe, but also a rich history as it was the state of Iowa’s first capitol. As much of Iowa, Iowa City has long been involved in politics. With the election of Moses Bloom in 1873 they had the first Jewish mayor of any American city, and with the election of Emma J. Harvat as mayor in 1923, they also had the first woman elected mayor in a city with more than 10,00o inhabitants. And of course we would be remiss if we did not mention the Hamburg Inn #2, a famous stopping point for touring politicians including Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton (and they have a darn good pie shake too). In 2008 Iowa City was designated a UNESCO City of Literature, at the time it was the third city in the world to receive the designation, and it remains the only city in the U.S. to do so.
Other notable sights along the route include Kinnick Stadium (University of Iowa’s football field), Carver-Hawkeye Arena (used for the University’s basketball, wrestling, gymnastic and volleyball teams), and the Old Capitol Museum (it is a U.S. National Historic Landmark). We will also ride near Prairie Lights Bookstore, a long lived and long loved local book store, often recognized as one of the nation’s best book stores.
There are many other interesting locations off the route, if you come back to Iowa City we recommend checking out the Black Angel of Oakland Cemetary (legend has it if you touch her at midnight on Halloween you’ll die within seven years) and Plum Grove (home of Iowa’s first governor of the Territory of Iowa, Robert Lucas, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places).
Famous people from Iowa City include: Grant Wood, Dan Gable, James Van Allen, Mauricio Lasansky, Nile Kinnick, Simon Estes, Ignacio Ponseti and numerous Writer’s Workshop professors and students (Paul Engle, John Irving, W.P Kinsella, Flannery O’Connor, Donald Justice, Jane Smiley, Tennessee Williams, Kurt Vonnegut and more).
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