On a recent press trip to Iowa, four other travel writers and I visited a unique and lovely destination that I could not wait to share with you. Winterset, Iowa, home of the famous Bridges of Madison County, is a big draw for the Midwest. Not only was it home to the legendary John Wayne, but its fame from the novel and movie revolving around its covered bridges made it known to the world. Visit Winterest, Iowa and see the beauty for yourself.
What to See in Winterset, Madison County, IA
John Wayne Birthplace
Born Marion Robert Morrison in 1907, John Wayne became a Western film giant and still reigns supreme today. Explore a museum dedicated to “The Duke’ and see his restored home. My dad is a John Wayne mega fan so I was happy to take pictures and purchase a souvenir for him while I was there. Museum prices are $15 and it has interesting memorabilia from his life and career. While I was there, I ran into visitors from Australia, Canada, Georgia, and California. One man was buying four new T-shirts to replace the ones he had worn out from last year! Over one million people from around the world have visited the birthplace and museum of this Hollywood legend.
Bridges of Madison County
Only six of Madison County’s romantic bridges remain today: Imes, Holliwell, Cedar, Culter-Donahoe, Roseman, and Hogback (the longest). The 1995 Oscar nominated award winning movie and book “The Bridges of Madison County” brought Academy Awards wins to Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep for this sensational love story set over a four day period. Dozens of tourists visit these picturesque beauties daily. The bridges are in excellent condition and tours are available. Bring your selfie stick so that you can get both you and the bridge in your shots. Due to its movie fame, the Roseman is the most popular bridge, built in 1883.
What to Eat in Winterset, Iowa
While in Winterset, I highly recommend that you grab breakfast at The Bakery Unlimited and eat lunch at Northside Cafe, a tasty little spot in the middle of town.
The Bakery Unlimited
The Bakery Unlimited (on John Wayne Drive) has some of the best pastries and bagels I have ever eaten. This mom and pop shop gets a big round of applause for their tasty donuts and warm, homemade bagels. My Asiago bagel was a real hit and there was no way that I was going to pass up a glazed donut. Donuts are my weakness and these sugary sweets were some of the best! One of The Bakery Unlimited’s most popular items is an apple fritter. Several of my friends tried them and they agreed. The Bakery Unlimited’s staff is incredibly friendly. I found the cozy little bakery utterly adorable.
At Northside Cafe, be sure to sit on the seat that Clint Eastwood made famous (4th from the door at the soda fountain) and have your picture taken. This darling historic family style eatery, right in the town square, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Northside Cafe’s menu features a variety of famous Iowa tenderloin sandwiches and lots of comfort food items. We tried The Duke Tenderloin (smothered with luscious mushroom and beef gravy), Chicken Quesadilla, and Loaded Mac and Cheese. Save room for a delectable dessert, such as the sweet and tart Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp.
Other Places to Add to your List
Winterset has several adorable shops that you will want to visit. so be sure to save some time for that. Pieceworks Quilt Shop, Montross Gift Shop, Madhaus Gallery, Heartland Fiber, and Ben Franklin were a few of my favorites. The ladies at Pieceworks Quilt Shop were working on beautiful pieces and I really wanted to sit down and hang out with them all day. There were photographic spots around town as well, such as the courthouse, town square, and scenery.
Winterset: A Unique Midwest Destination
Winterset, Iowa is one of those quintessential small towns that bring you joy by visiting. I can see why so many people were there to soak up the charms of this unique destination. Iowa has many great offerings, like these amazing bridges of Madison County. Keep Winterset, Iowa in mind for your next vacation destination or weekend getaway.
Winterset, Iowa Photo Gallery:
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