Visiting the Bridges of Madison County, Iowa

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The Bridges of Madison County, in Winterset, Iowa, etched a place in my heart with history, an adorable town square, and small-town charm.

On a visit trip to the state of Iowa, four other travel writers and I went to 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.

Winterset, Iowa is a charming small town USA destination.

Not only is it home to the legendary John Wayne, but Madison County made its fame from the novel and movie revolving around its covered bridges made it known to the world. See what you can do when visiting the Bridges of Madison County, Iowa, in this post.

Gorgeous shot of my trip to Winterest, Iowa.

Also John Wayne’s 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 exciting memorabilia from his life and career.

While I was in the museum, 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.

It was so cool visiting "The Duke's" museum in Winterset, Iowa.

The 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 four days.

The inside of a covered bridge of Madison County.

Dozens of tourists visit these picturesque beauties daily. The bridges of Madison County 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 famous bridge, built in 1883.

The gorgeous Hogback Bridge in Winterset, Iowa.

What to Eat in Winterset

While visiting the Bridges of Madison County, 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 (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. Bakery Unlimited’s staff is incredibly friendly. I found the cozy little bakery utterly adorable.

Amazing bagels and pastries from The Bakery Unlimited in Winterset, Iowa.

At Northside Cafe, be sure to sit on the seat that Clint Eastwood made famous (4th from the door at the soda fountain) in The Bridges of Madison County movie 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 tasty 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.

Northside Cafe is a tasty spot for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Winterset, Iowa.

Other Places of Interest in Madison County

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 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.

Selection of shops in Winterset, Iowa.

A Unique Midwest Destination

Winterset 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.

Consider visiting the Bridges of Madison County, Iowa, for your next vacation destination or weekend getaway.

Winterset, Iowa is such a gorgeous destination.

Thanks to the Iowa State Tourism for hosting my familiarization trip. All opinions and reviews are 100% mine and unbiased.

Photo Gallery

Melody Pittman visiting the Roseman Bridge in Winterset, Iowa.
Images from around town square in Winterset, Iowa.
Messages left on the inside of the covered bridges of Madison County, Iowa.
Kayaking is a popular pastime in Winterset, Iowa.
Visiting the historic Northside Cafe of the Bridges of Madison County fame.
Madison County, in Winterset, Iowa is a charming destination.
Loved seeing the attractive bridges of Madison County in Winterset, Iowa.
Swallows hanging on a bridge in Iowa.
There were hundreds of swallows congregated under the edge of this bridge.
Madison County, Iowa had 6 remaining covered bridges.
The John Wayne Museum is a must see in Winterset, Iowa.

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