Weekend Getaway Idea: Try Decorah

I am due with my third baby this fall. Between that and the 2020 COVID-19 lock down, I wanted to plan a little getaway before our lives are busy with bottles, diapers, and sleepless nights. We settled on Decorah! There’s a lot to do and it is a beautiful location.

We probably should have waited for autumn to go because it would have been absolutely gorgeous — but we are already planning a trip again for next fall so we don’t miss out on all the beautiful foliage.

Weekend Getaway to Decorah

Day One


Drive from Iowa City to Decorah. We have little kids, so we stopped for a potty break, but it took about 2.5 hours.


We booked an incredibly adorable and fun Airbnb but there are many other options for staying locally. We liked this over a hotel as it felt more homey, had close parking next to the front door, and you can cook to save some money on meals.


After checking in we let the kids run around the property to meet the horses and climb up the loft in this tiny house made from a train caboose. We loaded back up in the van and hit town for a tour of the city. After a little drive we visited Phelps Park for the kids to burn off some energy on the playground and saw the gorgeous views of river. We could have been there a lot longer checking out all the walking trails, bluffs, and stonework, but we had to call it and we ordered food from the famous Mabe’s Pizza. One of my favorite things to do is thrift so we hit up the local Goodwill and the Depot Outlet where we scored some deals on kids clothing and books.

Day Two


After an early morning breakfast (because kids), we hit up the Fish Hatchery. Due to COVID-19 the offices were closed but our kids still found it enjoyable and there are several signs describing what goes on at the hatchery. After seeing the fish in the outdoor tanks (be sure to bring quarters so you can feed them!) you can walk over to the gardens, watch fishing in the local stream, and check out the little waterfall. Also nearby is the famous Decorah Eagles Nest — and we even spotted a few of these breathtaking birds on our walk!

Next, we drove to Dunnings Spring Park to check out the ice cave and waterfall. After parking at the designated lot, you walk about half a mile to the ice cave. My kids loved to explore, and it was nice to cool down after walking in the summer heat.

After heading back, we passed the parking lot and walked a short distance to the waterfall and stone arch bridge. This was beautiful, and my kids could have played in the nearby stream all day.

Both the ice cave and waterfall had several options to break off and hike- all marked with helpful info on the intensity of the hike and length.


For lunch we had pulled pork and meatloaf sandwiches at the Old Armory BBQ — voted top 10 BBQ restaurants in Iowa. It was delicious!

We spent our evening with my aunt at her home in nearby Cresco, but there were still lots of other things to explore such as the Vesterheim or Porterhouse Museum, local brewing companies or wineries, or the Seed Savers Exchange Heritage Farm.

We absolutely loved our little getaway and can’t wait to go back!

What recommendations do you have for fall road trips?

Where to View Colorful Fall Foliage Near Iowa City

Megan, an Iowa native from West Branch, shares her home with husband Cody, their three kids (Charlie-8 Gwen-6 & Ben-2) and 2 dogs (Dottie- lab-basset mix & Ham-all basset). When she is not smooching on them she is trying to change lives as a social worker, taking walks around their Iowa City neighborhood or cruising in Rita her minivan looking to score deals at local thrift stores. Check our her finds on her Instagram page @megthethriftingqueen.


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