Where to Eat, Stay & Play in West Central Iowa

Travel West Central Iowa

West Central Iowa Fall 2019

Seeking a Midwest day trip or overnight stay?

Check out West Central Iowa locations.

This Iowa Tourism website is fantastic for trip planning. https://www.traveliowa.com/regions/west-central/9/

Click on the West Central Region and scroll near the bottom. Find all of the towns in the region with links.

Our October 12-13, 2019 Itinerary

Plan your own getaway or follow the itinerary we created and used.

Shelby, Iowa https://www.shelbyia.com

On a recent weekend, we left Omaha on a Saturday morning and drove to Shelby, Iowa.

It’s known for having the World’s Largest Corn Stalk (as seen from I-80) but on October 12, 2019 it also had a craft and vendor show.

We shopped local and enjoyed meeting and admiring the work of the talented crafters including, B&3 Boutique https://b-3-boutique-by-beth.myshopify.com/ as well as https://www.facebook.com/countrycreations3592/.

Laura S. Fell of Chalk Couture is an independent designer and chalk teacher. Find her work on Facebook at The Chalking Teacher 402.660.3468.

Stephanie McDonald’s work was simply beautiful. Her business is Papaya’s Rustic Designs. Reach her at 712.307.0256 or stepharkfeld@gmail.com.

Work of Stephanie McDonald of Papaya’s Rustic Designs

What is a fall festival without locally baked goods? The cinnamon and caramel rolls looked tempting. They didn’t disappoint.

Avoca, Iowa  http://www.cityofavoca.com

Our first stop was at the ever-popular Volkswagen Beetle Spider at 649 South Chestnut Street.

Spider Car in Avoca, Iowa

You have to get out and take a photograph there, of course.


We ventured downtown on the cold, blustery morning. We admired the Eagle of Honor Tribute and visited the Avoca Public Library. There’s a wonderful interactive music station outdoors.

Apples were being given away in the library foyer by generous local homeowners. We bought nearly-new hard covered books at the book sale. We believe in supporting local libraries.

We also picked up a copy of the “Western Iowa Visitors Guide for 2019-20” at the library.


It led us to the Octagon Building in Graceland Cemetery. This building (1875) is on the National Register for Historic Places and was a gathering place for mourners during inclement weather. The deceased could also be kept there if the ground was too frozen to permit burial.

Avoca, IA: Graceland Cemetery Octagon Building

The Cemetery itself is a picturesque location with unforgettable vistas and headstones.

Walnut, Iowa   https://walnutiowa.org/

Walnut is known as Iowa’s Antique City.

The brick streets are lined with historic buildings filled with antique and specialty shops.

Two of our favorites were Forget Me Nots Gifts Treasures and Décor www.facebook.com/ForgetMeNotsIA and Plum Krazy. https://www.facebook.com/Plum-Krazy-Vintage-More-380801965592190/

Sadly, there are no restaurants in Walnut.


Based on multiple referrals, we drove back to Avoca and lunched at the Embers Restaurant. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Embers/117491594943683

 The food was plentiful, delicious and quite reasonably priced.

Check the Avoca business directory (Restaurants) for a list of dining choices. http://www.cityofavoca.com/business-directory.php

Carson, Iowa https://www.carsongov.com

The drive from Avoca to Carson, Iowa in the fall is beautiful.

Carson is only 21 miles east of Council Bluffs, Iowa but yet seems so far away: rural, pastural setting.

Drive through the town. Get out and walk.

Be sure to see the West Nishnabotna River area.


We stayed at the Country Vineyard Retreat with Paula as our Superhost (Airbnb).

The rural property was 5 miles east of Carson off Highway 92.

Carson, Iowa lodging view

The space is large, well-appointed and ideal for anyone wanting or needing a break from city life or a long day on the road.

Part of lodging interior.

Guests are encouraged to walk the property and to enjoy the vineyard views.

Macedonia, Iowa  https://www.macedoniaiowa.com/

We drove to Macedonia after watching the Iowa State Cyclones football team defeat West Virginia.

What an awesome community.

The town’s Main Street is lined with iron railings. Each tells the story of an event, family or organization with special ties to Macedonia.

Macedonia, IA Main Street iron railings

The Grist Mill McCready Theatre is where the Fine Arts Council hosts performances. Check their Facebook page and website for performances. http://www.gristmillfinearts.com/

The Stemple Bird Museum (tours available by appointment) is at 311 Main Street and houses over 300 mounted displays.

Painted Camel Gallery on Main Street http://potterybythecreek.com/index.php is open Saturdays from 10 AM – 4 PM or by appointment. Call 712.486.2324. It’s houses hand-crafted pottery, paintings, jewelry, wooden furniture, woven rugs and so much more.


The Back Forty Restaurant and Bar http://www.backfortybarandgrill.com/ also on Main Street was referred by nearly everyone from whom we sought a dinner recommendation.

Saturday is steak special night. The prime rib, according to my husband, was great.

The place was full of diners of all ages enjoying one another’s company and watching football and volleyball games on one of many TVs throughout the space.

The service is quick and grateful.

Well-Rested Conclusion

On the commute back to Omaha via Highway 92, I asked my husband, Ken, if he felt rested. His response, “I feel like I’ve been gone for more than a day.”

That’s what a getaway to West Central Iowa can do for you.

Husband, Ken, at lodging location

Plan your trip today.

Share this with your fellow travelers. Thank you!

©October 2019. Linda Leier Thomason All Rights Reserved. This means seek permission before using copy or images from this site. Images are available for purchase.

Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories along with feature articles. Her work experience includes a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.

Would you like Linda to visit and write a feature story on your community? Nominate it in the comment section below.

2 thoughts on “Where to Eat, Stay & Play in West Central Iowa

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *