Tag Archives: Dubuque

Mineral Point and Potosi, WI; Eagle Point Park in Dubuque

Potosi, WIIt was still too blazing hot to ride bikes or even hike on Memorial Day so we drove backroads from our lovely airbnb in Mount Horeb through southwest Wisconsin into Dubuque. We arrived in the pretty town of Mineral Point, WI just in time to catch the annual Memorial Day parade marching down High Street, which is lined with beautifully preserved old stone buildings.  Classic Americana.

Mineral Point looked different from when I last visited (about 9 years ago) in part because we went to Cornwall, England last summer — Mineral Point claims to be the most Cornish town in the U.S. — and because the town seems to have spruced up and is now full of more galleries, vintage shops and newcomers (a new shopkeeper said the latest residents include people from Palm Springs, CA and South Africa).  We ended up doing some shopping — at the new shopkeeper’s furniture/housegoods shop (The Board Shoppe) and at a Main Street store that sells “rescued home good from the early 1900s to the 1960s” (Retromantic Emporium).

We drove on to the Mississippi river town of  Potosi, WI (the shopkeeper suggested) which has a popular National Brewery Museum that we didn’t visit but a lot of bikers did. The rest of the town looked pretty worn. We drove  to a lowlying area/boat launch on the Mississippi that is famous for birding. It was very windy. Felt like we were almost in the river.  From there we drove along the Great River Road briefly until crossing over the bridge to Dubuque where we picnicked at Eagle Point State Park — high on a bluff overlooking Dam and Lock #11. Very dramatic scenery and we couldn’t remember if we’d been there before. We also marveled at the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired park shelters — lots of cool old stone and wood buildings.

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Filed under DESTINATIONS - Iowa, Wisconsin

Picnic in Steamboat Rock Iowa, Morning In Dubuque

Pretty morning after a big storm in Dubuque, Iowa. Our Airbnb is an old red brick row house in a gentrifying neighborhood downtown. Sitting on the second level wooden back deck, overlooking a narrow brick alley lined with other two story red brick houses and lots of trees, flawless blue sky where last night there were jagged shards and sometimes huge sheets of lightening, listening to the birds, the occasional passing train and cars, watching five Hispanic boys ride by in the alley on bikes, I am reminded of another river town ….Easton, Pennsylvania, except my grandma’s red brick row house was high on a hill and had a big open front porch where we used to sit for hours on old red and white wood rocking chairs.

Last night, during a pause in the storm, we drove under a double rainbow (really) past farm fields bathed in a surreal post-storm yellow light into the tiny north central Iowa town of Steamboat Rock, where we found a perfect picnic table in a small city park (wayside park) by the Iowa River, under an overhang of an old park building that shielded us from the rain still dripping off the trees and provided a lovely view from the glistening grassy river bank of birds dipping into the water. On to Wisconsin!

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Convivium, Four Mounds, Millwork District, L. May – Dubuque

Impressed, as always, with developments in Dubuque. At the recommendation of our host at Four Mounds, we drove to nearby Convivium a cafe/event space/urban farm headquarters in a somewhat gentrifying north Dubuque neighborhood. Impressive place that opened recently, with a light airy dining area including a coop with fresh chicks, a mural from a world-class artist (part of a broader mural project of murals scattered throughout Dubuque) and artwork by locals on the walls. Convivium, as I understand it, is the headquarters of an urban farm project with an interesting model — the gardens are in borrowed space in the backyards of people living houses neighboring the cafe.

We also stopped at a bakery and shops in wide open space in the Millwork District, a gentrifying warehouse district near the River. Dinner the night before was good at L.May downtown. (Excellent pork shanks).

The weather was gloomy when we woke up at Four Mounds but we had an excellent breakfast and chat with the caretaker (who sent us to Convivium) and I got a chance to walk around the grounds and wander around the other lovely house on the property (the White House…we stayed in the Grey House.) I learned that Four Mounds was part of the “gentleman farmer movement” (1880s to 1930s). The owners were a wealthy Chicago couple who also lived part of the year in California. I’ve heard about gentlemen farmers but not of an actual movement. (And why no mention of gentlewoman farmers?)

On Highway 151 and then 1 to Iowa City (a rare diagonal route!) we stopped briefly in Anamosa to see the famous reformatory there (a prison that was intentionally designed to be attractive with the idea of providing an environment conducive to reforming criminals. Sadly, I don’t believe it worked.) and then drove through Stone City, a tiny hamlet where Grant Wood lived and through pretty Mount Vernon (Home of Cornell College, which is older than my alma mater Cornell U.).

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Antique Archeology/LeClaire, Way of the Cross/St. Donatus, Fenelon Place Elevator, Four Mounds, L. May/Dubuque

Laurie arrives!

As I suspected we are the sole occupants of this arts and crafts mansion on a bluff in the wood high above the Mississippi on the outskirts of Dubuque, which is a little spooky but also kind of fun because we wandered through all the bedrooms, admiring the heavy wood craftsman furniture, the pretty bedspreads and elegant rugs, the little window seats and well-appointed living spaces. I can add the Four Mounds estate in Dubuque to my list of sort of creepy inns where we have been the sole occupants. Others include a b&b in Mendocino with Dirck and an inn in Eureka Springs with Francine. My sister Laurie is being the good sport tonight.

I picked her up at the Quad Cities airport where the Megabus/Windstar from Chicago dropped off and we drove up the Great River Road along the Mississippi, which I haven’t traveled in years.


Dubuque view


Fenelon Place Elevator, Dubuque

It was grey, chilly and still brown on the ground but there were sights worth seeing including huge barges and riverboats on the river, the hipster Antique Archaeology store in LeClaire (owned by the folks who have the popular American Pickers show on the History Channel); the view of the lock and dam from on high at Bellevue State Park, the old stone church and cemetery and Way of the Cross in the tiny Luxembourger village of St. Donatus and the one of a kind Fenelon Place Elevator in Dubuque.

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Now this is tempting…a getaway weekend in Dubuque from Travel Zoo

Travel zoo must have read my mind – or more likely my emails and blogposts because they’ve sent me a good weekend getaway deal offer for a place I’d like to go – and maybe you would too. See below

The Deal

Experience the charm of downtown Dubuque’s historic Old Main District and stay at one of its top hotels for more than 50% off regular rates. For $99 per night February-April, two people can indulge in upgraded suite accommodations at the Hotel Julien, which was voted the No. 1 hotel in Dubuque by TripAdvisor readers. This deal also includes $20 to spend at the on-site modern American restaurant.

For an added dose of luxury, a $199-per-night package boasts an overnight stay in a suite along with two signature massages at the hotel’s full-service Potosa Spa, and a $20 dining credit.

Select the Premier King Suite with an open living room and private bedroom, as well as a kitchen with granite countertops and full-size appliances. Or choose the Luxury Queen Suite with a private bedroom with two queen beds and a separate living room with sleeper sofa.

The Hotel Julien, established in the mid-1800s, has hosted the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain and Al Capone. It overlooks the Port of Dubuque on the Mississippi River and is within walking distance of an array of shops, restaurants and bars.

Other nearby attractions to explore include the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, the Diamond Jo Casino and the “Field of Dreams” movie site, a timely destination for an early spring getaway.

Terms and Conditions
Once the room is reserved with the hotel, hotel cancellation policy prevails, and cancellations or changes must be made seven days prior to arrival. Hotel-imposed penalties may apply. Any unused promotional value credit will be forfeited upon checkout. Up to two additional adults in the Premier King Suite and up to four additional adults in the Luxury Queen Suite are allowed and are priced at $10 each per night. Up to two children 17 years of age and younger are free. Parking is complimentary. Pets are not allowed. This deal cannot be combined with other offers. Taxes and gratuity are additional. Voucher must be used in 1 visit.

$99 – Luxury Suite at Dubuque Riverfront Hotel, Reg. $209
By Wendy Wollenberg  |  Source: Hotel Julien
As the state’s oldest city, Dubuque, Iowa, “has reinvented its Mississippi River waterfront as a lively destination,” praises Midwest Living Magazine. In the heart of this bustling district is the historic Hotel Julien, where an exclusive $99 getaway for two includes an overnight stay in an upgraded suite and a dining credit for more than 50% off regular prices.
Why we love this deal
  • Offer is valid daily February-April — ideal for a weekend getaway
  • Guests receive $20 to spend at Caroline’s Restaurant, known for “American cuisine with a twist” — with menu items from artichoke fritters to lobster mac n’ cheese bake
  • Suites have separate living rooms and kitchens with granite countertops
  • This recently renovated historic hotel has hosted many notable guests including Abraham Lincoln, “Buffalo Bill” Cody and Mark Twain and is said to have been a hideaway for Al Capone
  • Spa packages that include two 50-minute massages are $199 (reg. $349)

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Filed under DESTINATIONS - Iowa

One more reason to visit Dubuque

Downtown Dubuque, Iowa, Oct 2008.

Dubuque has been high on my list for a return visit lately and here is one reason, (see below) mentioned by Lynn Hicks in the DMRegister yesterday. Last I heard, there wasn’t much in the Millwork District yet but that can and will change – certainly if Des Moines’ East Village is any indication. Dubuque has long been one of my favorite Iowa cities to visit – as I noted in my latest travel story on Iowa…for Delta Sky magazine, in which I recommended: the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium; Fenelon Place Elevator, a funicular built by a banker in 1882 to travel from his office downtown to his house atop a bluff; The Redstone Inn, among several inns located in elegant Victorian mansions; the 170-year-old  Hotel Julien Dubuque, now a boutique hotel after a $30 million renovation; contemporary Main Street restaurants like L. May Eatery; and the   old school beer-and-burger joint, Paul’s Tavern, where stuffed  Big Game animal heads are mounted on the wall.

Here’s Lynn’s blurb:

Is Dubuque hipster heaven? MSN.com has named the city’s historic Millwork District one of 10 industrial neighborhoods that are becoming “hip hangouts.”

Other neighborhoods mentioned included the Warehouse District in Cleveland, Brooklyn’s Red Hook area, Manhattan’s Meatpacking District and Dogpatch in San Francisco.

MSN.com called the Millwork District “a work in progress.” The area was once the nation’s largest manufacturing district for windows and doors, the website said. It now has about a million square feet of vacant warehouse space. City leaders have tapped into federal and state money to develop a sustainable neighborhood, creating bicycle and pedestrian-friendly streets and attracting housing, art galleries and venues and community gardens.

One of the projects under way in the district is a $29 million rehabilitation of the CARADCO building, a 186,000-square-foot millwork factory that will contain 72 residential units, commercial and retail space and room for nonprofits and arts and culture initiatives.

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Say it’s not so: Des Moines’ Weather Beacon is no more

Des Moines

Driving through downtown Des Moines last night we were struck by the absence of the famous Weather Beacon – a 500-foot television station transmitter tower lined with lights that perked up the sky above the city, letting us know the weather forecast by its color and flashing/or lack of flashing. (Red meant warmer weather ahead; white – colder weather in sight; flashing meant precipitation.) My stepdaughter E. in particular was fascinated by it as a kid when she used to visit us from Oklahoma. “Does every city have a weather beacon?” she once asked. No – and now Des Moines no longer does either, alas. (Some other cities do have a weather beacon,  according to Wikipedia including Dubuque, Sacramento,Sydney, Copenhagen, Toronto, Istanbul and New Orleans, where I’ll be next weekend. Who knew? See photos below!)

Word has it some genius is designing a computer app to replace the weather beacon but that’s hardly the same. More details from the DM Register:

Iowa lost two treasures in less than two days. First, Wall Lake native and famed singer Andy Williams died late Tuesday. Wednesday, word came from KCCI-TV the station was switching off its beloved Weather Beacon for good.

The beacon was to flicker off a final time at dawn Thursday. Station owners decided costs and upkeep of the colorful icon outweighed the benefits of keeping the beacon lit — much to the anguish of central Iowans who grew up with the forecast lights.

“We are losing a true landmark,” said Bernard Harmeyer of Altoona. “I always looked to the tower to see what was going on with the weather. It made (KCCI) stand out from the other stations.”

First lit in 1960, strings of colored lights at the edges of the downtown transmitter tower for Des Moines’ CBS-TV affiliate gave an at-a-glance forecast on the capital’s skyline.

But the traffic light bulbs used to create the colorful forecast are no longer manufactured. Station officials ordered custom-made bulbs, but the color flaked off the red and green bulbs, which regularly forced engineers to scale the 500-foot tower to replace bulbs.

The tower, KCCI reported Wednesday, was built to meet 1980s code, and any remodeling would have forced expensive repairs.

The Weather Beacon went dark in 1973 because of high energy costs. When KCCI moved to its current location at 888 Ninth St., the tower was rebuilt and the beacon returned in 1987.

Former Des Moines Register Iowa Boy columnist Chuck Offenburger rallied the station to return the beacon in many columns through the 1970s and ’80s. Now retired and living on a Greene County farm, he was ready to sound reveille in the 21st century.

“Occupy KCCI!” he said Wednesday. “Look what other fine restorations there are around Des Moines — the World Food Prize headquarters, the Temple for Performing Arts, Terry Branstad.

“Surely the Weather Beacon can be made over and given extended new life, too, can’t it?”












San Francisco

Des Moines


New Orleans



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where to eat in Dubuque

This according to AAALiving: L.May’s for pizza; The Bank Bar and Grill in a 100-year-old former bank; Calico Bean Market for organic coffee and gourmet candy.

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Midwestern hotels to check out

Also from a recent issue of Midwest Living:

– Chicago – Elysian, Ritz-Carlton, Hotel Palomar (rat pack-esque doormen!)

– Columbus, Indiana, Inn at Irwin Gardens

– Novi, MI, Baronette Renaissance

– Shell Knob, Missouri, (wherever that is), Stonewater Cove

– Dubuque, Hotel Julien

– Kohler, Wisc., The American Club

– Custer, S.D., Custer State Park Reunion Cabin

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Filed under Chicago, Illinois, Indianapolis, LODGING, Michigan, Missouri, South Dakota, Wisconsin