McGregor, Iowa: the cutest little town in America.

I am in love with the small northeastern Iowa town, McGregor. I love little charming towns, and this is by far my favorite one.

My Aunt Tara, cousin Amber, her best friend Shanna, Kyla and I have been going on our “leaf trip” for the past five years, and McGregor is the best part about it!

We call it our annual leaf trip because the leaves are beautiful this time of year, and that is one of the main reasons we go. We always go the second weekend of October, but since I am running Chicago this coming weekend we switched our trip around this year and moved it to the first weekend.

The leaves were not quite as colorful, but they were still beautiful.

We start the weekend at my aunt’s house in Waterloo on Friday night by going to a haunted hayride in Evansdale. We get up early on Saturday, have breakfast and then head to our first stop which is Backbone State Park. It is beautiful! We do a little hiking and then head on to our next stop.


Backbone State Park

Backbone Trail

After Backbone we usually stop in Osborne, Iowa for Heritage Days. This year they only had it the second weekend so we didn’t get to stop! It is a really neat event where you get a sense of life back in the 1930’s. My favorite part is an old one room school house with all of the original books, desks, and even class rules from the 30’s!

This year we stopped in Elkader, Iowa to visit the Turkey River antique mall. If you know me even just a little you know I am crazy for antiques and vintage finds. The antique mall is in an old hotel, which I think makes it even cooler! My aunt Tara has a shop in the antique mall called “Princess Pickers”. Her friend Robyn and her have been is several newspapers recently in Iowa because of their shop and have generated a lot of neat press!

Tara's Shop

Princess Pickers

Our next stop (and final stop of the day) is McGregor! We stay the night here and have been staying at McGregor’s Landing, which is a really cute inn. Our rooms are adorable and old fashioned and have a perfect balcony view of the town.

Each brick building is either an antique store a unique store that is only in McGregor.

McGregor!There is always an art fair in Triangle Park and we love to get bratwursts from the old men selling them! For the past four years I have always told myself I need to just get two brats because I love them so much, so this year my goal was to eat two and lets just say it was successful. Extra sauerkraut please.


This picture is from last year, but just look at how beautiful the leaves are! It is from our hotel balcony.

McGregor's Landing

One of the most fun stores to visit is River Junction Trading Co. They make clothes for movies (Titanic!) and have a little shop where you can purchase “time period” things. The lady last year had so much fun dressing us up! This picture is from last year.

River Junction Trading Co,

Rare and Antique Books is one of my favorite shops. There are two things I have a great love for: antiques and books, and this store combines them! I have gotten many books from here in the past. Also, if you’re wondering, yes it does smell amazing inside.

Rare & Antique Books, McGregor, Iowa

My other favorite store is Paper Moon. This store has a mixture of unique jewelry, soaps, cards, and BOOKS! The books here are newer, and I usually buy a few 😉 This year I bought two books: one taking place during the Belle Epoque (favorite time period) and 1920’s London.

Paper Moon

Paper Moon books

I love the local art fair!

McGregor, IA art fair

McGregor, Iowa fall leaves

Diamon Joe Trading

One of the most fun parts of the trip is eating pizza at Josie’s River Queen, a cute little bar. The past few years we have been wearing these awesome glasses! People love them! We also wore fake tattoo sleeves. This picture is from last year. I did a bad job of taking pictures this year!


After eating pizza and hanging out for a while we head down to Crazy Carls, the other small bar in town which is literally a few steps away. So much fun!

The next morning we walk across the street to Cafe McGregor for breakfast and lots of coffee. It is such a cute little diner!

Cafe McGregor

After breakfast we drive up to Pikes Peak State Park to look at the beautiful views from the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi. We then leave McGregor (so sad!) and head across the Mississippi to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. The Cannery is in Prairie, which is a little slice of heaven.

It is an old cannery (hence the name) that is now two floors of overwhelming holiday decor.

The Cannery

After shopping for a bit at the Cannery we head to Sterling, WI to get some cheese curds, and then our last stop is Sunrise Orchards in Gays Mills, WI.

Every year I get a caramel apple. Just delicious.

Sunrise Orchards, Caramel Apples

Sunrise Orchards

After this apple orchard we get in the car and head home. We always bring halloween mad libs, which is a great driving activity!

I always get sad on Sunday night because I look forward to this weekend all year! My husband has asked if I get bored going to the same places each year and the answer is no. We have so much fun at each stop and I look forward to every part of it!

If you ever get the chance to travel in NE Iowa I encourage it- such beautify scenery!

Oh, and as for running… I am tapering now (hence why I had time to post soooo many pictures!).

I ran four miles today and it was awesome! I went slow (8:40 pace) and did not focus on my time, just rather enjoying being out and running.

I am running 3-4 miles each day this week (except Friday and Saturday). I have not have a mental fight with tapper yet (I expect I will later this week).

I will do a post tomorrow about tapper and what it should really look like.

I’ve got to get some grading some little fifth grade papers!

Have a good night 😉

6 thoughts on “McGregor, Iowa: the cutest little town in America.

  1. Was born and raised in Waukon, IA. the whole NE corner of IA is beautiful. Also when in WI stop at the House on the Rock near WI Dells. absolutely wonderful!. The first time was there spent 5 hrs. Have been back 3 times. Live in the South now but do get home occasionally. So glad you like McGregor. Great little town.

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