Where to Find Winter Fun
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Produced in partnership with the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs
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In addition to baked goods, Savor the Rise in Indianola offers tempting menu items like the Billy Goat, a slice of sourdough toast topped with goat cheese, tomatoes, herbs and a poached egg. Photographer: Duane Tinkey.

Go to Savor the Rise for Toasts, Tarts and Treats

In December 2021, Deja Keppler delivered a big holiday gift to the charming Indianola town square: a kid-friendly cafe that serves some of the state’s best laminated doughs and artisan breads. Savor the Rise, at 107 E. Salem Ave., also serves tea and coffee alongside their various toasts and tarts. And it caught on right away: In 2022, the Iowa Restaurant Association named Keppler one of 40 Women to Watch in the hospitality industry.

Each visit you’ll be surprised with something new, like cinnamon-sugar cruffins (croissant muffins), bananas Foster cinnamon rolls, overflowing s’mores croissants, or asparagus and brie tarts. The bakery opens at 7 a.m. most days and stays open until 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, but you'd be wise to go early: Those goodies sell out fast.

Sundown Mountain Resort just west of Dubuque is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Photo: Travel Dubuque.

Ski at Sundown in Dubuque

If you'd like to hit the ski slopes without a big trip out west, try Sundown Mountain Resort. The scenic resort near Dubuque offers an easy getaway to give your turns a tuneup.

Most of the 21 trail runs are easy to intermediate, and lessons are available, but a 475-foot drop challenges more advanced skiers and snowboarders, too. Snowboarders can practice tricks at the two terrain parks, and unlike most resorts out west, Sundown Mountain keeps its slopes open after dark. Plus, you can count on plenty of powder since the resort makes its own snow.

Find stay-and-ski packages at several area hotels, including the Hotel Julien Dubuque, with its fine dining, spa and Riverboat Lounge, where you can enjoy an apres-ski drink.
See ice sculptors in action, chain saws and all, during Amana’s Winterfest on Jan. 21.

Bundle Up for Amana's Winterfest

Embrace winter in Amana with engaging indoor and outdoor activities during Winterfest on Jan. 21. Anchored in the Market Barn in the main Amana colony, the festival includes various competitive events like a ham toss, wreath toss, best beard contest and the Freezer 5K fun run.

Otherwise, if you'd rather sip your fun, buy a $5 punch card to sample beer and wine at each brewery and winery in town. If you complete your card, you'll get a souvenir wine glass. For food
, grab a bowl of Fire Chili from the Amana Fire Department or try the five-course meal with wine pairings at the Ox Yoke Inn's Wine and Dine event.

While you're in town, check out the local shops and book an overnight stay at the Hotel Millwright.
Iowa City hosts the Mission Creek Festival April 6-8 at locations throughout town, including Hancher Auditorium where Japanese Breakfast singer Michelle Zauner (pictured) will read from her memoir “Crying in H Mart.” Photo: Peter Ash.

Musicians and Writers Star at Mission Creek

Iowa City’s three-day Mission Creek Festival is back with a full itinerary of literary and musical talent.

Kicking off the event on April 6, Michelle Zauner (from the indie pop band Japanese Breakfast) reads from “Crying in H Mart,” her heartfelt and humorous memoir about family, food, grief, love and growing up Korean American in Eugene, Oregon. Next up, Black Belt Eagle Scout, known for “bringing queer Indigenous stories to indie rock” (Pitchfork), takes the stage before Cat Power closes out the night with a guitar and piano.

Other headliners include musicians Sudan Archives ("Selfish Soul" was her big hit from 2022) and Kevin Morby, plus several Iowa artists, such as Flylife, Mars Hojilla, and Greg Wheeler and the Poly Mall Cops.

The 2023 literary program includes a partnership with Sun Magazine in honor of its 50th anniversary, including a reading April 8 at the James Theater.

Early tickets for the entire weekend are available through Friday for $85 plus fees. Find all details on the festival's website.
Pine Lake State Park in Hardin County rents out stone and timber cabins with wood-burning fireplaces. Photo: Iowa DNR.

Cozy Up in a State Park Cabin

Winter is a great time to hike trails, watch wildlife and go ice fishing in Iowa’s state parks. It's even better when the chilly adventure ends in a cozy cabin.

Rental cabins can accommodate two to 10 guests, depending on the unit, and are available year-round, with two-day minimums, starting as low as $35 per day. And if you book soon for a stay in January or February, you can get a 20% discount. Find detailed photos and information about the cabin amenities through on the state parks website.

Winter rental options include Backbone State Park near Strawberry Point, Black Hawk State Park in Lake View, Lake of Three Fires in Taylor County, Pine Lake in Hardin County, Union Grove in Tama County and Waubonsie in Fremont County.

You can learn more and make a reservation online.
Watch for the high-flying stars of the Bald Eagle Appreciation Days on the Mississippi River. Photo: Cibi Chakravarthi.

Things are Looking Up at Eagle Festival in Southeast Iowa

Heads up: America's high-flying national symbol will draw folks to Bald Eagle Appreciation Days this weekend in Keokuk and Montrose, two historic river towns in Iowa's southeast corner.

This Saturday at Victory Park in Keokuk, off U.S. Highway 136, staff from Lee County Conservation, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will host visitors at prime viewing spots. (The birds like to perch on Lock and Dam No. 19.) Nearby, the River City Mall features DNR displays, a woodcarving show, presentations from the World Bird Sanctuary in St. Louis, and Native American drumming, singing, dancing and storytelling.

On Sunday in Montrose, about 15 minutes north of Keokuk, there's a good chance you'll spot more eagles at Riverfront Landing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Find more details about eagle watching on the Great River Road's website.
"Pack the Dome," the single largest volunteer event in the Cedar Valley, brings together volunteers to pack 80,000 bags of food collected for the Northeast Iowa Food Bank on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Honor Dr. King’s Legacy in Cedar Falls

Many Iowa communities are organizing activities for Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service on Jan. 16 to honor the legacy of the civil rights leader through volunteerism.

One of the largest, at the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls, is "Pack the Dome 2023," organized by the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley in partnership with the Northeast Iowa Food Bank and the University of Northern Iowa’s Office of Community Engagement. They're calling for volunteers (as young as 6) to help package food for the local BackPack Program, which serves 4,100 children at 159 schools across northeast Iowa each month. Every Friday afternoon, students receive kid-friendly meals and snacks they can eat over the weekend.

Last year, more than 1,000 volunteers pitched in. If you'd like to join, you can register online.

Iowa Stops Hunger is an ongoing Business Publications Corp. initiative to raise awareness of food insecurity in Iowa and inspire action to combat it.
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