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Iowa City, Iowa

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Downtown Iowa City, Iowa

Iowa City is home to the University of Iowa and has a population of about 80,000 people. Besides the University, the city is known for the Iowa Writers Workshop which is a graduate graduate-level creative writing program in the United States.

When applying to this house sit, I didn’t care about the location, I just cared that it was at least 2 weeks long and that the the homeowner agreed to let me use their car. I got that and much more. The homeowner is a travel writer herself. I believe that it was fate for us to meet.

As some of you know I have had Black Girl World Traveller for three-and-a half years now. I finally decided to get into travel full time in December 2021. Lori, the homeowner in Iowa City happens to be one of the most well known travel writers in the country and writes about the intersections of spirituality and travel. What a small world.

Upon arrival into the city you may notice that there are Black Lives Matter signs everywhere. On Burlington Street there is a sign that says “ Weaponize Your Privilege to Save Black Bodies.” I found that to be a bold statement coming from the place that everyone told me was nothing but farms and sticks.

My first few days in the city I adjusted to the new house and foster fur babies I would be taking care of. Once I got settled in, it was an excellent time of exploration.

One of my first orders of business was finding a yoga studio to practice in. I found Hot House Yoga located at Clinton and Burlington streets. I signed up for their 21 days of unlimited yoga for $39 package and it was worth every penny.

Her Soup Kitchen restaurant

All the instructors were phenomenal and I always got a good sweaty workout in. This studio is by far the best that I have come across in all of my travels.

With all the sweating I did, I worked up an appetite. Thankfully, Iowa City’s food never disappointed.

For lunch I’d recommend Her Soup Kitchen. It’s located on Dubuque street, nestled into the hustle and bustle of the business of Iowa City. They are open most week days from 11am-2pm. I recommend their pesto chicken sandwiches and their chicken chili soup.

Another great lunch option is Masala. Masala has affordable lunch specials that average around $11. Their chicken tikka masala and mango lassi was delicious. It was just the right balance between savory and sweet. I could also tell that the food was prepared fresh, which I appreciated.

Dinner plate at Baroncini’s

If you love Italian food, consider Baroncini’s for dinner. This option is a bit pricier but worth it. I had their “gamer alla griglia” dish which is grilled shrimp with butternut squash, and arugula drizzled with lemon vinaigrette. This dish was to die for!

For my entree, I got the taglioni pasta with shrimp added which was another great dish.

With all the eating I did, several activities came a long with it. The benefit in visiting a college town while school is in session is that there are plenty of things to do.

If you enjoy bowling, SpareMe is your place to go to. The venue is located inside The Chauncey building which also has a restaurant, boutique hotel, and cafe inside. Like most bowling alleys, you pay by the hour to enjoy the fun.

Across the hall from SpareMe is FilmScene, Iowa City’s non-profit movie theater. Tickets average around $12 and the popcorn is delicious. I saw the Tragedy of Macbeth here and it was a great experience.

If you are feeling artsy head over to Brush & Barrel in Coralville, Iowa. They host painting classes throughout the week and are great for beginners who want a non-judgmental experience in learning how to paint. Your ticket to the class includes one free beverage.

Surprise – surprise I did not visit any museums but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. If you enjoy history, check out the University of Iowa Museum, Old Capitol Museum, or the Antique Car Museum.

For literary lovers, check out Prairie Lights. It’s an independent bookstore located downtown (right next door to Masala). The bookstore has been around for decades and is known internationally for their extensive collection of books, speaker series, and their leadership role in literary culture. I purchased the Art of Peace by Morihei Ueshiba and spent an hour in the afternoon sitting in their cafe reading. It was serene.

Prairie Lights Cafe

If you love books and writing, Iowa City is the place to be.

The Iowa City Public Library is great too. I spent several hours working on various projects in the library. If you ever need to buckle down and get some work done – it’s the place to do so.

Overall. What people told me about Iowa was not true. It’s not all farm. It has cities as well as farms, the food is great, the people are friendly, and if you love to read you will be in literary paradise.

I had the best time in Iowa City and I think you will too.


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