Dutch village and downtown streets in Pella, Iowa.

These 8 Towns in Iowa Have The Best Main Streets

Iowa receives renown for its impressive farming and vast hillsides, but outside of being a part of America's bread basket, Iowa holds so much more than scenery. Its position in the northeastern part of middle America makes Iowa home to ample trade via road, rail, and plane. This supports an economy of charming towns throughout the state. Whether seeking out the site of "Field of Dreams" or looking for a glance into true Americana, Iowa State has plenty to offer for any style or taste. These hidden gems boast a plethora of culture and experience for visitors and residents alike, with the best main streets in the state.

Le Claire

Downtown LeClaire in the early morning
Downtown LeClaire. Image credit Burt Gearhart via Wikimedia Commons

With around 4,700 residents, the town of Le Claire lies nestled right along the Mississippi River. Positioned in the eastern portion of Iowa, it has a special small-town charm that exemplifies the spirit of Iowa. Showing respect for the natural surroundings, its main feature is a riverfront that provides access to a host of different businesses. The main street allows for pleasant views and a calm atmosphere, allowing tourists to visit the historical buildings and enjoy the cafes and eateries. Tourists can stop at Hollyhock Park for a picnic before venturing to the 129 Coffee and Wine Bar. The Buffalo Bill Museum lets visitors embrace the classics, especially on a day trip paired with Aunt Hattie's Fanciful Emporium, a quirky local shop. Whether looking for fine dining like Steventons's or something to take on a walkabout at The Shameless Chocoholic, the area is replete with opportunities for fun. 

Amana Colonies

Amana Colonies village is a popular summer tourist stop in the state of Iowa.
Amana Colonies village. Image credit dustin77a via Shutterstock

While perhaps too small to be a town, the Amana Colonies are the home of around 388 individuals. Comprising seven villages, originally settled by German immigrants in the middle of the 19th century, it remains a unique tourism opportunity. By maintaining a traditional manner of living and the historical architectural style, it stands out as a special place. To support the local economy, there are a plethora of small shops and eateries that provide traditional German food, crafts, and art. These include the general store, Ackerman Winery, the official Amana Heritage Society, and Amana Woolen Mill, which provide a deep insight into the culture. A fun bit about the area is that it's right by the Iowa Baseball Museum of Norway, a great note for any baseball fan. 


A view of the former Hotel Muscatine and the newly buillt Merrill Hotel and Conference Center as viewed from Harbor Drive in Riverside Park.
Hotel Muscatine along Harbor Drive in Riverside Park. Image credit JNix via Shutterstock

With about 23,000 residents, the town of Muscatine is a relatively large town. Taking its position on the Mississippi River, Muscatine is in the southeastern part of Iowa State. The area boasts a special charm by infusing the lively main street offerings with the calm of a riverfront. Originally a button-making town, Muscatine maintains its heritage through museums and puts the area on the map as a major producer. The main street is lined with options, and the quick pace of the town gives it a lively energy. Visitors can enjoy Sticks N' Stones Bar & Billiards and Hubble's Tap before venturing out to places like Wildcat Den or Deep Lakes Parks. A lively day features Discovery Park, and Weed Park with its outdoor swimming pool. Fun for all ages, Muscatine is a worthy stop on any road trip.

Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon Commercial Historic District
Downtown Mount Vernon. Image credit ArtisticAbode via Wikimedia Commons

Home to approximately 4,500 residents, Mount Vernon is a short trip from Cedar Rapids. The main street absorbs some of that culture through its shops and restaurants. Throughout the area, visitors can appreciate the town's rich history. This Iowa location features historic buildings and a bandstand design that reveal the lively personality of the area. Unlike some of the other small towns, Mount Vernon is a blend of a variety of cultures. Visitors can view the American Gothic Barn before having a picnic near the Palisades-Dows Preserve and Observatory. If the weather turns, the Elliot Athletic Sports Complex offers ample activities. After a day of working up an appetite, visitors can venture to Palisades Cafe for a boost or Big's BBQ & Brew Pub for a nice way to relax in Iowa State.


Dutch village Pella Iowa
Downtown streets in Pella, Iowa.

The town of Pella is the home of around 10,000 people, making it a small-to-medium-sized location. With a position in the southern parts of central Iowa, it features mainly Dutch themes throughout the area. Its main street is a celebration of this history with brick roads and one-of-a-kind shops that celebrate the foods and themes of Holland. Visitors arrive every year for the Tulip Time festival, complete with an actual Dutch windmill feature known as the Vermeer Mill. It stands out as a proud community that respects the past. Those on an Iowa adventure can book a tee time at Bos Landen Golf Course or get tickets to the Pella Opera House. A leisurely day can include a trip to Smash Park to get a bite to eat, a film at Pella Cinema, and a visit to Vermeer Museum & Global Pavillion.


Downtown Decorah, Iowa at dusk
Downtown Decorah, Iowa. Image credit David Harmantas via Shutterstock

Decorah is home to roughly 7,500 individuals, creating a strong community that shows with its robust local economy. Clearly visible on the main street, it's replete with an appreciation for beauty. Visitors can see the Vesterheim Museum, trek through Phelps Park, or take a trip through Trout Run Trail. From quiet reprieve at DraNgonfly Books to local eats at La Rana, there is plenty to do in Decorah. Positioned in northeastern Iowa, it's also home to the campus of Luther College. With a rich Norwegian heritage, the town's design and culture mirror this history. 


Downtown streets in Waverly, Iowa
Downtown Waverly, Iowa. Image credit Billwhittaker via Wikimedia Commons

The home of around 10,000 people, Waverly takes its place in the northeastern corner of Iowa, just to the north of Waterloo. It is a colorful area full of special offerings and historical landmarks that give the main street a special significance. The Pour House is an energetic club, while the local golf courses like Prairie Links Golf Club cater to a different taste. The landmark buildings include the Kohlmann, constructed in 1875. It is a testament to preserving the original roots of the town while adapting to modern culture, as it now houses a range of concerts and events. From historical museums to upscale dining, the main street of Waverly is worth a visit.


Clark's Tower is a viewing platform for the Middle River Valley.
Pathway leading up to the Clark Tower.

Right in the heart of Iowa, Winterset is a town with approximately 5,300 people. The area makes a clear effort to preserve its history, replete with antiquities stores and a range of preserved buildings with local significance. A quiet area, visitors can appreciate the pace of Iowa in this calm area. From the architectural precision of its bridge to a museum in honor of John Wayne, Winterset is unique and intriguing for both those living in and visiting the area. A fun day involves the Iowa Theater to catch a flick before trekking to Clark Tower, a historical landmark. Winterset City Park provides a soothing energy before taking a shopping trip at Madison County Mercantile or the Spoons Full of Sugar Boutique. Replete with culture and iconic Iowa spirit, Winterset showcases some of the best of Iowa's main streets.

Iowa is a bountiful place for more than simple agriculture. It is home to a variety of gorgeous towns, each with a unique culture and economy. From the birthplace of John Wayne to the Norwegian roots of the area, Iowa might be small, but it holds potent opportunities for visitors and residents alike. Though the state has many large urban centers, its charming downtowns and main streets mainly reside in these towns. By visiting the different main streets, visitors can absorb the state's personality and engage with the area in a meaningful way. While the general geography and climate are consistent, each place has a unique stamp that makes it special.

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