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Decorah in a Day / The Must-Do Bucket List Itinerary

Full day  |  12 STOPS  |  <30 MILES Total  |  Family friendly  |  

accessible for wheelchairs and strollers

Adventure is waiting all around the Decorah Area! While there is plenty to explore for days on end, for weeks, or even a lifetime —– you can also make the most of just one day in town. So pack your bag, grab your walking shoes, and get ready to make the most of 24 hours in town.

Walk Around Decorah’s Downtown District

1. SHOP AT A LOCAL STORE

Decorah’s downtown is home to 100+ small businesses, including retailers that have been around for 1 to 100+ years (looking at you, Decorah Hatchery!). You’ll be sure to find at least one you’ll love among the array of options.

2. GRAB COFFEE

Decorah’s coffee scene is on point. The area has many options to fill your caffeine needs — including three coffeeshops right in the Downtown District: Impact Coffee, Magpie Cafe & Coffeehouse, and Java John’s Coffee House.

Dig into Some of the Area’s History and Heritage

3. VISIT VESTERHEIM

Exhibits at Vesterheim, the National Norwegian-American Museum and Folk Art School, explore the diversity of American immigration through the lens of the Norwegian-American experience and showcase the best in historic and contemporary Norwegian folk arts. This national treasure features a world-class collection of 33,000 artifacts!

Enjoy Food from a Local Eatery

4. EAT AT MABE’S PIZZA

Founded by Mabel White in 1953, this 4th generation owned eatery is best known for their square-cut, thin-crust pizza. The menu also includes broasted chicken, pasta, salads, burgers, and half-baked pizzas to go. Looking to order the post popular pizza? It’s the regular — a perfect combination of pepperoni and sausage. Mabe’s Pizza continues to honor Mabel’s spirit (and recipe) with each of the 100,000+ pizzas served each year.

Go on an Outdoor Adventure

5. EXPLORE AT DUNNING’S SPRING PARK AND WATERFALL

This waterfall is one of the most notable attractions in Decorah. The waterfall is spring fed and water flows year-round. Sit by the water or follow the trails to climb the surrounding area.

6. RIDE OR WALK TROUT RUN TRAIL 

Spend time on this 11-mile paved loop trail to explore parts of Decorah and Winneshiek County that you can’t get to by car! Your journey will take you along the Upper Iowa River and into the surrounding countryside for some incredible views.

7. FEED THE FISH AT THE CHUCK GIPP DECORAH FISH HATCHERY

Rainbow trout are raised in 24 raceways and three rubber line earths ponds at the Decorah Fish Hatchery, which you can get to by car or via the Trout Run Trail. Bring a quarter to buy a handful of feed from the dispenser to bring fish swirling to the surface while you learn about the lifecycles of fish.

Explore the Past, Present & Future

8. MEET DECORAH’S OLDEST RESIDENT AT LUTHER COLLEGE
The life-sized model of Decorah’s most famous fossil discovery, Pentecopterus decorahensis, has a long-term home in Valders Hall of Science at Luther College. This model reflects the approximately 465 million year old fossilized remains of a nearly 6-foot sea scorpion. The fossils were discovered in 2010 within the Decorah Impact Crater basin, which is now buried beneath Decorah.
9. EXPLORE AT SEED SAVERS EXCHANGE
Since 1975, Seed Savers Exchange has protected the biodiversity of our food system – and our planet – by preserving rare, heirloom, and open-pollinated varieties of seeds. Visit their 890 acre scenic farm to find the Lillian Goldman Visitors Center and Gift and Garden store. If your time allows, traverse their wooded bluffs and valley pastures on a network of nearly 10 mile of hiking trails connecting their orchards, cattle pastures, and remote gardens. 

Grab Dinner & Drinks (& Maybe Ice Cream too!)

10. RELAX AT RUBAIYAT

Enjoy dishes in Downtown Decorah that are “food for thought”. Rubaiyat features a seasonal, American menu that emphasizes straight-forward, approachable cuisine that both looks and tastes clean and composed.  The simple, but skillfully prepared dishes showcase commitment to using the highest quality products, in season, and local when available.

11. PULL UP FOR A POUR

Decorah may be a small town, but it’s a big haven for beer and cider enthusiasts alike! Enjoy a pour or try a full flight of options at one or all of Decorah’s beverage establishments. One of the most renowned is Toppling Goliath Brewing Co., who has garnered widespread acclaim for their bold and innovate brews, attracting beer aficionados from far and wide. For those seeking a more intimate setting, Pulpit Rock Brewing Company provides a cozy and inviting atmosphere to enjoy artisanal beers crafted with precision and passion. Prefer hard cider? Convergence CiderWorks begins with whole ingredients and creates modern ciders that tell a story of place and time.
 
12. THE HARDEST CHOICE OF THE DAY: HARD SERVE OR SOFT SERVE ICE CREAM?

Decorah is known for the two main ice cream shops: The Whippy Dip and Sugar Bowl. Pick one to try or complete a taste test at both! The Whippy Dip is known for their soft serve varieties and combinations at their walk-up location. Sugar Bowl is known for they wide selection of hard-serve ice cream flavors and vintage inspired space! Both locations have non-dairy treat options too!

 
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