Rendezvous With Romance in the Hawkeye State
Intimate, elegant inns dot Iowa’s landscape. Big cities harbor first-rate restaurants. Isolated roadways offer endless views of perfectly tended fields. A dip into a hot tub at an upscale hotel, cozying up in front of a roaring fire or sipping wine in a sunny field satisfies visitors’ romantic cravings.
The Sweetheart Package at Squiers Manor (408 W. Pleasant St., Maquoketa, IA) in Jackson County includes breakfast in bed, champagne or sparkling juice, a cheese basket, flowers and chocolates. The elegant Victorian home, built in 1882, has a selection of rooms with hot tubs, four-poster beds and fireplaces. Nearby are a drive-in theater, wineries and a state park with an extensive cave system.
Schedule an in-room massage for you and your partner at the Mont Rest Inn (300 Spring St., Bellevue, IA). The bed and breakfast, on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, has rooms with hot tubs, fireplaces and king beds. A full gourmet breakfast is included in the room rate, and turn-down service includes handmade truffles. Ask the concierge for babysitter recommendations, or sign up for an online service like Care.com that maintains a database of vetted child care workers.
A Day in Cedar Rapids
Leave the kids with the babysitter and begin your romantic afternoon at Fireside Winery’s tasting room (1755 P Ave. (V77), Marengo, IA). If you want to extend your visit, look into booking The Retreat on the winery’s grounds, a four-bedroom house big enough for a family. Head back to Cedar Rapids for a late lunch or dessert at The Class Act (7725 Kirkwood Blvd. SW, Cedar Rapids, IA). Students from the Kirkwood Hotel’s culinary arts program create healthy food with local ingredients. Relax with a couples massage session at Elevate (2320 Edgewood Rd. SW, Cedar Rapids IA and 1121 Blairs Ferry Road, Cedar Rapids IA), then stroll through the Czech Village New Bohemian Main Street District (101 16th Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids, IA), a cultural district with museums, food stands, gourmet restaurants and spirited night life.
High Rolling in Dubuque
Head to one of Dubuque’s Mississippi riverfront casinos. Test your luck at Q Casino’s (1855 Greyhound Park Rd., Dubuque, IA) slots, table games and poker and then have dinner at the casino’s upscale steakhouse. If you’re spending the night, ask about stay-and-play packages. Diamond Jo Casino (301 Bell St., Dubuque, IA) doesn’t have an attached hotel, but the Grand Harbor Resort and Waterpark is steps away. Older children can spend a few hours at the hotel’s water park or game room while you enjoy a suite with a view of the Mississippi River.
A romantic weekend in Dubuque might include a stroll along the banks of the Mississippi on the Riverwalk where you can take in the revolving Art on the River installations. Stop by Cable Car Square for a carriage ride around the city’s historic district if you’re in town from May to October, or take the trolley to Eagle Point Park (2601 Shiras Ave., Dubuque, IA) for a picnic under the trees.
Iowa Travel Tips
The tourist season in Iowa lasts from spring through fall. Check ahead if you’re visiting in winter as some attractions or services close. Temperatures creep into the 80s during the summer, and winter can be cold and snowy. Spring weather is unpredictable. Expect higher room rates in the state’s biggest cities, Des Moines and Cedar Rapids. If cost is a consideration, look for rooms on city outskirts, or plan a romantic getaway to an off-the-beaten-path location.
- Squiers Manor: Sweetheart Package
- Maquoketa Caves State Park
- Mont Rest Inn
- Fireside Winery
- Elevate: Therapeutic Body Massage
- TripAdvisor: The Class Act
- Czech Village New Bohemian Main Street District
- Q Casino
- TripAdvisor: Q Casino
- Diamond Jo Casino
- TripAdvisor: Diamond Jo Casino
- City of Dubuque: Mississippi Riverwalk
- Dubuque by Carriage
- City of Dubuque: Eagle Point Park
- Sperling’s Best Places: Iowa Climate
Meg Jernigan has been writing for more than 30 years. She specializes in travel, cooking and interior decorating. Her offline credits include copy editing full-length books and creating marketing copy for nonprofit organizations. Jernigan attended George Washington University, majoring in speech and drama.