Disclosure: we were provided with a complimentary stay at the Northwood Holiday Inn Express & Suites, however, all opinions below are my own. I only share products and services with my readers that I will personally use for my own family.
I know not everyone would think of North Iowa as the most exciting vacation or ‘getaway’ destination. However, I am here to tell you that you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you venture to this area of small towns, delicious food and more entertainment than you’d imagine.
Jeanna, myself and Gradie headed down to Northwood Iowa for a 2 night stay at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites which is located right off of Highway I-35S right after you enter Iowa (coming from the Twin Cities).
The minute we walked in we had a ‘home’ like feeling from the complimentary lemonade and home made chocolate chip cookies to the friendly staff. Plus Gradie loved her ‘ride’ into the hotel.
After check in, getting into our room, possibly jumping in the beds a little, we immediately got changed to head to the hotel pool. Gradie was in heaven and didn’t want to get out – like ALL WEEKEND LONG!!
After working on making memories and achieving milestones, like putting our face in the water, we were pretty tired and decided to get ready for bed. As I was looking at the pillows I was pleasantly surprised to see that they have both firm and soft pillows. Something simple to add to a hotel room, and how much of a difference it makes. Jeanna grabbed her softer pillow and I headed right for the firmer ones.
With all the excitement and adventures of our first family road trip, Gradie’s first hotel stay, and of course the swimming pool, we were off to dreamland in no time.
Of course with so much adventure awaiting Gradie she was up bright and early, but that is OK as the Holiday Inn Express has you covered with their Smart Roast selection of coffees and teas. Of course I’d rather sleep in another hour, but seems as that wasn’t a possibility, the caffeine available here sure did the trick.
Then we headed over to see all that was available in the breakfast bar. Cereal, eggs, fruit, sausages, bagels, the list goes on.
Then the pancake machine – the pancake machine was amazing!! I hadn’t seen one before, waffle machines yes – but not pancakes machine. It made us all happy – pancakes in a minute, how does that not make everyone happy.
After a nutritious and delicious breakfast we headed out to the ‘Big Red Barn” across the street from the hotel.
The Big Red Barn is actually called the Top of Iowa Welcome Center complete with a gift store, coffee shop and all the travel related information you need to find yourself on a fun adventure through North Iowa.
Between many trips to the swimming pool with Gradie, we did get to explore some of the local attractions.
A short stop at the crash site of the plane carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper, back in 1959. Unfortunately it was a little icy and muddy to get all the way to actual location, but there was a road side memorial that we took a look at and then tried to explain the magnitude of what happened here to Gradie, while driving into Clear Lake, IA.
Once in Clear Lake we got to visit the Surf Ballroom – the Historic Rock and Roll Landmark at 460 North Shore Drive, Clear Lake, Iowa. The Surf is closely associated with the event known colloquially as “The Day the Music Died” – Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper gave their last performances here on February 2, 1959.
We were also able to explore Northwood Iowa. A small and quaint town, with cute street signs, delicious food and adventures to be had.
We had lunch at Tequila’s Mexican Bar & Grill and it was delicious and so affordable. Such a cute location, great service and a fun atmosphere.
As if all this exploring wasn’t enough excitement and adventure, Gradie also wanted to check out the weight & excise room back at the hotel – so off we went.
Of course for a 3 year old that means PLAYING. However, there is a lot to do for those of you a little more serious about your exercise routine, and it is open 24 hours a day.
All in all our trip was totally worth it, North Iowa is FUN and we look forward to returning in the warmer months when we know there will be even MORE to do.
Be sure to follow the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Northwood Facebook page – they are always sharing fun travel articles, and calendars of upcoming events to enjoy in the North Iowa!!