Monday, October 7, 2013

Iowa's Cozy Places and Spaces - Exploring the Autumn Outdoors Edition

One of the best parts about being back in Iowa is the change in seasons.  After living in Tucson and essentially missing the seasons for a year, Patrick and I are really ready to experience fall again.  That said, I think we've done a pretty bang-up job of exploring some of the best places to visit in the fall around the Des Moines area. 

Here's where we've gone and what we've done (so far)...

1. Center Grove Orchard 

Center Grove Orchard is only one of the happiest places on Earth.  It's a great place for adults and families. 

I particularly enjoyed checking out their one room school house.  (I'm certainly glad my classroom doesn't look like this!) 

The appropriate apple picking apparatus. 

Sporting my new Kate Spade for Keds kicks with a freshly picked apple.  The apples tasted soooo good fresh off the tree. 
2. Iowa City's Northside Oktoberfest

Iowa City's Oktoberfest is always a blast.  With tent after tent of local craft brews, how can you go wrong... except maybe making a typo on hundreds of tasting mugs...

How can you not love the free spirited citizens of Iowa City for making sweaters for trees?  Trees need love, too, dontcha know. 

The University of Iowa will always seem like home.   It was great to go back and enjoy some great brews in one of my favorite cities. 
3. Big Creek Lake Park

Big Creek Lake Park is one of our favorite places to hike.  With beautiful tree lined trails and paths that lead right up to the lake, it's a great place to relax (or catch a few frogs.)    

4. Clive Greenbelt Trail

Surrounded by beautiful prairies and cozy neighborhoods, we've met some of the friendliest people in the Des Moines area walking, running and biking on this trail on weekend mornings. 

5.Gray's Lake

Gray's Lake is one of the cutest, inner-city places to get outdoors I have seen.  The trail around the lake includes a cute bridge packed with special plaques commemorating weddings, lives of loved ones, and special events, plus you can always walk or ride on over to Confluence Brewery for a mid-workout beer. 

 6. The Amana Colonies

Making yarn from wool in the Amana Colonies. 

The Amana Colonies was a cute and quaint little town for an afternoon visit.  Definitely stop by White Cross Cellars and pick up a bottle of the "Monk's Red" Red picnic wine and pick up some apple cider from the Chocolate Haus. 
7. Jester Park

With plenty of great trails to walk and trees to climb, Jester park offers tons of great wooded trails that are awesome for hiking or running. 

Hiking adventures at Jester Park. 

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