Small Town Tour of Fame: Winterset

Winterset, Iowa

Courtesy of Kayla Hartman

We will be traveling to southwest Iowa for our final stop on the small town tour of fame. Winterset, a town of 5,000, is full of charm. It was the birthplace of actor John Wayne and the primary filming location of the famous movie “Bridges of Madison County.” Winterset is sure to leave you feeling like a star from the big screen. 

Carissa Heckathorn is a Winterset resident and the director of the Iowa Quilting Museum. “[Winterset] is very charming,” Heckathorn says. “It is a tight community. The community supports its businesses, its non-profits, [and] its schools.” 

EXCITING EXPERIENCES

Courtesy of Kayla Hartman

Winterset offers an abundance of museums for interests of all kinds. At the John Wayne Birthplace & Museum, you can sit in a built-in movie theater to watch a documentary of ‘The Duke’s’ film career, grab a John Wayne Western-Style Stockade Jacket from the gift shop, and walk through the house where Wayne was born. Since its establishment in 1982, this museum has had more than a million visitors from around the world. 

Madison County Historical Museum provides a space to journey back in time and engage in the heritage of Madison County. From May 1–Oct. 30, lose yourself in the atmosphere of the 1800s Bevington Mansion, or immerse yourself in the research library. Take a look at collections full of historical artifacts from Civil War items to fossils. 

Small Town Tour of Fame: Winterset
Courtesy of Kayla Hartman

If movie stars and history don’t speak to you, admire the beautiful patterns and stitchwork at the Iowa Quilting Museum. Dedicated to highlighting the artistry of quilt work, this museum displays work from the best quilters in the nation and provides information on the history of the craft. 

“I absolutely love it in the summers when I can meet people from everywhere,” Heckathorn says. “It’s just very friendly. [There] are really fun visitors.” 

DELICIOUS DINNING

Courtesy of Kayla Hartman

Anything Sweet & More Cafe lives up to its name by serving everything from homemade bread and pie to fresh, made-to-order sandwiches. This little cafe nestled on the corner of Court Avenue and 1st Ave. is the perfect place to grab a quick snack or a lunch that accommodates all types of dietary needs. Draw with chalk on the tables while you wait for your food, or have a cup of coffee and a conversation with the owner, Lisa Alessandro. 

“I think we stand out because, in addition to accommodating a special needs diet and picky eaters, we will make you a desired dish with 24-hours notice…We treat you like family when you eat with us,” Alessandro says. 

Have you ever eaten at a diner in the middle of a pharmacy? Cross it off of your bucket list after visiting Montross Pharmacy. Try a famous shake from the old-time soda fountain belonging to Madison County’s oldest family-owned restaurant. 

SLEEPING SOUNDLY

Small Town Tour of Fame: Winterset
Courtesy of Kayla Hartman

Receive small-town hospitality at Covered Bridge Inn, a locally-owned hotel. This hotel is conveniently situated with easy access to Highway 92 for a scenic drive across Madison County. 

Small Town Tour of Fame: Winterset

Stay in one of Winterset’s most historic homes at the Judge Lewis House. Judge William Henry Lewis was one of the earliest pioneers of Winterset and built the house from 1867–1869. Rent the three-bedroom house, and relax amongst Carpenter Gothic architecture. If you have children, send them to the included playhouse and animal barnyard.

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