We visited Charles City in August 2020, as part of Big Trip #3.
We were driving from Indianapolis to Fargo on Big Trip #3, and didn’t want to kill ourselves with a long haul. Where should we stop? Well I have first cousins once removed (I always need to refer to a chart) in Charles City, Iowa, where my dad’s mother grew up and my dad spent his summers as a lad. I hadn’t seen these cousins in over twenty years! So of course we stopped there, for a delightful reunion and my first visit to this storied family homeland.
Charles City has a lovely place to park your trailer: R Campground is in a park-like setting along the river, just a few miles from downtown. It was peaceful and breezy and uncrowded when we were there on a Covid Wednesday. Definitely stay in the OB section of the park.
Eating and Drinking
The Pub on the Cedar seemed to be the hotspot in town, serving steaks, sandwiches, and salads to a bustling crowd–who are not required to wear masks. Nor are the servers. Be warned. This didn’t seem to bother the Iowans, but it made us Virginians very uncomfortable. The Pub has a small patio (with no shade) for safer outdoor dining. (Note that we visited in late August, so the Covid rules may be different now.) Dogs are not allowed on the patio at the Pub.
Charles City has a brewery! But of course it was closed when we were in town! We were really disappointed to miss checking out Saint Charles Brewing Company, but luckily for me the Pub had their Key lime sour and it was delicious. Unluckily for J, they were out of Saint Charles’ IPA.
Exploring Charles City
My cousins graciously gave us an informative tour of town, which was extremely interesting to me because of the family stories, but the architecture in Charles City would make a drive through town a pleasure for anyone.
The city has a surprising number of historic buildings and beautiful houses, including a Frank Lloyd Wright house on the Cedar River. You’ll see Arts and Crafts and Victorian styles, Mansard roofs, sleeping porches, and other intricate and beautiful structures that are beyond my beginner’s grasp of architecture. Charles City also has an impressive number of parks and a quaint (if in need of some love) old downtown strip.
If you stop over in Charles City, definitely stay at R Campground, ogle the pretty houses, and tell my family I said hello!