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Iowa Shopping: From Main Street to Outlet Malls
Handcrafted wooden furniture. Woven woolen blankets. Small-batch whiskey and Gouda cheese curds. Iowa is a land of artisans whose heritage of homegrown craftsmanship goes back for generations. Traditional shops are tucked into village enclaves, filled with treasures waiting to be found. In the cities, you’ll encounter friendly shopping districts lined with independent retailers and name-brand boutiques. Get ready to go on a shopping adventure in Iowa.
Charming Main Street Shopping
Iowa’s picturesque main streets are lined with one-of-a-kind boutiques, flower shops, and old-time soda fountains. Stroll below turn-of-the-century architecture on Sioux City’s historic Fourth Street and shop for clothing, décor, and antiques. Foodies will enjoy browsing in Ames’ historic downtown, home to a decadent chocolate parlor and massive chef emporium. Buy handmade gifts and jewelry in Corning, and stop by McMahon Drug Store for an old-school root beer float. Stock up on homemade treats at Piper’s Candy in Chariton. Buy local in Des Moines in the East Village, a walkable urban neighborhood packed with indie boutiques, restaurants, and bars. Des Moines’ Downtown Farmers’ Market is also popular for its trendy vendors; it’s open on Saturdays in the summer and select days throughout the rest of the year.
Amana Colonies: Handcrafted Heaven
Settled as communes by German immigrants in the mid-1800s, these seven villages are excellent shopping destinations to find unique artisan goods. Buy handwoven rugs with local designs, handmade furniture, and homewares including quilts and pottery. Amana is the largest of the towns, and its streets are lined with artist galleries, specialty stores, and antique shops. Many have been around since the 1850s, including the legendary Amana Furniture and Clock Shop. Be sure to stop by the Amana General Store and the Amana Woolen Mill. Pick up a savory treat at the Amana Meat Shop and Smokehouse before leaving town.
Czech Villages, Dutch Artisans, and German Barns
Many groups of immigrants have imprinted the craft culture of Iowa. Shop for treasures made locally and from around the world at Cedar Rapids’ Czech Village/New Bohemia, a fantastic cultural district with shopping, museums, and nightlife. Czech Cottage is known for crystal and glassware, and NewBo City Market features dozens of local shops selling sustainable, eco-friendly treasures. Dutchman’s Store in Cantril is owned by a local Mennonite family, an old-fashioned general store with bulk candy, handmade items, and a huge selection of fabric and crafts. Locally made Gouda cheese curds are the most popular purchase at Frisian Farms in Leighton, a Dutch family tradition. You’ll also find high-quality Dutch specialty shops in the village of Pella. In the German town of Manning, the German Hausbarn is an authentic German barn that showcases countryside living circa 1600. Score unique German gifts in the barn’s shop.
Only in Iowa: Famous Shops and State Souvenirs
You can’t miss the World’s Largest Truck Stop, located right off Interstate 80 in Walcott. In addition to five restaurants, Iowa 80 is a great place to buy Iowa souvenirs and kitsch. For products made in the state, head to the Heart of Iowa Marketplace in Valley Junction. Browse for homemade fudge, John Deere products, Hawkeyes apparel, gift baskets, and crafts made by Iowa artists. Perhaps the most famous store in the state is Antique Archaeology in Le Claire, the headquarters for the hit TV series American Pickers. Find funky, repurposed décor, vintage signs, and all kinds of found treasures. Located on the banks of the Mississippi River, Le Claire is also the home of the Wide River Winery and the Mississippi River Distilling Company. Relax with a tasting and relish the easygoing atmosphere.
Outlet Malls and Indoor Shopping Centers
Looking for something more modern? Iowa’s many malls have you covered. Located in West Des Moines, Jordan Creek Town Center is the biggest mall in the state. Shop at national chains like Dillard’s, Pottery Barn, and J. Crew. You also find name brand stores in the Des Moines region at Valley West Mall, Merle Hay Mall, and Southridge Mall. Near Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, Coral Ridge Mall is the place to be. Along with five anchor stores, there’s a 10-screen cinema and NHL regulation-size ice rink. Looking for amazing deals on designer merch? Head to Tanger Outlets in Williamsburg or the Outlets of Des Moines in Altoona.
Coral Ridge Mall
Set along Interstate 80, the Coral Ridge Mall is located in Coralville, located in eastern Iowa on the Iowa River. Serving as a regional mall to Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, the mall covers more the one million square feet. The Coral Ridge Mall features a 10-screen theater, the Iowa Children's Museum, an NHL regulation-sized ice skating rink – the Coral Ridge Ice Arena – and of course plenty of shopping.