These 12 Iowa downtowns have great shopping all year long, but they truly shine during the holidays. Plan your weekend girlfriends' getaway and shop local for gifts!
1. Cedar Falls
Boutique shopping abounds and decorated windows adorn the streets of downtown Cedar Falls. In late November, the community kicks off the winter season with its Holiday Hoopla series of events. The District is bursting with holiday decor and many surprises along the way.
If you’re searching for gifts, there’s something for everyone in your family. Spoil the new baby with an Iowa-made gift from Hatchlings & Hens. Stop in at Vintage Iron for beautifully crafted pottery or a wall hanging for the art lover. Top off your shopping day by dining at locally-owned Montage and grab dessert to-go at Chocolaterie Stam.
The quaint community of Pella has Dutch specialty shops galore. Stop in at Bisschopswijn Mulled Wine and Cider Spices for their original recipes and take home a jug to enjoy over the holidays. If you’re looking for a variety of gifts, home décor and found/repurposed antiques, check out Simple Treasures, located in a historic house built in 1885. Have lunch at Opa's Deli at In't Veld's and try an authentic Dutch-style sandwich. If you're in need of an afternoon pick-me-up, sip on a specialty coffee from Smokey Row Coffee Co. for a boost of energy.
Browse the shops on the historic square of Centerville for a one-of-a-kind gift for a loved one. Sample wine at Mystique Vintage & Unique, then take some home for a sweet gift. The Gypsy Quarter has a three floors of gifts, including clothing, antiques and home décor. Wind down with a meal at Lucile's Steak & Spirits, offering a variety of comfort food in a beautifully renovated setting.
4. Valley Junction in West Des Moines
Eclectic, vintage and antique stores wait for shoppers in the Historic Valley Junction in West Des Moines. Browse shops like Hinge for repurposed antiques and vintage items and Heart of Iowa Marketplace for Iowa-made items. End the day with pizza at The Tavern Pizza and Pasta and take home wine from Wines of Iowa. Additionally, every Thursday starting in mid-November, Jingle in the Junction offers extended hours from 5 to 9 p.m. to allow visitors more time to find the perfect gift and stroll 5th Street under the glow of over 125,000 lights.
5. Iowa City Downtown District
Located in the heart of Iowa City's Downtown District, you'll find a wide variety of boutiques, art studios, book stores and coffee shops. Dulcinea has a great selection of fashion for women of all ages. Looking for a special piece of pottery to add to your collection? AKAR has a plethora of ceramics, pottery, kitchen supplies and children's gifts.
Beautiful landscapes surround the quaint town of Decorah in northeast Iowa, and excellent shopping can be found in their downtown. Blue Heron Knittery has everything an aspiring knitter would need. Sparrow's Candles & Gifts features American-manufactured Milkhouse candles (made with local soy and beeswax) in a variety of delightful scents. A heartfelt gift in the form of an ornament, magnet or bracelet from StoryPeople is perfect for the person who has everything. Grab a coffee from Java John's to start off your shopping extravaganza. Don't forget to take home a hot Mabe's pizza as a reward for a successful day.
7. Sioux City
Nestled in the northwest corner of the state, Historic Fourth Street in Sioux City has a variety of stores to meet every shopping list need. Start the day off by grabbing a specialty coffee to-go from SweetWater Cafe, then head to Palmer's Old Tyme Candy Shoppe for Twin Bings and other sweet treats. Browse through a few of the antique shops on Historic Fourth and find a classic vintage gift.
8. Clear Lake
Spend some time shopping in the quaint community of Clear Lake, and don't forget to take a scenic drive around the lake itself! Grab a whimsical gift for your girlfriend at Larson's Mercantile. Stop in at Ralphene's Card & Gifts for collectibles, candles, chocolates and antiques. Relax after a successful shopping day at Clear Lake’s only place for local craft beer, Lake Time Brewery.
Ames is a hidden gem for local shopping. Check out downtown Ames for antique shops, boutiques and specialty stores. Stock up on all of the kitchen supplies and stocking stuffers at Cook's Emporium, or take home a box of artisan-crafted chocolates from Chocolaterie Stam. Pick up a unique handmade gift at Worldly Goods, where they support fair trade for artisans all over the world.
10. Cedar Rapids
Visit December 4-6 for Cedar Rapids’ annual Deck the District in the Czech Village and New Bohemia Main Street District for holiday displays and open houses from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. If you can’t make it then, visit anytime to find glittering crystal and glassware for purchase at the Czech Cottage. To satisfy the popcorn lover in your life, pick up a treat at the Almost Famous Popcorn, or just stop for the free samples. Complete the day by grabbing a delicious to-go breakfast, lunch or appetizer at Brewhemia.
Known for their customer service, The Market in Algona has a variety of beauty products, home décor and gifts for any personality. Stop in at Train Wreck Winery, located in an old train depot, for delicious wine made from Iowa-grown grapes. Look on in wonder at the Algona Nativity Scene, with 65 figures built by German prisoners of war at Camp Algona during World War II.
12. Le Mars
Though small, Le Mars is home to some big holiday shopping opportunities! The kids would be giddy if you brought home a gift from the Le Mars Toy Store. Don't forget to shop for yourself while browsing the home gifts at Simpatico Decor. Top off your day of shopping and stop at the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor for a sweet treat. Dine on a delicious steak dinner at Archie's Waeside and relax with a glass of wine after your day of retail therapy.