As I’ve said many times over the past few years, I love living in Iowa City. I’m more or less seriously considering living there for a while after graduation if at all possible, in fact. I thought today would be a good time to reflect on the things I love the most about this town and how grateful I am to be there.
I purposely wrote only about things related to the town and not my school because I want to write a full post about what I love most about the University of Iowa some other time.
Although the rest of this list isn’t in any particular order of importance, this part just had to come first. I love how literary this place is! Bookstores, readings, signings, author tours, the Iowa City Book Festival, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop… I could go on and on.
Some of my favorite bookish things to do in Iowa City are:
- Petting the cats at the Haunted Bookshop (!!!!!)
- Attending a reading by some up-and-coming young author at Prairie Lights, then afterward buying a delicious hot chocolate and browsing their stationery section
- Visiting Daydreams Comics on Free Comic Book Day
- Walking down Iowa Avenue where there are famous quotes from literature and poetry embedded in the sidewalk
- Exploring the Dey House (of Iowa Writers’ Workshop fame) and getting overwhelmed by the sheer amount of literary history contained within its walls
2. The Iowa Writers’ House
Of course, you can’t have books without writers! The IWH is an organization primarily based in Iowa City, although there is a Cedar Rapids branch as well and they plan to eventually expand to the entire state. I joined in August 2016 and began to volunteer with them soon after, leading the LGBTQ+ subgroup. The IWH is full of such lovely people and attending their Tuesday night meetings is definitely one of the highlights of my week!
When I moved to Iowa City my freshman year, I went from having no LGBTQ+ friends IRL to having too many to count practically overnight. I love having so much support. It’s good to know that however sucky the rest of the country (and world) may be, there are plenty of people with whom I can be myself.
4. It’s politically active
Unlike my sleepy little hometown, there is always some sort of protest or rally or vigil going on here. Even better, they’re almost always held less than a five-minute walk from my dorm. (By contrast, I would have to drive 15 to 20 minutes to get anywhere in Indiana because my parents live outside the town limits.)
5. The town and the university blend together
This isn’t something I particularly cared about when I toured the University of Iowa back in high school, but now I’m 100% convinced I could never go to a school that isn’t integrated into the nearby town. As much as I love my college, I don’t think I’d love it as much if it were isolated from everything else!
6. The Iowa River
I say this with the caveat that I would never go swimming in this river because I don’t trust the water quality that much, buuuut… I love walking across the many bridges that span it, especially when the sun is rising or setting. I rarely venture far from the part of the river bordered on either side by the university, but when I do it’s always cool to see what the river looks like elsewhere.
Officially it’s called the Pedestrian Mall, but never in the almost five semesters I’ve been here have I heard anyone call it that. Consisting of restaurants, stores, and the Iowa City Public Library (!!!), the Ped Mall is the heart of downtown. There are lots of trees for shade, plus colorful benches to sit on. I really wish my hometown had something like it!
8. FilmScene & Englert Theatre
Located on and just off the Ped Mall, respectively, FilmScene and Englert Theatre (often referred to as simply “the Englert”) bring to mind so many happy memories with friends, watching movies and attending book tours.
Arts Festival, Jazz Festival, Mission Creek Festival, Iowa City Book Festival, Taste of Iowa City, Iowa Summer Writing Festival, Iowa City Pride, Friday Night Concert Series, Movies in the Park… and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few!
10. The Aesthetique™
Walking past places in Iowa City, I sometimes have the urge to add a major in Cinema. I mean, I would never actually do it since I have enough on my plate already with my three (!) majors, but it’s still fun to think about. In particular, I love passing by the Bluebird Diner: I would set a super cute teen romcom about a gay couple and a lesbian couple on a double date there! It’s a very pretty town.
Whether or not you’re celebrating Thanksgiving today, I hope you have a relaxing and enjoyable Thursday! Tell me about some of the places you’ve lived and why you were thankful to live there… I want to know what you love most in a town or city!