Join Decorah and Winneshiek County residents in Decorah, IA this July 25-27, 2019 as we celebrate 53 years of Nordic Fest.
Nordic Fest is a celebration of the spirit of Scandinavia. Since 1967, more than 1.5 million visitors from all over the world have attended our festival in Decorah.
Your whole family will enjoy popular culinary dishes, traditional crafts, a colorful parade, lively entertainment, sporting events and our Saturday night fireworks display.
On Thursday evening, the event kicks off with the Opening Ceremonies at 6/45 p.m. The next two days will be full of entertaining activities for the whole family. Along with the festival, travel throughout the community to visit the exquisite arts, boutiques and restaurants.
The entire family will enjoy delicious food, traditional crafts, a colorful parade, unique entertainment, sporting events and our Saturday night fireworks display.
This trip will be fantastic for experiencing the culture which is deeply rooted within the community. Make sure to visit the Vesterhiem Museum to immerse yourself in the heritage. Vesterheim is the national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center that houses over 30,000 artifacts, 12 historic buildings, a Folk Art School, and a library and archives.
The gorgeous weather paired with quality family time is the perfect get-away. Make your plans now to experience the fun!
Seed Savers Exchange
For every green thumb, history aficionado or gardener, Seed Savers Exchange at Heritage Farm is a must see. Learn about the seed saving process and the amazing collection of heritage and heirloom seeds maintained there before walking through the gardens to see some of the most amazing fauna anywhere! If the beautiful scenery gets you inspired, there are several walking/hiking trails available throughout the property.
The Lillian Goldman Visitors Center is a great place to start and finish any visit to Heritage Farm. Find out how this amazing organization was started with very humble roots (pun intended!). Browse the wide selection of books including some from Seed Savers Exchange employees! Find all that you’ll need to prepare and maintain your own garden. Why not fill that garden with some of the many varieties of seed grown and sold right there at Heritage Farm. The friendly staff can help with any questions that you may have. If you’re lucky, you may even get to catch a glimpse of the garden crew doing one of their favorite tasks, weeding!
No matter why you ultimately visit Decorah, make Seed Savers Exchange a visit. The work done on Heritage Farm is essential to passing on our garden heritage to coming generations. Truly a gem among the riches in and around Decorah.
Trout Run Trail
There is no better way to experience the amazing scenery that Decorah has to offer than the Trout Run Trail. An 11 mile loop around the city, it gives you a view of Decorah that is second to none. The trail is accessible by walkers, runners and bicyclists to enjoy. Besides the scenic views, the trail hits many of the sights and attractions around Decorah along the way.
The trail runs along the Decorah Trout Hatchery where you can stop and feed the fish, have a picnic, enjoy Siewer Springs or just take in the beauty of the area. It also runs along the Upper Iowa River for a couple of miles which makes for a beautiful change of pace. Don’t forget about the Decorah Eagle’s nest, seen around the world online. The live feed has given scientists a glimpse into the lives of a mating pair of Bald Eagles in their gigantic nest(weighing in at over 750 pounds!).
The relatively secluded trail also includes various art pieces along it, so be on the lookout. Convenient mile and half mile markers are there for you to keep track of your distance. Despite the rural feel of the trail, you’re never too far away from town, including downtown and its amenities. The bridge that crosses over Highway 9 also has LED lights installed that color it during dark hours with various colors that change. All in all, the Trout Run Trail has something for everyone and is a great representation of Decorah as our slice of paradise.
Winneshiek County Fair
No Midwest area is complete without a county fair. Decorah is host to one of the best, the Winneshiek County Fair. It has something for everyone from entertainment, education, vendors and of course, food!
Every year, the fair is host to many forms of entertainment. Various live bands perform on the Grandstand or on the Midway and they always draw a crowd. Got a sweet tooth? Check out the bake-off! The 4-H and FFA contests are a culmination of lots of hard work from our local youth, preparing them for their lives ahead. There’s also the Bulls and Barrels event for any rodeo enthusiast! Last but not least is the Fair Queen contest to nominate our county representative!
Don’t forget the food. Who could forget it? Fair time means some delicious food for all to have. Who can go wrong with the classic fair food choices? Get your corn dog, funnel cake, cheese curd and anything fried you can imagine fix here! The vendor selection at the Winneshiek County Fair is as diverse as you can think of and deserves a fair of its own just to have time to see it all. What fair wouldn’t be complete without rides and games? The Winneshiek County Fair will not disappoint, make sure you set aside enough time to take it all in and we’ll see you there!
Women's Weekend Out
Watch your winter blues fade away at Decorah's Annual Women's Weekend Out event. Women's Weekend Out is held every spring in historic downtown Decorah. Shopping, culinary delights, fashion show, chili competition, cooking classes, and evening entertainment provides three days of laughter, fun, and camaraderie.
The Great Outdoors
Day 1: Biking (Friday)
Begin with a light breakfast from Restauration located in the Hotel Winneshiek.
If you traveled with personal bikes, you're already set. If not, Decorah Bicycles provides a great selection of rental bikes.
There are some great opportunities to bike in a variety of parks. Bike throughout Decorah on the Trout Run Trail and visit Palisades Park. Be ready to see some wildlife! The birds, rabbits and deer share the trail with you.
Next, travel on your bikes right to the door of Oneota Community Food Coop. Revel in a natural, organic and local lunch.
After returning your bikes, take a walk or drive to Phelps Park. On your hiking adventure, you will find beautiful sights while breathing in the fresh air.
Stroll back to town and enjoy a handcrafted brew at Toppling Goliath and later, a delicious pizza at Mabe’s.
Finish your night at the Hotel Winneshiek. Constructed in 1905, this historic boutique hotel provides a unique experience. Guests are surrounded with the original marble walls, terrazzo floors, cherry pillars and three-story glass atrium.
Day 2: Canoeing (Saturday)
Rise and shine! Just kidding, sleep in! Today is going to be a fun-filled day.
Begin with brunch at Magpie Coffeehouse. It provides a comfortable atmosphere along with great staff, tasty food, and the best coffee.
Feel free to meander around downtown. The charming boutiques and shops won’t fail to catch your eye!
Spend the rest of your day on the Upper Iowa River. Canoe, kayak or tube - take your pick and let one of our many experienced outfitters take care of the rest. They offer hassle-free shuttle service and can help you determine the best route. Bring your water camera because the scenery is unmatched. There will be one hundred foot towering bluffs and soaring eagles.
After your fun in the water, clean up and get ready for fine dining at Rubaiyat. Enjoy the atmosphere, company and food.
Finish your well-spent time in Decorah with a cocktail at the Tap Room on the first floor of the Hotel Winnshiek.
Golfers, It's Tee Time
Start the morning with the 9-hole course, South Winn Golf & Country Club. There is nothing better than enjoying the crisp, fresh air in your lungs and bent grass under your golf shoes.
Take a break and enjoy lunch. In Calmar, The Train Station would be a great choice. Make sure to try their famous “Flash Burger.”
After lunch, try a more challenging, 18-hole course such as, Oneota Golf & Country Club. This is a great option for with spending time with family and friends while having some friendly competition.
For dinner, experience T-Bock's Sports Bar & Grill. They have just the beverage to quench your thirst. They offer 22 beers on tap and a wide variety of bottled beers and wine. It’s perfect after a long day of golfing.
There are many lodging options when visiting Decorah. Visit our “Stay” tab to browse your options of bed and breakfasts, cabins, hotels or lofts.
Because you love golf… spend another day golfing on different courses within the county!
Start with a great breakfast at the Family Table in Decorah.
A short, 10-mile drive will take you to the small town of Ossian, Iowa. Here, they offer a beautiful 9-hole course, Silver Springs Golf & Country Club, to begin your day.
After your round of golf, take a 6-mile drive to Festina, Iowa and check out the World's Smallest Church. Also, 12 miles from Ossian there is a town named Spillville. Here, you can tour Bily Clocks Museum & Antonin Dvorak exhibit.
Travel back to Decorah and have a late lunch Don Jose. If you have a sweet tooth, indulge in dessert at the Whippy Dip.
Rooted in Agriculture
- Explore Seed Savers Exchange Heritage Farm headquarters in the morning, an internationally-known organization helping people save and share heirloom seeds.
- Enjoy a short drive to a 150-year-old family farm at Winneshiek Wildberry Winery, taste award winning wines and have lunch on site.
- Go back in time at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum whose historic buildings and exhibits tell the story of pioneer agriculture, also explore beautiful downtown Decorah.
Day 2: Sleep in! Enjoy a wonderful breakfast in Decorah.
- Explore and eat lunch (and sweets) at Pinter's Gardens and Pumpkins with vast plant, landscape, and patio displays and fall pumpkin patch and corn maze.
- Learn hands-on about modern dairy farming at Iowa's Dairy Center from 1-2:30pm, tour the operational farm, meet the cows, and pet the calves.
A Weekend for the Heart
Day 1 (Friday night)
Begin with an authentic and delicious dinner at Koreana.
Stay at the comforting bed and breakfast, B&B on Broadway. The stay includes guest services like chilled, local wine delivered right to your room or breakfast served on your schedule.
Day 2 (Saturday)
Begin with a light breakfast and coffee at Java Johns.
Then, there a many options, but here are two depending on your preferences.
Visit Day Spring Spa for a relaxing experience. Treatments are tailored to meet your individual needs and range from simple and therapeutic, to spa packages that provide several hours of relaxation.
Visit Twin Springs Park and the a one-mile trail into the woods. Become one with nature and really experience Decorah.
After either of these options, enjoy a stroll through downtown Decorah. Visit the wonderful boutiques, shops and arts.
Before dinner, visit the Winneshiek Wildberry Winery for a friendly wine experience amidst the beautiful rolling hills of Northeast Iowa.
For dinner, try McCaffrey's Dolce Vita. This casual setting is paired with delectable food and nestled in the wooded Twin Springs Park.
Day 3 (Sunday)
Sleep in and enjoy a delicious breakfast in bed.
A Winter Weekend
Northeast Iowa is an adventure for snowmobilers with hundreds of miles of groomed trails.
Each trail system is maintained by local trail clubs. They keep the trails clear of debris and well marked with appropriate signage to help you navigate to hotels, restaurants and gas stations.
Immerse yourself in the nature of Iowa and stay at the The Roundhouse Retreat. This "geodesic" roundhouse guesthouse is located just 5 miles Northwest of Decorah.
Also on your weekend vacation, try cross-country skiing. We have great areas for you to ski in Decorah. Plenty of the trails are groomed for a brisk work out, or a leisure outing with your family. Don’t want to bring skis with you? Decorah Bicycles can take care of your rental needs.
On this get-away, enjoy our cozy cafés to warm up. Try the espresso at Impact Coffee Bar & Roasters, breakfast and cappuccino at Java John’s and a home-made pastry and latte at Magpie Coffeehouse.
Decorah offers great options for fine dining as well as casual dining . You will be sure to find everything to satisfy your tastebuds after long and fun-filled days in the snow.