Golf CoursesQuilt ShopsScenic Travel

Traveling to Dubuque Iowa

In mid-August Jo and I decided to take a trip to the Dubuque Iowa area to see a few sights and visit a quilt shop in nearby Bellevue. I also had a few golf courses I wanted to play 🙂

National Farm Toy MuseumWe arrived on a Tuesday afternoon and decided to drive west of Dubuque, about 20 miles, to Dyersville, Iowa whose major attraction is the National Farm Toy Museum. And for baseball and movie fans Dyersville is home to the Field of Dreams movie set – which time didn’t permit us to visit. We also discovered that they have an annual fall quilt show – another reason to return.

The Farm Toy Museum is an interesting piece. The exhibits serve as an educational tour of the progression of  two centuries of US agriculture and its implements. If you weren’t aware of this factoid, in the US the Industrial Revolution was most evident in its agricultural machinery and inventions. So anyone interested in US industrial history or the history of farming in the US will find the Toy Museum’s exhibits fascinating. A number of the exhibits were antique toys, the kind you’d see brought onto the PBS TV show Antiques Roadshow. So collectors or appreciators of antique toys will find lots to satisfy this interest. I discovered there is a lively group of hobbyists and collectors who specialize in farm toys. They even have a magazine called Toy Farmers. Of course farmers or former farmers will have lots of fun walking down memory lane looking at models of tractors and implements. While I was there a group of three retired farmers where wandering through the exhibits seeing models of tractors and implements from their earlier days. Every once in a while one would say “Hey do you remember . . . ”

Breitbach Country Tavern
Breitbach's Country Tavern, Iowa's oldest, has been run by the Breitbach family since 1852

On the way back to Dubuque we stopped in Balltown Iowa to dine at Breitbach’s Country Tavern. We hadn’t been there since the second of two devastating fires destroyed this Iowa landmark. We missed the original because it had been there for ages and was filled with a gazzilion antiques (see here for a few shots of the “old” Breitbach’s). While the building is new looking local craftsmen have done a decent job in finishing off the interior with fine dark hardwoods giving it the atmosphere of an old time German or Swiss pub. Although the fire destroyed almost all of the Breitbach family’s several generations of antique collections, they have a few newly acquired antiques to lend character to the atmosphere. But the most pleasant experience of all has not changed. Breitbach’s food and service is terrific. We stuffed ourselves with the all-you-can-eat buffet. The service kept our tables clean and water glasses refreshed. The Breitbach family has been at this spot offering hospitality since 1852 and they have done a great job of it.

The next day, Wednesday, I had a chance to play the Blue Course at Lacoma Golf Club, which is across the river from Dubuque in East Dubuque, IL. It is a mature, scenic tree lined course with some degree of elevation change. The rough under the trees was mowed so balls hit outside of the fairway were fairly easy to find. Only a few holes had woods so thick and tight to fairway that an errant ball was “goodbye.” The greens were in good condition and easy to read. Overall the course was quite playable and a decent value for your golfing dollar. Reminded me of the Portage Lake Golf Course in Houghton, Michigan.

JoQuilter FabricsAfter golfing we traveled south of Dubuque, about 20 miles, along the Iowa side of the Great River Road to the town of Bellevue along the Mississippi River. There  is a quilt shop there Jo wanted to visit and we wanted to see the town as we had previously always traveled the Illinois side of the Great River Road along this stretch. Unfortunately the shop, JoQuilter Fabrics, was closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays so all we could do was look in the window. Jo says she is planning a Great River Road Quilt Shop tour to this part of the Great River next summer so she’ll make sure to be in Bellevue when the shop is open. The town itself is aligned along the river with an attractive river walk on the river side of the street and small gift shops, antique stores, craft shops, and restaurants on the other side of the street. A person could spend an hour or two wandering through the shops. There is also a lock and dam adjacent to downtown so one can get a good look at the river boat traffic as it comes through the locks. Another disappointment in our visit to Bellevue was the fact that the paved road to nearby Bellevue State Park was closed and we weren’t up for traveling a few miles down the alternate gravel road entrance.

The Meadows Golf Course
The Meadows Golf Course Dubuque Iowa

On Thursday I got in another golfing fix this time golfing The Meadows a course in the Dubuque western suburb of Asbury. Not very many trees in this course since not too many years ago it was a field of corn and grains. But the rolling hills and course landscaping presented an attractive picture. Every hole on the course had a unique visual character to it. The fairways were close cut bent grass giving you the feeling of playing on a carpet. Every time I took a divot I felt I was committing a misdemeanor. While the fairways always had elevation changes, a few water and sand trap hazards, and many with doglegs left or right or left and right, the challenge at The Meadows is the greens. All of them are elevated so a ball rolling off the edge of the frog hair would end up rolling several feet downhill into the longer grass. The greens themselves were often domed and had undulations with pin placements to challenge your ability to read the terrain. Combined with fast greens the challenge to your putting skills was enthusiastic! Result. I had many more 3 putts than I can recall having in recent outings. Despite the 3 putts and fairly good shots rolling off the green into the steep long grass I enjoyed the outing. A very good quality course with a reasonable green and cart fee structure. Thus an excellent golfing value. Oh and the club house was decent – had one of our favorite beers – Michelob Amber Bock – on tap.

After golfing we visited the Stone Cliff Winery’s Wine Bar and Pub located in the old Star Brewery building along the Dubuque Mississippi River Walk. Jo and I did their 5 wine sampler and our unanimous favorite was their Red Dawg variety. We bought a bottle to take home. In the same building down the hall is the winery’s production facility where they bottle the wine. Tours are available. I should also mention that the Wine Bar also has a number of excellent craft beers on tap. On the way home we stopped in Platteville, Wisconsin to sample the pizza at Steve’s Pizzeria a popular bar and pizza joint near the University of Wisconsin-Platteville campus. Nice atmosphere and a decent sampling of beers on tap. The pizza was OK but I think our pizza taste buds have been spoiled by the pizza places in Superior, Wisconsin – Shamrock, Thirsty Pagan, and Gronks.

–Till next time  — Roscoe

4 thoughts on “Traveling to Dubuque Iowa

  • Nancy Berger

    08-11-12 Found your travel notes on the mississippe river road. Great information. Glad I found it because in two weeks we will be going on that same trip. Thanks so much! This was very helpful.

  • I was looking for scenic routes in Wisconsin and I found your travel comments from last year. I’m planning a two day Corvette car club trip from the Chicagoland area to Praire du Chien and maybe LaCrosse. Any places we should not miss?

    • What might be fun is when you arrive in Prairie Du Chien, see the attractions there – like Villa Louis and Cabelas – then take the Great River Road (Hwy 35) north on the Wisconsin side to LaCrosse. Plan to stop in La Crosse at their riverfront park and nearby downtown area. Neat section of town. Then cross over the river to the Minnesota side to LaCrescent and take their river road (Hwy 26) south to Lansing. From Lansing to Effigy Mounds you’ll need to take county roads (they are paved). Effigy Mounds is worth a stop. Then on to McGregor, another neat town. This way you get to see both sides of the Mississippi between LaCrosse and Prairie du Chien. It’s too bad you can’t go further south and see the Potosi Brewery. Neat museum tour and they have great food (and brews of course).

      Actually I’d recommend a slightly different route. From Chicagoland go west to Fulton, IL then go north on the Illinois and Wisconsin Great River Roads, with stops at Galena, Dubuque, Potosi, Prairie Du Chien, then north as I recommended above.


  • I was looking for scenic routes in Wisconsin and I found your travel comments from last year. I’m planning a two day Corvette car club trip from the Chicagoland area to Praire du Chien and maybe LaCrosse. Any places we should not miss?

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