When I was still deciding on where I wanted to go to college, I decided to take a tour of UIowa. While I’d always liked Iowa, I had never seen the campus, so I didn’t have a very good understanding of what school would be like there. After visiting, however, I realized that part of what makes the University of Iowa so great is Iowa City itself.
Iowa City consistently ranks as one of the best college towns in the country, and for good reason. It is the perfect balance of city and town and is connected to the campus, so it’s only a short walk from your dorm. In this post, I’ll rank my top 5 places in Iowa City that made me fall in love with the city (I’ll leave out my favorite places on campus – that could be a whole different post on its own).
#5: Target – I know this may sound like a boring one to start off with, but the Target in downtown Iowa City is amazing. I can’t even count how many times I’ve had to pick up something like hangers, Chapstick, notebooks, or laundry detergent and was so relieved that it was just a 5-minute walk to Target. The Target downtown is the perfect miniature size – it’s 2 stories tall and is just big enough to have pretty much everything you need, but not too big to get carried away (Pro tip: Make sure to get the Target app – for how much you’ll spend there as a student, you get a lot of deals and can earn a lot of loyalty points).
#4: Teemo – Teemo is a bubble tea shop right next to Target, which is directly across from the Pentacrest on campus. Boba is one of my favorite drinks, and Teemo is by far the best tea shop to grab some from in Iowa City. It’s also a nice place to go in and study, do homework, or just relax. They have a giant wall dedicated to sticky notes that customers can draw or write on and hang theirs up, which makes for something really entertaining to look at while you wait for your drink. Overall, it’s definitely worth checking out if you like Boba or any other kind of tea! (Side note: I think writing this entry has convinced me to go grab some Teemo tonight…)
#3: Insomnia Cookies – When I first heard about Insomnia, I didn’t really understand the concept. A cookie store that is open until 3 AM? Why would anybody need cookies that late? And then I got to college, and it completely made sense. There are plenty of nights that you’ll be up late, and maybe you haven’t eaten all day, or just want a reward for staying up late doing work, but all you can think about is downing some cookies. Not only is this place super convenient, but it has a great vibe and is on the same street as Target and Teemo, so it’s not a far walk at all from campus. Definitely check out Insomnia if you get a chance – their ice cream cookie sandwiches are addictive.
#2: The Iowa City Public Library – The Public Library is a place I hadn’t visited up until the start of the Spring semester, but I’ve gone back plenty of times since. I don’t know if it’s just the fact that I came from a really small town where the public library had about 7 shelves of books total, but this place blew me away. It’s multiple floors full of popular, up-to-date books, movies, and video games for you to check out as you please. The inside is full of decorations and rooms to sit down and study or read in a quiet space. There are also plenty of events that go on here, so it’s a place that is not worth missing.
#1: The Pedestrian Mall – The Ped Mall is maybe the most beautiful area of Iowa City. It’s a square right downtown that is full of trees, shade, fountains, art, and events. As you walk down the Ped Mall, you pass by some of my favorite places – a sushi place called Formosa, a theatre called Film Scene, the plant shop… There are plenty of events that go on in the ped mall, too; you can be sure to see dancers, Pride parades, musicians, and artists pretty much anytime the sun is out here. Unfortunately, it’s too cold now to spend much time in the Ped Mall, so I’m counting down the days until spring so I can hang out there again.