Fort Madison, Iowa, is a charming city located along the banks of the Mississippi River. With its rich history, scenic beauty, and vibrant community, there is no shortage of activities to enjoy in this delightful town. Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or someone looking for a relaxing getaway, Fort Madison has something for everyone. In this article, we’ll explore the top things to do in Fort Madison, Iowa, to make the most of your visit.
1. Visit the Historic Old Fort Madison
Start your journey by stepping back in time and exploring the Historic Old Fort Madison. Constructed in the early 1800s, it is one of the oldest military outposts in the United States. This reconstructed fort provides a glimpse into the past, showcasing the life and challenges of early settlers and soldiers. Guided tours, reenactments, and interactive exhibits make it a fascinating experience for history enthusiasts.
2. Stroll along Riverview Park
Take a leisurely stroll along Riverview Park, a scenic green space nestled along the riverfront. Enjoy the picturesque views of the Mississippi River, and don’t forget to pack a picnic to savor in the peaceful surroundings. The park also features walking trails, playgrounds, and well-maintained gardens, making it an ideal spot for a family outing or a romantic evening.
3. Discover the Sheaffer Pen Museum
For those intrigued by craftsmanship and innovation, a visit to the Sheaffer Pen Museum is a must. Fort Madison was once home to the Sheaffer Pen Company, known for its high-quality writing instruments. The museum showcases the history of the company, displays vintage pens, and offers insights into the art of pen-making.
4. Explore the Santa Fe Swing Span Bridge
Architecture and engineering enthusiasts will be delighted by the Santa Fe Swing Span Bridge. This historical bridge, also known as the Fort Madison Toll Bridge, was constructed in the early 20th century and played a significant role in transportation. Today, it stands as a symbol of the city’s industrial heritage and offers stunning views of the river.
5. Immerse in Nature at Fort Madison State Park
Escape into the wilderness at Fort Madison State Park, located just outside the city. Hiking, birdwatching, fishing, and camping are popular activities in this serene natural area. The park’s diverse flora and fauna make it a paradise for nature lovers and a perfect spot for a day of outdoor adventures.
6. Attend the Tri-State Rodeo
If you happen to visit Fort Madison in early September, don’t miss the excitement of the Tri-State Rodeo. This annual event attracts rodeo enthusiasts from far and wide to witness thrilling rodeo competitions, live music, carnival rides, and delicious fair food. It’s a fun-filled experience for the whole family.
7. Relish the Wine Experience at the Catfish Bend Winery
Wine connoisseurs and novices alike will appreciate the Catfish Bend Winery, situated just a short drive from Fort Madison. Take a tour of the winery, learn about the winemaking process, and indulge in a tasting session of their finest wines. The serene vineyard setting adds to the overall charm of the experience.
8. Step into Art at the Art Center of Burlington
For art enthusiasts, a visit to the Art Center of Burlington will be a delightful treat. This cultural hub hosts rotating art exhibits, workshops, and performances that showcase the creativity and talent of local and regional artists. Embrace the artistic spirit and gain inspiration from various art forms.
9. Golfing at the Sheaffer Memorial Golf Course
Golfers can perfect their swing at the Sheaffer Memorial Golf Course. This scenic 18-hole course offers challenges and enjoyment for golfers of all levels. Surrounded by lush landscapes and scenic views, it provides a relaxing and enjoyable golfing experience.
10. Discover the Lee County Historical Society
Get a deeper understanding of the region’s history and heritage by visiting the Lee County Historical Society. This historical treasure trove houses artifacts, documents, and photographs that chronicle the growth and evolution of the area. Learn about the pioneers who shaped Fort Madison into the thriving community it is today.
11. Take a Riverboat Cruise
Experience the magic of the Mississippi River with a riverboat cruise. Step aboard an authentic paddlewheel boat and sail the waters while taking in the picturesque scenery. Some cruises even offer live entertainment and dining options, making it a delightful way to spend an afternoon or evening.
12. Enjoy Live Performances at the Grand Theatre
Catch a show or movie at the historic Grand Theatre, a cultural gem in Fort Madison. This beautifully restored theater regularly hosts live performances, movie screenings, and other entertainment events. Immerse yourself in the arts and support local talents during your visit.
13. Delight in Local Cuisine
No visit to Fort Madison is complete without savoring the local cuisine. Explore the city’s eateries and restaurants that offer a variety of delicious dishes, including traditional American fare, barbecues, and mouthwatering seafood. Treat your taste buds to the flavors of the region.
14. Participate in Fort Madison’s Annual Events
Plan your trip to coincide with one of Fort Madison’s exciting annual events. From festivals celebrating music, food, and culture to holiday parades and community gatherings, there’s always something happening in this lively town.