As we had a day to fill during our recent Iowa visit, we headed down southwest of Des Moines to see what we could see. While we were disappointed by the Bridges of Madison County, one thing that did not disappoint us was Winterset.
It is impossible to describe the Winterset, Iowa without using the term “charming.” I know, I tried. It had a beautiful town square surrounding the county courthouse. The slow traffic we encountered was caused by antique tractors. All our food contained corn – including the egg drop soup.
It is pretty easy to believe that ALL the Midwest small town stereotypes started right here in the town of Winterset.
One thing we were not expecting to encounter was Winterset City Park. It turned this cute small town into a magical good time! Having a 4 year old and a 6 year old means I’ve visited many small town city parks to try to burn off energy during car trips. They usually have large shady trees, a decent playground and room to run around.
But this park… this park was different.
It had a castle.
Well, a castle tower. But this castle tower was still awesome! You can climb the outdoors stairwell to enter the castle, then ascend a ladder to get to the top. There’s a pretty great view from Clark Tower, especially in the fall.
Now a castle would be enough to make it special, but Winterset City Park also had a hedge maze.
The goal of the maze was to get to the center to find a sundial. We spent a few minutes talking about the sundial, and had fun getting “lost” in the maze. Of note, it was a big drought year, so I think it might be even more impressive and lush in a regular year.
And for all you Bridges of Madison County buffs, there’s actually a bridge in the park. It was the busiest bridge we encountered on our visit, so if you are aiming for an empty photo shot you might want to visit during the week.