Eastern Iowa Town is the Perfect Fall Day Trip
It's the time of year where the trees change, making for beautiful scenery in our state, especially those areas that have the backdrop of the might Mississippi River.
Along the river, halfway between Clinton and Dubuque is a town of only 2,100 that holds an unbelievable experience if you're looking to see some foliage, called Bellevue.
Driving from the Quad Cities will run you along the Grant Wood Scenic Byway, taking you through the beautiful Iowa farmland that makes our state so unique. Along the hills, and twists and turns in the road, you'll begin to notice the bluffs beginning to become more prominent as you drive.
Once you arrive in Bellevue, you'll be hit with the classic Iowa river town feel that could be the setting of an upcoming Hallmark Christmas Movie. Older buildings with beautiful designs, churches with huge steeples, and of course, a beautiful riverside road that runs along the river, only interrupted periodically by an occasional restaurant or brewery.
Your first stop in the town, should really be at the Bellevue State Park.
The entrance to the park immediately turns to an incline, which climbs you a hundred feet or more above the town, through thick trees that shine with that iconic fall leaf yellow.
At the peak of the park, is a roundabout with a lookout over the town of Bellevue, which from that angle, looks so perfect it could be a model train layout. The train tracks run through the middle of the town, but with all of the little trees, you can see the color of town.
On the right side of your view is the road you came to the park on, along with the river with Lock and Dam No. 12.
Grab Lunch (And Some Pie, Of Course)
When you leave the park, you have to stop at Richman's Café. A classic diner complete with a counter, this place serves up great food at more than reasonable prices, and friendly service.
Other than going to one of the last Maid Rite locations, this might be one of the last places you can go and get a loose meat sandwich. Richman's Ready Mades are an awesome throwback to easier times.
And the price? You'll leave their stuffed, with a couple bucks left in your pocket. Our group ordered two drinks, two slices of pie, and two sandwich baskets, but the bill was still under $20.
While you're there, hopefully you'll meet Donnie, the previous owner whose daughter now runs the restaurant. He told us the diner opened in the 1950's, but he and his wife took it over in the late 1970's. On top of owning a restaurant, Donnie drove a fuel truck, opened a car wash, and all the while taking care of nine kids.
Another Great View
The kindest guy you'll meet all year will then tell you the next place to check out the river views of the town.
"Go back down the road towards the carwash, and hang a right a block before The Car Wash. Then you'll follow the road until you start to go up to the right, up a hill that goes up like this," he told us, as he showed the steep incline with his hand. By the way, the car wash in Bellevue, is called 'The Car Wash.'
Donnie's directions took us to an upcoming neighborhood that's in development on River Ridge Drive, sitting on top of the hill overlooking the town from the opposite end of the State Park. Pictures don't do justice of the view from the top, but I got the best I could.