Welcome to Ottumwa, Iowa, a city steeped in history and surrounded by stunning natural beauty. Located in the heart of Wapello County, Ottumwa has been a hub of activity for over 150 years, with a rich cultural heritage that is still evident in its architecture, museums, and festivals. Whether you are interested in exploring local history, experiencing the great outdoors, or simply relaxing in the charming downtown area, Ottumwa has something to offer everyone.
If you’re a fan of history, be sure to visit the Wapello County Historical Museum. Housed in a beautiful neoclassical building that was once the county courthouse, the museum features exhibits on Ottumwa’s early days as a thriving river town, as well as displays on the area’s Native American heritage and the famous Ottumwa Coal Palace. For a closer look at Ottumwa’s industrial past, head to the nearby American Gothic House. This charming cottage was the backdrop for Grant Wood’s famous painting, and now serves as a museum that showcases the artist’s life and work.
Outdoor enthusiasts will love Ottumwa’s many parks and natural areas. The city is situated at the confluence of the Des Moines and Wapello Rivers, which provide ample opportunities for boating, fishing, and kayaking. Just a short drive away, you’ll find Lake Wapello State Park, a 1,150-acre oasis that is perfect for hiking, picnicking, and camping. The park’s crystal-clear lake is popular with swimmers and anglers, while the surrounding woodlands are home to a variety of wildlife.
No trip to Ottumwa would be complete without a visit to the downtown area. Here, you’ll find a lively mix of shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues, all set against a backdrop of historic architecture. Grab a bite to eat at one of Ottumwa’s many locally-owned eateries, like the famous Canteen Lunch in the Alley or the classic Italian spot, The Vine. Then, catch a show at the historic Bridge View Center, which hosts everything from concerts and comedians to Broadway productions and dance performances.
Whether you’re a history buff, outdoor adventurer, or simply looking for a charming small-town experience, Ottumwa, Iowa is the perfect destination. Come see for yourself why this hidden gem in the heart of the Midwest should be on every traveler’s bucket list.