Admire the fall foliage on a road trip through eastern Iowa
Day 2: Iowa City to Dubuque (149 miles)
Travel north 16.5 miles on State Route 1 to Lake Macbride State Park. In the fall, the calm waters of the lake provide a perfect mirror for the maples, oaks and willows that ring its shore in hues of bronze, crimson and violet. The tiered Macbride Falls become even more photogenic as poplars and walnut trees outline the waterfalls in gold (the rush of water provides a soothing soundtrack for the visually impaired). Reach the falls via a short paved walk across the weir from the park campground, or hike the moderately challenging 2.1-mile loop from Macbride Nature and Recreation Area.
Continue 81 miles east to Clinton via the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway, which follows and sometimes follows US Highway 30 through corn and soybean fields, hickory and maple forests, and towns farms founded in the 1830s and 1840s. In DeWitt, in a barn built in 1727, the German Hausbarn Museum documents the daily life of Schleswig-Holstein German immigrants to the region.
In Clinton’s Riverview Park, bordering the Mississippi, houseboats, riverboats, and tugboats navigate the locks that facilitate ship traffic. Rippling water and the hum of boats create an entertaining scene, even for the visually impaired. At nearby Eagle Point Park, experience the mighty river at its widest point. For the best view, climb the two flights of stairs to the park’s Stone Lookout Tower.
Turning north along the Mississippi, take U.S. Routes 67 and 52 to Bellevue for more river views along an accessible walkway or to Bellevue State Park, which offers views on steep limestone cliffs.
Continuing on Route 52, you’ll pass through so many other towns founded by German-speaking immigrants that the area is sometimes referred to as Little Switzerland. For example, stonemasons from Luxembourg settled in Saint-Donat (10 miles north of Bellevue) in the 1840s, and their descendants still make up most of the population of over 100. For a late lunch, head to Restaurant Kalmes, where fourth-generation family members serve Luxembourgish ground beef and rich chocolate cake, just as founding grandfather Peter Kalmes did in the 1960s. 1850.
In Dubuque, 14 miles away, learn about wildlife from the Mississippi and other American river systems at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, a partnership with the Smithsonian Institution. You will also see alligators, pythons and other exotic animals.
Where to stay: A 1913 Beaux-Arts building on Main Street houses the elegant 133-room Hotel Julien Dubuque, with rates exceeding $200. The hotel’s commitment to accessibility includes wheelchairs available upon request, closed-captioned televisions, and Braille panels.