Exit 4 on Interstate 35 is the last exit as you leave Iowa heading south. Which, of course, makes it the first exit as you drive north into Iowa. No matter which way you are driving, pull off the interstate at Exit 4 and wander in to the Southern Iowa Gateway Welcome Center.
The Welcome Center and General Store were actually acquired by Graceland University, located in Lamoni, a few years ago. Under their management it has become a roadtrippers destination stop on I-35.
The Amish and Iowa General Store features Amish made baskets, kitchen items, hand made rag rugs, toys and foods. You’ll not find better quality anywhere. On the base of the basket you will often find the name of the family who hand wove it. Hand made quilts are also displayed for sale. If you stop on a Thursday you could see the Mites Society (Iowa’s oldest quilters guild) demonstrate the art of quilting- by hand.
Of course you’ll find all the necessary “visitor’s center” items- Iowa destinations, maps, and books nestled in a cozy nook with a pot of fresh coffee.
Adjoining the store is an Iowa icon: Maid Rite. If you’ve not had one of their sandwiches know this: a true Maid Rite is served with onions, pickles and mustard. Never ketchup. Of course there are other options… Though the only good reason for not eating a Maid Rite is because you’re 3 and a corndog is your idea of gourmet dining.
Sit at the counter or in a red vinyl booth. Browse the baskets, chairs and wooden toys while you wait for your meal. And after you’re done eating make sure you grab a bag of red ropes for your drive… And maybe some fresh cheese curds… Roasted nuts… And that super cute wooden piggy bank…
Open daily 8am – 8pm
A restored one room school house and antique farm machinery make this a fun- and educational- stop with the family.