Southern Iowa Gateway Welcome Center

Last Updated on December 4, 2016 by Jody Halsted

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.

Southern Iowa Amish Country Store and Welcome Center
Southern Iowa Amish Country Store and 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.

Inside the Amish and Iowa General Store and Visitor's Center
Inside the Amish and Iowa General Store and Visitor's Center

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.

Maid Rite Restaurant
Maid Rite

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…

Fast Facts:

Open daily 8am – 8pm

Handicapped accessible

A restored one room school house and antique farm machinery make this a fun- and educational- stop with the family.


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  1. I love the Welcome Center that I see when I come down from MN, so this would be fabulous! I love that they building looks like a barn…it just makes me smile everytime.

    I love me some Maid Rites…so good. Since my husband is an Iowa Boy he introduced me to those long long ago.

  2. This is a great store. They have a wide selection of Amish Crafts & food, plus great interior pieces. Also, during the summer months there is a Amish Produce Auction that takes place 2 to 3 times per week. This is a very memorable experience. The Amish in town are very friendly, but do come from a very strict order, so they don’t appreciate pictures of their face. Down the road, towards Davis City, IA, and one mile from this store there is a Amish Furniture Store.

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