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24 Hours in Grinnell, Iowa

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Last Updated on October 10, 2023 by Leah Hall

Spend 24 hours with us in Grinnell, Iowa seeing what we saw, drank and ate at Grinnell, Iowa restaurants, Hotel Grinnell, Grinnell College and art gallery, too! Can’t wait to share with you!


Have you ever been to Grinnell, Iowa? If not, you need to put this on your list to visit! Located an hour east of Des Moines, Grinnell is the perfect small town that is a great foodie destination with many things to do and see in town, plus many more just a short drive away! It’s also an hour west of Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, making it a great central location in Iowa. Let us show you what we did there in 24 hours!


If you want to reserve your own trip to Hotel Grinnell and Grinnell, Iowa, click here!

Green Cupula or turret on tan block building in Grinnell, Iowa

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Outside of art deco bank in Grinnell, Iowa

We arrived in Ginnell after a short 3 hour drive from Omaha. Being that 99% of the drive is by interstate for us, this is easy and Grinnell would make for a great weekend getaway for folks from Omaha, but this is especially true for people from Des Moines! A perfect location with a lot of great food and a top notch hotel, Grinnell, Iowa is known as the “Jewel of the Prairie”!

Outside of tan block Hotel Grinnell in Grinnell, Iowa

We had a private tour of Hotel Grinnell with the owner, Angela Harrington. Hotel Grinnell is contemporary boutique hotel with 45 rooms, a mix of 42 standard and Premium rooms, 2 bunk rooms, and a Penthouse Suite. The history of the Hotel Grinnell is rich and oh so interesting! 

Outside shot of Hotel Grinnell during the day. G on tan brick building, orange tile trim

Currently, Small is the New Big, as travel in the Midwest is amping up as people are not able to travel much overseas and are discovering the US more with traveling by car!  Full of authentic charm, Grinnell is the perfect stopping point.

Tan block building - Hotel Grinnell in Grinnell, Iowa

Hotel Grinnell

The building that Hotel Grinnell is in was built in 1921 as the junior high school for the town of Grinnell. It closed in 1978 and became office space for the city. It was rarely used and deteriorated until Angela bought it in 2012 and turned it into a great luxury boutique hotel and event space! They opened in 2017.

Inside picture of theater at Hotel Grinnell in Grinnell, Iowa Entryway at Hotel Grinnell, blue couch, artwork and lamps Hotel Room at Hotel Grinnell, wood floors, big windows Sink in Hotel Room at Hotel Grinnell Bathroom at Hotel Grinnell, black and white tile, wood floors

During the restoration attention was placed on keeping as much of the original touches of the school. The maple floors were kept and refinished, but still shows wear and scratches from desks and chairs. The ballroom, which was the gym, still has the basketball court markings which makes the gym feeling so fun!

Looking down hallway at ballroom and bikes at hotel Grinnell in Grinnell, Iowa

Pad of Paper and 'report card' for Hotel Grinnell in Grinnell, Iowa

School terms abound in things such as the Report Card (review cards), Hall Pass (Room Key), Men’s tie (do not disturb sign). There is a chalkboard in every room – and they encourage you to write a note to them on it, too! Also, the Periodic Table, the onsite restaurant and bar is themed with drinks and food! There’s access to bikes for guest use too, since the town is walkable, makes it bikeable, so this is a great option.

Blackboard with note written on it Black tie with words NOT NOW on it hanging on black door Hotel Room at Hotel Grinnell, metal 4 poster Hotel room at Hotel Grinnell in Grinnell, Iowa

One of the most unique touches in the hotel is the artwork. Angela found all 300 pieces of artwork, and none of them are duplicated.

man at the bottom of stairs

The Penthouse Suite is also very unique, it used to be the dressing room for the theater, located above the theater. The entrance to the suite is on the third floor, and there is a great extra space that they added with a wall of mirrors and a beauty chair – this is the perfect place for a bride to get ready!

Bathtub and sinks in room with black and white check tile floor Bathroom in Penthouse suite at Hotel Grinnell, black and white check floor Sitting area in Penthouse suite of Hotel Grinnell, blue couch and gray chair 4 poster bed in Penthouse suite at Hotel Grinnell Sitting area of blue couch, gray chairs and bed in background at hotel Grinnell in Grinnell, Iowa

The rest of the suite is up some steep stairs (I can’t imagine doing them in a theater costume!), and the room has a large bed, sitting area and dining table. This space also has a bathroom with tub and shower. A beautiful and fun set up for sure, it’s a unique room!

Periodic Table

The Periodic Table is a great onsite restaurant that serves free breakfast for guests in the mornings, as well as lunch and dinner. Cocktails, wine and beer are available during regular hours.

picture of outside of Periodic table at Hotel Grinnell during the day Outside of Periodic Table in Grinnell, Iowa

Periodic Table is NOT just for hotel guests, the Periodic Table is open for all, and we encourage you to go! Between the great, flavorful food choices and the fun themed cocktails, (and classics), you will find something tasty and wonderful to enjoy. The menu offers fun flatbread pizzas and street tacos – we tried the Korean Beef and Bahn Mi Spicy Tacos. They were on point and full of flavor. There are some great shared plates like charcuterie or fondue, as well as desserts.

Tacos in stand on black/white check paper tacos in stand on black and white check paper 

Tacos in holders on black and white check paper on wood table

The Cocktails are delicious, with classics or twists on classics that have fun School Themed names like: Lab Partner, New Kid and Team Captain. It’s another nod to the school theme found all over the old junior high.

orange cocktail on table, fire behind at Hotel Grinnell Red bloody mary cocktail on white marble table, black and white check floor behind Yellow cocktail on table, fire in background

Hand holding orange cocktail in front of scoreboard and blue couch

All signature cocktails on the Periodic Table’s menu can be made as a mocktail, or you can boozify them with suggested alcohols. Great for those who aren’t imbibing, and can still feel like the cool kid!

Inside of Periodic Table bar at Hotel Grinnell, black and white check floors, tables and sofas, bar stools

The Periodic Table also has a fabulous (and huge!) patio with fire pits and tons of tables and chairs to enjoy some time outside. Feel free to just hang out here for a time and enjoy the fire pits, if it’s chilly, or a lovely evening if it isn’t.

High picture of patio at Periodic Table at Hotel Grinnell

Solera Wine Bar

Solera Wine Bar is located a block from Hotel Grinnell and has a great selection of over 150 wines and beers. Colleen Klainert is the owner and operator and it was fun to meet her. We also enjoyed a pizza from her extensive pizza list. We picked a fall themed pizza that just sounded so tasty – pumpkin butter, blue cheese and candied walnuts. It was to die for, and went perfectly with our zinfandel from Alexander Valley in California.

Solera Wine Bar in Grinnell, Iowa

The wine selection was vast and we saw a lot from California, Washington and Oregon, as well as Italy and France. Beers encompassed everything from Brown Ales, Lagers, Stouts, IPAs, Belgians and Domestics.

Pizza on silver tray lined with paper, wine glass and wine bottle behind at Solera wine bar Pizza on tray, wine glasses and bottle behind

We thoroughly enjoyed or visit to Solera and think you will too! Sit at the bar, your own table or the patio outside!

Grinnell Craft Brewhouse

There are a lot of great beer options at Grinnell Craft Brewhouse! Serving brews from all over Iowa, there are many flavor selections to be had: IPAs, stouts, even seltzers and hard ciders!

outside of Grinnell Craft Brewhouse in Grinnell, Iowa

Jay ordered a German Chocolate Stout and I ordered the delicious Apple Pie Cider. These were great sips and we tried a few others, as well as taking a growler of 13.5% Cat Dragon ginger beer home to make cocktails with!

Stout Beer and Cider in glasses on bar, taps behind in Grinnell, Iowa

After our sips we headed over to the Prairie Canary for dinner!


Prairie Canary Restaurant

The Prairie Canary was a super cute restaurant with wood floors and tin ceilings and super great local comfort food! They locally source as much as possible, and the beef and pork are from Iowa.

Outside of Prairie Canary restaurant in Grinnell, Iowa, yellow metal tables and chairs

We started our meal off with Truffle Fries and a couple cocktails! Jay drank the Boozy Canary with bourbon, cognac, Grand Marnier, aperol, orange juice, orange bitters, and egg white. I ordered the Fig Get About It with rye, sweet vermouth and fig syrup.

Fries with mayo in ramekin and large bowl on wood table, orange flowers in background

Jay ordered the Iowa chop with mashed potatoes and asparagus, it was well cooked and so flavorful. I ordered their chicken salad with feta, fresh greens and avocado. The vinaigrette the salad was tossed in was fresh and light.

Top shot of our dinner at Prairie Canary in Grinnell, Iowa

We also added on the soup special of the day which was pizza soup. It was spicy as well as rich, topped with cheese like French Onion soup. We enjoyed this fun twist.

Cocktails at Prairie Canary in Grinnell, Iowa

Unfortunately we didn’t have room for dessert, although they sounded delicious, and we will make a point to try some at our next visit!

Grin City Bakery

The next morning we headed over to Grin City Bakery for a pastry or two, and it was hard to pick what to try! Between the blueberry fritter bread (Jay’s choice) and the coney (for me), filled with buttercream and topped with vanilla frosting, the donuts were fresh and light and a must try if you are visiting! Of course the smells alone were worth the visit!

Outside shot of brick building with Grin City Bakery in Grinnell, Iowa

Each pastry is hand rolled, formed and measured as well, so make sure to stop to get a donut, cookie, cinnamon or pecan roll, or their fun sausage kolaches.

tray of blueberry fritter bread in Grinnell, Iowa picture of case full of donuts and pastries in Grinnell, Iowa

Saints Rest Coffeehouse

Saints Rest was a lovely and homey coffeehouse with comfy couches, lots of tables and chairs, likewise it just felt comfortable and like it belonged in a small city. There were people greeting each other, and a lot of older folks bringing in their own coffee cups for morning sips!

Inside shot of Saints Rest Coffeehouse in Grinnell, Iowa

We ate our pastries here while enjoying our coffee! Jay got a mocha, and I ordered the Smash’n Pumpkin – with pumpkin, vanilla and hazelnut syrups. Autumn in my coffee cup that morning, and I enjoyed it a lot!

white mugs of coffee and pastry and box in Grinnell, Iowa Blackboard behind glass containers of pastries at Stains Rest Coffeehouse in Grinnell, Iowa

They also offer fresh pastries that change often, and fresh herbal teas and coffee. Open since 1999, it’s the place to be in the mornings in Grinnell, Iowa for sure!

outside picture of Saints Rest Coffee house in Grinnell, Iowa, striped green awning on tan block bulding

Grinnell College

Twice in the 24 hours in Grinnell, Iowa, we went over to Grinnell College for 2 different tours. First we headed over to the Grinnell College Museum of Art’s Faulconer Gallery to see a great current display of Queer/Dialogue all from Queer artists. It was a colorful show – paintings, photos, sculpture, textile and film. It is currently on display until December 12. Masks are required on campus, by the way.

Lady looking at artwork in Grinnell, Iowa Back of woman looking at colorful artwork

The Grinnell College Museum of Art changes out their displays up to 3 times a year – once per each semester, and one over the summer, so the artwork is always changing and are a great stopping point on any visit to Grinnell. They have over 5000 art pieces in their art collection that they can change out pieces in their exhibitions!

Tall brick building at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa

Grinnell College Tour

Grinnell College was established in 1846 and is a private, coed liberal college with about 1700 students. Social responsibility, cultural awareness and mutual respect are core tenants. The campus student body is diverse. Inspired by this, we met up with the college executive chef, Scott Turley.

Modern building on Grinnell College campus Grinnell College sign, building behind

Scott led us on a tour of their food operations for the campus, feeding students every day, and doing conferences, events and camps during the year, too. It’s quite the operation, and we enjoyed seeing the processes involved in keeping food fresh and flavorful all the time, while offering diverse and specific diet and allergy friendly meals to all students and visitors.

Pizza station at Grinnell College

The dining hall gives access to all kinds of foods – grill station, pizza oven, soups, international flavors, vegan options, and gluten free options. They also make sure to keep those allergy options such as gluten free or nuts away from other food offerings so that there is less risk of getting sick, as well.

Building on Grinnell College Campus

Outside of Hotel Grinnell at night in Grinnell, Iowa

Things to Do In Grinnell, Iowa

Other than being a great foodie destination with some great restaurants and fun places to get a drink, there are a lot of other things to do in Grinnell!

Bar with black and white tile floor, tables and bar stools

Grinnell, Iowa Restaurants

Here are some great choices that we didn’t talk about here in the article!

  • Dari Barn Grinnell: a great ice cream shop, open during the summer season
  • Hometown Heroes: sports bar with a great bar menu
  • Jay’s Deli: sandwiches, soups and salads
  • Pagliai’s Pizza: Pizza and Pasta
  • Relish: Local food, Global flavors: great offerings with international flavors
  • Maria’s: 831 West St.

Mural on brick building in Grinnell, Iowa

Hotel Grinnell Location

925 Park St, Grinnell, Iowa 5011


Things To Do A Little Farther Away from Grinnell, Iowa

We picked some fun things that are within 20 miles from Grinnell as well, if you are looking to keep Hotel Grinnell as your home base for a weekend!


Hope after all this info you put Grinnell, Iowa on your must visit list! And make your own trip plans to Grinnell! Cheers!


Make sure to check out their sister property, The Highlander Hotel in Iowa City, Iowa!


Check out our other 24 hour itinerary in Kansas City! Or, if you are headed north to Minneapolis, stay at Hotel Alma! Or McHenry County Craft Beverage Trail in Illinois.


Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and tag #gastronomcocktails so we can see all the wonderful recipes YOU recreate from this site!


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Like this post? Try these below, too!

Lineup of Beers to taste at Wise I Brewery in Le Mars, Iowa for the Iowa Brewery Tour and the Iowa Beer PassportIowa Brewery Tour


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Wednesday 24th of November 2021

All of that and you didn’t go to pagliais????? Staple of Grinnell.

The Noms

Wednesday 24th of November 2021

So we have heard! Our time was planned out there, not by us, but unfortunately we missed out! We will definitely go the next time we visit!

Sri Rejeki

Sunday 31st of October 2021

Really exited to read this article…thankyou so much. Hope can visit Iowa next year for attending our son graduation @Grinnell

The Noms

Sunday 31st of October 2021

That's great! Hope it was helpful for when you travel there!


Tuesday 26th of October 2021

Thanks for visiting Grinnell, Iowa. Next time, may I suggest you visit Koru Berry Farm, Homestead, Iowa. You're sure to be impressed by the Aronia Berry patch, Venue, and most importantly, the owners!

The Noms

Tuesday 26th of October 2021

Hi Sheryl, We will definitely add this to our list for next time! Thanks for reading!

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