Uncovering the Hidden Gems of Fairfield, Iowa

Fairfield, Iowa, is a charming town with a unique vibe. Offering a blend of hidden gems with its arts, oddities, agriculture, and outdoor activities, it has something for everyone. Fairfield, a small town with a population of 10,000, stands out for its sustainability, uniqueness, and diverse experiences. Buzzfeed recognized it as the “coolest small town in America.” Fairfield is a city of culture, representing over 60 nationalities and cultures.

As for me, I enjoy visiting cows on farms, exploring corn mazes, sipping coffee, and gathering wildflowers in fields. These things are my “vibe,” since starting my blog, “Cornfields and High Heels,” I’ve embraced many agritourism opportunities and experiences. (Fun fact: I’ve only worn high heels in cornfields once, for a photo shoot, which was hilariously challenging).

During my visit to Fairfield with a group of travel writers from the Midwest Travel Network, I explored various destinations that resonated with my interests. I had the chance to meet dairy cows (and their babies!), visit a peony farm, indulge in local cuisine, and try pottery for the first time.

Disclaimer: Blog posts may contain affiliate links and ads. If you click on these links, I may earn a small commission. This helps keep the blog running and supports me – at no cost to you. If you have any questions, please read my disclaimer and privacy policy.  A special thanks to Visit Fairfield, Iowa, for hosting my trip. All opinions in this article are my own.

Here are some of my favorite things to do in Fairfield, Iowa: 

Unique Things to Do and Places to See

Carnegie Historical Museum: Located in Fairfield’s historic Carnegie Library, the Carnegie Historical Museum tells the story of Fairfield and Jefferson County’s history. As the first Carnegie Library west of the Mississippi, this museum is significant in history. Andrew Carnegie endowed and recognized it on the National Register of Historic Places. The Fairfield and Jefferson County exhibit is a local favorite, and the museum also showcases collections of Native American pottery, Civil War artifacts, Roman antiquities, and area memorabilia.

The Johnny Clock Museum: A remarkable legacy lives on at the Johnny Clock Museum. The late John McCain, a master craftsman, devoted over 100,000 hours to his passions: creating intricate clocks and carving exquisite woodwork. Attached to the McCain residence, which John built, the museum showcases his talents. Visitors can take guided tours led by Pat McCain, John’s wife, from May through August or by scheduling an appointment.

Fairfield’s Immersive Art Fun House: Tom Lassota’s immersive art fun house is a one-of-a-kind psychedelic two-story art experience accessible to the public on Saturdays. Before you visit, check the Facebook page for hours of operation. This place is an extraordinary and groovy experience that is not easily explained in words; it’s best experienced in person. Prepare to be amazed by this extraordinary and unique art house that will leave a lasting impression.

Radiance Dairy Farm: Radiance Dairy is a sustainable, organic, grass-based dairy farm with over 90 Jersey cows. To ensure the well-being of their cows, they are grazed on pastures twice a day. The dairy offers the public tours of their pastures, milkhouse, and creamery. Check their Facebook page for dates and times. Their products are sold at the local and Fairfield Farmer’s Market. Don’t forget to wear boots when visiting, as cow patties are guaranteed! My favorites were the calves and Jack, the friendly orange barn cat.

DMG Pottery Studio: At DMG Pottery Studio, they offer enjoyable, hands-on pottery-making classes. I was surprised to find how therapeutic “throwing” clay could be. Our knowledgeable and personable instructor, Jessi, guided six of us through our first pottery-making experience. While I can’t claim my creation (a vase or perhaps a bowl) is award-winning, its imperfections serve as a delightful memento of the laughter and fun we had in the class.

Getting outdoors in Fairfield

Abingdon Heirloom Peony Farm: Mark Sens’ flower farm blooms in full glory for three weeks every spring. Visitors can explore the farm, take beautiful photos, and pick fresh peonies for just $1 per stem (that’s a great deal!).

Downtown Square: Situated in the heart of the city, Downtown Square offers a charming gazebo and lush green space. Various local businesses and restaurants surround the park, providing convenient access to shopping, dining, and entertainment. Additionally, the square hosts the bustling Farmer’s Market.

Fairfield Loop: Explore a network of parks and trails in Fairfield on foot or by bike. The Fairfield Loop, a 16-mile loop, encircles the town and offers an outdoor nature adventure.

Fairfield Farmer’s Market: Open from May to October, the Fairfield Farmer’s Market offers homegrown and locally sourced products from Jefferson County.

Fairfield Farmer’s Market

Bonnifield Cabin: Dating back to 1838, the Bonnifield Cabin, constructed by Rhodham Bonnifield and his sons, held the distinction of serving as the unofficial Methodist church. Located in Bonnifield Park, this two-story log cabin is Iowa’s oldest of its kind!

Places to Eat in Fairfield

Bountiful Bakery: A delightful bakery and coffee shop that bakes fresh organic goods daily. They use local flour, butter, farm-fresh dairy, and eggs. Their croissants and pastries are delicious, with some even featuring a yummy “stuffed” option.

Fishback and Stephenson Cider House: Nestled in scenic countryside, Fishback and Stephenson Cider House is renowned for its award-winning hard ciders. This inviting taproom and restaurant has stunning views from indoor and outdoor seating areas. Indulge in a cider flight, savor dishes from the rotating food truck or pop-up kitchen, and immerse yourself in live music.

Due South: Of all the restaurants we visited, my favorite was Due South, which serves American Southern cuisine with Japanese, Vietnamese, and Thai influences. I had difficulty deciding between their ramen and burger but eventually settled on the Due South Smashburger. Its kimchi and black garlic aioli won me over. They also have a Sunday brunch that I would love to try.

Taco Dreams: While Taco Dreams is renowned for its elevated street tacos, its breakfast and coffee offerings are noteworthy. I had the pleasure of trying their Oat Lavender Latte, which is one of the best I’ve had. Located in The Collective Building, once an office complex, the building has been transformed into a bustling community hub, housing various local food businesses and commercial kitchens.

Veraison Wine Bar: Veraison, a charming European-style wine bar and cafe, stands out with its organic food menu featuring artisan bread from local sources. My must-try recommendations include the charcuterie boards, the burrata and tomato sandwich, and their refreshing mocktails. The atmosphere at Veraison is bright, clean, and visually appealing, complete with a delightful outdoor seating area.

Where to Stay in Fairfield

One lodging option in Fairfield is the AmericInn Hotel & Suites. We stayed at this hotel, which offered comfortable and sizable rooms. I particularly liked the spacious bathroom, which was convenient for getting ready daily. The property features an indoor swimming pool, complimentary parking, and continental breakfast.

Additional Places I’m Adding to My Fairfield Bucket List:
  • Elm Grove School House: One of only 400 remaining one-room schools in Iowa, built amidst many elm trees, hence its name. Open to the public during the Greater Jefferson County Fair.
  • Maasdam Barns: From 1910 to 1938, these barns were home to award-winning draft horses and were pioneers in agricultural machinery, utilizing the Louden monorail system.
  • Swinging Bridge: Located in Jefferson County Park, this bridge offers visitors a unique and scenic experience.
More Iowa Things To Do:
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