Clinton has always held a special place in my heart. I was born there (long ago). And although my family left the area when I was just a few years old, I grew up hearing stories about my earliest adventures in Iowa’s eastern-most community.
So I welcomed the chance to make a return visit recently and explore what’s new in the many years since my last stop. You should put Clinton on your must-visit list, too. Located on the shored of the Mississippi – at the river’s widest spot – Clinton blends historical charm with new destinations that tell the story of the city’s colorful past and progressive future.
Let’s start with the past. Around the turn of the last century, the lumber industry created about 25 millionaires in Clinton. Celebrate that history at the Sawmill Museum where you can enjoy an extensive collection of lumber memorabilia, experience life in a real lumber camp and watch a working mill. Timber!
Next, head for the George M. Curtis Mansion. This restored Victorian lumber baron’s home is a stunning example of period architecture with original Tiffany glass windows, delicately carved banisters, ornate wood trim and massive fireplaces.
History lovers should also check out Clinton’s Historical Society Museum that showcase the area’s rich lumber history but also houses a vast collection of artifacts that illustrate the area’s growth, famous residents and important events.
Now to the present. Two fairly new destinations welcome fun-lovers and adventure-seekers.
Just a couple of years old, the Mississippi River Eco Tourism Center is still completing its collection of exhibits that celebrate the many species that live along the river. When it warms up a bit, hop aboard a canoe or kayak to enjoy the quiet backwater of the Mississippi. Or get aboard the Blue Heron pontoon boat for a guided tour of the tranquil area.
You can’t help but smile at the Children’s Discovery Center where the world of Clinton native and famous “King of Clowns” Felix Adler comes to life. Interactive exhibits and education displays entertain kids of all ages.
Did I mention that Clinton’s also home to professional baseball, an orchestra, a ballet company, a theater company that performs in an historic paddle wheeler, miles of trails and several scenic river-hugging parks? No? Then it’s time to get to Clinton to explore these places for yourself. But take an overnight bag. There’s more to do here than you can fit into one day!
Shawna Lode | Iowa Tourism Office Manager