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World's Largest Town Square: Centerville
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World's Largest Town Square: Centerville

A quaint little town located about an hour east of I-35 in southern Iowa, Centerville is home to the World's Largest Town Square and a collection of charming restaurants and gift shops, each decked out for the fast-approaching holiday season. Armed with my own gift list, I recently spent a warm fall day exploring this historic community, eager to experience the pleasant hospitality that’s synonymous with Iowa’s small towns.

I started the day with a delicious lunch of broccoli and cheese soup at Tangleberries, a quaint cafe that adjoins an equally cute gift shop and tempts visitors with the most delicious fudge. Made on-site, fresh ingredients translate to a silky smooth, melt-in-your mouth morsel. Hours later, on my way out of town, I was still reminiscing about the fudge and wished I had more. From Iowa wines to budget-friendly home decor and children's gifts, Tangleberries is a one-stop shop for delicious dining and one-of-a-kind shopping. 

As I made my way around the bustling downtown square, full of local and distant license plates, I explored the cozy shops along the streets. I wandered into Gypsy Quarter, an eclectic women's clothing boutique and fun home and seasonal décor store. Shoppers could spend an hour or two here, just browsing the cute arrangement of clothing and jewelry that adorns the racks. Strolling into the next store retailer, I was transported back in time, as antique soda bottles, vintage road signs and re-purposed furniture tempted my wallet. Centerville boasts several antique and primitive stores along the square that you might not find in a busy suburban strip mall. 

An old favorite of Centerville, but in a new location on the square, George and Nick's Pizza is the locals’ choice for dinner out. Residents I talked to said this joint places the perfect amount of toppings on a tender crust. George and Nick’s isn’t open for lunch, so I’ll look forward to trying it out with my family on another visit. 

Just up the street is Morgan's Ice Cream Parlor and Candy Confectionery, a Centerville icon. Resident Morgan Cline opened the funky establishment to honor and celebrate the history of his hometown. Fun fact: At the height of the soda fountain craze, four soda fountains dotted Centerville’s square!  Walking into Morgan’s is like taking a step back into the 1940s where visitors can enjoy ice-cream, phosphates, coffee and just about any type of sugary concoction you can imagine. Old-fashioned candy such as three-color coconut slices makes this place a can’t-miss for the young and the young-at-heart.

My last stop is Centerville was the unique Shoppes at Bradley Hall. Located inside a building constructed 1909 as the home for a wealthy local family, the building showcases 22 rooms and 10,000 square-feet of French-inspired architecture and gorgeous woodwork. Since the family left the home, it has served as a nursing home, classrooms for elementary and college students, and administrative offices for the Centerville School District. In 1998 Morgan Cline (the same Morgan Cline as in soda fountain fame!) bought the property and restored it to its original glory. Morgan's dream was to preserve the home indefinitely and for the enjoyment of locals and visitors alike. Multiple vendors have taken up residence here and showcase their treasures for purchase. In one room you may find purses, scarves and wine glasses, or antiques, glass or inspirational books in another. It’s hard to believe that anyone could walk out of The Shoppes at Bradley Hall empty-handed. For that matter, I’m not sure any could leave Centerville without a trunk full of treasures and a heart full of warm, holiday memories. Make Centerville your holiday shopping destination. 

As I made my way around the bustling downtown square, full of local and distant license plates, I explored the cozy shops along the streets. I wandered into Gypsy Quarter, an eclectic women's clothing boutique and fun home and seasonal décor store. Shoppers could spend an hour or two here, just browsing the cute arrangement of clothing and jewelry that adorns the racks. Strolling into the next store retailer, I was transported back in time, as antique soda bottles, vintage road signs and re-purposed furniture tempted my wallet. Centerville boasts several antique and primitive stores along the square that you might not find in a busy suburban strip mall. 

An old favorite of Centerville, but in a new location on the square, George and Nick's Pizza is the locals’ choice for dinner out. Residents I talked to said this joint places the perfect amount of toppings on a tender crust. George and Nick’s isn’t open for lunch, so I’ll look forward to trying it out with my family on another visit. 

Just up the street is Morgan's Ice Cream Parlor and Candy Confectionery, a Centerville icon. Resident Morgan Cline opened the funky establishment to honor and celebrate the history of his hometown. Fun fact: At the height of the soda fountain craze, four soda fountains dotted Centerville’s square!  Walking into Morgan’s is like taking a step back into the 1940s where visitors can enjoy ice-cream, phosphates, coffee and just about any type of sugary concoction you can imagine. Old-fashioned candy such as three-color coconut slices makes this place a can’t-miss for the young and the young-at-heart.

My last stop is Centerville was the unique Shoppes at Bradley Hall. Located inside a building constructed 1909 as the home for a wealthy local family, the building showcases 22 rooms and 10,000 square-feet of French-inspired architecture and gorgeous woodwork. Since the family left the home, it has served as a nursing home, classrooms for elementary and college students, and administrative offices for the Centerville School District. In 1998 Morgan Cline (the same Morgan Cline as in soda fountain fame!) bought the property and restored it to its original glory. Morgan's dream was to preserve the home indefinitely and for the enjoyment of locals and visitors alike. Multiple vendors have taken up residence here and showcase their treasures for purchase. In one room you may find purses, scarves and wine glasses, or antiques, glass or inspirational books in another. It’s hard to believe that anyone could walk out of The Shoppes at Bradley Hall empty-handed. For that matter, I’m not sure any could leave Centerville without a trunk full of treasures and a heart full of warm, holiday memories. Make Centerville your holiday shopping destination.

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  1. Travel Iowa Team
    Travel Iowa Team
    Wow! This is such terrific information. Thanks for the post!
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