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Algona: More Than the World’s Largest Cheeto
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Algona: More Than the World’s Largest Cheeto

I do a fair amount of traveling around the state for my job, but there are still plenty of communities I’ve not visited. Take, for instance, Algona. Until earlier this month, I had never been. It was a pleasant surprise.

I dined at Emerald’s, located just off Hwy 18 and a local mainstay, with four other people. When we arrived, the waitress said she’d have to seat us in the back. This turned out to be a very good thing. We were seated on the charming front porch that’s built inside the restaurant. The food was delicious and filling. So much so I passed up dessert! But a trip to Emerald’s isn’t a trip until you see the world’s largest Cheeto. Because presentation is everything, it’s displayed on a purple tufted pillow atop a glass pedestal encased in glass.

The Kossuth County Ag and Motorsports Museum on the county fairgrounds does a great job of telling the history of both agriculture and motorsports in the area. For me, though, the highlight was the train room located on the north end. It’s a work-in-progress, but remarkable even under construction. The entire display comes from the collection of lifelong county resident Arlen Benschoter. From the motorized amusement park to massive mountains and multiple trains, there was a lot to take in. I was told it’s just a fraction of his collection!

The downtown area on State Street includes multiple shops and restaurants. Don’t miss the incredibly beautiful chocolates at The Chocolate Season. They looked almost too good to eat. But who can go into a chocolate shop and not try something? I can vouch for the vanilla bean caramels and mud balls. One of their more unusual offerings is a chocolate high-heel shoe. Seriously.

Another gem on the street is the Louis Sullivan-designed Land and Loan Office that now serves as the Algona Chamber of Commerce office. It’s the third of eight rural banks designed by Sullivan that are known as “Jewel Box” banks. The interior has been renovated in the original style. If you’re a fan of Prairie Style architecture, you’ll love this place. I wanted to either move in and live there or take the fixtures home with me!

[Side note: there are two other “Jewel Box” banks in Iowa – People’s Savings Bank in Cedar Rapids (now a restaurant) and Merchants’ National Bank in Grinnell (now the local chamber office).]

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  1. Travel Iowa Team
    Travel Iowa Team
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