Things to do in Elkader and Northeastern Iowa

Is this heaven? No its Iowa.

There is so much to do and explore in what people call one of Iowa's best hidden gems.

Step back in time to the simple lifestyle of small town America. Elkader, Iowa is the county seat of the beautiful Clayton County Iowa and a true hidden gem with abundant recreational, social, and dining experiences. The town is a reminder of simpler way of life, connected to natural beauty, mom and pop shops and beautiful architecture including that of our very own Jail House Inn! Get away from the city to the rolling hills, bluffs, rivers and hiking opportunities in Elkader and surrounding Northeastern Iowa.



Check out our favorite reasons to come to Elkader below, don’t forget to click the links for more information! More importantly stay up to date on the latest town events, social gatherings and festivals at

Nicholas Spohn

Elkader Dining


Abundant and unique dining opportunities abound! Grab a camel burger or other Mediterranean specialty on the patio overlooking the Turkey River at Shera’s Algerian-American Restaurant. Try the Irish Egg Rolls appetizer and a pint of Guinness at Fennelly’s Irish Pub. Grab a pizza pie at Elkader Pizzeria. Enjoy a breakfast pastry and coffee at Pedretti’s Bakery or Treats on Bridge Street.

Fishing and Paddling

The Jail House Inn is situated just blocks from excellent smallmouth and walleye fishing of the town’s very own Turkey River. Fish from shore or rent a canoe or kayak from one of the town’s outfitters. Or drive north to the best trout fishing in Iowa. Yellow River State Forest boasts scenic views, camping, hiking and trout streams galore! Catch the majestic brown and rainbow trout at one of the areas many trout streams.

Turkey River Antique Mall


The Turkey River Antique Mall is one of the big shopping attractions in the area. The old hotel boasts 3 floors of collectibles, furniture, and Americana decor. Find unique gifts at Bridge Street Boutique and Gifts. Stop by Cutting Edge Archery for the hunter in the family. Travel to the cute town of Guttenberg for even more shopping opportunities.


Enjoy the hikes and fall foliage at Northeastern Iowa’s favorite park, Yellow River State Forest. Catch deer and turkey on your hike at Backbone State Park. Marvel at the best views in Iowa from the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi river at Pike’s Peak State Park. Combine nature and history at Effigy Mounds National Monument, with 20 ancient Native American burial mounds and beautiful scenic overlooks. The opportunities are endless!


Elkader’s very own Country Club is waiting. Or travel down the road to Backbone State Park’s newly remodeled course. Hit your best drive from a tee box overlooking the mighty Mississippi river at Guttenberg Country Club. Or drive down to Dubuque to experience one of their many golfing experiences including the rolling hills of Bunker Hill Golf Course.

Other Attractions

“If you build it they will come”. Take a short drive to the site from the famous movie, Field of Dreams. With only a 40 minute drive from Elkader you can experience the nostalgia of America’s favorite pastime. 25 Minutes in the other direction and you can try your luck at black jack or poker on the Casino Queen in the river town of Marquette. Claustrophobic? Conquer your fear at McGregor’s favorite campground and experience Spook Cave!