Published May 22, 2020
When you’re ready to travel but still want to stay away from the crowds, Ottumwa has all the wide open spaces you’re looking for! From river trails and parks to street art and disc golf courses to walking and driving tours, we have everything your perfect getaway needs.
- Rolling on the River: Enjoy the scenic Des Moines River from the Wapello County Trail System. The 16-mile trail system includes a 5K John Deere Loop, a 1-mile loop between Market Street and the Wabash Bridge, two loops through Greater Ottumwa Park and a 1-mile section by Gray Eagle Wildlife Preserve. Perfect for walking, running, biking, rollerblading and birdwatching, the trails are a great way to increase your physical activity and enjoy the scenery. Ottumwa is also a migratory flyway and seasonal home to several bird species including Bald Eagles and White Pelicans.
- Parks, Parks and More Parks: Ottumwa’s 26 parks cover 600 acres of green space, extensive enough to meet everyone’s recreational interests. Our ratio of 2.7 acres per 100 residents is nearly three times the national standard. Test your fishing skills in the Des Moines River. Have a barbecue in Greater Ottumwa Park. Wander on a trail at Pioneer Ridge Nature Area. Enjoy a round of regular or frisbee golf.
- Street Art Walking Tour: It’s not often that visitors to a city are encouraged by locals to walk down an alley. In Ottumwa, it's an absolute must - there’s a walking art gallery! The alley located between Main Street and Second Street serves as the cornerstone for a large and unique array of street art that graces Downtown Ottumwa, including sculptures, murals and even interactive digital art from both local and national artists. Among the alley murals is a large piece by Brad Covington in beautiful earth tones that covers almost the entire building façade, a quilt pattern mural depicting handprints and even a mural in bright primary colors made from bottle caps. There are also several sculptures and interactive pieces, including the Rain Hopper by Robert Tully (2017). Located across from the world-famous Canteen Lunch in the Alley, the Rain Hopper serves as a functional rainwater conveyance system that reveals and celebrates the movement of water through the urban landscape. There is a projection art piece that celebrates the different cultures that live in Ottumwa and the importance of a diverse community and features more than 60 community members.
- Golf and Disc Golf Courses: Ottumwa has two 18-hole golf courses, Cedar Creek Golf Course on Angle Road and the Ottumwa Country Club on East Golf Avenue. Wapello County also offers seven disc golf courses for enthusiasts – four within Ottumwa city limits. Disc golfers wanting to visit Ottumwa and play the county’s seven-disc golf courses will find beautiful landscapes and challenging holes, and each course has special qualities that make them favorites for different reasons. In Ottumwa, you’ll find courses at Indian Hills Community College, Memorial Park, Franklin Park and Wildwood Park. Courses around Wapello County can also be found at Sandy Dunes in Eddyville, Chippewa Creek in Eldon and just south of Ottumwa at the Pioneer Ridge Nature Area. The Ottumwa Fall Classic in October is part of the Iowa Disc Golf Tour, which brings in competitors from across the state and around the Midwest. Sometimes there are even impromptu local tournaments thrown together in addition to the annual Halloween tournament, glow tournament and many other scheduled competitions.
- Historic Driving and Walking Tours: Ottumwa has seven historic districts that reflects Ottumwa’s rich cultural and economic history. Take a driving tour using the interactive map at: https://www.greaterottumwacvb.org/explore/historic_districts_driving_tour/. When you visit the neighborhoods of Ottumwa, you’ll find places of worship at their core, as they have been since Ottumwa’s establishment in the 1840s. The five earliest congregations are within walking distance of the city’s historic downtown - St. Mary of the Visitation Parish (established 1849), First Presbyterian Church (established 1857), Trinity Episcopal Church (established 1857), First Lutheran Church (established 1871) and St. Patrick Catholic Church (established 1879). A description of each along with the churches’ addresses can be found at https://www.greaterottumwacvb.org/explore/historic_churches_walking_tour/. Honor our area veterans by following the Wapello County Freedom Trail. The trail includes the Wapello County Freedom Rock in front of the Bridge View Center on Church Street, the All Veterans Memorial in Greater Ottumwa Park, the Wapello County Historical Museum at 210 W. Main St., the Wapello County Soldiers Monument in Central Park and the Civil War Soldier Wood Carving in Ottumwa Cemetery.
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