About the author:
This blog was written by Amy from @everydayoutdoorfamily. She runs an Instagram account that highlights unique outdoor experiences, family fun, and destinations in the Midwest and beyond. Her work inspires families to get outdoors! Be sure to give her page a follow and check out her website, everydayoutdoorfamily.com, for more blogs that'll get you ready to explore the great outdoors!
Once a year, my friends and I plan an adventurous girls' weekend getaway. When I saw all that there was to do in Council Bluffs, I knew that this would be the perfect spot for us. If you’re looking to amp up your vacation with something more unique than the typical dinner and museum scene, then put Council Bluffs at the top of your list.
Goat Yoga is a great workout for your abs because you will be laughing so much. Not only do you get to hold and snuggle cute baby goats, they will jump up on your back and give you a little massage. Your face will likely hurt at the end from smiling too much, but it’s a price you’ll be more than happy to pay for such a fun and sweet experience. My friends and I agreed this was our favorite part of the trip. It can’t get much better than cute baby goats.
Hitchcock Nature Center is one of the most beautiful hiking spots in Iowa. This area sits on the Loess Hills, a rare natural phenomenon where clay and silt blow across plains to form beautiful stooping hills. There are trails, a lookout tower, backpacking/ hike-in campsites, and an information center where you can rent snowshoes, binoculars, and kids’ adventure bags. There are also exhibits, a kid’s play area, and classes offered by the center. My friends and I had a picnic near the center, took photos from the top of the observation tower, and hiked the Badger Ridge trail. The views were incredible.
Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park is the perfect spot to take a stroll or go on a bike ride. The river is a beautiful backdrop for the miles of paved trails, sculptures, and playground. Heartland Bike Share has a station where you can rent e-bikes. This was our first time riding on an e-bike and it was so much fun. Biking was so easy and fast. We biked across the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge that connects Council Bluffs with Omaha. We hopped off in the middle of the bridge to stand in Iowa and Nebraska at once and watch the sunset.
The Hoff Family Arts and Culture Center is an impressive spot because of the vast number of varying arts programs they have. There is a theater for plays and ballet, studios and arts classes, as well as a museum. The reclaimed factory had been transformed into a dynamic space with a culinary center, a bar and event space, and a kitchen for pop-up restaurants. We went for Fourth Fridays. There was live music, drinks, food, ballet, open studios and arts classes. We loved experiencing so many different types of art all in one night.
Arrowhead Park has cute and affordable cabins that are perfect for tired adventurers. Not only are they great for large groups (sleeping 10-12 people), they are also affordable. The two decks look out onto the lake for beautiful views. They have outdoor and indoor space to hang out and eat. The kitchens are fully stocked and they even have board games for your group to play. Make sure you bring your own towels and sheets!
The cabins are within walking distance of trails, a fishing lake, and seasonal canoe rental.
Nesting Grounds was a perfect stop on the way from the cabin to Goat Yoga and Hitchcock Nature Center. This cute coffee shop is made of shipping containers, adding a modern feel to a quaint town. The chai latte might have been the best I have ever had.
I knew this place was going to be good as soon as I walked in, because all of the local teens had picked it as their pre-prom dinner. While we were in leggings and hiking clothes instead of prom dresses, we still felt welcome. The manager even double-checked my order to make sure everything was gluten-free. The food was delicious and definitely hit the spot after a long day of yoga, hiking, and biking.
I’m so glad we went to Council Bluffs for our annual girls’ trip. Our weekend was packed full of adventures. My friends and I all agreed we will be going back!
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