Where is Corning, Iowa?
Nestled in the rolling hills of southwest Iowa is the small town of Corning, Iowa. Corning is in Adams County, which has the smallest Iowa county population, approximately 3600 people. Corning is nearly half the county’s population at about 1500.
The town is at about the halfway point of Des Moines, Iowa and Omaha, Nebraska–each about 90 miles away.
What Makes Corning Iowa Special?
There are so many things that make Corning Iowa special. One of the first things that comes to mind is how the community comes together to make things happen. Several community members built the Corning Hotel. In fact, volunteers run many community organizations and businesses.
Another thing is how friendly the people are. It really shows what small towns are all about. But it also offers things you rarely associate with small towns.
But perhaps the most important is all the fun options there are for visitors. Something for everyone.
Reasons to Travel to Corning, Iowa
There are so many reasons to come to Corning. Are you looking for a place to relax? To get away from all the craziness of the world? A place where there are fabulous restaurants? Maybe a place for fun and quaint shops? How about a place to enjoy the outdoors by visiting parks, lakes and trails? Or are you a history buff and want to learn a little more about Corning and Adam’s County history?
Corning is your place.
So let’s take a tour . . .
1) History: America’s French Icarian Village and the Adams County House of History
About three miles from Corning is the American French Icarian Village. The village is open to the public to visit.
Who are the Icarians?
Icarians were a group of people who were looking for a “utopian” community. The perfect world where all helped each other. No private ownership — a communal way of life. They originated from France and traveled to the US and arrived in Corning in 1852. Their principal aim was to create a community where all would help with the work and all would share in the wealth.
The Icarian community worked until the younger generation wanted to break away from this type of lifestyle. Currently, there are multiple areas across the US where the Icarians created this type of community.
The Adams County House of History showcases the history of Adams County. It’s important to preserve these memories. The building where the House of History is located served as a jail on the second floor. In fact, they have an original 1890s jail cell. Let’s just say most people don’t realize how small jail cells were back in the day.
2) Coffee Shop, Bakery and Restaurants
Being a small town doesn’t mean there are small restaurant offerings. Just the opposite. From a prize-winning bakery, Sweet Desires, to a “floating” winery, Floating Vine Winery, to a wonderful Mexican Restaurant, Los Catrines Mexican Kitchen to the top notch Primrose Restaurant, all will satisfy your palate. Lots of fun and delicious options. Most are located on main street.
Let’s take a sneak peek into each one of these and note that they are all located, except for the Floating Vine, on main street.
Backgrounds Coffee Shop
Located in the back of the Hair Designers store is a small coffee shop, Backgrounds Coffee Shop. You can access it by walking through the Hair Designers store or walking around to the alley. There is a small outdoor eating area which invites you to sit down. They serve coffee, drinks and breakfast sandwiches.
An award-winning bakery is a must stop. Even the cattle farmers park their trailer and pickup in the middle of the road to quickly run in and get a bakery treat. Small town at its finest!
If you like Mexican food, you will not be disappointed in Los Catrines Mexican Kitchen. So good.
I ordered the bacon-wrapped meatloaf with garlic mashed potatoes at Primrose and it was soooo good.
A unique winery as it does “float” on water. Just a great get away to enjoy a glass of wine and friends. When you arrive, you will notice grape vines growing which adds to the winery atmosphere. Go check them out! How often do you get the chance to see grape vines up closely?
Sprinkled along the streets are some fun and unique shops. When you walk in the stores, be prepared to be surprised at they have to offer. Just a really fun place to explore.
I love the HyVee Pharma shop that put in a soda shop counter. Does this remind anyone of Woolworths back in the day?
One of the shops downtown is a meat shop, Fire and Salt. They specialize in local beef. In fact, they supply meat to local eating establishments. In my opinion, this is a destination stop. Fire and Salt is new to the downtown area and is not your typical meat shop. Make sure you add this to your to-do list for Corning.
They built the historic Corning Opera House in 1902. They completely restored the National Historic Register building in 2012. The Opera House is still very active today. I love how beautiful the building is while preserving its historic features. They offer many events throughout the year.
Even though lakes in southwest Iowa are not plentiful, Corning has a large lake, Lake Icaria, for the water enthusiasts. They boast fishing (walleye, bluegills, crappies and catfish), boating where you can rent a pontoon, kayaking and swimming. You can also venture on one of the nearby hiking trails. There are also campgrounds and cabins available.
6) Johnny Carson Birthplace
Who knows that Johnny Carson was born in Corning, Iowa? Undeniably the king of late night television. By visiting his birth home, you have the opportunity to walk in the bedroom he was born in and learn about Johnny’s background.
7) Freedom Rock
Corning is also the home of one of the Freedom Rocks to honor our veterans. Each of Iowa’s county has a Freedom Rock and Adam’s County’s Freedom Rock is located in Corning.
8) Small Town Greatness
I can’t overemphasize how special this town is. There are places to stay, such as the Corning Hotel and the Campgrounds (tent, RVs and cabins) on Lake Icaria. Plenty of places for eating, entertainment, and shopping. I LOVE small towns! There is no question that I will be back to visit again.
Here are a few other places to travel in the Midwest:
The 10 Best Things to do in Fairmont, Minnesota
Why You Should Visit the Fair Oaks Farm
8 Best Things to do in Blue Earth, MN