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Old 07-23-2007, 05:10 PM
 
Location: in the general vicinity of Cedar Rapids, Iowa
296 posts, read 1,194,544 times
Reputation: 184

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On a lot of the posts talking about Iowa towns, I see comments to the effect that "there is not much to do in [fill in community name here]".

I'm baffled about what that means and I was hoping y'all could help me out. Could you please give specific examples, such as "when I am at home in Atlanta, I go to the mall and hang out with my friends every night. We check out the sales at Bloomingdales and Saks, have dinner at Tona Roma's and then go to one of the nightclubs at the mall. Cedar Rapids has a mall but none of the rest of those things, so I am bored when I visit there." Sorry if that is a really bad example but the problem is that I have no idea what people are doing, you understand?

What I want to know is what people are doing in all these places outside of Iowa and whether any of those places are similar in size and other economic indicators to towns in Iowa. Is part of the comparison problem that we have a couple more hours of free time a day because there is typically little or no commute?

I'm really hoping for this to be an analytical and open-minded discussion that will help those of us who are happy and busy here in Iowa understand what others find to be missing.

Thanks!
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Old 07-23-2007, 05:32 PM
 
2,652 posts, read 8,001,199 times
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I'll answer this the best I can. I am from Des Moines, but have lived in Boston and now California.

Here's an example from the Boston perspective. "After work, I am going to have dinner in the Boston Common. The oldest public space in America. While eating some unique vender food, I am going to sit and watch the beautiful architecture of the area. Taking in the fact that I am sitting where this nation began. After dinner, I am going to take a stroll through Chinatown, and visit some unique stores.

This weekend I think I'll take a road trip up to the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire. If summer time, I'll go hiking in the beautiful mountains, maybe see some moose, or a waterfall. In winter, maybe go skiing.

Next Tuesday I have tickets to the Red Sox-Yankees game (extremely hard to get). After the game, I'll hop on the T (subway) over to the North End. Have dinner in a little Italian restaurant that makes me think I'm in Italy.

The list goes on and on.

In Des Moines, we have a farmers market, and a few other random things to do. There is only so much farmers market one can handle before it gets old.

I'll tell you on one HUGE plus Iowa has that most places don't. EXTREMELY cheap cost of living, and friendly people. Boston had the most unfriendly people I have ever encountered, but it was great there. Loved it.
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Old 07-23-2007, 06:49 PM
 
Location: in the general vicinity of Cedar Rapids, Iowa
296 posts, read 1,194,544 times
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Default Great Reply, Luke!

Luke, that's great. The things you list, for the most part, are all things I enjoy doing when I visit Boston or the area.

We can make a few observations, then:
1. Des Moines has a much smaller population than Boston, which is undoubtedly going to translate to less retail, restaurants, etc. With fewer people, there is also less ethnic concentration of any kind, so authentic restaurants, especially ethnic, are few and far between. This is undoubtedly also why we have no professional sports teams -- there just aren't enough people in a metro area to support a team. So when people are comparing Iowa cities to other cities, POPULATION is something to keep in mind.
2. Iowa pretty much doesn't have any mountains in which to hike and there aren't any mountains within easy driving distance of anywhere in Iowa. (Although you didn't mention it, we don't have an ocean or even Great Lake). So difference in GEOGRAPHY and what that means for recreation should be considered.
3. Cost of Living is generally very low in Iowa. One thing we sometimes tell people is "It's a great place to live but I wouldn't want to visit." (with apologies to Iowa tourism). So one can visit places like Boston and do those fun things, just not every weekend.

From other posts in this forum, I don't think we can generalize people. I'm glad you find Iowans friendly, but obviously, not everyone does. Personally, I suspect that people are the same all over when it comes to how they treat newcomers, and it is the attitude of the newcomer that makes the difference, but that's just my hypothesis.

Okay, while we can't wave a wand and change the population size, and certainly not the geography, what are you surprised NOT to find in Iowa? What do places that have similar geography and population have that we don't?
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Old 07-23-2007, 07:26 PM
 
358 posts, read 869,739 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WoodwardGirl View Post
On a lot of the posts talking about Iowa towns, I see comments to the effect that "there is not much to do in [fill in community name here]".

I'm baffled about what that means and I was hoping y'all could help me out.
In my opinion, the real problem lies in making direct comparisons. Is Des Moines the same size as Chicago or NYC or Atlanta? No, of course not, so a direct comparison cannot be made. Take the arts, for instance. It is very true that Iowa does not have a huge professional area like Broadway. It's also true that many wonderful professional productions do come through Iowa! But you may not be able to snag tickets for "tomorrow" night, like one may in NYC.

People who say, "I was bored" are really saying, "Iowa is not like where I used to live. I miss the former amenities, both in frequency and in choice." That's a very fair statement. But to say that there's "nothing" to do in Iowa just means that either the person isn't looking very hard or else his scope is so narrow that nothing fits.
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Old 07-24-2007, 01:50 AM
 
14 posts, read 112,292 times
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Woodward Girl, when we lived in rural Iowa we always had to make a lengthy drive of up 80 to 150 miles or so round trip to go to a nice mall, or eat at a nice restaurant. Most of the time we didn't go, because by the time you drove there you would be too tired to do anything.

Instead, we would eat at the few local restaurants in the area we found that were smoke free, and we would go to garage sales and an occasional Farmer's Mkt. We would go to local festivals when they had them.
The festivals were always fun. And, petting zoos too. Can't even count how many petting zoos we took the family to while we lived there.

Spent a lot of time at local libraries, and spent much time driving around looking at farms and old barns and pretty landscapes out in the country.
We would also drive through small towns and look at the architecture of the old houses.
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Old 07-24-2007, 01:15 PM
 
Location: Chariton, Iowa
681 posts, read 2,835,717 times
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Iowa may not have been blessed with mountains or oceans, but that doesn't mean we don't have our own unique and interesting geography. We have beautiful river valleys and lakes all across the state. We have beautiful forests and prairies.

In my opinion, expanding our state parks, protecting what forests, prairies and wetlands we have left, building and expanding trails, and keeping our air and water clean is the best way to use what lovely geography we do have.

Compared to other states that have done a much much better job of balancing their conservation and farming interests (like MN and WI), Iowa is coming up short.
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Old 07-27-2007, 06:06 PM
 
Location: Crystal, MN
2 posts, read 11,108 times
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Cool, SharpHawkeye.
Love the spin. So much so that I'll add this:

If you like space, open space, stay in the Midwest. Only those needing constant input via sites and sounds need go to such people-saturated places as Boston, New York or LA. If you're after piece of mind, the Midwest is where to find it.
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Old 07-28-2007, 10:05 PM
 
8 posts, read 36,167 times
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That is a good question. I have liced in Iowa since I was in third grade. I have lived in Davenport which is a part of the Quad Cities, approd 250K people and Cedar Rapids about 150K. I now live in Burlington which is an old river town. Lets see... When I'm not working. I like to go to the bars with my friends, go boating on the Mississippi, go deer and turkey hunting, go camping, watch a minor league baseball game, go tubing down the skunk river. Most of these activities except hunting involve drinking beer with my friends, except hunting of course. The "Big City Life" is not far away I can drive three hours to Chicago, four hours to STL, 6 to KC, 6 to MSP. My wife and I go out to dinner about once a week with friends. About twice a year we throw big parties: superbowl sunday, and mid september in my garage with 50 of our closest friends. Now I will be honest: sometimes I wish I lived in a Big City. I have visited NYC, Boston, and Chicago as I have friends there and I am always happy to come back to Iowa, because I am only 5-10 minutes away from everything. If you really want to know what IOWA is about you have to lose yourself on a country road and find a kegger in a corn field to know your alive.. IOWA= I'm Out Wandering Around, looking for something to do.
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Old 07-31-2007, 08:08 PM
 
Location: Iowa, Des Moines Metro
2,073 posts, read 5,066,987 times
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"If you really want to know what IOWA is about you have to lose yourself on a country road and find a kegger in a corn field to know your alive.."
---Thank you BRL resident, put so well........riiiight.

To me it seems obviously any area in IA, metropolitan or rural, is not going to be fairly compared to anywhere like Boston, hello... common sense. But lets not do 2 extremes here, i'm sorry but I don't think i've ever been to a keg in a ... field? maybe thats just me and all of my family and friends though.

Countless places in IA have bars/clubs, good food, cheap living, friendly people, sports, arts, plenty of natural beauty (especially the Mississippi area), and rec. parks, ect. ...oh and cheap living as if we didnt know.

Give it a chance and look a little harder.
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Old 07-31-2007, 08:37 PM
 
282 posts, read 955,389 times
Reputation: 95
Great question, and one I've always wanted to respond to (having been born and raised in Iowa).

When I've read such statements on the Iowa forum as "there is nothing to do", to me it means that the person is used to being, and needs to be, constantly entertained by outside means. For example, they need daily/nightly/weekly concerts/plays/major league sports games/major mountains, lakes, rivers/and all the rest. To me it means they have little imagination as to what to do when they have to think for themselves and make their own entertainment. In Iowa, in the Midwest where the air is clean, where the people are honest and real, and where there is untouched land all around... you won't be artificially entertained every second, but to the people who understand, there is everything "to do". If someone needs an explanation of that, then they'll never get it, and they should stay where they are.

Just my opinion.
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