Upon telling a good friend of mine that I was thinking of heading to Van Buren County to check out the "Villages of Van Buren" and their "Scenic Drive Festival", she let me know that Bentonsport was one of her absolute favorite places in Iowa.
After spending some time there, I can see why she feels that way.
After hitting up Keosauqua and Bonaparte, I truly enjoyed spending some time in Bentonsport. It's now a National Historic District and I must say, it's got an abundance of historic charm.
Unfortunately, it was a bit soggy, windy, overcast, and chilly but that did not stop quite a few folks (both near and far!) from enjoying the local hospitality.
Bentonsport is home to an amazing bridge that spans the entire Des Moines River. It is 135 years old and has since been converted into a walking bridge. It's obviously quite beautiful. I walked across it and it sure provides some beautiful views of the Des Moines River and the surrounding foliage.
At the edge of the bridge is a little house that has been turned into an ice cream and fudge shop called "Forever Sweet Creations". I am sure my mom would be ashamed to read this, but I had one of their ice cream sandwiches as my lunch - and I enjoyed every last bit of it. I would highly recommend. If you want to buy some fudge, I think they are willing to ship it, too.
I also wandered around some of the area by the river, where a number of vendors were selling a variety of items out of tents.
Like Keosauqua and Bonaparte, Bentonsport has some amazing historical architecture.
Bentonsport is also home to one of Iowa's only Confederate war monuments.
I would highly encourage a visit to all of the Villages in Van Buren, but certainly hitting Bentonsport and Bonaparte together is a great plan. I know there are other places in both communities that I either did not visit or did not get a chance to fully explore, so please let me know what I missed so I can know what to hit the next time I'm in the area.
I would also certainly accept any recommendations of places to hit up - anywhere in Iowa. This is a big state full of all kinds of hidden gems.
Check back for additional articles on the Villages of Van Buren. Thanks for reading and start putting together your own adventure itinerary!