Once in a while you visit a town that is so inviting you begin to imagine living there. The people are friendly and helpful. The shops are clean with outgoing staff. And the visitor's guide is packed with so many public activities, city parks and events that you wonder how anyone has time to work with all the fun taking place.
Le Mars is that town.
Ice Cream Capital of the World®
Here in the US people eat an average of six gallons of ice cream per year. And over 100 million of those gallons come from Wells Enterprises, maker of Blue Bunny. In 1994 the Iowa State Legislature designated Le Mars as the Ice Cream Capital of the World® because more ice cream is produced by a single company here than anywhere else in the world.
While you can't get an ice cream tour at the production facility, you'll find the next best- or possibly even better- thing at the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor downtown. The Historic George E. Pew building was transformed into an ice cream parlor from yesteryear, complete with antique marble ice cream bar, soda fountain, and wooden booths. Choose your favorite treat- but bring an appetite; nothing here is small.
You may be jolted back to the 21st century if you choose a booth as some have interactive mounted displays which share the history of Wells and show how some of your favorite Blue Bunny treats are made. If your seats don't have a display you can visit one of the interactive kiosks just up the grand staircase. You'll also be able to see Blue Bunny and Wells packaging from days gone by- anyone remember Dr. Wells soda?
The third weekend in June brings the annual Ice Cream Days festival. From Wednesday to Saturday Le Mars celebrates the tasty treat that made it famous with daily ice cream socials, live music, the Ice Cream Cone-ival, a parade and other public events throughout the town. If your kids like parade treats this is the best we've experienced- Bomb Pops from Blue Bunny and chocolate milk from Land O Lakes Dairy (also located in Le Mars).
Man Can't Live on Ice Cream Alone
Though I would be willing to challenge that remark, we were directed to a couple of really great eateries in Le Mars.
The first was Bob's Drive In. Famous for their Tavern- the Eastern Iowa name for a loose meat sandwich, the locals we spoke to couldn't stop raving about the cheese curds. One girl said, “You have to try them... it's like they're made with love.” Others said we couldn't leave without trying a Bob Dog- a natural casing hot dog smothered in loose meat. Yum, on both counts.
If something a little less greasy sounds good don't miss Habitue Coffeehouse and Creperie. Lunch here is divine. Almost any sandwich can be served in a crepe and breakfast crepes are served all day. For picky eaters you can even get a plain meat/cheese/bread sandwich with chips. And the dessert case, filled with scrumptious cupcakes, will give the ice cream parlor a run for your dessert dollars.
Life is Sweet
This is the city slogan for Le Mars, and just a weekend there proved that to us.
Have you enjoyed the sweet life in Le Mars? Please share your favorite memories in the comments!
Jody Halsted, Family Rambling