Planning an unforgettable (yet affordable) weekend vacation in the States? You could visit the city of Fairfield in Jefferson County, Iowa.
Fairfield’s population is under 10,000. It has a quiet Midwest feel to it. There’s also a vibrant cultural scene, which is part of why the Smithsonian Magazine named it one of the 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2013.
If you’re traveling with your family, there’s something here for everyone’s interests. The charming Victorian architecture makes it a romantic honeymoon spot too.
Or maybe you’re new to the city and you’re planning to build a life there! Fairfield is a city of startups: it’s known for its entrepreneurial spirit and a wide variety of business opportunities.
What can you do when in Fairfield? Read on to find out.
Here’s what makes the city unique and weird in a wonderful way.
Fairfield is home to Maharishi International University, and many of its residents moved there in the eighties to seek spiritual enlightenment. These people were called “gurus” by the other residents, and they weren’t immediately welcomed into the community. But over time, the culture clash subsided. Today, “gurus” are fairly well-integrated, and the “townies” have a certain fondness for their city’s reputation.
It helps that Fairfield sees a fair amount of spiritual tourism.
The twin Golden Domes on the campus of Maharishi International University were built to welcome thousands of people looking to meditate together. If you’d like to learn about transcendental meditation, you can hop on a plane and land near Fairfield. Once you get to the University, your path will be set.
There are plenty of courses for beginners, casual meditators, as well as for people who have dedicated their lives to spiritual growth. Meditating in a group of thousands is an incomparable, unforgettable experience. This is the perfect place to do that.
Oprah is a big fan of Fairfield’s atmosphere. She calls it “TM Town” – TM stands for transcendental meditation.
2. Go Hiking
If you’re feeling cooped up and restless, why not organize a hiking expedition? It’s an affordable, healthy, and laid-back adventure.
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With over 33 miles of hiking trails, Fairfield offers a surprising amount of variety. You can explore old railroad corridors, historical bridges, or give the trail system a try. Challenge yourself and find beauty in the wetlands and the woods of the area.
You can also visit the Jefferson County Conservation Center and learn about the birdwatching you can do here! Fishing and hunting are an option as well, and you can always rent a canoe or go kayaking if you want to explore the creeks.
3. Visit an Exhibition
If you’re looking to expand your cultural horizons, Fairfield has plenty to offer.
The Maasdam Barns museum takes you on a journey through agricultural advancements in the 20th century.
Don’t miss out on the Carnegie Museum either (click here for a 3D tour). Since the city is known for its ceramics industry, you can expand your knowledge of pottery through the decades.
If you prefer paintings and you’re interested in Eastern Iowa’s art scene, you’ll love the ICON Gallery. In addition to tours and themed exhibitions, the gallery offers workshops for anyone who wants to try their hand at art.
For an experience you won’t get anywhere else, visit the Vintage Power Wagon Rally in June. This event is internationally known among vintage truck enthusiasts. The rally focuses on trucks made between the 1940s and 1970s.
4. Explore the Architecture
You can go on a walking tour of the city and take photos of the theater, the bank, the Carnegie library, as well as both imposing villas and cozy cottages.
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Since Abraham Lincoln’s time here, Fairfield has welcomed powerful and influential people. The architecture reflects a variety of styles and tastes over the years. Since the nineties, parts of Fairfield’s development follow the principles of the Maharishi Sthapatya Veda architecture style. This includes Abundance Ecovillage, an off-the-grid community nearby.
5. Go Biking in a Group
Another eco-friendly way to enjoy Fairfield: rent a bike (or bring your own) and go on a tour through the wilderness.
Connect with SE Iowa Cyclists to learn about the best trails for nature biking. Or go on a ride through the historic streets and stop to take photos of the most gorgeous buildings.
6. Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!
If you’re planning a weekend honeymoon in the beautiful city of Fairfield, don’t skip out on breakfast for two at Cafe Paradiso.
If you’re a fan of “hippie” cuisine, you can find plenty of quirky options all over Fairfield. Stop for acai bowls, explore the vegan street food, or stop at Andy’s Juice Joint on N. Main Street.
For dinner, there are bistros and steakhouses, authentic Ethiopian cuisine, and a variety of pizza places. Don’t miss out on the wine bars, pubs, and taverns all across the city.
No tour of Fairfield would be complete without the cider breweries. If you have an interest in hard cider and craft beer, don’t leave Jefferson County Ciderworks off your itinerary.
When you think of a meditation retreat, you might imagine a cottage in the wilderness. Fairfield will change that preconception.
Whether you’re interested in TM or simply looking for an offbeat adventure, this city is a great place to find inner peace. Staying in Fairfield could change you.