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Trip List by mimifg

Oskaloosa, Iowa - Charm and Quiet with Many Perks.

2 Oct 2006  I live in Oskaloosa, after 35 years in major metropolitan areas.
4.5 of 5 stars based on 2 votes

The best hints in dining, recreation, relaxation and massage.

  • Category: Best of
  • Traveler type: Culture, Sightseeing, Shopping, Active/Outdoors, Never been before, Repeat visitors, Theater
  • Appeals to: Business travellers , Couples/romantics, Singles, Families with small children, Large groups, Seniors, Students, Budget travellers , Tourists
  • Seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
  • 1. Escapes Massage by Emily Miller

    I moved to Oskaloosa - at the beginning of my running the family business - in 2004, with my fiance, an artist.

    I had tried many places in the region (going to both Des Moines and Iowa City) for massage.

    Escapes Massage (Emily MIller, owner and therapist) is far and away the best massage you can get in the region. The owner, Emily, recently also obtained her myofascial certification so can do myofascial release as well. She offers several types of massage. The table is semi-firm and extremely comfortable, including the position of the face/head rest. This is one of my big peeves so I was very pleased with this right off the bat on my first visit. (I now see Emily once a week for 90 minutes if at all possible unless traveling.)

    Emily is a true professional and worth every minute (and her prices are reasonable). I am always completely blissed out. She does not try to "upsell" you and is very friendly and knowledgeable about her massage technique and your need for level of pressure.

    Escapes is fairly small and situated in the middle of a nice neighborhood in Oskaloosa. Emily created the studio herself, and it is as relaxing and soothing as any large massage studio in any major city. Once inside, there is a small reception/waiting area and then the massage room. Music type and temperature of the room is always ideal. Emily truly has intuitive touch and uses the right amount of pressure for the back, neck and scalp, then arms legs and feet. Whether long palm strokes or using pressure points, you will be blissed out too during a massage with Emily. I highly recommend Emily as a personal massage therapist.

  • 2. Healthy Connections

    Excellent health food and more in Oskaloosa. The owners are exceptionally knowledgeable and will find most any product that is not available in their store. I order items from their extensive catalog all the time and they have very prompt shipping for items that are not available in-store. I use them all the time for advice on vitamins and nutrition. They even have repeat customers who call from Nebraska and other out of state locations.

  • 3. Oskaloosa's Town Square

    Oskaloosa's town square is a very charming antiquity but with modern touches. I recommend a walk around the square and a tour of the courthouse. And I got engaged in the lovely centerpiece gazebo (which has special meaning for me). During the good weather seasons, Oskaloosa is ideal for "Fridays After Five" get-together time with different menus featured and lots of entertainment. It's like being in the "Music Man" during the summer season. Chief Mahaska ( the county name) sits in bronze and watches over our town square. Most all buildings are of excellent historical value and solidly made of brick with interesting architectural details all around town, particularly in the town square. Oskaloosa ("Osky") is progressing with a new streetscape which will make our town one of Iowa's true great places to visit and to live.

  • 4. Hunter's Cafe

    Excellent luncheon place with upscale atmosphere in the rear of an upscale shop. Excellent sandwiches, homemade soups and desserts. Very friendly service. And let me tell you, the candles and plateware are fantastic in the shop!

  • 5. The Book Vault

    Excellent selection of fiction and non-fiction books on Oskaloosa's town square. The historical building alone is worth the visit. Have a look at the stained glass ceiling! They also have a very lovely demonstration kitchen in the rear of the store, which my fiance visits religiously. The building was formerly a bank from back in the 1800's. Most charming, and more importantly, the owners know how to buy books for their clients. Absolutely lovely gift wrap is an added plus.

  • 6. Peppertree Restaurant

    Excellent dining in Oskaloosa, out past William Penn University. Fun bar scene, not rowdy and excellent service. For dinner, the Cranberry Pork Tenderloin is to die for. The steaks and pasta selections are also excellent. I take all my business clients here for dinner. (And my employees for special Karaoke nights!)

  • 7. Edmundson Park

    Lovely picturesque park in Oskaloosa. Excellent for walking, picnicing and just relaxing in serene surroundings. Very close to Edmundson and Harvest Point golf courses.

  • 8. Oskaloosa's Walking/Bike Path

    An excellent addition to a motivated and charming Iowa town. The concrete path - not yet completed in its entirety, but will be soon - winds around the entire charming town and offers excellent views and exercise for residents and visitors. Kudos to the team who built the path that winds around our lovely town.

  • 9. The Cellar - Peanut Pub

    Best Bloody Mary's in town! (among other mixed drinks and beer). And a lively, friendly crowd of locals. Friendly place with a great jukebox with all the oldies and newies. My employees and I love to go there after work on weekday afternoons. Be advised: weekends at 7 pm the place is filled with college students.

  • 10. George Daily Theatre

    More than you would think for a small town in Iowa! Excellent repertoire of musicals, dance, theatre and other interesting gatherings. Everything from Benny Goodman's Orchestra to dramatic performances like Neil Simon's "Lost in Yonkers". Lots of local talent here in Oskaloosa.

  • 11. Edmundson Swimming Pool

    A paradise in small-town Iowa! Excellent for children and adults alike. A fantastic "water park" is incorporated in the pool area, and private party spaces are also available. Not to miss if you have children. Great offerings at the snack bar. And have fun off the high dive or spring board!

  • 12. Tassel Ridge Winery

    Excellent selection of seasonal red and white varities, right on the edge of town. Wine tastings daily. Worth a visit!

  • 13. Thai Basil

    Technically, in Pella Iowa...only about a 15 minute drive and definitely worth the trip. Pella is a great town also, but not truly historic looking as Oskaloosa. (Lots of new buildings - very "done". Pella's town square is very interesting.

  • 14. Wang's Chinese

    Excellent Chinese food with varying degrees of spiciness at your request. Located near the town square. Interior is nice enough and music choice is very soothing. Buffet at lunch and dinner are excellent. Highly recommended in Oskaloosa.

  • 15. Mi Ranchito

    Excellent variety of Mexican dishes (Tex-Mex and authentic Mexican) in the town square. Service is friendly and quick. The place is always busy but hardly a wait. Smoking only upstairs. These folks are so good at preparing their dishes to your specifications and service is always with a smile. Highly recommended.

  • 16. Lake Red Rock

    Great large lake and dam outside of Oskaloosa/Pella for fishing, camping, eating out, boating, swimming or just visiting for the day. Cabins are available for rent and are very nice. Peaceful and relaxing. American Eagles are prevalent there during certain times of the year.