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The Scarlet & Black

The best neighborhood activities to do in Grinnell this fall

Grinnell citizens visit the Grinnell Farmer’s Market, located in Central Park. Contributed photo.

While the beginning of the school year brings plenty of excitement at Grinnell College, there is an abundance of things to do this time of year outside the confines of campus. Rachael Kinnick, director of the Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce, offered plenty of tips on how to best enjoy Grinnell as summer begins to turn to autumn.

One regular event happening is the Grinnell Farmers Market, just a few blocks away from campus at the corner of 4th and Broad Street. Local vendors sell produce, food, plants, and handmade goods, and also provide demonstrations, live music, and educational opportunities to entertain and inform visitors. As Kinnick added, it also offers a great opportunity for students to interact with community members they may never meet on campus.

A unique aspect of the Grinnell Farmers Market is that everything sold there must be entirely produced and made in Iowa, ensuring that all customers’ purchases benefit local farms and businesses. The market is held from 3pm to 6pm on Thursdays and from 10am to noon on Saturdays, running now through October 19th.

Another opportunity to support local agriculture can be found at Grinnell Heritage Farm, during their “HaPIZZAness” events on September 13th and 27th. Visitors can enjoy a wood-fired pizza buffet, cooked with ingredients straight from the farm. The pizzas incorporate seasonal produce to ensure that the experience is fresh every time—both in flavor and experience. The farm encourages guests to “bring a blanket, chair, favorite beverage, lawn game or musical instrument to make [the] evening more enjoyable.”

As for those interested in getting to know the natural side of Central Iowa, Kinnick recommends checking out some of Grinnell’s lakes and their accompanying parks. The town is home to both Arbor Lake and Lake Nyanza. Though farther away, Rock Creek State Park has plenty to offer its visitors, whether it be kayaking, biking, or hiking. Each of these spots are great to observe the lovely fall foliage as it begins to change, but even a walk down the streets near campus should satisfy anyone’s autumnal itch.

“One of my favorite things to do is to just walk up and down Broad Street around the fall season, late September or early October, because the trees, especially on that street, are beautiful,” Kinnick said. Those strolling down Broad Street this fall should make their way downtown to Saints Rest Coffee House to try some cider, a pumpkin-spiced coffee, or one of their other seasonal drinks.

Several events will be taking place downtown this fall. On September 29th, the first ever Prairie Palooza music festival will be taking place, a day full of performances at Central Park that is totally free to the public. Kinnick also recommended students attend the town’s Homecoming Parade on October 3rd, which goes through downtown and offers a chance to see many members of the community celebrating together.

“I think it’s really important as a student, too, just to get out and see what the community is all about … the sooner you do that as a student, the more connected you feel to Grinnell … not only to the institution, but the community as well. I think that that really helps enrich your experience here on campus,” Kinnick said.

For more information on things to do in Grinnell, visit the Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce’s website at

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