Be A Tourist in Your Own Community
By Melissa Schwan

This is part two of a four part series written by Vinton Unlimited.

The purpose of these brief articles is to help acquaint Vinton residents with leisure options that are available right in our own community so we can all become local ‘ambassadors’ so when a visitor might ask “what is there to do in town” each resident can respond with countless suggestions and a sense of community pride.

What is there to do in Vinton? Your initial reaction might be to respond “nothing” with an eye roll. Well, you are wrong! Vinton is bursting with tourist opportunities!

Tour the Iowa Braille & Sight Saving School! The IBSSS was founded in 1852 and is currently Iowa’s second oldest educational institution. Mary Ingalls, the most famous student, graduated from the school in 1889.

Go on a walking tour of the 20+ chainsaw carvings scattered around Vinton! After the Derecho wind storm of 2011, local artist Brian Parr used the opportunity to add to several existing sculptures by creating works of art from tree trunks that otherwise would be been destroyed. Brochures are available around town listing the carvings along with a map.

Soon, make your way around town to the beautiful corn statues.  After the upcoming Art in the Park celebration, the ears of corn will be placed around town to see and take pictures with. A brochure will be made highlighting the locations once the ears have been place.

Visit the Horridge House at 612 First Avenue. The house was built in the 1860’s and still has many of the old features & charm. The house is also the location of the Benton County Historical Society’s archives and museum. Local genealogy information is also available at the home.

The Ray House is perfect for visiting or holding bridal showers or small gatherings. The Ray House is located at 912 First Avenue and was built in 1893. In 1982, the house along with the original carriage house was added to the National Register of Historical Places. With its stained glass windows, leaded glass windows, and many different woods in the fireplaces, this is a beautiful house. There are ten rooms, seven fireplaces, open stairway, full-floored attic on third floor, with servant’s quarters and full basement, where it is believed the meals were prepared.

Explore the Benton County Nature Center. The Benton County Nature Center at Rodgers Park offers an outdoor classroom, interpretive opportunities, a few miles of trails, fishing, picnic locations, outdoor pavilions, volleyball, wildlife viewing, camping, and a playground. The Center contains meeting and classroom areas, a variety of exhibits, a nature library, observation deck, and staff offices. The nature center was built with conservation in mind, making use of local resources and energy-efficient technology. Exhibits in the Benton County Nature Center encompass the three major ecosystems of Iowa.  As visitors use the nature center they see and touch natural objects, play games, and find answers to questions.

Take a ride on the Old Creamery Nature Trail that connects the communities of Vinton, Garrison, and Dysart, Iowa.  This former railroad bed meanders through the quiet fields of the upper midwest on a limestone/rock base.

Shopping, shopping, shopping! Many times we run in and out of a store, looking for that one item on our shopping list. Instead, take some time and check out our retail shops! We truly have very unique, fun shops with some really cool items!

As a Vinton resident, have you seen all of the chainsaw carvings, gone for a ride on the bike trail or even toured the Iowa Braille School? My challenge to you this summer is to complete at least two of these items on the list!

This is a snippet of what is available and what we promote to our tour groups coming to town. If you have suggestions or idea of other attractions we could promote, let us know!

Next week: How to be a tourist in Vinton.