A few weeks ago, my husband and I, in true #weekenders style, packed a bag and traveled to the Midwest for a quick weekend trip. We flew from Denver into Omaha, and drove into Sioux City, Iowa: my birthplace, the land of red beer, and an oasis of never-ending construction.
Nearly every trip back home, which combines squeezing in family, a favorite restaurant or two, and coordinating who-sleeps-where at my grandparents’ house, is a whirlwind. This journey was no different, though this time around I traveled with my husband rather than my parents.
My original plan was to review Sioux City as a destination—what to see, do, and experience within the tri-state area’s city limits. Because we were so crammed for time, however, I’ll just include some highlights of the entire trip, from DIA to SUX (though it doesn’t entirely suck).
Denver International Airport
This is my favorite airport in the business. Even though it’s covered in eccentric and somewhat fearful art, and sometimes birds hang out in the terminals, Denver‘s international airport is a wonderful place. There’s lots of food and drink options (TCBY is my pre-flight ritual, even at 6 a.m.), tons of outlets, and a buzzing of excitement as passengers eagerly await their trips.
***We would not, however, recommend Frontier Airlines. Beware of baggage fees, and plan accordingly.
Deandas Mexican Restaurant
Soon after arriving in Sioux City, we headed to one of our favorite food spots: Deandas, located in South Sioux. The atmosphere is family-friendly, the margaritas hit the spot, and the salsa packs a spicy punch. Here, my husband found some sass on the rocks, and broke through his quiet shell. The restaurant proved to be an excellent venue for teasing and laughing, and failing at a few family selfie attempts.
During the seven years I lived in Sioux City, I learned that yards are an important part of every household. Many homes have green grass, neatly trimmed and maintained to perfection. My grandparents’ house is no different: their two-level backyard, impeccably groomed, was a fun gathering spot for our family’s brief reunion.
During our stay, our cousins busted out a new yard game, which paired nicely with beers, brats, hot dogs, and the delicious vegan salad my mom provided. It’s called Kubb, and involves knocking over wooden blocks with batons, combining traits from both bowling and horseshoes. If you get a set, just know that a game can take hours to complete, though it’s full of fun.
Honestly: 10/10 would not recommend. This boozy concoction combines tomato juice and cheap beer. We tasted it with Hamms (a Midwestern delight, comparable to PBR), and couldn’t believe anyone would subject their taste buds to such a disservice. Shout out to my cousin-in-law, who at the very least has a serving of vegetables with every beer he drinks.
Jitters is a local coffee shop in Sioux City with delicious roasts and outstanding service. We make it a priority to go on Saturdays when we visit, because Jitters owns the coveted machine and recipe for Sunshine Donuts.
The old Sunshine Donuts was famous for their donuts, a sweet and airy treat that spread across generations; my parents tell stories of the donuts selling in the halls of their high school every week for a quarter. After the shop closed, Jitters bought the resources and revitalized the Sioux City classic, offering fresh-baked chocolate, maple, and glazed goods on Saturdays. Go there. It’s worth it. Pro-tip: get there early—the shop fills up with other hungry patrons.
I have a warm spot in my heart for donuts. My husband and I try new shops and recipes often, and even served them at our wedding in lieu of cake. These are my favorite donuts of all time, and made our trip that much sweeter.
Look—a trip to Sioux City is incomplete without a foray to the local Hy-Vee grocery store. Plain and simple, this place has it all: groceries, booze, and an affordable breakfast. We joined my grandparents for their weekend post-church brunch at the “Casual Dining” section of the store, and got full from a hearty meal. In a world where brunch lines go around the block waiting for Snooze or Sam’s No. 3, a Hy-Vee breakfast was a refreshing change of pace.
Probably the most important piece of coming to my old Iowa home is seeing family, both residents and out of towners. Shout out to all of the cousins, aunts, and friends that made the trek to Sioux City to say hi and catch up, playing yard games, drinking cocktails, and solving riddles.
In true Midwestern style, a thorough round of hugs marks both the beginning and end of a visit, and reminds us why we love to return—even if just for a weekend.
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