People are just cool here.

go ahead, be a tourist

{Post originally published 09/2017 @ Ready to plan your Emmetsburg summer vacation? Check out our Events Page so you don't miss a moment of the fun!}



 "Be a traveler, not a tourist." 


I'm sure many of you are familiar with this quote, it's one of my favorites. In fact, I think I have it posted to at least four Pinterest boards. You know, just in case I forget to go off the beaten path en route to dropping the kids off at daycare. Being a traveler, truly immersing yourself in the local culture is an amazing way to see a new location and I always thought that it was the only way to vacation.


But then I went on a Staycation.

 [planning on a visit to Emmetsburg? Check out our local business directory!]


While the facade of Five Island Sp Co was being renovated, our family had the oportunity spend a week camping at Kearney State Park, a whole six blocks from our house.

And. It. Was. Awesome.


We had so much fun seeing Emmetsburg through the eyes of campers from all over and we approached our hometown with such a differnet view than our day to day lives usually allow for.


We wore less clothing- "No sleeves, no shoes," in the words of my husband, we spent copius amounts of time on the lake. We asked people where they were from and how they got here and what the did and we let our kids run wild. We approached the week with wild eyed abandon that work and school and activities rarely allow.


In short, we were tourists.




We met people visiting family and people who grew up here and were back for reunions. We met a couple who campled at the lake while they built a hunting cabin on the river. We even met one woman who was walking- WALKING- from Tennessee to North Dakota. Using a walker. I seriously didn't even consider walking form the campground to DejaBrew to get my daily coconut latte that week. {PS- DejaBrew coconut latte = vacation in a cup.}



I was thrilled to run into my best friend's younger brother, down from Minneapolis for the weekend with his girlfriend and tenting on First Island, "Just to escape the noise, you know?" His girlfriend had never been to Iowa before meeting him and now she's in love with Emmetsburg. We have everything here, she explained, golf and restaurants and the lake and campgrounds and a casino. "I'm more impressed every time I visit."


When is the last time you took a look around Emmetsburg with that kind of fresh perspective?



With Labor Day weekend upon us, our challenge to you is to get out and be a tourist. Eat frest donuts from Our Family Bakery, one of the few true scratch donut bakeries in Northwest Iowa. Enjoy hand cut steaks and fresh ground burgers from Dublins, take in the incredible architectural details of The Office as you drink an ice cold beverage. Marvel over the most authentic Mexican and Chinese cuisine at Don Jose and Sum Hing. Explore the craft beer selection at the Cornerstone. Rent a kayak. Get on the Lake. Drink hand crafted coffee, shop the incredible selection of gifts and home decor at Blossoming Creations and A Heavenly Celebration. Search for treasures at Pot of Gold, Mainstreet Memories Mall and Once Again Consignments.


Represent your new favorite vacation spot with a t-shirt or hoodie from Five Island Spa Co, and of course, schedule your massage for next week, being a tourist is exhausting!







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  • Five Island Life
  • Five Island Life