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Franklin County Harvest Tour – Hampton, Iowa

Franklin County Harvest Tour - Hampton, Iowa

We went on our first press trip recently to Hampton, Iowa, located in the north Iowa county of Franklin, with an amazing group of talented bloggers. I’m excited to share all the fun things we did in the Hampton, Iowa area – good food, good people, good fun. Hampton would make a great weekend trip, so add it to your list of places to visit.

Franklin County Harvest Tour – Hampton, Iowa

Franklin County Harvest Tour - Hampton Iowa

We showed up at the AmericInn in Hampton, Iowa, on a Friday afternoon. I was a little nervous and not sure what to expect. This was my first official blogger trip and I had FOUR children with me. Luckily, my husband was along too, or I’m not sure I would have survived. I posted the picture above on Instagram in warning to Hampton, but it really was not necessary. Everyone had a great time, and for the most part, behaved well.

AmericInn Hampton, Iowa #FranklinCoHarvest Blogger Tour

If you’re contemplating a trip to Hampton, Iowa, I recommend staying at the AmericInn. There aren’t that many hotel options in Hampton and I can vouch for this one! We really enjoyed the pleasant staff, comfortable rooms, the pool, and the gathering room. Plus, there was an apple tree by the entrance my kids were happy to grab a snack from every time we walked by it.

What to do, eat, and see in Franklin County, Iowa

REA Power Plant Museum outside Hampton, Iowa

Franklin County Harvest Tour - REA Power Plant

The first stop on our tour was the REA Power Plant Museum. I’ve never visited a power plant museum before and wasn’t sure what to expect. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. The REA Power Plant museum was really well done. It was interesting and educational – mostly for the adults – but there were things for the kids too. Bear with me while I give a mini history lesson. My undergrad minor was history and I am always fascinated by what I learn.

Franklin County Harvest Tour REA Power Plant Museum

Construction started on the REA Power Plant in 1937 thanks to the Rural Electrification Act signed by President Roosevelt in 1935, and it became operational in March of 1938. According to, it was the first power plant in the nation “to put farmer-owned generated electricity out on farmer-owned lines” – a huge boon to area farmers.  Interestingly, this power plant’s original engineering firm was Stanley Group from Muscatine, which happens to my part of the state. I’m probably the only person who finds that little tidbit interesting, but there you go! You’re welcome.REA Power Plant Musuem Franklin County IowaLest you think there’s nothing for kids to do in a Power Plant Museum … my kids had a great time learning about life when the dinosaurs lived. {Don’t let the uber-thrilled look on the 11 year old fool you!} We loved the old cookstove and scary looking pressure canner. Can you image canning with that beast? And putting yourself in cow milking stanchions {yes, I had to google the spelling} is always a hit. {By the way, traveling with children on a blogging trip might not be the best idea.} The chicken duster that Sara’s standing beside horrified us all. The description said to place 5 chickens in that metal cylinder and rotate the crank to remove mites. I’m serious! We were a little traumatized at the thought of throwing our beloved ladies in there.

If you’d like to tour this museum, you’ll need to call ahead of time. As you can imagine, it is  not staffed 100% of the time, but you can easily arrange your own free tour with a quick phone call.

TownsEnd Winery in Hansell, Iowa

Franklin County Harvest Tour - Hampton, Iowa Towns End WineryNext stop on our tour was the TownsEnd Winery and we arrived right before sunset. If you enjoy sweet, fruity wines you’ll love this winery as they make mostly fruit wines from fruit they grow themselves, with the exception of Wisconsin-grown cranberries for their popular Cranberry wine. Franklin County Harvest Tour Towns End Winery

The property was beautiful and the vintners were lovely people. We toured the property, learned about the pluses and minuses of operating a winery in Iowa, and also tried a bunch of their wine. I’m not a sweet wine person, but the Cranberry, Gooseberry, and Red Currant varieties were good hits!

Franklin County Historical Museum

Franklin County Historical Museum Hampton Iowa

Another fantastic museum to visit in Hampton is the Franklin County Historical Museum. To my surprise, my kids loved this museum as much as I did – with its rooms furnished with period furniture, 4H displays, war memorabilia, and the old Franklin County record books and a genealogy library, even a bag car phone {remember those? I do!} – there really was something to interest everyone. By the way, who wants a perm? 😀

We spent so long on the indoor displays, that we didn’t get to enjoy the outside displays at all. I have it on the highest authority, though, that there were period buildings, a caboose, and other fun things to see outside too! Maybe next time.

Downtown Hampton Local Shops & Eateries

Rustic Brew.

Rustic Brew - Hampton, Iowa

Another favorite stop was the Rustic Brew in Downtown Hampton, which is both coffee shop and brew pub! We stopped there for breakfast and tried a variety of delicious scones, quiches, and muffins. I was surprised to learn they also brew their own craft-beer, which my husband was quite happy to sample a little later in the day.

The Rustic Brew, Hampton Iowa

While at the Rustic Brew, our kids enjoyed drawing on the chalk wall, playing the piano, and drinking lovely fruit smoothies.

Local Shops in Hampton.

The Wood Cellar - Hampton IowaHampton features quite a few fun little shops to explore in their quaint downtown area. We really enjoyed the Wood Cellar which features mostly country decor and gifts. In fact, I started my Christmas shopping at this little store and have one person crossed off my list already! Yay me! We also enjoyed the Cornerstone Cottage, an independent book store.

Cornerstone Cottage Hampton, IowaMy eldest daughter was pleased to buy a book there and get a free one, too! She’s quite the voracious reader so two-for-one was a great deal for her! And the Cornerstone Cottage had a lot of fun books.

Windsor Theater in Hampton.

Windsor Theater in Hampton Iowa

I’ve been trying to figure out the highlight of the trip and it’s a real toss-up. The Vaudeville Show we attended at the Winsdor Theater, “An Evening Like it Used to Be,” was just fantastic. Again, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the show exceeded all expectations. It started with a movie showing of Laurel & Hardy’s You’re Darn Tootin’ from 1928 that was accompanied by a live orchestra.

After, a vaudeville show with comedy, opera, and barbershop quartet rounded out the show. My kids enjoyed the silent Laurel & Hardy show the most. My personal favorite was the Cat’s Duet, or Duetto buffo di due gatti, and I have started meowing at my kids when they fight with each other or annoy me as a result of the show. True story. I would totally go back next year to see this show again.

Harriman-Nielsen Historic Farm in Hampton.

Harriman Nielsen Historic Farm, Hampton, Iowa

The other favorite activity from our trip was a visit to the Harriman-Nielsen Historic Farm, also in Hampton. We showed up in the morning of our last day while they were getting ready for the big annual fall festival. Everyone was busy, and the festival hadn’t started yet, but they opened up the house and let us have free reign of the property because sadly, we couldn’t stay for the afternoon festival.

Harriman Nielsen Historic Farm - Franklin County Iowa

A little about the Harriman-Nielsen Historic Farm – the gorgeous house was built in 1881 by a Danish immigrant, Dr. Oscar Bryan Harriman. I’m a little bit fuzzy on the details, but when the last remaining daughter moved into a smaller home, the house was basically shuttered and everything – including letters written in Danish, furnishing, clothing, musical instruments – was left exactly where it lay. In the winter, numerous barn cats were allowed free reign of the kitchen and you can image what happened as a result.

Luckily, the cats were contained to the kitchen – which has since been redone and is the only portion of the home that is not original. The farm was given to the Franklin County Historical Society by Nielsine Nielsen, the last surviving daughter, and it’s been painstakingly restored ever since.

Harriman Nielsen Historic Farm - ride in a Model A

We loved being chauffered in the 1915 Model A, ironically owned and driven by a bonafide German named Joerg. I had fun finding someone to pratice my German with in Hampton, Iowa. {If you click on the picture you’ll head over to Instagram to see a short video clip of the kids driving off in the car – such a great time.}

Harriman Nielsen Historic Farm Fall Festival - #FranklinCoHarvestI was so pleased to tour the gardens as well. While they’d harvested most everything already, the Harriman-Nielsen Historical Farm also grows many varieties of heirloom pumpkins, squashes, beans, and corn {sourced from Seed Savers} which they sell at their fall festival. They had lovely zinnia lined paths, and I am really inspired to grow more of these beauties next year in my own garden. I highly recommend a visit to the Harriman-Nielsen Historic Farm. What a fascinating place to visit!

Harvest Tour of Franklin County

Harvest Tour Franklin County #FranklinCoHarvest

Of course, no harvest tour in Iowa is complete without actually harvesting! We had a great time visiting with Roy & Jeanie Ahrends on their farm. Since Dan’s parents are also farmers, we’re lucky enough to have combine and tractor rides most years, but a lot of the other bloggers had never been in a combine or tractor before. We all enjoyed ourselves and the beautiful day.

Franklin Co. Iowa - farm sky viewThis view! This is why I live in Iowa. Peace. Quiet. Beauty. I never thought Iowa was beautiful before we moved here in 2006, but it really is. The end.

Franklin County Harvest Tour - Blogger Group
I enjoyed my first blogging trip very much! It’s always great to meet more awesome Midwest bloggers, including: Erin from Her Heartland Soul,  Kim from Oh! My Omaha, Jenni from The Gingered Whisk {I’ve been lucky to meet her a couple times and she’s pretty amazing}, Val from Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids, and Connie from Midwest Wanderer. Many thanks to the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce and Farm Bureau for sponsoring our harvest trip to Hampton, Iowa. We had a great time on our family trip this fall and we thank you very much for the invitation!

Donna Hup

Thursday 29th of October 2015

I went on this trip last year and I loved it! I love your kids expressions in the pics. What a fun family trip :)

Beth Ann Chiles

Monday 19th of October 2015

I was able to do this trip last year and LOVED it. The people of Franklin County are so welcoming and eager to share their love of agriculture and history of their county and it looks as if you had the same type of experience. Glad your kids could go along and enjoy it all as well. Fun recap!

Erin @ Her Heartland Soul

Sunday 18th of October 2015

What a great recap! It was like reliving the trip all over again! I loved getting to meet you and hope we run into each other again soon!

Val - Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids

Sunday 18th of October 2015

I'm glad you guys had such a good time. It was great to have you on this year's tour!

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