Jackson County first saw white settlers in the early 1830s and was named after President Andrew Jackson, as was one of its smaller communities, Andrew.
Maquoketa is the largest town in the county, with about 6,100 people. Its unusual name comes from a river that flows north of the city and means, in the Native American language, “Bear River.”
It has been known as the “Timber City” since about 1870 because of the many trees that line the streets.
Bellevue boasts about 2,000 residents and was the first county seat, but later lost an election to Andrew in the early 1840s. In 1873, Maquoketa beat out Andrew in another election — partly because a railroad had reached Maquoketa — to become the county seat, which it is to this day.
Check this out: You and your family can explore the county’s natural resources at Hurstville Interpretive Center, 18670 63rd St., 563-652-3783. Outdoors, you have a prairie and wetland; indoors, displays and exhibits. In the winter, it offers snowshoe and other related activities.
Codfish Hollow Barnstormers,
- 5013 288th Ave. The only live music venue in the area that you can take a hayrack ride down to stage, which just happens to be in a barn. It boast some of the most inventive local and national indie bands around. Check out the schedule at www.codfishhollowbarnstormers.com
Places to stay: Decker Hotel, 128 N. Main St., 563-652-1875; Squiers Manor, 418 W. Pleasant St., 563-652-6961.
Don’t miss this: Maquoketa Caves State Park, northwest of town at 9688 Caves Road. It opened again earlier in the spring after a mammoth renovation stretch last year. Check tinyurl.com/ybjgzlvv or call 563-652-5833 for information. Old City Gallery, 121 S. Olive St., 563-321-1074. Features a variety of art from local and area artists, as well as workshops.
When you’re hungry: Flapjack Family Restaurant, 101 McKinsey Ave., 563-652-6779; La Casa De Pancho, 100 N. Main St., 563-748-0018.
A night on the town? Mac’s Wine Cellar, 144 S. Main St., 563-652-4462. Located in the cellar of Farmers Creek Antiques, it offers Lagomarcino chocolate along with its variety of vino and craft beers; Perxactly Bar & Grill, 110 S. Olive St., 563-652-9084.
More on Maquoketa: maquoketachamber.com
Check this out: Mont Rest Bed & Breakfast, 300 Spring St., 563-872-4220. Along with your stay, this B&B offers things such as Murder Mystery Nights, ghostly tour packages and eagle watching excursions.
Other places to stay: Baymont Inn & Suites, 4115 N. Riverview St., 563-872-5000; Stone Street Cottage, 901 Stone St., 563-872-3610 (plus newly remodeled Stone House Inn next door).
Don’t miss this: River Ridge Brewing, 118 N. Riverview St., www.riverridgebrewing.com. Opened in 2016 by four locals, it’s one of the tri-state area’s up-and-coming brew pubs. Among its usual offerings are Oar What IPA and Who Gives a Rasp.
Jackson County Pro Rodeo,
- Thursday-Saturday, June 20-22, at the Bellevue Horseman’s Club, 25125 297th Ave. The usual array of rodeo events and action.
When you’re hungry: Potter’s Mill Flatted Fifth Blues & BBQ, 300 Potter Drive, 563-872-3838; Richman’s Cafe, 602 S. Riverview St., 563-872-3749; Spruce Harbor Inn, 30579 400th Ave., 563-872-5637.
A night on the town? Lock 12 Music and Trading Co., 134 Riverview St., 563-845-1504. One of the newest live-music venues in northeast Iowa, you’ll see guitars lining the walls, and art pieces depicting music icons like Bob Marley and Prince throughout the venue; Off Shore Bar & Grill, 4111 N. Riverview Drive, 563-872-5800; .
More on Bellevue: bellevueia.com
Sabula is Iowa’s only island town and worth a drive through on the narrow land strips. Keep heading east to go over the new bridge to Savanna, Ill., if you have time.