Antique shoppers of the Midwest have long known about Walnut, Iowa. This tiny town in western Iowa has an impressive amount of antique shops all within walking distance of each other. It has earned the nickname Iowa’s Antique City for good reason.
Where is Walnut, Iowa?
Walnut is in Pottawattamie County, just off of Interstate 80. The good stuff – all the antique shops – aren’t right off the interstate, though. Just drive south about 2 miles and you’re there.
I’ve lived within driving distance of Walnut for years but never ventured off the interstate to explore it. I’ve driven by it dozens of times, actually. It’s always been “One of these days…” kind of thing.
However, I was on the hunt for some unique wall decor and I had my sights set on the town’s Antique City Drive. It’s a charming brick road, just a couple of blocks long, lined with antique shops.
I had to plan, though, since hours varied greatly for each shop. Some shops open at 10 a.m., others by 11 or noon. And then you’ll have to figure out which day of the week the most are open.
Iowa’s Antique City
Junkers and antique shoppers – and people like me who only dip their toes in vintage shopping – will discover at least one shop in Walnut to love, and a few to browse only briefly. Some stores are set up by vendor sections making it the ultimate treasure hunt, while others are artfully laid out to attract the Bohemian Instagram crowd.
Nearly all of the shops I entered I was warmly greeted. That’s got to be one of the appeals of this town – friendly shopkeepers. I admitted to one at The Bear Trap that I’ve never been to Walnut and she joked she’s been waiting for me all this time.
For those who seek antique furniture, check out Granary Antique Mall. And those who like the randomness of huge antique malls with a variety of vendors, there’s Walnut Antique Mall as well as Granary mentioned above has more than 100 vendors. Mabel’s Old Fashioned Rose and The Bear Trap were two other wonderland shops of stuff.
There were several more that weren’t open when I visited. Or were open but time just didn’t allow to venture in. There are, at least, 15 antique shops in this tiny town, plus shops specializing in vinyl records and games, crocks, crafts, and funky outdoor art.
Dining in Walnut
While you can spend a full day shopping in Iowa, finding a place to fuel up and keep your shopping energy going is more difficult. Dining restaurants are limited, but they do exist.
I was surprised to find a sandwich shop of sorts hidden inside the store, A Bit of Iowa. In addition to sandwiches, there were large cupcakes, coffee, and wine tasting.
Few shops sell snacks, and fewer sell anything fresh. I found a great hidden gem of a baked goods shop inside Vault/Frosting Inc., though. The cupcakes caught my eye, so I bought a lemon cupcake to go. The ultra-delicate frosting was divine.
If you refer leisure shopping, visit Walnut on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday on a non-festival weekend. However, if you want to go into all the shops – AND dozens of outdoor vendors – visit during an antique festival. There are a few key annual events to keep in mind:
- Antique Fall Festival (Oct. 8 & 9, 2022)
- Christmas Antique Walk (Thanksgiving Weekend each year)
- Antique Show (this is “The Big One” held every Father’s Day Weekend)
- Antique Car Show (early August each year)
What’s near Walnut
If your goal is strictly antiquing, you probably don’t need to venture far from Antique City Drive in Walnut. However, there’s plenty to see in the area, if you want to add variety to your day trip.
- Prairie Rose State Park is about 8 miles north of Walnut. It’s one of the few state parks with an overnight fishing area. There’s a swimming beach, as well as two cabins and plenty of camping spots.
- Elk Horn is a charming little Danish town about 16 miles from Walnut. You can’t miss the windmill, plus there’s the Museum of Danish America.
- Hitchcock House in Lewis (one of the Underground Railroad stops in Iowa; tours are seasonal.) The historic home is about 20 miles from Walnut.