Throughout the United States, charming small towns dot the map, especially in the Midwest. During a recent road trip, we stumbled upon Fairfield, Iowa, a quirky small town with a vibrant food scene.
In this article, we dive into Fairfield, Iowa, exploring top restaurants and things to do. We want to thank Travel Iowa for hosting our visit to highlight this great, unique destination. This page contains affiliate links.
Where Is Fairfield, Iowa?
Fairfield is an eclectic city in Eastern Iowa, found in Jefferson County. This unusual town sits southwest of Iowa City and roughly two hours from the state capital of Des Moines. Fairfield is a vibrant, hip oasis in the midst of endless stretches of farmland.
Home to the famous Maharishi International University, formerly Maharishi University of Management, Fairfield has become a thriving town with a vibrant arts community and a diverse culinary scene. With intriguing museums, scenic bike trails, and various eateries, Fairfield is more than just a quick stop or a day trip.
A tremendous amount of entrepreneurial spirit, creativity, and charm fill this roughly six square mile town. These are some of the few reasons why Fairfield has repeated ranked as one of the top small towns in the United States.
If you are taking a road trip don’t forget to look over and pack our favorite road trip snacks!
Fairfield Iowa’s Top Restaurants
Deciding where to eat in Fairfield could prove to be one of the more contentious activities during your visit! Many choices exist, including great classic American options, Thai, and Indian cuisines. Indulge in a steaming bowl of Pho for lunch, a hearty portion of chicken curry for dinner, and end the evening with a nightcap at one of Fairfield’s many wine bars.
The Cider House In Fairfield, Iowa
Magnificently perched atop a hill overlooking a glistening lake sits the Fishback & Stephenson Cider House. The Cider House has been Iowa’s cider producer of the year in 2020 and 2021, making this a hot spot for locals and visitors.
The taproom offers signature ciders, and if cider isn’t your thing, there is also a full bar. During the warmer months, snag a table outside on the patio overlooking the lake, and enjoy the sunset.
The Cider House’s menu is small but mighty! Locally sourced beef make for mouthwatering burgers, along with melty grilled cheese sandwiches, all served with homemade sides.
Tip: ARRIVE EARLY! Reservations are not accepted and it is a popular spot. We arrived around 6:00 pm and waited over a half-hour in line to order and then another hour to get our food.
Address: 1949 Pleasant Plain Road, Fairfield, IA 52556
Experience Fairfield’s hometown coffee shop with a visit to Cafe Paradiso. Sip on your favorite brew on the patio, overlooking Fairfield’s historic downtown square. Lush planters, colorful benches, and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee beans make Cafe Paradiso a must. Come for yourself and try their award-winning coffee and sample their delicious pastries.
Address: 101 N Main Street, Fairfield, IA 52556
A popular spot to grab breakfast or brunch is Everybody’s Cafe, conveniently located near the Maharishi Vedic Observatory, with plenty of gluten-free and vegetarian options.
Another highlight of Everybody’s Cafe is the organic grocery store attached to the restaurant.
Address: 501 N 2nd Street, Fairfield, IA 52556
On the hunt for great tacos in Fairfield, Iowa? Look no further than Taco Dreams. Enjoy one of their signature burritos, craft tacos, or tasty salads. Carry-out options and outdoor dining are also available.
We highly recommend trying one of the tamales — they are delicious!
Tip: Taco Dreams is not open on the weekends, and open until 2:30 pm during the week.
Address: 400 N 2nd Street, Fairfield, Iowa 52556
For authentic Turkish cuisine, including Turkish coffee, stop at Istanbul Grill. Get an order of baba ganoush, a gyro, and some falafel!
Address: 50 S 2nd Street, Fairfield, IA 52556
Torino Pizza & Steakhouse
A local staple for over 40 years is Torino Pizza & Steakhouse. Unfortunately, and due to the pandemic, they were closed during our visit so we will have to make another trip to try the best pizza in town! Their menu is filled with many great choices, including various pasta dishes and steaks.
Address: 115 W Broadway Avenue, Fairfield, IA 52556
Asian Pho Bistro In Fairfield, Iowa
One of the top restaurants in Fairfield, Iowa, is Asian Pho Bistro. They have a superb selection of Vietnamese noodles and Asian cuisine. We had a fabulous meal here, including incredible pho, sticky Korean wings, egg rolls, and a flavor-packed curry.
Don’t forget the sake!
Tip: Reservations are accepted and highly recommended.
Address: 110 W Burlington Avenue, Fairfield, IA 52556
Flakey croissants, freshly brewed coffee, and organic baked goodies await at Bountiful Bakery. Step inside this elegant old Victorian-style home, transformed into one of the best bakeries in Fairfield, Iowa.
Bountiful Bakery is an artisan bakery creating fresh bagels, danishes, and more with the finest ingredients. Their goodies are baked in small batches, so arrive early to get the best selection.
They also offer a variety of vegan, gluten-free, and grain-free items.
Address: 303 S Main Street, Fairfield IA 52556
Tip: The bakery is closed on Tuesdays
Sweet N Saucy BBQ
Get your hands on some finger-licking BBQ at Sweet N Saucy. This wood-fired BBQ joint is run by a local family that takes pride in creating nearly everything from scratch. The sweet aroma of smoked meat can be smelled from the sidewalk, beckoning those passing by to come inside.
Platters include two sides and a corn muffin and are reasonably priced. We dove right into one of their signature platters with ribs and a side of burnt ends.
The Best Things To Do In Fairfield, Iowa
Fairfield is full of great places to explore with a little something for everyone. Home to the first Iowa State Fair, this southeastern Iowa town has plenty of offer, including a museum full of artifacts from the Smithsonian.
Whether it is browsing the newest art exhibit, sampling goodies from the Farmers’ Market, or taking a stroll through one of Fairfield’s many parks, there is something for everyone.
ICON Gallery In Downtown Fairfield, Iowa
To experience the local art scene, stop at ICON Gallery for their latest exhibit. Many of the exhibits in this contemporary gallery are by local and regional artists.
In addition to their exhibits, the ICON Gallery offers a variety of workshops, educational programs, and lectures. It is the ideal way to experience the arts first hand. There is no charge to enter the gallery, but donations are accepted.
Carnegie History Museum
Tucked away in Fairfield’s former library building is the Carnegie History Museum. Journey through history in one of Iowa’s oldest museums dating back to 1876. Venture to the third floor to find a fascinating museum full of intriguing artifacts and collections.
Visitors will delight in looking at ancient Roman antiquities, Native American artifacts, The Brown Pharmacy Collection, and various Civil War & Lincoln artifacts. Expect to spend at least an hour browsing the museum.
We were lucky during our visit to speak with the curator, who brought the collections to life as he shared passionately about many of the items.
Address: 112 South Court, Fairfield, Iowa
Fairfield Arts & Convention Center
Discover a great lineup of live entertainment, shows, and art at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center. The Center is home to the Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts, which brings in a variety of shows featuring music, comedy, dance, and theater.
In addition to shows, the convention center offers a great space for large gatherings, expos, and more.
Maasdam Barns In Fairfield, Iowa
The historic Maasdam Barns at the Evergreen Ridge Stock Farm takes visitors back to an early 20th-century farm known for breeding award-winning draft horses. One of the Maasdam Farm’s claims to fame is raising the world’s largest horse.
Guests can tour the three barns on the property, the Show Barn, the Mare Barn, and the Stallion Barn. During select weekends, draft horses are brought on the property for guests to view.
Fun Fact: The Carnegie Museum is home to the original blueprints of the Maasdam Barns and a variety of artifacts from the Barns!
Tip: I highly recommend taking a guided tour if possible. The details provided by the guides could easily be missed by the untrained eye!
Fairfield Farmer’s Market
Experience one of Fairfield’s top summer attractions by strolling through Fairfield’s Farmer’s Market. Loads of fresh produce, artisan goods, and crafts are available, but, arrive early to get the best pick as many vendors sell out of their popular items.
The Farmer’s Market is held at Howard Park during the summer months and moves indoors to the Golden Magnolia Sanctuary during the winter months.
Address: East Grimes Street, 2254 136th Boulevard, Fairfield, IA 52556
Hit the Fairfield Loop Bike Trail
The Fairfield Loop Trail is a 16-mile ring encompassing the city of Fairfield. The majority of the trail takes visitors through the scenic countryside, woodlands, hilly terrains, and various county and city parks.
Only 2.5 miles of the trail is paved, with the remainder being crushed stone. The trail’s official starting and ending point is at the Maasdam Barns. Learn more about the other entry points and see a complete map of the Fairfield Loop Here.
Rental bikes are available at Maharishi International University.
Tucked away at the far edge of town is Chautauqua Park, where locals enjoy outdoor recreation options. Play a round of disc golf, pack a picnic, and take the kiddos to play at one of the many playgrounds at Chautauqua Park. A walking path connects to the Fairfield Loop, making this park the ideal starting point.
Vedic City Observatory
There are two different City Observatories. The Vedic City Observatory is closer to Vedic City, and the Maharishi Vedic Observatory is at the Maharishi University. The Vedic City Observatory is a one and one-half acre open-air observatory of masonry sundials.
The observatory is the only complete example of these ancient astrology tools in the world today.
The observatories are free to visit, however, I highly recommend a guided tour or reviewing the YouTube video tour to better understand the incredible instruments.
Address: 1973 Grand Avenue, Fairfield, IA 52556-9026
Johnny Clock Museum
Take a side trip to the town of Lockridge to check the one-of-a-kind Johnny Clock Museum. The museum is owned by John and Pat Mclain and features many unique carvings transformed into functional clocks. John has dedicated over 100, 000 hours to carving these memorable clocks.
Tip: Call to set up a tour.
Go Shopping In The Square
The square makes the perfect place to shop, dine, and explore. Take a break from shopping online for the past two years, and get out to the trendy boutiques, unique gift shops, and various stores featuring handmade items. Pick out clothing at Flirt Boutique, grab a coffee at Cafe Paradiso, then stroll through the shops for shoes, decore, and a vast selection of organic products.
Don’t forget to visit the gazebo in the middle of the square!
Cedar Valley Winery
Nestled just on the outskirts of downtown Fairfield is Cedar Valley Winery. Grab a glass of one of their signature wines to enjoy on their patio overlooking Iowa’s beautiful countryside.
The winery offers tastings, tours, and special events throughout the year. Guests are welcome to pack a picnic or bring snacks to enjoy while they sip their wine.
Address: 2034 Dewberry Avenue, Batavia, IA 52533
Check Out The Nightlife
Fairfield is a small town but it doesn’t fall asleep early! Pay a visit to one of their many wine bars and breweries and enjoy a night on the town. The Bookhouse doubles as a teas shop and craft cocktail lounge, and of course there are cider breweries; a favorite of locals. Get cozy at Veraison Wine Bar or live it up with a themed party at the Depot House.
Hotels In Fairfield, Iowa
A top Fairfield hotel is the AmericInn by Wyndham. The AmericInn is conveniently located off the highway and only a short distance from downtown Fairfield. With spacious rooms, an indoor pool, hot tub, and a bar, it is the perfect home away from home for families. Bonus: the hotel offers a complimentary hot breakfast every morning!
Whether you live in the great state of Iowa or just passing through, be sure to pay a visit to the charming town of Fairfield!