Jewel of the Prairie

Home to roughly 10,000 people, Grinnell, Iowa is truly the "Jewel of the Prairie." A sense of community spirit and possibility are some of the reasons that Grinnell has been named "One of the Best College Towns in North America" (MSN, 2012), "One of the Hundred Best Small Towns in America" (Norm Crampton’s Nationwide Guide to the Best in Small Town Living), "3rd Coolest Small Towns in America" (Budget Travel Magazine, 2009) and "#1 Small Town in America" (RelocateAmerica, 2010). CBS news also featured Grinnell as the "Coolest Small Town" in a 2009 video.


Grinnell was founded in 1854 by Josiah B. Grinnell, the man to whom Horace Greeley advised, "Go West, young man, go West." Lore has it that JB Grinnell chose this particular site for his new town because of its prime location — an insider's tip suggested that the two railroads were planned to cross at this location. JB's bet paid off — the railroads did cross in Grinnell. Grinnell College celebrated its 150th year in Grinnell in 2009.


Grinnell still sits "in the middle of everywhere," conveniently situated within an hour's drive of Iowa's main cities, and within 5 hours' drive of Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Louis, and Kansas City.

Cost of Living

In 2011, U.S. News and World Report evaluated "real income" (what your paycheck can buy, considering the cost of living) and found Des Moines, Iowa to be best in the nation. More details and the rankings can be found at Planetizen's "Best Cities for Making a Living."

Local Resources

General Information

Arts and Culture

Educational Resources

Local News Sources

Finding Housing in Grinnell



Get Involved

Discount Attraction Tickets

Employees of Grinnell College are eligible for some terrific privileges at local attractions. Examples include discounted tickets at the Des Moines Civic Center (now, "Des Moines Performing Arts") and discounted memberships at the Science Center of Iowa and the Blank Park Zoo, both located in Des Moines. Because these are exclusive employee discounts, the Office of Human Resources has made available details and instructions on the Human Resources page on GrinnellShare.

  • Log on to GrinnellShare.
  • Click on the "Offices" tab in the upper left corner
  • Choose the "Human Resources" office
  • Select "Benefits" from the side menu
  • Review the full list

If you have ideas for other discounts you'd like to see, please contact the Office of Community Enhancement & Engagement and we'd be happy to see if we can help.

In addition, through the College's support for local non-profit groups, we sometimes receive free tickets to local community shows and performances, which our office then makes available to employees through special drawings. So read the Campus Memo and watch your inbox for these announcements throughout the year!

Grinnell Connect

Grinnell Connect is a Chamber of Commerce-run group focused on connecting new and long-standing residents through social, civic, charitable, and professional activities. If you live and/or work in the Grinnell area, this is the group for you! Get updates on fun events and activities in the community and have a built-in group of friends to attend those things with. Membership is free and open to all; email the chamber or find Grinnell Connect on Facebook.