Students hang out at the local coffee shop, Saints Rest

The Grinnell Community

Repeatedly named as one of the best and coolest college towns in America—alongside places like Berkeley, Boulder, and Cambridge—Grinnell combines the artful, intellectual buzz of a college town with the genuine warmth and friendliness that defines “Iowa nice.”

Trip Advisor calls Grinnell “a great city with a decidedly metropolitan feel,” with countless events and festivals throughout the year. Grinnell also has earned a reputation as a dining destination, with more than 30 local eateries, including restaurants committed to local foods, critically acclaimed bakeries, and a winner of Iowa’s Best Bite Restaurant Challenge. A recent MSN article citited Grinnell’s attractions as a top college town. 

Welcome to campus

The 120-acre College campus is located just north of downtown, in a neighborhood of beautiful Victorian and Craftsman-style homes and towering oak and cottonwood trees. It contains a mix of academic-gothic and stunning contemporary architecture.

A place to live

Grinnell has beautiful vintage houses, unique student hangouts, an arts center and museums, and prairie-style architectural gems such as a Louis Sullivan-designed bank.

Visit downtown

Walk south a few blocks from campus to visit Grinnell shops, restaurants, and other attractions.

Explore the prairie

The College’s 365-acre Conard Environmental Research Area is vast and vibrant lab for biologists, artists, anthropologists, and environmental studies majors. The college is also home to the Center for Prairie Studies a teaching and learning resource for students and faculty.

Culinary treats

The College dining hall is excellent, but when you need a change of scenery, Grinnell has an amazing number of eateries per capita. From linen tablecloths and little plates to chop sticks to finger food, Grinnell has you covered.

Movies at the Strand

The recently restored Strand Theatre on Main Street shows three films at a time. Nestled in the heart of downtown Grinnell, the theatre is a great stop-off after dinner at the Prairie Canary..

Fun spots to hang out

Bring some homework or just some reading and grab a cup of coffee at Saints Rest. Order a sandwich or a beer and enjoy good company at Lonnski's Pub and Deli. Assemble a team and join in the fun at the Bowladrome. Curl up for an afternoon at the Drake Library.

Farmers' Market

When the weather is warm, you can buy the very freshest produce from local farmers. Every Thursday and Saturday, they crowd 4th Avenue with stalls full of ripe veggies, fresh-baked breads, homemade pastries, and local wine tasting. Afterwards, enjoy Thursday Music in the Park as the entire community pulls up lawn chairs to listen to local musicians.


A variety of local businesses cater to Grinnell’s needs. Clothing, shoes, groceries, books, coffee, furniture, bikes, arts-and-crafts supplies, and more (four pizza parlors!) can be purchased in town. Check out this Chronicle of Higher Education "postcard" on Grinnell's local bike shop to get a sense of vibrant small-town life. You can also visit the Grinnell, Iowa website for more information on local businesses.

Cheer or be cheered

Grinnell was recently named an Iowa Sports Authority District — only one of ten communities in Iowa to be so honored (and the smallest town to be given the designation!). Grinnell boasts some wonderful recreational sports venues, including those found at Ahrens Park, in the City of Grinnell, in the Grinnell-Newburg School District, and on the Grinnell College campus.

A place to stay

Visiting friends or family in Grinnell? Looking for a place to stay near the College? All accommodations in Grinnell are within a few miles of our campus.

During certain times of the year, such as commencement, Grinnell fills up. During these times, you may want to check out the lodgings in nearby towns — all those listed are within a reasonable drive of the campus.

Remember: During the academic year, prospective students visiting may be able to schedule an overnight visit in a residence hall.