April 23, 2021

Burlington, Iowa: charming Mississippi River town

A performing engagement took me to this Iowa town with church spires and graceful architecture nestled on the hills overlooking the Mississippi River. Some of the most impressive homes are situated on the bluffs over-looking downtown and the river valley.

The Bart Howard Foundation was the entity that hired me to perform a program which included the song “Fly Me To the Moon” and other songs connected to the Burlington native-son Howard. Fans of cabaret may want to make a stop to see the Bart Howard Room in the Des Moines County Historical Society. Photos and memorabilia of Bart and friends dot this jewel-box room. A grand piano and cafe tables are put to good use when the occasional performer is brought in to present a cabaret class or program.

Martini’s fine dining restaurant provided excellent steaks and seafood with a million dollar view of the sunset washing over downtown Burlington and the river.  Big Muddy’s was literally river-side with excellent casual food such as burgers, a nice salad bar and a dinner buffet. For entertainment, The Washington nightclub downtown books a wide variety of music including jazz and blues in a cozy setting with bar and table seating.

I was pleasantly surprised at my lovely hotel room in the Catfish Bend Casino and Pzazz Hotel. The venue name conjured up images of rustic digs that were a far cry from the plush bed, spa bathroom, fleecy bathrobe and flat screen TV that I encountered. A daily generous breakfast buffet was included in the room rate. Staff members were friendly and helpful. I would visit this hotel again in a snap.

Hosts Bob McCannon and Sandy Miller from the Foundation made sure that I got the cook’s tour of the area with visits to the West Jefferson Street Historic District, a glimpse of the vertiginous Snake Alley and a stop to see wonderful water color paintings in the Arts For Living Center. We even made it to Mosquito Park to view a panoramic vista of the town and river. As opposed to my Iowa expectations, I saw not one corn field.

Des Moines County Historical Museum and Bart Howard Room

Martini’s Grille

The Washington Nightclub

Pzazz Inn and Spa

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