Hidden gems of Ames

By Katherine Klingseis, katherine.klingseis@iowastatedaily.com

As students travel to Ames from wherever they are from, many notice the big attractions, such as the Memorial Union, Jack Trice Stadium and Hilton Coliseum.

Although these sites will offer students their fair share of fun, Ames has many more attractions that provide equally rewarding experiences. To be brief, these are Ames’ hidden gems — ranked in no particular order.

The Grove- 124 Main St.

The Grove is the definition of old-fashioned. The restaurant has been in the same location for decades, and many of the same customers come back everyday. With the motto, “Just like home, you don’t always get what you want”, the Grove is hard not to fall in love with.

“[The Grove] is not something [students] will probably see much of,” said Larry Goodale, owner. “It’s a little piece of American history.”

Plus, the food is extraordinary. At first glance, many people joke about the yellow color of the huge pancakes, but the taste of them is no joking matter. Food Network Magazine chose the Grove as the best place to eat breakfast in Iowa.

Great Plains- 127 Main St.

Great Plains Sauce and Dough Company is kitty corner from the Grove. Great Plains was established in 1979 and has won several Best of Story County awards for their pizza. This place has battled chain pizza restaurants for more than 30 years, and has consistently won. Not all pizza is created equal, and with their thick Denver-style crust and heaping load of cheese, the pizza from Great Plains rises above.

Fighting Burrito- 2712 Lincoln Way

Compared to the previous two, the Fighting Burrito is new to the restaurant business. However, in its short existence, the Fighting Burrito has made a name for itself. With its fresh ingredients, inexpensive food, and laid back style, the Fighting Burrito is a college kid’s dream. Not only that, the burritos are huge — few people leave the restaurant hungry, and, if aren’t entirely full after eating the burrito, they can buy a mammoth size brownie or Rice Crispie bar.

Cafe Diem- 229 Main St.

All coffee shops sell pretty much the same exact thing: lattes, cappuccinos, Italian sodas, scones, etc. The thing that makes coffee shops unique is their atmosphere.

For the many coffee shops scattered around Ames, the atmosphere at Cafe Diem is the one to beat. The shop uses old doors as seat dividers and has beautiful brick walls. Cafe Diem also showcases many local musicians and artists. It’s difficult to describe an atmosphere, so the best way to know about Cafe Diem is to experience it.

Mongolian Buffet- 1620 South Kellogg Ave.

The Mongolian Buffet is new to Ames this summer. The main focal point of the buffet is the Mongolian grill. Customers pile meat, noodles, vegetables and sauces into a bowl, and then the chefs cook the food on a huge grill.

The buffet also has spaghetti, tacos and sushi. The restaurant is quite large, and even at its busiest, the buffet doesn’t ever get too crowded.

Pumpkin Patch- 302 Main St.

The Pumpkin Patch serves children of any age by blending a mixture of new and old-fashioned toys. “It’s fun to watch the kids,” said Becky Senti, employee. “They have a good time.”

Many parents who take their children into the store now can remember when they went to the store as children themselves. The employees also promote playing with the toys, so customers can spend hours in the store just playing. If students want to relive a bit of their childhood, the Pumpkin Patch is their destination.

Lyla’s Boutique- 404 Main St.

Lyla’s Boutique offers Ames residents a unique shopping experience, offering high-end products at affordable prices. The shop is constantly getting new products. The business’ website and Facebook are updated whenever they get something new in. Employees also make advice videos, and upload them online.

“[The store] is modern and not like anything else,” said Dee Tometich, manager. “We like to think that our store makes people happy, makes them feel good about what they’re wearing.”

Ada Hayden- 5205 Grand Ave.

Ada Hayden Heritage Park is Ames’ newest and largest park. The park is at the very northern part of Ames. Although it is far away from campus, the trip to Ada Hayden will be well worth it. The main attraction at the park is its 130-acre lake. Around the lake is a three-mile trail for biking or walking. Visitors can also fish or boat. The lake is especially beautiful at sunset.

Perfect Games- 1320 Dickinson Ave.

Bowling+Laser tag+Arcade games = Perfect [Games]. This place is stocked full of entertaining things to do. Not only does it have both glow-in-the-dark and regular bowling, it also has nice couches for bowlers to sit on and waitresses to provide bowlers with shoes and food. Perfect Games also provides the only laser tag arena in Ames and a huge arcade area.

Temptations- 309 Main St.

It’s all in the name. Temptations tempts its customers with freshly made fudge and hand-dipped ice cream. Not only that, Temptations offers a wide assortment of exotic candy and chocolate, as well as novelty items like candy rats, bugs and spiders. The store also has many, many flavors of Jelly Bellys.

“Wednesday or Thursday of finals week, students come in with this glazed look on their face,” said Tim Coble, co-owner. “All they want is chocolate because they are done.”

(Posted originally on Iowastatedaily.com on July 27, 2010)

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