My last blog was about all my favorite spots in Sioux Center (and nearby). My Dordt-experience isn't concentrated in Northwest Iowa, though. Because of various Dordt-related activities and/or friends, I've explored a lot of the Midwest throughout my last three years, including...
Just forty minutes south of Sioux Center lies Sioux City, which is an area my friends and I venture to regularly. If we want to celebrate finishing an especially stressful week (like the first finals week of my freshman year), we might go to Sioux City to get piercings. I recommend Maya Modification, if you're interested. If we're in need of new clothes to vary our closets enough to successfully battle the every changing Iowa weather, we head to the Southern Hills Mall. If we've just finished striking the set of our most recent theatre production, the entire theatre department makes a midnight run to the 24-hour Perkins. And if I happen to be hanging out with my friends that attend Northwestern (our "rival college"), we'll might head to La Juanita for fantastic tacos. Northwestern students do that regularly, and it's fun to join in on their traditions. But my absolute favorite event in Sioux City? Ode Storytelling Night, which is similar to an open-mic event for creative nonfiction pieces. Each night is centered around a specific theme, and anyone who has a story tied to that theme is free to read their story aloud. The idea is that stories make us human, and we become more human by sharing our human experiences with one another. It's beautiful, and I'm always enriched by the stories all these random, Iowa-residing people have to share. Oh! And Sioux City is also home to the nearest Target, which is reason enough to make the drive.
An hour west of Sioux Center lies Sioux Falls, South Dakota. This city is a little bigger than Sioux City, and it's home to the gorgeous Falls Park, where many Dordt couples get engaged because of it's proximity and natural beauty. The Denny Sanford Premier Center is also in Sioux Falls, and that's a place worth checking out because so many popular performers grace that stage. Last month, a bunch of friends and I saw Twenty One Pilots and Jon Bellion there, which was spectacular. Skyzone is also in Sioux Falls. Here's some honesty: no one is ever too old to bounce around in a room covered in trampolines. Afterwards, my friends and I account for all the calories we just burned by eating way too much frozen yogurt at Cherry Berry or way too much meat at Carnival Brazilian Grill - or both, because what's limiting us (besides our wallets)? The Swing Dance Club also heads to Sioux Falls monthly for community swing dances at El Riad Shriners, which gives them the perfect chance to show off their moves and their fancy dresses.
Two and a half hours south of Sioux Center lies Omaha, Nebraska. If my friends and I go all the way to Omaha, it's usually for a day at the Henry Doorly Zoo, which beat out the San Diego Zoo and claimed the #1 slot in the World's Best Zoo contest. I've been three times now, and I can affirm that it deserves that title. The place is HUGE. There's so much to explore and so many interactive exhibits to keep anyone of any age entertained. I personally enjoy the aquarium best, as you're able to pet sting rays. The butterfly exhibit is a close second though, as you're able to stand in a room full of free-flying butterflies. Old Market in Omaha - full of quirky shops and brick architecture - is also fun to explore. And for reasonably-priced flights to most places in the country, Eppley Airfield is the most convenient airport.
Still in Iowa, but further away (four hours southeast, to be exact) lies the state capitol: Des Moines. Between expansive murals, the Pappajohn Sculture Park, off-Broadway performances at the Des Moines Civic Center, master classes in all things artistic (both visual and performing) and improv performances at the Des Moines Social Club, Des Moines proves a hot spot for the arts. Des Moines offers a wide range of good food, too. My personal favorite restaurant is Fong's Pizza, where you can order all sorts of different stir-fry options atop a pizza crust. It's innovative and delicious. Arguably the most popular restaurant in Des Moines is Zombie Burger, where all the quirky burger-topping combinations are given gruesome titles such as "The Walking Ched" or "Undead Elvis." Zombie Burger is located in East Village, which is my favorite part of Des Moines because of the local shops, the free Iowa Museum, and the gold-topped Capitol Building.
And lastly, four hours north of Sioux Center lies Minneapolis, Minnesota. I went to Minneapolis my freshman year for a theatre festival, so most of my vivd memories involve touring the Guthrie Theatre and exploring the Mall of America. Did you know that there's an amusement park in there? I was unaware until I showed up and convinced my friends to ride some roller coasters with me, including the Spongebob one. Dordt takes a group of students to Minneapolis once a semester for Core160: Intro to the Arts. On that trip, students explore the sculpture garden and other areas of the Walker Art Center in addition to seeing a performance at the Guthrie and enjoying the big-city experience that contrasts our day-to-day life in Sioux Center.
I've still got two more full semesters of exploring to do, and I'm excited to see where they take me. No matter where, I'm sure it will be an adventure. It has been so far, so why would the future be any less so?