Local Atmosphere

Decorah, IA
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4 College Sophomore

Local Atmosphere: There is a lot of interaction between the town of Decorah and the student body of Luther. In fact, there is great culteral crossover for such a small town.

4 College Sophomore

Local Atmosphere: The town of Decorah love Luther College students, and students love the town of Decorah!

3 College Freshman

Local Atmosphere: It may be remote but i do not hate the atmosphere.

3 College Senior

Local Atmosphere: Small town with no room for personal growth. Everything stays local. Its a nice area but its not close to any bigger towns

4 College Freshman

Local Atmosphere: I love the small town atmosphere that Decorah offers.


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Student Author OverviewWhat's This?

William Morris
Wausau, WI
English (with minor in Secondary Education)
View all previous student authors

So, by now you might have picked up on the fact that Decorah is not the center of the cultural universe (unless of course, you mean Norwegian-history culture). That doesn’t mean it’s not a good place to be. For students who appreciate a small town or are from one, the transition will be easy. However, for students used to the big-city lights and sounds, the sounds and smells of cow pastures cannot compete. The locals can be friend or foe to students, depending on when or where you cross their paths. That’s okay—Decorah has plenty to offer the outdoor enthusiast who wants to get away from it all. Many students will enjoy the hiking, biking, running, and the sport of “tubing,” along with cheap dates, like a 37-cent cone at the Whippy Dip.

The winters in Decorah will leave you trapped in dorms to bond with your roommates or go cross-country skiing on the campus soccer fields. The small-town shops are cute enough to bring Mom to but probably aren’t the location to find the hottest perfume or smallest skirt for your Saturday night. Although Decorah will not be the best place for you if you need a Bloomingdale’s on every corner, it will be great for students who want to be within a reasonable distance of big cities but still want the quiet peace of a small town.

Facts & Statistics

Fun Local Trivia
  1. Decorah was named for Chief Waukon Decorah. Decorah was a Ho Chunk Indian who cooperated with white settlers during the Black Hawk War.
  2. The town is centrally located between three major U.S. cities: Minneapolis, MN; Madison, WI; and Chicago, IL, which is ideal for students seeking a weekend getaway.
  3. The town is rich in Norwegian history, and holds a "Nordic Fest" every summer involving food, crafts, and music from Norway.
  4. Near the college is the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, the biggest museum in the country devoted to a single immigrant group; this is featured in the course Paideia at Luther.
  5. The Decorah area is home to the largest Capon (castrated chicken) producing plant in the world.
Notable Natives
  • Georgann Johnson - actress
  • Weston Noble - music educator
  • Mark Pinter - actor
Local Slang
  • Mabe's: The greatest pizza in town, serving all varieties and other food as well. By far the most popular restaurant in town.
  • Nordic Fest: A midsummer gathering that features Norwegian culture and (more importantly) town-wide beer tents. Many Luther students journey back in the summer to this event to see friends.
  • Townie: A local you may meet in the bar that might want to make small talk; also called "regulars." They're generally harmless, though, like grizzly bears, they will attack when provoked.
  • Tubing: This event involves floating down the majestic Upper Iowa River with your friends on rentable tubes. Depending on where you enter the river, the trip can be made in under an hour to up to six hours; a variety of land beaches along the way allow for a picn
Points of Interest
  • Vesterheim
  • Whippy Dip
Shopping Centers
Apache Mall
Movie Theaters
Viking 3 Theater
111 N. Mechanic
(563) 382-4898
Major Sports Teams
  • Minnesota Timberwolves: basketball
  • Minnesota Twins: baseball
  • Minnesota Vikings: football
  • Minnesota Wild: hockey
Distances to Nearest Major Cities
  • Madison: WI: 3 hours
  • Minneapolis: MN: 3 hours

Student Polls

Rate the local atmosphere on the following topics    Based on 23 responses

Very poor
  • Cost of living
  • Dining
  • Friendliness of locals toward students
  • Museums/cultural attractions
  • Nightlife
  • Parking
  • Parks and recreation
  • Professional sports
  • Safety
  • Scenery
  • Shopping
  • Transportation

What is the local atmosphere like at your school?    Based on 23 responses

  • 13% Painfully remote.
  • 0% In or near a big city, but there's not much to do off campus.
  • 65% Small town with plenty of charm.
  • 22% Vibrant college town. There's no big city, but there are plenty of things to do off campus.
  • 0% City living at its finest. There's always something fun and interesting going on.

What is the proximity to other universities? Is there much interaction?    Based on 23 responses

  • 83% There aren't any nearby schools.
  • 9% There are nearby schools, but students do NOT interact much.
  • 9% There are nearby schools that students often interact with.

Can you see yourself living here after graduation?    Based on 23 responses

  • 39% No way.
  • 48% Maybe, if I could find a good job.
  • 13% Totally.



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