Local Area

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Local Area


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2 College Freshman

Local Area: Quite remote, although the town is quaint and nice

1 person found this useful Report
3 College Sophomore

Local Area: Grinnell, while very isolated and small, gives you a lot of true Midwest small town charm. There isn't a ton going on, but the town is accessible, cheap, and the college gives it a bit of life. Some local attractions will offer student discounts, or alumni will generously pay for free admission to the pool or movies. Enough happens on campus though, so going off campus for a meal or a movie will happen monthly on average.

1 person found this useful Report
2 College Sophomore

Local Area: It's a quiet town but you won't notice that because you'll be so busy working you'll have no time to adventure out.(depends on major)

2 people found this useful Report
4 College Freshman

Local Area: I think Grinnell has a lot of charm. It's a great little town with a lot of fun businesses and restaurants. The college also offers a plethora of activities and things to do.

1 person found this useful Report
4 College Freshman

Local Area: We are located in a small rural town in Iowa. The people are very friendly towards the students and there are some local shops and a small movie theater within walking distance of the campus. There are some restaurants as well that have good food.

2 people found this useful Report

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Student Author OverviewWhat's this?

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When people ask students where Grinnell College is, many respond, “In the middle of a cornfield.” This is not true—it is actually located at the southern end of the field. All kidding aside, yes, the setting is very rural, but a 10-minute walk is all it takes to reach downtown. Every store can be found on either Broad or Main streets. The "business district" comprises one block, and almost everyone operates on a first-name basis. The slow, calm pace of rural Iowa is not for everyone, but for those that embrace the challenge, college in Iowa can be enlightening.

Living in a "cow town" does have some perks. Unless you plan on traveling on a regular basis, a car is unnecessary because everything is within walking distance, and on warm nights, a casual walk to the Dari Barn can be satisfying. You’re bound to run in to people you know, and senseless crime is nonexistent. Leaving your car unlocked is a luxury. Since a good chunk of Grinnell’s population and income is made up of students, there are a lot of stores that cater specifically to them. There are two downtown coffee shops that include art for sale. While Grinnell isn’t very big, there are always things to do. Students either love the small-town atmosphere or learn to deal with it. Those who are driven completely insane by living in the middle of nowhere usually leave after a year or two. Yet, the casual small-town friendliness is something that can be tough to leave when you do graduate and move to the bustle of either the East or West coasts. Many alumni return and complain about the impersonal atmosphere that plagues their city—you do not have this problem in Grinnell.

Facts & Statistics

Fun Local Trivia
Herbie Hancock graduated from Grinnell. Grinnell College was the home of jazz in the late 50s/early 60s.
Notable Natives
  • Ashton Kutcher - actor (from Cedar Rapids)
  • Brandon Routh - (from Des Moines)
  • Cloris Leachman - actress (from Des Moines)
  • Kurt Warner - NFL quarterback (from Des Moines)
  • Roger Williams - pianist (from Des Moines)
  • Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins - singer from TLC (from Des Moines)
  • Tom Arnold - actor/comedian (from Ottumwa)
Local Slang
  • Pop: That bubbly sweet cola with oh-so-many names
  • Townie: A local Grinnell townsperson, usually identified by oversized and underwashed overalls or an early 1970s pickup truck
Points of Interest
  • Blank Park Zoo (Des Moines)
  • Carroll's Pumpkin Farm
  • Civic Center of Greater Des Moines
  • Community art galleries
  • Dari Barn
  • Des Moines Art Center
  • Des Moines Botanical Center
  • Des Moines Metro Opera
  • Merchants' National Bank
  • Rock Creek State Park
  • Wells Fargo Arena
Shopping Centers
  • Coral Ridge Mall
  • Marshall Town Center
Movie Theaters
Big Time Cinema - Capitol 2
116 First St. N
(641) 792-1862
Movie Theaters
Newton Community Theaters
1701 S. Eighth Ave. E
(641) 792-1230
Movie Theaters
Valle Drive-In
4074 Highway F48 W
(641) 792-3558
Major Sports Teams
  • Des Moines Buccaneers: United States Hockey League (USHL)
  • Iowa Barnstormers: Arena Football League (AGL)
  • Iowa Cubs: Minor league baseball
Distances to Nearest Major Cities
  • Des Moines, Iowa: : 1 hour
  • Iowa City, Iowa: : 1 hour
Did You Know?
  • "Field of Dreams," "Huckleberry Finn," "Bridges of Madison County," "Children of the Corn," "Twister," and "Zadar! Cow from Hell" were all filmed in Iowa.
  • Grinnell, Iowa, was originally slated to be named "Stella," but J.B. Grinnell convinced other members of the area to adopt his own name for the city.
  • Grinnell, Iowa, was a stop on the Underground Railroad.
  • Surprisingly, Iowa is a big jazz state and hosts the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival every year in Davenport.

Student Polls

Rate the local atmosphere on the following topics    Based on 27 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 28 responses

  • 0% City living at its finest. There's always something fun and interesting going on.
  • 4% Vibrant college town. There's no big city, but there are plenty of things to do off campus.
  • 89% Small town with plenty of charm.
  • 0% In or near a big city, but there's not much to do off campus.
  • 7% Painfully remote.

What is the proximity to other universities? Is there much interaction?    Based on 29 responses

  • 0% There are nearby schools that students often interact with.
  • 21% There are nearby schools, but students do NOT interact much.
  • 79% There aren't any nearby schools.

Can you see yourself living here after graduation?    Based on 29 responses

  • 7% Totally.
  • 21% Maybe, if I could find a good job.
  • 72% No way.



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