19th-Century Beaux Arts Hotel with Storied Clientele
After it opened in 1839, the hotel at the corner of Second and Main Streets in Dubuque welcomed such 19th-century American icons as Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, and Buffalo Bill Cody. In its early years, the building now known as the Hotel Julien Dubuque was expanded, remodeled, renamed, razed, and rebuilt a number of times. The current incarnation, a grand Beaux Arts edifice completed in 1915, was a haunt of Al Capone, who would take over the entire eighth floor whenever the situation in Chicago got out of hand. The hotel's glamorous allure remains today in the lobby's massive mirror, which once belonged to the Ziegfeld Follies.
A $30 million restoration in 2009 retrofitted the original fixtures with energy-efficient lighting and added a reflective roof to help with geothermal heating and cooling, but it also enhanced the hotel’s 1910s grandeur. A grand staircase leads from the lobby to executive rooms, which are outfitted with art-deco armchairs, flat-screen high-definition TVs, and iPod docking stations. Relax for a few hours at the onsite Potosa Spa, which offers massages and facials inspired by Native American medicine.
Glass mosaics adorn the walls of Caroline's Restaurant. The eatery serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with entrees ranging from pan-seared duck mansur ($20) to glazed beef short ribs braised in an aged apple cider ($24). At the Riverboat Lounge, guests sip cocktails and snack on late-night fare amid charcoal hardwood floors and crimson booths. Afterward, head out to stroll along Old Main Street or on the banks of the Mississippi River.
Dubuque, Iowa: Pastoral Charm along Mississippi River
Located along the Mississippi River in eastern Iowa, just across the Wisconsin border, Dubuque’s natural setting makes it ideal for picturesque hikes such as Heritage Trail, a 26-mile mountain trek. The trail links Dubuque with Dyersville, the site where Field of Dreams was filmed and the first baseball was harvested. A stroll along the Port of Dubuque's River Walk goes past Victorian architecture, eclectic sculptures by local artists, and the city's iconic clock tower.
For a history-centered day trip, take a scenic 20-mile drive east of the river to the charming town of Galena, Illinois, where you’ll find wineries, antiques stores, and blacksmith shops. The Ulysses S. Grant Home sits on a hill overlooking the town. The 18th president and Union general was given this Italianate house upon his triumphant return to his hometown after the Civil War ended in 1865.