Decorah, Iowa

Decorah, population 8,000, is a warm and vibrant town that offers plentiful recreation, a charming downtown, natural beauty, and a close-knit community—all while providing the conveniences of a city many times its size.

Decorah is a popular destination in northeast Iowa for many reasons, including:

  • Outdoor recreation
  • Numerous cultural events and festivals
  • A pedestrian-friendly town center full of niche eateries and shops
  • Biweekly farmers markets and a food co-op in addition to traditional grocery stores
  • Proximity to the Upper Iowa River, which flows through Luther’s campus and borders Decorah’s business district
  • The Trout Run Trail, an 11-mile biking, walking, and running trail that loops the town
  • Assorted area attractions, including parks, museums, arts organizations, live music, a movie theatre, and a bowling alley

Public transportation serving the area includes commercial airports in Rochester (Minn.), Waterloo (Iowa), and La Crosse (Wis.); a municipal airport in Decorah; and train and bus depots in La Crosse (Wis.).

Decorah was named a 2014 All-Star Community by the Iowa League of Cities in recognition of its MetroNet Fiber Optic project, in which Luther was also involved. As a result of that project, which installed a loop of 144 strands of fiber optic cable, Decorah and Luther both have improved Internet service.

Decorah was also featured in Smithsonian Magazine's annual list of the 20 best small towns to visit in America, as well as being named on Forbes "America's Prettiest Towns" list and the 2015 Best Choice Reviews list of the 50 best small towns in America. Check out the Decorah feature from Iowa Public Television.