What Students Say About Decorah

Penny Barbour

"Through my years here at Luther, I’ve quickly learned that some of the best things Decorah has to offer are free. These include hiking through the Ice Cave, around Dunning's Springs, or visiting the fish hatchery or farmers markets. You can't go wrong with Thursday night Trivia at the Courtyard and Cellar to challenge you and some friends. I would also highly recommend visiting the Vesterheim Museum downtown to learn more about the Norwegian history of Luther and Decorah."

Penelope Barbour ‘17

Erin Ellefsen

"Getting involved in cross country and track and field has been one of my most valuable experiences. It has also helped me explore Decorah and the gorgeous surrounding areas on foot, places I probably never would have seen if I wasn’t a part of the team."

Erin Ellefsen '17

Eleana Hoekstra

"I love living in Decorah, Iowa. My favorite thing to do is explore downtown and pop into all the little shops, especially Modish. My favorite place to eat is Rubaiyat, and that's where my friends and I celebrate every special occasion. Their food is amazing and innovative; you can never order the same thing, as the menu constantly changes!"

—Eleana Hoekstra ‘17

Sam Schultz

"One day during football camp, we go to Phelps Park and put on a great event for the mentally handicapped community in Decorah. It’s impossible to come back from that and not be inspired."

Sam Schultz '17

Jordan Boge Head-shot

Nordic Fest is a fantastic event that occurs each year at the end of July. It’s a great time to experience the Norwegian culture of Decorah and gather to see Luther friends. The city is so lively and the food is top notch!”

“My hometown is Des Moines, Iowa. The small town feel of Decorah is quite different from that of the suburbs in Des Moines. But at the end of the day, Decorah feels like home because of the community. People truly care about the environment and schools here, much like my hometown does.”

Jordan Boge '18

Tapiwa Mangengwa

"During Decorah’s recent Oneota Film Festival, the Luther Center for Intercultural Engagement and Student Success Men of Color group showed a documentary about a mentoring program called Alchemy. After the film, I facilitated the discussion. This was important because we shared how students face challenges on school campuses and discussed the value of community support."

Tapiwa Manjengwa '18


Linh Nguyen

"I usually go to a Lutheran church in the area and sometimes take part in music events at some of the local coffee shops and at the high school. I also enjoy poetry slams and the farmers market."

Linh Nguyen Le '18

Emily Osborne

"My favorite Decorah community events are the ArtHaus poetry slams. I have not yet performed my own poetry at one of these events, but I greatly enjoy experiencing the incredible literary, comedic, and theatrical talent within this community. The environment of these poetry slams (which, I believe, directly parallels the environment of Decorah’s community) is welcoming, fun, supportive, and open."

Emily Osborne '18


William Simonson Head shot

“I am involved with a club on campus called Hola Enlaces. We do a lot of different service and volunteer work for the Decorah community, specifically for Spanish-speaking individuals. Every Tuesday and Thursday we assist with English Language Learners (ELL) classes and help individuals develop their english skills. In addition, we will volunteer at various events including ‘Know Your Rights Workshops’, where we help translate immigration and legal documents to Spanish Speakers.”

“The Decorah community has enhanced my Luther experience by giving me a place I feel comfortable and happy in. From the coffee shops to the public library and the great restaurants, the Decorah community has really given me a place where I can enjoy the four short years I have at Luther!”

William Simonson ‘19

Mareda Smith

"There are so many fun things to do in Decorah. Nothing beats the overlook at Phelps Park, or grabbing breakfast at Magpie Coffeehouse with friends. I love getting off campus to take in Decorah's natural beauty and grab food from one of the many amazing local restaurants. When my family comes to visit, we have a hard time deciding where to go for dinner because there are so many delicious options.

—Mareda Smith '19

Micheal Vann

"I like Decorah's size. It feels compact and almost everything is within walking or at least biking distance. I like that I can see people that I know while walking around downtown. Also the landscape surrounding Decorah is beautiful and is the definition of four seasons."

Micheal Vann '19

Grace Huber Head-shot.

“My favorite restaurant in Decorah is probably La Rana. I go there when my parents visit, or every once in awhile with my friends.The food is great, and it has a very homey feel. It’s not a big restaurant which is nice because it feels very personal. My family and I are all foodies, so the innovative and interesting food combinations are really fun for us and they always taste good! The small-town feel of Decorah is nice. It feels like Luther and Decorah are the same community—because they are. Everyone in town and on campus is always positive and welcoming. It makes me feel supported through my Luther experience.”

Grace Huber 20