In O'Town, as Ottumwa, a city that bestrides the Des Moines River, is frequently referred, coal was once the driving force, so much so that the Coal Palace was set up in the late 19th-century to showcase the area's industrial attributes. In recent times, arts and culture has taken the place of manufacturing, producing new Ottumwa event venues that welcome groups with open arms.
The closest airport is Des Moines International (DSM), 85 miles to the northwest. It has good service from most points of North American. Ottumwa also is on the main California Zephyr-train rail line between Emeryville, California (opposite San Francisco) and Chicago.
Chief among convention venues in Ottumwa is the state-of-the-art, 92,000-square-foot Bridge View Center, which has six meeting rooms for 100 persons and 10,000 square feet of exhibition space able to seat 500. Hotel properties with meeting space include the 82-room Quality Inn, which has 400 square feet of meeting space; the 61-room Hotel Ottumwa, built in 1917, which has 7,000 square feet of meeting space, including a ballroom; the 54-room AmericInn, which has one small meeting room; and the Oak Meadows Delight Bed & Breakfast, which, despite only having four guest rooms, boasts delightful garden space for events, as well as the 900-square-foot Harvest Room.
Ottumwa special event venues include the Cedar Creek Golf Course, which organizes group tournaments and events in its clubhouse; The Beach, a huge water park with many options for events; the Wapello County Historical Society, and, in nearby Blakesburg, the Airpower Museum, which has 20,000 square feet of exhibit space and 20 displayed planes, including several from World War I. A signature venue is the American Gothic House, made world famous in Grant Wood's painting American Gothic and today able to host events on its patio.
Ottumwa does not do nouvelle-American and trend-setting, but rather wholesome, stick-to-your-ribs fare. Restaurants perfect for groups include the Appanoose Rapids Brewing Co., which has its own beer; it opened in 2010 and has a dining room and patio. Other eateries include the informal but award-winning barbecue joint Bubba-Qs; Smokin' Bones and Big Ed's BBQ, two more barbecue establishments (Southeast Iowa is quite the spot for this cuisine, surprisingly); and Riverside Family Restaurant.