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Kim Hurley has recently completed a project that enables visitors to find information on more than 900 points of interest throughout the county.

 Clayton County. Gorgeous rolling hills, breathtaking views of the Mississippi River, historical downtowns—and over 950 hidden treasures!

950 hidden treasures? What exactly are these 950 hidden treasures? They are Points of Interest (POI) throughout the county—businesses and services, parks and recreation, education, health and wellness, shops, lodging, and, dining establishments. Within these broad categories are many surprises such as two airports, five newspapers, nine wineries, eight museums, and five golf courses.

Let’s say you and your pals are going to take off for a three-day weekend, with a machinery auction at Joel’s Tractors as your main destination. You want to fill the trip with fun, laughter, exploration, and a bit of fishin’ and chillin’ too. How do you even start finding things to do? Simple! Let the “Itinerary Planner” on the website of the Clayton County Development Group (CCDG) help you plan your adventure.  

The Itinerary Planner is comprised of a database of the 950+ POIs in Clayton County. So, to plan your weekend with the guys, go to www.claytoncountyiowa, create an account, and browse through the POIs. Each POI has a pop-up window featuring photos, a written description and contact information (address, email, website, Facebook page, and other social media.) For example, after leaving Joel’s Tractors near Strawberry Point, you might plan to buy the guys a cold one at Finley’s Irish Pub  and pick up fishing licenses and gear at True Value, or stay at one of lodging locations in the county.  

In the morning, grab freshly made doughnuts and long johns from the bakery or linger over a home-cooked breakfast at anyone of our local restaurants while one of the guys goes to the Clayton County Genealogical Center to pick up information about their family who lived in the county. Before heading to the fishing hatchery or one of the fishing spots fill up the vehicle with fuel and stock up with snacks at the convenience stores. Save some time after fishing to pick up gifts for your sweethearts from one of the many home town shops that accommodate your needs with a smile.  Rehash the day’s fishing expedition over supper at any one of the restaurants, café’s, or diners before tumbling into bed at one of the many lodging options in the area.

Click “add to my itinerary” to place each of these POIs on your customized itinerary planner on the website. The planner will then place them on a map, give you driving directions, and calculate the distance between each one. You can even print your itinerary.

Want an even quicker jumpstart to planning your trip? The Itinerary Planner has sample itineraries for different types of adventures:  Winery and Brewery, Spiritual/Therapeutic, Salon and Spas, River Retreat, Quilting, Winter Getaway, Golfing, Historic Sites, Holiday Shopping, Monuments, Music and Movies, Picture Perfect.

Since August 2016, Elkader resident Kim Hurley has been researching and compiling the photos, descriptions, and contact information for each of the POIs. “This project has been a true eye opener and testament to how vibrant Clayton County is,” Kim said, “950-plus POIs in a county with a population of only a bit over 18,000 [as of the 2010 Census] is amazing! This shows how businesses and tourism are vital to each other.”  

Kim emphasizes that, at the same time, it is imperative to remember that patronage of our own residents within the county will always be to other main artery of economic vibrancy. “Think of the business community as the heart of the economy with tourists and residents as the arteries the keep the heart (businesses) running,” she suggests, “The greater the range of businesses, services, and even leisure opportunities offered within the county, the greater the patronage of businesses will stay here.”

Kim also encourages every POI to build a strong online presence. “It is shocking the huge number of businesses that not only don’t have an online presence whatsoever,” she admits, “but neither do they have any printed information such as business cards or brochures.”  Explaining how most people these days rely on the Internet for instant information, people select places that they know even a bit about.

Kim began working with the Clayton County Development group through the Work Adjustment Training with the Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Program. Lisa Bergfeld DVRS Specialist was instrumental in providing the opportunity for both Kim and CCDG to work together.

“Kim has been an asset to CCDG gathering the data on the points of interest here in Clayton County to populate the Itinerary map on our website, and is truly a delight to work with,” said Executive Director Darla Kelchen.     

For more information contact the Clayton County Development Group office at 563-245-2201. 

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