Of course, everyone speeds over to the Knoxville Raceway – sprint-car capital of the world – for the Sprint Cup Series, but don’t plan on parking yourself in the grandstand tiers for the duration of your weekend. There’s so much more than just spectating to enjoy around Knoxville, and that includes activities for non-racing fans. Whether you fancy foodie tours through Des Moines, the capital of Iowa, or trail hikes that take you to serene views, base yourself in one of these hotels near the Knoxville Raceway – they’re bookable with Culture Trip.
Courtesy of Cobblestone Hotel and Suites, Knoxville / Expedia
Cobblestone Hotel & Suites is just a stone’s throw from the Knoxville Raceway – an unassuming, low-rise, motel-look property with plenty of parking, a neat little indoor pool and unfussy, corporate-conventional bedrooms. Grab your free breakfast before you beeline it up Lincoln Street to hit the Raceway. Our advice? Take your foot off the gas and make pit stops at a few of Knoxville’s other sites. Recommendations include the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum as well as Slideways go-kart park. Racing fans young and old will return to the hotel revved-up – ready for a relaxing dip in the whirlpool tub.
About half an hour’s drive from Knoxville, in the city of Indianola, Hotel Pommier dodges the impersonality of cookie-cutter chains. Take the 24/7 staff presence – with individuals who know the area and want you to discover it. It’s comfy and uncomplicated: there are queens, kings, triples and family-friendly bunk apartments. The Epic 2BR is like your own residence, with two bedrooms, a kitchen, living and dining area. Make new friends at the indoor ping pong table or outside on the patio over a game of cornhole. And don’t leave for Knoxville without your grab-and-go breakfast of muffins, Pop-Tarts, fresh fruit and iced tea.
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Des Moines Airport
Courtesy of DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Des Moines Airport / Expedia
Whether it’s business, the well-loved Iowa State Fair or the masked metal band Slipknot that’s bringing you into Des Moines, the DoubleTree by Hilton has you covered. They’ve got a free shuttle running the mile between the hotel and Des Moines International Airport, so you won’t be stuck stuffing your luggage into a tiny cab. The refreshing indoor pool and tall glasses of whiskey at Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse are the perfect pick-me-up if you’ve just returned from a conference, Thrill Ville or a mosh pit. And the rooms and suites? Cocoons of pure, pillowy, hypo-allergenic comfort. Sweet dreams.
How does Des Lux Hotel improve upon deluxe expectations? Find out by booking the Presidential Suite with its atrium – or go for the more modest Vice Presidential Suite. Don’t worry – all budgets are catered for here, down to the simple, slumber-inducing king executive room, with its lounge chair, ottoman and piles of white towels. The sprawling 6,000-sqft (557sqm) fitness center? Free. Sauna, steam room and whirlpool? Ditto. And generous breakfasts are covered by the room rate, too. So splash out on a kicky martini or two in the chandeliered Des Lux Bar.
Get to know downtown Des Moines from the AC Hotel by Marriott. They have no problems with late check-ins, so if you’ve had a hectic travel day, recline with craft cocktails at the Republic on Grand: this low-lit, sixth-floor hotel bar overlooks downtown. Rooms include accessible junior suites and one-offs such as the Capitol View Suite – more like an apartment with its hip, Italo-modernist furniture. Within a few blocks, you can tour the Iowa State Capitol, Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens and Des Moines Art Center.
Fancy spinning the wheel in a different sense? After Knoxville Raceway, check in at this hotel, an easy 40 minutes’ drive from the raceway, and hit the in-house casino. On the menu: live race and sports betting, among the highlights of a gaming center jangling with slot machines and table games. Prefer to live like a high roller without gambling a dime? Watch all the race action you want with a special friend in the two-person whirlpool tub in the Presidential Suite, before descending to the hotel’s AJ’s Steakhouse for juicy slabs of beef.
About an hour’s drive from Knoxville, this hotel in Urbandale is officially all about fun – as the natty name infers. There’s a pool table in the lounge, vibrant graffiti murals on walls, outbreaks of faux-cow-hide on chairs – and even a cowbell rung at 5pm to signal the start of happy hour with free drinks. The food – pasta, paninis, flatbreads – is designed to lift spirits. The cocktails have names like Let the Good Times Roll. And pets are welcome – yes, they have doggy bags. On a more serious note, bedrooms are suave temples to calm design and colors, so you’ll sleep well.
An hour’s drive southeast of Knoxville is the city of Ottumwa – and this hotel of the same name. It’s a classic affair in a period building dating from 1917, with elegant walnut-brown headboards on the beds, in smart, spick-and-span rooms. These range from standards to executives – breakfast is included, and extended stays are also available. What this friendly place offers is impressively personal, from bike rentals to free wifi access, and made-to-order pizza available round the clock – especially welcome after a few craft beers down in the ‘50s-lounge-style Tom-Tom Tap.