Elkader is in the heart of Iowa's "Little Switzerland," a region of deep valleys, limestone cliffs, hardwood forests, and clearwater trout streams. The Turkey River runs through Elkader, and is a mecca for canoeing, kayaking, and smallmouth bass fishing.
Elkader is one of Iowa's oldest towns, and its early prosperity led to 9 structures qualifying for the National Register of Historic Places. The town's museum is located in one of them, the Carter House (1850), generally regarded as the finest Greek Revival home in Iowa; the museum's collections are extensive, well curated, and thoughtfully displayed. The town's Opera House has been fully restored to its early Edwardian splendor and hosts local and traveling plays, musical acts, and...operas. A short walk from the Opera House is local cinema, restored to its Art Deco origins and featuring first-run films. Restaurants and antiques and gift shops are nearby, and comfy B&Bs are less than 10 minutes' walk away.
Elkader, incorporated in 1847, was named after the "George Washington of Algeria," Abdel Kader, who led the fight against the French invasion of his homeland in the 1830s and '40s. After his defeat and exile, he became renowned throughout the world as a great humanitarian and religious scholar. Elkader is unique as the only US city or town named after an Arab. The city of Elkader maintains an official "sister city" relationship with Mascara, Algeria, Abdel Kader's birthplace.
In keeping with this tradition, Elkader is also home to Schera's Restaurant, the only Algerian restaurant in the upper Midwest. It is owned by Frederique Boudouani, an American of French and Algerian parents; in addition to being a restaurateur, Mr. Boudouani owns a software engineering company, and he serves as Elkader's unofficial ambassador to Algeria.