In Madison County, you can relax and enjoy the best of both worlds: safe, secure small-town neighborhoods or rural living within a short 30 minute drive to the “big-city” benefits of Des Moines, the state capitol. Jordan Creek Mall, the state’s newest and largest shopping area, is within 20 minutes. Downtown Des Moines is easily accessible, including the renovated Court Avenue and East Village districts, the Civic Center, Science Center, Convention Center, and Wells Fargo Arena for major concerts and sporting events.


The Winterset Community School District has attendance centers for grades K-3, 4-6, and 7-12. With over 1,750 students, the school is large enough to offer many opportunities, including a wide range of academic programs and extra-curricular activities, but small enough to provide individual attention to students and the opportunity to participate in many different programs. Madison County is also home to the Earlham Community School District and the I-35 Community School District. More information about these schools can be found by going to our Links page.

Health Care

The award-winning Madison County Health Care System, an affiliate of Mercy One, offers a full complement of health services designed to meet the health needs of Madison County and surrounding community residents. They have a proud tradition of providing quality, accessible, and affordable health care.


Many people take advantage of Madison County’s convenient location to make it their home. We offer comfortable and secure small-town or rural settings within 30 minutes of the state’s largest metro area. We have a wide variety of housing options to choose from including traditional city neighborhoods to rural subdivisions to rural acreages. Tax abatement programs have been available in Winterset and Earlham. New subdivisions are plentiful; including areas in Winterset, Earlham, St Charles, Truro, and Patterson. Our local financial institutions offer competitive financing for lots, new home construction or existing housing.


  • Madison County Covered Bridge Festival: This hugely popular event is on the second full weekend in October. Thousands of visitors attend annually to visit the remaining six covered bridges, enjoy crafts, antiques and a wide assortment of food.
  • Birthplace of John Wayne: Winterset was the birth home of legendary actor John Wayne. The small home where he was born and the adjacent state-of-the-art museum are open to the public year-round, decorated with authentic period furnishings and a large collection of John Wayne memorabilia. John Wayne’s birthday is celebrated annually on Memorial Day weekend, often with celebrity guests.
  • Iowa Quilt Museum: The Iowa Quilt Museum was co-founded by master quilter Marianne Fons, and is located on the south side of the square in Winterset. The museum’s rotating exhibits draw quilters as a destination from far and wide.
  • Madison County Historical Museum: Started by the local Historical Society many years ago, the Madison County Historical Complex now includes 14 buildings and a restored Victorian home on the hill overlooking Winterset, open for tours.
  • Parks & Recreation: 300 acre Pammel State Park offers camping, rental cabins and the Middle River ford where drivers can pilot their vehicles through the waters. Winterset City Park offers 76 acres of manicured park, shelter houses, Cutler-Donahoe Covered Bridge, unique hedge maze and Clark’s Tower. Adjacent to the City Park is a modern camping area with hookups.
  • The Iowa Theater: Showing new movies every weekend, oldies mid-week, and live music and theater events on stage, the Iowa Theater is a completely restored historic center for cultural activity.
  • Lakeview Country Club: The 9-hole “Lakeview” course at the Lakeview Country Club facility in Winterset, Iowa features 2,880 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 35. The course rating is 33.7 and it has a slope rating of 110.
  • Wineries & Spirits: Madison County is the home of award-winning Covered Bridges Winery, Two Saints Winery, and Madison County Winery, as well as Winterset Cidery for locally produced hard cider in a rustic rural setting north of Winterset.
  • For more information about living in Madison County, check out the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, the Official Madison County government website, and the Madison County Heart & Soul page.