Iowa City (population: 62,000) has been called "the Athens of the Midwest," as it is considered an enclave of liberalism and intellectualism.  Iowa City's most notable feature is the University of Iowa.  The University is best known for its world-famous Writers Workshop, graduates from which include Flannery O'Connor, John Irving, and Jane Smiley.  Writers Workshop faculty have included Kurt Vonnegut, John Cheever, and Frank Conroy.  The University is also home to a well-regarded teaching hospital, medical school, and law school.

Despite its small size, Iowa City offers a wide variety of cultural opportunities, including annual arts and jazz festivals, a professional theatre company, and a lively downtown with shopping, bars, and restaurants.   There are many residential areas, both historic and newer, and Iowa CIty is known for its excellent public school system.

The greater Iowa City area includes Coralville, which is primarily residential but also offers many shopping and dining opportunities.