Iowa Great Lakes Trip Guide | Midwest Living
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Iowa Great Lakes Trip Guide

Five glacial lakes—including Lake Okoboji—form a chain in northwest Iowa that has been a destination for generations. But there is more than water sports here!
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Gardner-Sharp Cabin
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Bridges Bay Resort in Arnolds Park, Iowa. Photo courtesy of Bridges Bay Resort
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Arnolds Park Amusement Park
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What to do

Abbie Gardner-Sharp Cabin and Museum Start here for an excellent introduction into the tragic events around the Spirit Lake Massacre. A short film and exhibits put the 1857 event into context. Pick up a flier to drive to area markers. Free. (712) 332-7248 

Arnolds Park Enjoy the nostalgia wave at a waterfront amusement park. Ride a wooden roller coaster built in 1927, carousel, and others. Take a sightseeing cruise. (800) 599-6995; arnoldspark.com

Maritime Museum Fill an hour or so with interesting tibdbits about the the history of lake recreation and industry. Free but donation appreciated. (712) 332-2183; arnoldspark.com/do/maritime-museum

Mau Marina Conviently located where the east and west lakes join, the staff was helpful and rates good when we applied a coupon from our hotel. (712) 332-5626; maumarine.com

Okoboji Boat Works We like this marina on the west lake for its swimming beach and glass-bottom boat tours. (712) 332-9904; parksmarina.com 
 
Pirates Cove Mini Golf Play 18 holes of minature golf under waterfalls, through caves and past pirate-eating sharks while reading the history of pirates—none from these waters though!  (712) 332-6094; piratescove.net
 
Shopping Numerous independent stores sell antiques, beachy home decor, University of Okoboji wear, water toys and more. 
 
Where to eat
 
Barefoot Bar This east lake spot is happening for drinks and standard bar fare. Tiki huts and palm trees set the party mood. parksmarina.com

Bracco The seasonal open-air joint wins points with tropical island-inspired fare. (712) 332-7900; braccorestaurant.com

Gingham Inn and Colonial Lounge In Spirit Lake, this busy spot has a well-deserved reputation for excellent pan-fried chicken. The ice cream sundaes are tasty, too! (712) 336-2347

Maxwell’s Beach Cafe Dine on upscale fare on the waterfront. (712) 332-7578; lake-okoboji-restaurant.com

O’Farrell Sisters Restaurant Go to this diner for breakfast and pie. (712) 332-7901; parksmarina.com

Where to stay

Bridges Bay Resort This lodging has the only indoor water park in Arnolds Park. (712) 332-2202; bridgesbayresort.com

Fillwenwarth Beach Resort Families come to this family-owned resort year after year for the cruises, water-skiing, sailing, crafts and many other extras.In Arnolds Park. (712) 332-5646; fillenwarthbeach.com
 
The Inn at Okoboji Chill at a refurbished 1896 lake resort in Okoboji. (877) 265-4386; bojifun.com
 
For information: Okoboji Tourism (800) 270-2574; vacationokoboji.com

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