10 Local Favorites in Iowa's Lake Okoboji Area
If you’re heading to Lake Okoboji this summer, put one or more of these stops—including a summer theater, a classic car museum and a legendary amusement park—on your itinerary.
Arnolds Park Amusement Park, a tourist attraction for more than a century in Okoboji, draws fans with old-fashioned rides at the edge of the lake. Make sure to ride the Legend Roller Coaster—a wooden coaster built in 1930—and enjoy sunset views from the lakeside Ferris Wheel.
Enjoy free concerts and fireworks every Saturday all summer long at the Arnolds Park Preservation Plaza. Located next to the amusement park, the outdoor green space offers a perfect place to wind down after a day of fun. Lie on a picnic blanket while you listen to live music and then enjoy an encore of fireworks over the lake. Check the website for a full list of concerts.
Nicknamed the "Midwest's Ultimate Man Cave," Okoboji Classic Cars houses a full-service classic car restoration shop and a custom car showroom. See a full-size diorama of 1950s Main Street in Spencer, Iowa; a 28,000-square-foot mural depicting Arnolds Park and West Lake Okoboji in the 1960s; and a collection of classic cars. Background music from the 50s and 60s enhances the time-travel vibe.
The museum holds a collection of photographs, memorabilia and artifacts from the Iowa Great Lakes area's early days. Highlights include a rare collection of antique wooden boats, a restored boathouse and remnants of a sunken boat pulled from West Lake Okoboji.
It wouldn't be a trip to Okoboji without seeing a play or musical at the Summer Theatre. Run by students and faculty from Stephens College in Missouri, the theater typically puts on nine mainstage productions and four Boji Bantam Children's Theatre productions each summer. Check the website for current information on showings.
The grass is always greenest on the minigolf course, and the Okoboji area has plenty of courses to choose from. Putt among pirates at Pirate's Cove's 18-hole adventure course, step into the pages of your favorite children's stories at each of Treasure Village's 27 holes, or follow the yellow brick road to Ranch Okoboji's Wizard of Oz-themed course (and enjoy a drink from the ranch's Margarita's Bar).
New to the Okoboji area in 2021, TOPOG Coffeehouse has already become a local favorite. Choose from a menu of coffees, made-from-scratch bakery goods, grab-and-go lunch options and hand-dipped ice cream. You can enjoy your goodies in a relaxed, modern setting, or take treats to go. When you're done? Head to the beach or the amusement park—both are within walking distance.
The Pearson Lakes Art Center has been a hub of art and culture in the Iowa Great Lakes area since 1991. Visitors can explore four art galleries, see a performance at the Lauridsen Performing Arts Theatre or take part in an art class tailored to their age and skill level. The center also hosts Art in the Park, an art fair held next to West Lake Okoboji.
The Nutty Bar Stand has served handmade, delicious treats since 1945. Though it has undergone a recent makeover, it still retains the classic charm that has made it a staple of the Okoboji area for almost eight decades. Their specialty is, of course, the Nutty Bar – a block of Blue Bunny vanilla ice cream coated with chocolate and rolled in nuts. Homemade root beer floats and chocolate-covered frozen bananas also rank as favorites.
Located about 11 miles northeast of the Okoboji area, Superior 71 is a two-screen drive-in theater. See two movies for the price of one – the theater shows double features all summer. Recline in the comfort of your car or camp out in the bed of a truck as you munch on popcorn, nachos or other concession stand treats. Enjoy the show!