Top Things to Do in Iowa Great Lakes
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.
Pandemic-related closures and restrictions may be in place. Please check destinations' websites before making travel plans.
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. iowaculture.gov
Arnolds Park Amusement 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. 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. arnoldspark.com
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. maumarine.com
Okoboji Boat Works We like this marina on the west lake for its swimming beach and glass-bottom boat tours. parksmarina.com
Okoboji Summer Theatre Make plays part of your summer fun at this theatre that has been around for more than 60 years. Productions may resume in 2021; check online for the latest. stephens.edu
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! 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. parksmarina.com
Bracco The seasonal open-air joint wins points with tropical island-inspired fare. braccorestaurant.com
Maxwell's Beach Cafe Dine on upscale fare on the waterfront. maxwellsbeachcafe.com
O'Farrell Sisters Restaurant Go to this diner for breakfast and pie. parksmarina.com
Where to stay
Bridges Bay Resort This lodging has the only indoor water park in Arnolds Park. bridgesbayresort.com
Fillwenwarth Beach Resort Cruises, sailing, water-skiing, crafts and other extras ensure repeat visitors. fillenwarthbeach.com
The Inn Hotel The 38-room hotel celebrates the area's golden age with Art Deco decor, tiki drinks at The Beach Club Lounge, and a rooftop pool and bar. theinnhotel.com
For information: Okoboji Tourism vacationokoboji.com