Five glacial lakes—including Lake Okoboji—form a chain in northwest Iowa that has been a destination for generations.
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Arnolds Park at night
Arnolds Park
| Credit: Tom Gustafson, courtesy of Okoboji Tourism

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 

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. arnoldspark.com

Arnolds Park
Credit: Tom Gustafson

Live at the Lake

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. arnoldspark.com

Fireworks over West Lake Okoboji
Credit: Tom Gustafson, courtesy of Okoboji Tourism

Maritime Museum 

Fill an hour or so with interesting tidbits about the the history of lake recreation and industry. Free but donation appreciated. arnoldspark.com

Minigolf

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).

Treasure Village Mini Golf
Treasure Village Mini Golf
| Credit: Courtesy of Treasure Village

Okoboji Boat Works 

We like this marina on the west lake for its swimming beach and glass-bottom boat tours. parksmarina.com

Okoboji Classic Cars

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. okobojicc.com

Okoboji Classic Cars showroom
Okoboji Classic Cars
| Credit: Okoboji Tourism

Okoboji Summer Theatre

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. stephens.edu

Pearson Lakes Arts Center

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. lakesart.org

Art in the Park
Credit: Courtesy of Pearson Lakes Art Center

Shopping 

Indie stores sell antiques, beachy home decor, University of Okoboji wear, water toys and more.

Superior 71 Drive-in Theater

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! superior71drivein.com

Eat and Drink

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. waterfrontokoboji.com

Maxwell's Beach Cafe

Dine on upscale fare like lobster tails and rack of lamb on the waterfront. maxwellsbeachcafe.com

Nutty Bar Stand

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. nuttybarstand.com

The Nutty Bar Stand
Credit: Courtesy of The Nutty Bar Stand

O'Farrell Sisters Restaurant

Go to this diner for breakfast and pie. parksmarina.com

The Waterfront American Grille

Next to Bracco, this year-round restaurant is the place to go for fine-dining fare like diver scallops and filet mignon. waterfrontokoboji.com

Topog Coffeehouse

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. topog.com

TOPOG Coffeehouse
TOPOG Coffeehouse
| Credit: Bonfire Marketing & Web Co.

Stay

Bridges Bay Resort 

This lodging has the only indoor water park in Arnolds Park. bridgesbayresort.com

Fillenwarth 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

Midwest resort revival
Credit: Courtesy of The Inn Hotel

For more information: vacationokoboji.com