I'm coming to Okoboji, now what do I do?
We are often asked what to do when staying in the area. Okoboji is a great family area with many things to do, or you can do nothing at all. Here are some activities we enjoy in the area:
Arnolds Park - This amusement park is one of the oldest in the country and has one the oldest wooden roller coasters in the United States in "The Legend". The park has a large ferris wheel ride over looking West Lake, several games, kids rides, and a water log ride. Arnolds Park is also the dock for the "Queen II" this old excursion boat is a fun trip around West Lake. Boats like this used to be the "buses" for the area including picking children up on docks to take them to school. Also connected to the park is a mini-golf course and go kart race track.
The Barefoot Bar - This boat up bar is not
far from the house by boat or car and is a great deal of fun for the entire
family. By car simply go south out of the driveway until the road ends at
Parks Marina, from the water, go south on the lake under the bridge, through the
narrows and to the large open area of East Lake, on your right you cannot miss
the large marina and docks. This is always a popular spot in the summer.
The Barefoot brings a touch of the tropics to Okoboji with the palm trees and
thatch roof huts. At the Barefoot is a outdoor bar and food stand with
live entertainment as well as selling collectibles and if you really feel
adventurous, boats for sale or rent.
Barefoot Overview and History
You can also have your friends watch you on the streaming web cam and make them jealous of your fun vacation to the Iowa great lakes:
Golf - Okoboji has several golf course to give you some time off the water. Generally in the summer, if you want a good tee time, call a few days before as they courses do get busy. The area has:
Okoboji View - 18 Hole course
Brooks Golf Course - 27 Hole Championship course
Emerald Hills - 18 Hole course
Indian Head - 9 Hole course
Woodlyn Hills (Milford) - 9 Hole course
Silver Lake (Lake Park) - 9 Hole course
Boating - While we are on the very north end of East, it is probably one of the best places on the lakes for water activities. Often the mornings provide a glass like lake and the afternoons are good for activities. We love the area for skiing and wakeboarding in the mornings and tubing in the afternoons when the lake gets a bit busier. From our area on East you can get to Upper & Lower Gar, Minnewashta, and West Lake. West Lake can get very busy but great to boat over and do some site seeing or beaching the boat at Gull Point.
Preservation Plaza - The green space by Arnolds Park offers a summer concert series with local and national acts. See a schedule here. Enjoy the concert from the grass or drive over by boat, drop anchor, and enjoy the music and sunset on West Lake.
Okoboji Theatre - This outdoor theatre run by
Stephenson college students puts on several shows throughout the summer.
It was featured in the USA Today in an article "10
great places to see the lights way off Broadway"
Check out their schedule here.
Meals - There are several places in the area to grab a meal or drinks.
For breakfast the Family Diner in downtown Spirit Lake is a must! You'll find areas best biscuits and gravy and cinnamon rolls. Bring your appetite for this place!
On the lake look for The Barefoot Bar, The Wharf, The Dry Dock, Arnolds Park, Manhattan Beach, Okoboji Boat Works, The O'Farrell Sisters, and others.
Off the lake in downtown Spirit Lake try Fresh or the World Market. Further out you'll find McKeen's, Tweeter's, The Lighthouse, and many more.
Just up the road from us towards Big Spirit is a lakes tradition, The Gingham Inn and their famous pan fried chicken.
In downtown Spirit Lake you'll find our favorite bar Buck's Pub and others. Buck's features peanuts every night and karaoke on Friday and Saturday nights.
Bike Trail - Across the street from the house is the Iowa Great Lakes Bike Trail which has over 25 miles of connected trails allowing you to go up the west side of Big Spirit to Minnesota or south into Milford. Check out this map of the trails.
Spillway - A great walk is also up to Big Spirit to watch the spillway, which is the man made drain between Big Spirit and East Lake Okoboji. At times this has a very fast moving stream and several fish trying to swim upstream. Near the spillway is also the Iowa DNR's Fish Hatchery, which has several aquariums of local fish, and is responsible for collecting, spawning, incubating, and raising walleyes for use throughout the state
Central Emporium - The Central Emporium in Arnolds Park is a great place to drive or boat too. It offers shopping, dining, and entertainment. If you are looking for an "Okoboji" t-shirt, you will find it here along with many other souvenirs. There is Whiskey Dick's bar and restaurant as well as Gepetto's restaurant for an evening of dining out. Also a favorite with the kids is the Sugar Shack, where you will find most any candy.
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