If you’ve been following The Iowa Gallivant you’ve seen the treks we’ve been on all year and beyond. This RAGBRAI-2017 project started in March with Algona and ends with one of America’s most historic lake towns. We have made it! Here’s the last scouting trip we have for you, RAGBRAI. Overnight #4 on Clear Lake….Let’s eat, let’s explore, let’s get on lake time as soon as possible.
Yes, Clear Lake will have some great entertainment. I mean, it’s the home of the historic Surf Ballroom! Yes, Clear Lake will have plenty of places to cut loose. Clear Lake will also have amazing opportunities to R-E-L-A-X. The camping will have some of the most primo spots on the entire route. I highly recommend finding a spot right by the main business district in the park. Plenty of shady trees and right by that beautiful North Iowa lake. You can even take a little cruise on the Lady of the Lake while you knock back a few and let the captain do all the steering while you see Clear Lake in a whole different way. An afternoon of lake life can get anyone hungry and you know Team Goodvin is going find the place to handle that. Prepare to see red….
Ge-Jo’s By the Lake is…..Right by the lake! And its Italian cooking has been keeping lake-goers full for a long time and they will do the same for RAGBRAI goers. We put down a chicken Parmesan sandwich, rigatoni with meatballs, and Eggplant Parmigiana. All the carbs you could want. But, you know it didn’t end there.
Cookies, etc. has the sweet tooth covered. Fresh baked, soft cookies are never a bad idea and Clear Lake should have plenty of these cranking out all day long. I dare anyone to walk by this place and not destroy a few of these amazing cookies. They also feature some delicious ice cream. You know what else a lot of RAGBRAI’ers won’t pass up? I think a cold beverage is needed…
It’s lake time at Lake Time Brewery and they want to make sure as many RAGBRAI’ers get acquainted with their local brew. I went to flight school with some of Lake Time’s staples and seasonals. Want something that tastes like a liquid dark chocolate peanut butter cup? They have it! Along with IPA’s and summertime brews that their beer masters will have pouring for RAGBRAI as the bikers pour into Clear Lake. You can tell it has been a stressful day. We need a spa, restaurant, maybe a greenhouse, bakery and gifts that feature handmade goods from locals. Luckily, we only had to find one place for all of this…
Listen to me, RAGBRAI. Find the Ladybug Market Place and don’t let go when you do. This place has everything you need especially if you’re looking to support all that is local. Nearby farmers brought in the greens for the salad. Vinaigrette made from local berries. Homemade desserts, sandwiches, baked goods, candy, and more. You can kick back in any room that has a different theme at every turn. Get a quick massage or a long one in their spa. And don’t leave without a walk through the greenhouse…greenhouses that is. The Ladybug is family-owned and you know just who you’re supporting when you spend your hard earned dollar. RAGBRAI is about supporting Iowa communities and this is about as local as you can get. And just down the road from the Ladybug is our home for the weekend. And we took advantage of every part of it.
The Best Western Holiday Lodge is pet friendly, folks! That means Tippy Lou was able to enjoy the Clear Lake area and the crew at this Best Western loved having her. They also loved having our whole family in town. We swam, rested and ordered in an incredibly chocolaty dessert from the Bennigan’s attached to this property. That’s not all we ordered. We hit up another Clear Lake legend while we were here.
Azzolina’s Hole in the Wall was our dinner for the night and we devoured it poolside. One Sicilian style thin crust pizza with all the meat loving toppings you could imagine and another classic cheese pizza. Both of these were amazing. But not as amazing as the grinder sandwich that side-kicked our pizza. The Guinea Grinder breaks in with a very spicy introduction. A meaty sandwich with plenty of hot peppers and all authenticity you would expect and it’s all in Clear Lake. This was the perfect nightcap anyone could ask for and more.
Breakfast at Sevens Restaurant & Steakhouse had the goods we needed to start our morning. All the chicken fried steak, French toast, fried eggs, hashbrowns, bacon, pancakes, and a Bloody Mary for the missus with the traditional beer back. Sevens will have plenty of syrup and early morning protein to get RAGBRAI to charge ahead. And you’ll need a few more Clear Lake supplies to keep moving…
North Iowa has Cabin Coffee Company peppered throughout the region and Clear Lake is lucky to have one right on the main drag. It’s fully staffed and they are already preparing for the RAGBRAI masses. And they’re not the only ones training for the big day in July…
The Starboard Market was humming with activity when we showed up and we could see why. They have a system that keeps you wondering what else you should order. Start it by choosing a fresh sandwich, make sure you get a soup, (Chicken Enchilada soup on this particular day…yes please), a helping of as many homemade salads as possible, and an army of desserts are waiting at the register. Don’t just stop here though!
Chili and pie! That’s the combo we’ve all been needing our whole lives. Right on the main drag, the Back Yard Deli served up some of the greatest strawberry pie these taste buds have ever had while Charlie put down a bowl of homemade chili. Wander into the Back Yard and don’t leave without their pie in that belly. Let’s burn off a couple cals with a walk around one of America’s greatest musical landmarks.
The Surf Ballroom will be open and we hope that as many visitors can experience the hallowed grounds of Rock and Roll’s original landmarks. You can cool off and support a truly iconic building all at the same time. When its not hosting a great band inside, the parking lot can be filled with the local farmers market outside where we found some great locally grown and produced food. But what’s inside is something you may never see anywhere else. Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens were on the top of their games with what seemed to be decades of talent left to go. They played their last show in Clear Lake, on a cold February night, and the ensuing plane crash that would take their lives changed all of Rock and Roll forever. If you love music, please take in the Surf. And that’s not the only historic spot to peddle to….
The crash site of these artists is nearby and on this day it had an eerie beauty to it. A very windy day with soy bean fields surrounding us as we walked down the path to the memorial. Buddy Holly’s iconic glasses marked the trail head and the memorial marked the end where the plane went down in the 50’s on the day the music died. This wouldn’t be our last walk of the day.
Central Gardens of North Iowa can show you another avenue to relax in when you’re in town and find a little escape even if it is just for a short while. The grounds are pristine and provide an oasis within Clear Lake. But let’s not forget the main reason why so many love this town so much.
This is it, RAGBRAI. Our journey took nearly four months to complete and yours will take about a week. We soaked in as much as we could in Clear Lake and the rest of the overnights and we hope you do the same. We truly hope you enjoy Iowa as much as we do and always remember the door is always open for a return trip anytime of the year. Have a great time, RAGBRAI, and keep gallivanting!
Be sure to read about our visits to Overnight #1 in Orange City, Overnight #2 in Spencer, Overnight #3 in Algona, Overnight #4 in Clear Lake, Overnight #5 in Charles City, Overnight #6 in Cresco, Overnight #7 in Waukon, Overnight #8 in Lansing and the bonus coverage of Scenic Allamakee County!
And now some huge thank yous….