*There’s tons of ways you can enjoy every lake in the Okoboji area and there’s a lot of them! We didn’t know when we could make the trip up there again so we wanted to stay on the water in as many ways as possible. Our trip to Dickinson County was sponsored by the Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation. Some of the goods, services and meals were complimentary. The views expressed in this blog post are of our own. Now, let’s Gallivant!
Big Spirit, West Okoboji, East Okoboji, Okoboji, Center, Diamond, Lily, Horseshoe, East Hottes, Swan, Silver, West Hottes, Govers, Lower Gar, Upper Gar, Marble, Prairie, Four Mile, Minnewashta, Welsh, Sunken, Pleasant, Stony…..These are lakes in just one single county in NW-Iowa and it’s all in Dickinson which happens to be Iowa’s smallest county too. That’s a lot of ways to get on the water and forget about what time of day it is. Beach after beach, lake after lake, and sunny hour after sunny hour. You know what? We found out that tons of beaches all over the area were free to enjoy and in beautiful settings!
A facility that once housed some local shops is now one of the most unique hotels in all of the Iowa Lakes area. The Okoboji Commons Hotel is directly on the main drag of Okoboji which is HWY 71 that stretches the entire north-south length of Western Iowa. In fact, HWY 71 goes from the Canadian border up in Minnesota and goes all the way down to Central Louisiana. The Okoboji Commons Hotel should be one of the most unique places of lodging on this entire national highway!
Wow, this was a great hotel! The staff was excited to see us before we even had the chance to introduce ourselves and that chipper attitude went on the whole time at the Okoboji Commons Hotel. We had one of the ground floor rooms that had huge windows that brought in beautiful Okoboji sunlight. They have a fun British theme that would make Ringo and Paul feel right at home here in NW-Iowa and the Union Jack is around every corner. Maybe Mick and Keith are next door? We didn’t take time to look for them because we had a lakefront to enjoy just down the hill from our room! The beds and sheets were so very comfortable and all the precious time spent here was more than relaxing. The great part was how close it was to the towns of Spirit Lake, Arnolds Park, West Okoboji, and all those lake around them. Wonderful stay we had here! Stay tuned to TIG because this isn’t the last we have to say about the Okoboji Commons Hotel!
Another very memorable concept on HWY 71-Okoboji! This donut shop had customers lined up outside the door and for a very good reason. They’re fryer is getting constantly loaded up and the fresh donuts were filling up boxes and then customers all morning long here at Wyman’s Spudnutz!
They were amazingly busy and kept up the momentum to keep the summertime line moving at Spudnutz. A round of sweet and meaty donuts for that carb filled protein’ed energy boost we need for the lakes ahead of us. And what about that lunch option I was talking about?
The Smackhaus is right next to the Okoboji Commons and serves up some beautiful burgers. I like it when I can walk outside my hotel room and skip over to a jetty on East Okoboji Lake or prance over to the Smackhaus for something beefy and covered with melted cheese. That’s enough to help me stay put, but we had more gallivanting to do. Let’s hit the beaches!
Arnolds Park Public Beach-Arnolds Park
The video sums up out first hour in the water here in Okoboji! Arnolds Park is one of those lake towns that gets tons of visitors everyday into Dickinson County. This is just one of many lakefront ways to enjoy this iconic Iowa community. Arnolds Park is known as the City of Five Lakes, so you know this makes it quintessential lake town-USA!
Pikes Point State Park-Spirit Lake
We don’t pick favorites very often on TIG, but this beachfront was absolutely magnificent. There’s the main beach area that you’ll see immediately when you arrive to Pikes Point and then there’s this secluded piece of Boji that’s just yards away from the crowds. I was able to get a little time to myself and listened to the lake move in and out from the shoreline and nearly dozed off in the shade. This was one of the most peaceful and scenic pieces of Western Iowa that I found over the whole summer. And it was in the middle of one of the busiest most popular lakesides in the entire Midwest.
Terrace Park Family Beach-West Okoboji
Terrace Park has the feel of a beautiful neighborhood beach and it’s because that’s exactly what it is. Many families had the same idea we had while we were here. Get those towels and coolers out and just enjoy every second you have at the wavy lake in West Okoboji. This was the beach we spent the most time at and found ourselves doing plenty of cannonballs into the water. Belly flops coming at you next summer, Terrace Park Beach!
Gull Point State Park-Wahpeton
Gull Point State Park has a little beach that’s off the beaten path here in Boji. It’s a feature I love to find when I’m at major vacation destinations like this one. There’s always going to be ways to dive into the exciting and entertaining opportunities that Boji possesses, and there’s a lot of them, but you can easily find tranquility in many places as well.
Marble Beach State Rec Area-Orleans
Wide open water! Big Spirit Lake in the background and another day with endless blue skies. A specialty in Dickinson County and all over Western Iowa. This rec area gives you a great view of just how huge Big Spirit is. Plenty of miles to get that boat zipping around all day long over in Orleans. Like I said….There’s always time for one more beach when you’re constantly on lake time. You know what else you always have time for? STEAK!
Let’s Eat Steak
McKeen’s Pub & Grill was a lively restaurant when I arrived, and Katie the bartender was ready for this promotion. She made sure I ordered the Ribeye smothered in onions and mushrooms for that tasty extra touch to a quality steak. Her suggestions did not disappoint. Click on that video and see what I’m talking about!
Spirit Lake and the surrounding area has plenty of options when it comes to delicious steak suppers and one of those delicious locales is McKeen’s Pub & Grill. I enjoy going where the locals go and this restaurant was just what I wanted. The Ribeye came out nice and hot and topped with a lot of sautéed onions and rich mushrooms that went with every bite of my juicy steak. The staff was really fun to be around and I could see why the locals suggested McKeen’s. Katie was a pro when it came to an impromptu interview and made the visit here even more enjoyable. I love it when a bartender can keep me laughing in between a beer and an awesome steak supper in Spirit Lake!
Sunset at Arnolds Park
Arnolds Park Amusement Park is one of the state’s most iconic facilities of it’s kind and hosts droves of visitors every summer. However, we knew that the lakes were calling and we spent almost every waking moment we had on the water. That doesn’t mean we didn’t find the time to enjoy the lakefront around the park. This piece of Lake Okoboji is dripping with nostalgia and has been creating millions of memorable and happy family moments for decades on top of decades. Sunset in Arnolds Park was an easy decision to make.
There’s a lot of ways we could have closed out a whole day in Boji, but this was just what we needed. That sunset seemed to linger a little longer over the lake, and the timeless Nutty Bar Stand was serving up their treats to a constant stream of ice cream lovers. What a morning, afternoon, and evening on all those lakes.
That burger and Ribeye wasn’t the only beefy part of this Gallivant to Dickinson County! Let’s keep going on this T-Bone Trail expedition of Iowa’s top vacation destination….
There will never be enough time during the day, weekend, or summer to see all of Okoboji. This was our third trip to this Iowa vacationland and we’ve managed to pack in more than I thought we could while we were here again. There are so many more beaches, restaurants, museums, lakefronts, and sunsets to discover here. We enjoyed another host of hardworking locals and employees that make the lake-life here so enjoyable and I can’t thank them enough for all the great moments we had in Okoboji. Our summer travels needed hours of lake time and Dickinson County did a spectacular job of making another family love this beautiful NW-Iowa destination even more. Let’s have more steak suppers at the lakes!
Book your reservations to The Okoboji Commons Hotel on their website.
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See everything we’ve covered on The Iowa Gallivant in the Northwest Region of Iowa!