Looking for a family getaway on the water? Use this list to find your favorite water activities and narrow down your search!
BEST FOR BOATING & WATER SPORTS:
Iowa Great Lakes
Comprised of several lakes including West Okoboji, East Okoboji and Spirit Lake, the Great Lakes are the premier destination for all things “lake vacation” in Iowa, especially for boaters. With 12,000 acres, Okoboji’s Great Lakes offer fantastic opportunities for sailing, jet skiing and boat recreation. Thousands of vacationers visit Okoboji every year to enjoy all the amenities the Great Lakes offer, including marinas, restaurants, state parks and more.
More lakes for boating:
- Lake Red Rock, Knoxville
- Coralville Reservoir, Coralville
- Clear Lake, Clear Lake
- Rathbun Lake, Centerville
BEST LAKES WITH FAMILY CABIN RENTALS:
Choose your family’s level of “roughing it” at Lake Icaria near Corning. All 14 cabins sleep six and include heat/air conditioning, beds, refrigerator, microwave, picnic table, water hydrant and fire pit. Six cabins are also equipped with kitchenettes and a restroom with a shower. [Bonus: dogs can come along for a small additional fee.] Any of them will put you close to 650 acres of water full of fish, more than six miles of nature trails, a 300-foot roped sand beach for swimming and a marina. Two new cabins, anticipated to open in 2019, will accommodate up to 12 people.
More parks with family cabins:
- Lake Darling State Park, Brighton
- Honey Creek Resort, Moravia
- Lake Wapello, Drakesville
- Sunrise Cottages, Storm Lake
BEST LAKESIDE HIKES:
Enjoy a lovely stroll along the shore of Lake Macbride in eastern Iowa, near Solon. Starting at the beach house at Lake Macbride State Park, the 1.25 mile shoreline trail meanders under a canopy of trees, with beautiful views of the lake. Bring along a fishing pole to cast in one of the coves. Lake Macbride has several nearby trails for bikers and those looking for a longer hike. The state park also offers camping, a playground and beach, boat rentals, a dock and boat ramp.
More lakeside hikes:
- Pine Lake, Eldora
- Lake Darling, Washington
- Beeds Lake, Hampton
- Lake Anita, Anita
Briggs Woods Park
For an unforgettable retreat, head to Briggs Woods Park in Webster City and take in a hands-on workshop offered by Legacy Learning Boone River Valley. The eclectic mix of classes, taught by artists, natural resource professionals and skilled craftspeople, include canning, copper repousse, cabin building, watercolors, pine needle baskets, herbal soap and more. The park also boasts three modern cabins, four rustic cabins, hiking trails, paved trails, a lake and an 18-hole golf course.
More quiet hideaways:
- Prairie Rose State Park, Harlan
- Nine Eagles State Park, Davis City
- Lake Belva Deer, Sigourney
- Black Hawk State Park, Lake View
BEST SHORE FISHING:
Big Creek Lake
Plan a fun family get-away to Big Creek Lake north of Polk City. Numerous fishing jetties and a universally accessible fishing pier provide easy access to catch bluegill, crappie and walleye. Visit the Big Creek Marina to rent fishing boats, pontoons, water bikes, kayaks and more. Kids enjoy the large playground and cabanas near the popular beach.
More great fishing spots:
- Lake Ahquabi, Indianola
- Green Valley Lake, Creston
- Blue Lake, Onawa
- Lake Wapello, Wapello
BREWS & BURGERS
Rathbun Lakeshore Grille Restaurant
Take in views of Lake Rathbun while enjoying breakfast, lunch or dinner at Rathbun Lakeshore Grille restaurant at Honey Creek Resort. The expansive menu includes omelets, burgers, pizzas and pasta. Finish off your meal with the Honey Bee, their “almost famous” banana split topped with fresh honey, chocolate, strawberries and mixed nuts.
More lakeshore restaurants:
- Okoboji Store, West Okoboji Lake
- Regatta Grille at King's Pointe Resort, Storm Lake
- PM Park, Clear Lake